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Discussion Starter #1
This is tongue in cheek, of course, but partly serious too. I'd like to get a general and honest consensus from those who drive their Alfa's regularly and how many miles between un-scheduled maintenance issues, break-downs, strandeds, etc. I know, I know...here come the ubiqu-macho "my car never breaks down, and I've had it over 86 years."

Personally, I've had my Alfa 3.5 years - 25,000 miles. Left me stranded only twice, almost three times. Not bad, but not great either. First time was the ECU (gulp), second was a connection at the fuel pump, then a little while back, the water pump went majorly. None were pleasant. And if I didn't work on the car myself, I'd be one poor sucker...(try getting an import shop to diagnose a bad ECU!). One shop wanted over $600 to replace a water pump.

Not a criticism of Alfa's - this is a fifteen year old car. It's also an extremely well maintained car - clean, 80K (just turned!), and everything on the car functions perfectly. Obviously, my car is almost a constant to do list - fix this little piece, find a screw for that, etc.

Some days I just grit my teeth, knowing I've gone over 2K without a hitch now...what beast will wander from the wilds next?
 

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mine is at 150k and my 74' has 140k

my father drove a FIAT to 300k without a problem.

my cars run great. but to be honest im the type of guy that makes a hobby out of updating hardware and sensors and components on a regular schedule...so nothing really ever fails for me but i blow a nice chunk of change buying stuff that i dont really need...but i can be totally confident driving that spider to hell and back and it gets me off the computer and down in the garage playing with my tools and doing something.

ive driven italian cars since i was 16 and i can tell you that the secret to longevity with an italian car is to DRIVE THE LIVING CRAP OUT OF IT. commute in it. drive it all over. it will stay in shape and maintain itself with regular maintenance.

stick it in a garage , and without alot of proper handling(covered in-depth here by our northern alfisti that board them up for months), an alfa will become a basket-case by 80k

let it warm up. change the oil. drive it daily. and it will die of rust before engine failure
 

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my car only has 14k miles for a 92.

i purchased it with 10k miles this spring.

it is in excellent mechanical condition and only worked on by an alfa specialist - besides preventive maintance (oil changes), i only had to replace the water pump 1k miles ago - cost me about $500 with labor - so the car has been very reliable. car is used mainly to go to the hamptons, drives around connecticut, atlantic city, etc. it's def a quirky car but if taken care of from the start, it should be ok.

i have spent about 5k on the car since the spring but all of it has been non-mechanical work (refinishing the rims, paintless dent removal, squeaking windows, air bag light on, screws here and there, etc.).

i wouldnt drive the car on a 8 hour trip even though i am sure it would be fine, but given my limited useage, it has been a joy to own.

most of my complaints would be finding new rattles here and there but that is something i have learned to accept as a characteristic of the car.

i am not the right person to answer your question since i dont use spider regularly but just wanted to give my input.

im sure other owners will fill us in on their experiences.
 

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.. i drive my 84 spider daily..no problems( yes i know i have posted here :)) but these where my fault, not the cars.:)... i tend to pre-empt and major thing going wrong.. i change my oil every 5000 miles, and looking forward to doing a 'u' joint replacement..i am not shure how long they have been in my car.. no play in them but they are cheap.. i am going to 'slakin' the waterpump/alt. belt this weekend to check if any play in the h2o pump.. beond that i drive 50 miles one way a day in it( i gave my audi to a freind to use , there car was totaled a few months ago, so they have a car to drive) so my alfa gets on the road alot..i just don't like driving it in the rain, esp. after dark...not much for anyother car to see..i tend to drive 'invesible' .. this way i live longer..but i do take my car up to 5500/6000 rpms for a few mins to hear her sing..:)..my car has 147000 miles on her..no smoke,nada....takes a quart of oil every 1400 miles....and on the open highway at 70 mph..i get about 30/33 miles per gallon..take that you suv's:):)
 

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Miles? Shouldn't people be reporting in feet?

Thanks, I'll be here all week. Be sure to tip your waitress.
 

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Bought my 86 three years ago with 111K miles. Car has 130K miles now, I drive almost everyday, which sometimes includes a once a month 400 mile round trip. Never left me stranded (I'm selling it the first time it leaves me stranded), and I drive it hard.

