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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
:(

I just finished buttoning up all the bits and pieces on the green 164 last night, so today the gearbox explodes on the freeway. It really is true - fix one thing, another breaks.

The sad story:

Getting ready to exit the freeway - Driving in 5th gear, downshift to 4th and almost simultaneously the car shudders. Massive amounts of smoke billowing from underneath the car from gear oil spilling onto the hot header pipes. Managed to get the car pulled off the the side of the exit ramp.

As I was stopping, when I reached about 5 or 10 MPH the car seemed to "lock" up as if I had slammed on the brakes.

At first, I was not able to shift into any of the gears except reverse. I tried again later as I sadly sat in the car and was able to shift into all gears. The car starts and runs just fine, and will move forward in all forward gears and backward in reverse BUT only for a very short distance (perhaps 3/4? a revolution on the driveshaft/wheel). The gear oil (yes, gear oil) spilled out almost entirely - it looks as if the ATF was dumped for some 80 or 90 WT royal purple garbage. Think this may have caused it?

Car is a 1991 (4/90 production - probably retains the old style pilot bearing...) 164L. It is green with a butternut leather interior, and I love it dearly. 129,000 miles EXACTLY (coincidence?).

Anyways - since the gearbox is transferring power in all gears, could it be something on the output shaft(s) at the CV joint that may have caused the problem? Or will I be stuck with having to replace the gearbox??
Thanks in advance
 

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Was tranny making any noise in any gear before this happened?

As for current problem sounds like something let go in differential gears so maybe differentail case got cracked and cause oil leak.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Was tranny making any noise in any gear before this happened?

As for current problem sounds like something let go in differential gears so maybe differentail case got cracked and cause oil leak.
Steve,
The trans never made any really funny noises when I drove it. If the radio was off and windows up, a very slight whine could be heard (no louder than the other 164 at home). However, yesterday I put a new motor mount in the right front and I did seem to notice a slight increase in noise/vibration BUT I think that is purely due to the fact that the old mount was completely separated, i.e. nothing holding it to the body, so nothing transmitted through that point. Would a very stiff RF motor mount cause problems?
 

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Should not affect it. Did you do a robust downshift and lef the cltch out real abruptly?
 

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Sounds like your differential gave out like mine did. Pretty much toasts the dif and housing. When half of the box is toast, it's time to look for another gearbox. I was told by some folks here that this was not entirely uncommon. Mine made a "rally car" sound that was kind of neat, until it exploded on the interstate. Loud boom (the sound of the dif pin coming out of the gear set and hitting the housing) and smoke like yours. :rolleyes:
Charles
 

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:(

I just finished buttoning up all the bits and pieces on the green 164 last night, so today the gearbox explodes on the freeway. It really is true - fix one thing, another breaks.

The sad story:

Getting ready to exit the freeway - Driving in 5th gear, downshift to 4th and almost simultaneously the car shudders. Massive amounts of smoke billowing from underneath the car from gear oil spilling onto the hot header pipes. Managed to get the car pulled off the the side of the exit ramp.

As I was stopping, when I reached about 5 or 10 MPH the car seemed to "lock" up as if I had slammed on the brakes.

At first, I was not able to shift into any of the gears except reverse. I tried again later as I sadly sat in the car and was able to shift into all gears. The car starts and runs just fine, and will move forward in all forward gears and backward in reverse BUT only for a very short distance (perhaps 3/4? a revolution on the driveshaft/wheel). The gear oil (yes, gear oil) spilled out almost entirely - it looks as if the ATF was dumped for some 80 or 90 WT royal purple garbage. Think this may have caused it?

Car is a 1991 (4/90 production - probably retains the old style pilot bearing...) 164L. It is green with a butternut leather interior, and I love it dearly. 129,000 miles EXACTLY (coincidence?).

Anyways - since the gearbox is transferring power in all gears, could it be something on the output shaft(s) at the CV joint that may have caused the problem? Or will I be stuck with having to replace the gearbox??
Thanks in advance
I have one lined up for you.
j
 

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2015 Chevy (Holden) SS, 1989 Milano (Shankle Sport), 1991 164S
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There were many changes made to the diff/transmission housing and internals from the 91-93 to 94 and 95 in order to strengthen/stiffen these units, according to the parts disc. Evidently Alfa also recognized the inherent weaknesses of the earlier units.

