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Well the engine is toast and Alfa (the dealer) is installing a new one. That means that a bunch of dealer mechanics, who couldn't even service the car properly, are now going to put in an entirely new engine. This does not sound good. It all began when I took it in at 11250 miles for an oil change, and out of my own pocket, asked them to give the car a full inspection...all fluids, belts, flush the brakes, etc. I got the car back about three hours later, drove it home and parked it. Didn't use it the next day, but the next morning, Friday, I went to run some errands and got about one and a half miles from home when the car suddenly started bucking and jerking and I lost all power. The check engine light was flashing, as was the electronic throttle control light, plus the message was reading "service engine."

I pulled over, stopped, turned off the engine, opened the hood. I could see nothing wrong, no fluids or smoke, so signs of something disconnected. However the coolant tank that services the turbo was almost empty. And that should not be the case since the service. I tried to restart the car to see if the computers were just acting up. The check engine was now on solid (meaning you can drive the car to a dealer), and none of the other lights were present. I had also lost the DNA function, which I'm told is normal. I limped back to the dealer, and received the expected "gosh...golly...gee." I explained that they had just done an entire service and inspection, including fluid checks...and now the turbo coolant tank was empty.

So they gave me a loaner and sent me home. I knew they wouldn't know what they were doing and they'd have to call in Alfa to determine what was wrong. A few days goes by and I get a call that they have to replace the intake manifold. That didn't make sense because if all the coolant got into the intake manifold then it got into the turbo and into the engine itself. But this was their nickel so I said thank you. A few more days go by and today I got the call that Alfa says they have to replace the entire engine.

While that's better than getting a half assed repair and having to go back again and again...the bottom line is that I doubt this dealership has a capable crew to work on their cars. And sadly this means I am not going to keep the car for the full term of the lease. It will no longer be trustworthy...mechanically or electronically.

Would I have caught this if I had looked under the hood once a week? I don't know. But it seems more logical that it is related to the service that the dealer did on the car.

This experience renews my concerns about the Fiat/Alfa/Maserati partnership with Chrysler. The last time this happened was with Alfa and Chrysler in the early 1990s and it destroyed Alfa's 164 model and caused Alfa to leave the US market. Before that, Chrysler teamed with Maserati during the Biturbo era, and brought out the lame Chrysler TC model. It is easy to blame Chrysler...but in truth, it is the Italians that choose them as partners. The Italians choose the worst and the weakest car maker in the US to be their partners.

Some might suggest I look at the bright side and be happy I'm getting a new engine. But this is no different than when Porsche replaced their own bad engine design during the 996/997 era. Porsche simply replace a bad engine, with one that had the exact same problems. And the value of my car is now forever suspect because the engine replacement work is being done by the same technicians who caused the problem to begin with.

Time to start looking for a new car? I'm afraid so.
 
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