I recently had to replace the exhaust cam and follower on the number 1 cylinder because I didn't check valve clearnances for two years- I think that says something about the reliability of the car. I do all maintenance, change oil every 3000 miles. Repaired the radiator, replaced brake and clutch master cylinders, clutch slave cylinder and replaced engine mounts. I also had some wiring issues related to the lights, but repaired those shortly after buying the car. I also check the oil once a week, clean the fuses/terminals every few months, and will check valve clearances every third time I change the oil.

If it leaves me stranded- watch the newspapers for a cheap 86 Spider.
 

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Mine often breaks sitting in the garage. It is a very slow form of mental torture only relieved by a spirited drive..well, a drive with corners. Most toddlers on a tricycle can out run it from a standing start, but they always say, "Cool car", as they sprint by.
 

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I do as much of my own maintenance on my '84, and there is always something to do on the car. Mine has turned into a daily driver this last spring after being my second or third car since 1993.

I'm going to jinx myself and say that right now is the longest I've gone without being stranded.....3 months and about 2500 miles! A record by far. During that time, I have had a few incidents where the car would simple stop running while driving down the road. So far, simply restarting has solved the problem (btw, I'm on my third ignition switch).

Current areas of interest include....
A/C cycles off and on even though I have plenty of freon. I bypass the A/C controller and switch the compressor manually to 'solve' this problem.

Car starts great unless it's been sitting for 15 -30 minutes. It'll start but want to quit unless I feather the gas a bit. After 15 seconds or so, all returns to normal. Cold starts are immediate and without a problem.

Darn water pump is starting to complain....the thing is less than a year old!

Front exhaust and catalytic converter is ready for replacement. Bought a magnaflow off the web and the flange on the manifold won't line up! Beware!

Much of the work performed since spring is related to the age of the car. With only 58K on the clock, neither the engine or transmission has been apart. I don't think that qualifies it as reliable.

Its hard to quantifiy 'unscheduled' with an older car. The Alfa is a beautiful car that, by modenn standards, is not very reliable. I'd hesitate to take a long trip in mine as it would be a crapshoot on weather some unforseen problem would arise and ruin the vacation....just not worth it.
 

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Its hard to quantifiy 'unscheduled' with an older car. The Alfa is a beautiful car that, by modenn standards, is not very reliable. I'd hesitate to take a long trip in mine as it would be a crapshoot on weather some unforseen problem would arise and ruin the vacation....just not worth it.
i agree - beautiful car but not worth the trouble if something occurs on a long trip. my alfa is reliable but i would not want to test it if i dont have to.
 

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I've had almost a dozen Alfas so far and the only one that ever left me stranded was my 77 spider because of a clutch fluid leak. My last alfa, an 87 quad, was bought almost sight unseen in 2002 and I drove it 150 miles without a second thought. Strange but beyond the monor inconvienences that can afflict any car, they always seem to run well for me. They are always my daily driver.

In 1986 I drove a 77 alfetta from Northern california to southern florida in 2.5 days and the only part that failed was the speedo cable. (probably why I got 2 speeding tickets along the way) My last car was an 84 Porsche 911 and it left me stranded everytime it rained. And how many times do you see a new car on the side of the road or being towed? New or more expensive does not always mean more reliable.

Like any car, they are only as good as their maintainence. And cars were not built to sit....
 

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In almost 4 years and 20 some-odd thousand miles, only 1 actual 'breakdown', a wire snapped off the starter solinoid after a particularly hard hit in one of those lovely car swallowing potholes jumped out in front of me. Beyond that, just a water pump, which I don't particularly blame on the car/make/design in general anyway. (water pumps fail on everything. Whatteryagonnado?)

Of course that's after getting the car and dealing with all the PO induced BS, but I don't generally count 'as a result of stupidity' in the grander scheme for the normal definition of reliability for the marque. (if you only use half your arse to fix things, you'll end up falling on all your arse half the time ;) )

Still, I agree that there's almost always something real or imagined to fidget, tweak, or generally just fart around with pretty much all the time.