Obviously you would benefit from installing as late a version as possible. I personally would have liked to have the Q transmission JJ had for sale for a while to eventually install in my 91S when it finally gets a new clutch.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Should not affect it. Did you do a robust downshift and lef the cltch out real abruptly?
Steve - no robust downshifts. I am very gentle with the gearboxes on all of the cars at home - seems to be a habit after driving other Alfas with weak synchros. Probably a good thing.



I have one lined up for you.
j
Jason - Already??

Forgot to mention I called Jason almost immediately following the detonation! What a turnaround - what was that, a few hours?? This will be the second time he's saved me in the past few weeks - what a guy!




I just spent some quality time in the garage self medicating (i.e working on cars) post-detonation . The car still looks the same, but it isn't :(
 

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Steve - no robust downshifts. I am very gentle with the gearboxes on all of the cars at home - seems to be a habit after driving other Alfas with weak synchros. Probably a good thing.





Jason - Already??

Forgot to mention I called Jason almost immediately following the detonation! What a turnaround - what was that, a few hours?? This will be the second time he's saved me in the past few weeks - what a guy!




I just spent some quality time in the garage self medicating (i.e working on cars) post-detonation . The car still looks the same, but it isn't :(
I can second that about Jason, he has never led me in the wrong direction, and is a vauluable source for parts and advice on 164's!
 

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On differentials, in general: I got an education a few months ago when the differential on our Suburban went out. It was like the brakes were occasionally grabbing during turns -- it seemed like the left hand wheel would lockup briefly and skip the rear end a bit. It turned out that the pinion gears inside were all chewed up. The shop told me that this can happen when slightly mismatched tires are run on a car for an extended period of time. I hadn't known about this issue. Apparently the lubrication and wear design of the differential does not accomodate continuous differential rotation of the driven wheels. It is made to suffer slight rotations occasionally (during turns) but not the continuous wear of a mismatched tire diameter. I'd suspect that running otherwise identical but differentially worn tires (1/4" diameter difference, maybe) would be a Bad Thing. But I had no inkling of this before this last winter. So, keep your 164 front tires matched.

Michael
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
On differentials, in general: I got an education a few months ago when the differential on our Suburban went out. It was like the brakes were occasionally grabbing during turns -- it seemed like the left hand wheel would lockup briefly and skip the rear end a bit. It turned out that the pinion gears inside were all chewed up. The shop told me that this can happen when slightly mismatched tires are run on a car for an extended period of time. I hadn't known about this issue. Apparently the lubrication and wear design of the differential does not accomodate continuous differential rotation of the driven wheels. It is made to suffer slight rotations occasionally (during turns) but not the continuous wear of a mismatched tire diameter. I'd suspect that running otherwise identical but differentially worn tires (1/4" diameter difference, maybe) would be a Bad Thing. But I had no inkling of this before this last winter. So, keep your 164 front tires matched.

Michael
Interesting info on the Suburban - wouldn't think that a tank like that would suffer from a diff problem. Lots o miles maybe? The problem would be heat it seems...

For my problem I know that it was never due to mismatched tires - the car has always been taken care of (extended family purchased new in 1992). However a few years ago, my father managed to slam the LF wheel into a curb in the DRIVEWAY. It did enough damage to destroy the wheel and bend the LF suspension into the body. Not to trash his driving though - he's never been in an accident other than this, it just HAPPENED to be the car that I was supposed to be getting on that day (took my drivers test in that car just an hour earlier). Anyhow that may have shaken things up a bit. I think this is the only damage the car has ever really suffered, but it may have been sufficient to weaken it - but so many years ago, and for it to break now? Not so sure.
 

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The 'burb had 300k miles when the diff went. I now have a much newer than '92 diff in it, with not even 100k miles.

Michael
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
So -
As the car sits tucked away in the garage (it gets the good treatment), my father threatens to have it towed to the junkyard. I don't know if his purpose is to upset me or not, but it's working.

Jason helped me locate a transaxle (Thanks Jason!), but it's across the country. That doesn't really bother me - to an extent. Anyone want to chime in and share some shipping quotes they may have experienced? California to Michigan is what we're talkin here. Just curious, because I've heard from $75 all the way to $200...

As for the procedure for swapping the 'box, it's pretty straightforward from what I can gather under the hood/wheel well. Looks like the only tricky part is the starter bolt from the bellhousing?? Anyone want to point me in the right direction here?
 

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So -
As the car sits tucked away in the garage (it gets the good treatment), my father threatens to have it towed to the junkyard. I don't know if his purpose is to upset me or not, but it's working.

Jason helped me locate a transaxle (Thanks Jason!), but it's across the country. That doesn't really bother me - to an extent. Anyone want to chime in and share some shipping quotes they may have experienced? California to Michigan is what we're talkin here. Just curious, because I've heard from $75 all the way to $200...

As for the procedure for swapping the 'box, it's pretty straightforward from what I can gather under the hood/wheel well. Looks like the only tricky part is the starter bolt from the bellhousing?? Anyone want to point me in the right direction here?
Should be only $75. From me to you is $64.00 for a 100lb box 24X24X24.

13mm long socket, 6" extension and some paper in the socket to grab it. If this is your first time a mirror can help but it is mostly feel.

Once it is all out My idea of welding a socket on the bolt would be advised or use one of those bolts that stays in the starter hole all the time(forgot the name of them?)
Jason

Jason
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I started getting the car ready for the "transplant" today.
Pulled the wheel, fender liners, strut, drive axle, airbox and surrounding crap, etc. and while doing this I thought, "shouldn't you try and see where the thing actually broke causing the fluid to leak out??
Setting ultra-greasy tools aside (thanks, CV joint!), I used the creeper to go from the front of the car to inspect.
T'was quite oily and dirty, and there were plenty of pieces of shrapnel stuck to the surrounding oil pan, casing, and eventually myself. I didn't see any cracking or holes from the bottom or the rear, but followed the shrapnel upwards on the rear diff cover.

I may be very lucky here - it appears (currently) that the only damaged part of the casing is on the rear (and removable!) diff cover. I was able to poke my finger around slightly in the hole, and confirmed it was the diff by turning the other driveshaft. OK here come the questions -

1. If the only damage is the rear case, can't I just replace the planetary gears, pin, etc. after cleaning it out (assuming no other damage), and be good to go?
2. Even if there are no other cracks, would the "shock" be sufficient to cause other damage to the casing?
3. What does the inside of the transaxle actually look like? I.e. is the casing split into a differential part and a gearset part? If they are separate, does that eliminate possibility for shrapnel in the gearset?

I still love Alfas. Is it a disease now?
 

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I still love my 164 too even after mine exploded. ;) Here are the pics of the damage that might be inside the bellhousing as well. Like you said, yours may be OK. Non the less, a complete teardown and cleanup would be necessary to try and fix your old tranny, not to mention a new diff and cover. Probably doable if you have the notion and the parts, but I would just buy a used one, put it in and work on the busted one when time permits and parts are sourced.
Charles
 

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Yes, I've got away with swapping a diff and rear cover, on one of these gearboxes that had a speedometer drive problem. Generally, swapping a diff is not to be recommended, since you are supposed to set the bearing preload with shims under the bolt-on seal carrier. I seemed to get away with it but later had to remove and open up the gearbox to replace the input shaft bearing, so net saving was more or less nil.

The oil is shared between the diff and the gearset. Also there isn't a lot of oil - only about 2 litres. There is a magnet in the gearbox casing which you should get to and clean. Personally I would want the gears cleaned up properly and inspected for damage.

I think you are basically looking down the barrel of removing the gearbox, so you might as well replace it complete. You would need another gearbox anyway to supply the diff and rear cover. If there's no history of input shaft bearing being changed, that is something else to consider.

-Alex
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I still love my 164 too even after mine exploded. ;) Here are the pics of the damage that might be inside the bellhousing as well. Like you said, yours may be OK. Non the less, a complete teardown and cleanup would be necessary to try and fix your old tranny, not to mention a new diff and cover. Probably doable if you have the notion and the parts, but I would just buy a used one, put it in and work on the busted one when time permits and parts are sourced.
Charles
Come to think of it, there probably is damage inside (like yours, in the bellhousing). I say this because I did run the car after the accident in the driveway and managed to turn it around and pull back in the garage. However, when I raised the revs one time to begin moving the car, a slight clattering came from under the hood - probably little bits inside the housing getting tossed around by the flywheel, no?
 

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Be sure to carefully check all cases for cracks, using some sort of dye check if possible. Any resultant cracking could further weaken the housings. Alfa did make many changes in these cases, as well as the internals, in order to increase the stiffness/strength.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I took the flywheel inspection plate off tonight and a few pieces of oil soaked shrapnel fell out. This seals its fate - there is damage inside the bellhousing. Gearbox is comin' out one way or the other.
 
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