But, if it didn't need regular love, I wouldn't own it, and likely the summer I don't have to mess with anything at all any more will be the one that it goes up for sale so I can move on to another 'little project' LOL (I've had my eye on this 1968 T140 Triumph triple for a while now, but apparently I'm only allowed so many toys at once, according to my wife anyway. But she so does like the car.....)
 

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...the longest I've gone without being stranded.....3 months and about 2500 miles! A record by far. ... incidents where the car would simple stop running while driving down the road. ...third ignition switch).

... A/C cycles off and on ... I bypass the A/C controller and switch the compressor manually to 'solve' this problem.

Car starts great unless it's been sitting for 15 -30 minutes. ....

Darn water pump is starting to complain....the thing is less than a year old!

Front exhaust and catalytic converter is ready for replacement. ...

..only 58K on the clock, neither the engine or transmission has been apart. I don't think that qualifies it as reliable.

.... I'd hesitate to take a long trip in mine as it would be a crapshoot on weather some unforseen problem would arise and ruin the vacation....just not worth it.
I don't blame you for being cautious about your car, but it seems like you're really fighting a battle that was lost a long time ago. Unless you are looking for the satisfaction of restoring a car, it really isn't worth the money (or time investment) to take what is essentially a vehicle just one step above a parts car and make it roadworthy again... A 1984 Spider that has been properly maintained is very reliable. There is no reason why, with routine maintenance, a series 3 Spider should have mechanical issues. (There are plenty of posts on this BB about Spiders being reliable daily drivers.) I take my Spiders between OH and NJ without any fear, and in warm weather we often opt for taking the back roads all the way. The Spiders were daily drivers for many years and I'm still clocking 8k mi. a year on the '84. The 164s are the newest vehicles we own. All our Alfas are serious transportation, even with over 100k mi. on the odometer.

Best regards,
 

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August, 2007. 1984 Spider ready to go to the Alfa National Convention in Detroit. Besides towing its race gear, it's carrying luggage for two,... and it's not a good strategy to place limits on the better half, or not have a good working A/C in 95+ degree weather. ;) (And no, we didn't take off with the top down. The better half came out, looked at the car, gave me a cute smile, and I proceeded to raise the top,... but I did try, and sometimes it works! :D) This vehicle ran two days of track events (time trials and autocross), then participated in the concours, and brought us and its race gear back home, in comfort.

Spider towing (re-sized 2).jpg

Best regards,
 

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August, 2007. 1984 Spider ready to go to the Alfa National Convention in Detroit. Besides towing its race gear, it's carrying luggage for two,... and it's not a good strategy to place limits on the better half, or not have a good working A/C in 95+ degree weather. ;) (And no, we didn't take off with the top down. The better half came out, looked at the car, gave me a cute smile, and I proceeded to raise the top,... but I did try, and sometimes it works! :D) This vehicle ran two days of track events (time trials and autocross), then participated in the concours, and brought us and its race gear back home, in comfort.

View attachment 86768

Best regards,
sharp spider.
 

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Sorry fot the OT tangent, but does your trailer hitch interfere with the exhaust tip or vice~versa?
No, not at all... There is a bar that runs the width of the bumper, and fits against the underside of the bumper (it doesn't touch the bumper, though) to which the hitch receiver is attached. Both the bar and the receiver are still higher than exhaust, and of course, they are in the middle. For more info on the set-up have a look at the thread "Spider Trailer Hitch?"

Best regards,
 

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No, not at all... There is a bar that runs the width of the bumper, and fits against the underside of the bumper (it doesn't touch the bumper, though) to which the hitch receiver is attached. Both the bar and the receiver are still higher than exhaust, and of course, they are in the middle.
Best regards,
Hi Enrique,

That is one neat little trailer I saw it in person at Detroit.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Alfafan - right on. You know, all in all, I think mine has been a reliable car - basically, it was in the state most used cars are in, even if they are well cared for - there's just always things to be done. Even if a car is 99% right, that one wire can ruin your day. My car has just given me lots of opportunities to learn about it intimately. I can find my way around the car blind folded, and now that it's all sorted and I'm confident taking long trips, I think I'm ready for something new. Considering a '95 LS Alfa. Anyway, won't be my last Alfa Spider for sure...
 
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