Alfa Romeo Forums banner

1 - 20 of 24 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
629 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hey everyone-

Somewhat new to the board but finally had my S4 spider delivered earlier this week. It's fly yellow with black interior, 80k on the odometer. I'm super excited about the car but there are some issues I need to address:

1. The left rear of the car 'sags' and sits lower than the right side... Also, the rear springs can be compressed so easily when pushing down on the rear of the car that I suspect they are shot and need replacement. The front end also exhibits some significant sloppiness so I think I may just do the whole suspension. What do y'all recommend for springs/dampers? I'm fine with a slightly lowered right height fwiw... just want the car to inspire a little more confidence with the handling.

2. The tach and speedometer work, but the odometer does not. On my old BMWs, this typically implied that the odometer gears needed to be replaced. Is it possible this is the case with my Alfa, as well?

3. I suspect this is not uncommon, but any shifting that is quicker than _super-slow_ shifting results in some crunchiness, regardless of the gear. I'm fine with shifting slowly, and am double-clutching on downshifts to go easier on the tranny. Having said that, will a tranny fluid change do anything to help with the smoothness? If so, what type of fluid do you recommend?

4. The car lived in Florida before and did not have to have emissions done. I'm in TN and have to get tested. I'm really hoping there won't be any issues. The car runs great right now, but would you pre-emptively change the plugs and o2 sensor before testing just to be safe? Do these cars typically pass easily?

Well, that's all for now... I have other questions but didn't want to overdo it with this post. :)

I've attached a picture of the car from the day I took delivery. I look forward to learning much more about the car from this fantastic forum!
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,045 Posts
Welcome to the BB. That is a fine looking Alfa. Where in TN are you located? I am in Memphis and there are a few other Alfa Spiders here in Shelby County, 5 besides mine that I know of.

The issue of the car saging on one corner is of concern. if you are lucky it is a broken spring coil - it does happen at times. Or you may have gas shocks and that one has lost it's gas pressure. But it could also be an indicator of past collision damage improperly repaired. Take it to a frame shop and have it looked at. As far as springs are concerned, you can buy stock or performance spring sets - check IAP or Centerline for starters. But before you decide it is sitting too low, take a look at ground clearance rather than how much "wheel" is showing in the wheel arch. Alfa Spiders have less wheel showing in the rear wheel arch than the front. Instead of looking at the amount of wheel showing, measure up from ground to see how much ground clearance you have at each corner. A lot of people are fooled by the "look" of the car until they check the all around ground clearance and discover that their "problem" is non existant. Look at my Quad below. It appears to be sitting low in the rear end, but measuring up from the ground it is actually right-on.

Depending on where you live in TN, the emision testing may be at no charge. This is the case in Memphis. So there is no penalty in taking it through on a test run to see if it passes. If not, then the run through will pinpoint the areas needing work. Your Bosch ignition and fuel injection is so reliable that you will probably have a harder time getting the parking brake to pass, and all the stop/tail/brake lights to pass than the emission test. My old 88 Quad easily passed the tests here with such low readings that it could compair with new cars; but only after I replaced the cat converter and the O2 sensor with new. I had to do nothing to any of the other ignition/FI systems.

The shifitng issue is pure Alfa Romeo. The correct fluid for the gerabox and differential is Shell Spirax 70/90, an uncommon fluid you wou't usually find locally available and will have to order in QT plastic bottles. Redline makes a lubricant a lot of BB'ers swear by - I think it is Redlline 70/90 ND. If this is incorrect I will be immediately corrected by about 12 different BB members! If you are in Memphis, by chance, come by my house and we can service the TX and DX with the shell product. When I bought my Alfa I also ordered in a 5 gallon bucket of the stuff, surely a lifetime's supply.

The instrument pod can be sent off for repair, or you can just buy a used one. I have seen them go for $35.00 up to over $100. There is a dismantler in CA who just got in a Green S4. He advertised it on the parts wanted/for sale forum a few weeks ago. I may have his email around here somewhere if you need it.

Welcome and good luck, Robert Hill in Memphis, TN
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,451 Posts
Congrats on the purchase Looks like a nice one. Are you coming to the convention? Alfas in the Bluegrass to be held in Lexington, KY July 13-17.

1. I have a S4 as well. A couple of months ago I set out to address the same handling issues with mine. I had some IAP performance springs on hand (Centerline carries them too), 4 new red konis, poly bushings, and a chassis stiffener. I can say that the IAP springs do not lower the S4...as we measured stock versus performance installed. But all these items make the S4 handle much better. I think the probably most important thing to address is rear trailing arm bushings. I did poly front and rear on the trailing arms and it eliminated all of the shift you may be feeling in the rear end on corner entry. The springs do a lot for the car. And the chassis stiffener deadens the cowl shake.

2. paspeedo.com for your odometer issues. Yes, you can access the head unit easily.

3. Spirax X 75W90. Fresh correct oil will make a big difference. Do the differential the same time you do the transmission. As Robert noted, some swear by redline too. 80W90 also acceptable.

4. I wouldn't change anything providing the check engine light is off. If its off, it'll all boil down to the efficiency of your cat. I bet its ok.

Best of luck with her!

Best Regards,
John M
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
1,888 Posts
Redline makes a lubericant a lot of BB'ers swear by - I think it is Redlline 70/90 ND. If this is incorrect I will be immediately corrected by about 12 different BB members!
It is Redline 75/90NS. When I put it in, the tremendous difference was clear.

Welcome, and I agree with Robert that your car really looks great in yellow.
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
17,516 Posts
The Redline oil for the transmission is 75W-90 NS



With a functioning O2 sensor, properly operating thermostat & good catalytic converter your Spider should have no problem passing an emissions test.

O2 sensors typically last 60K -90K miles. If your's is the original (or otherwise unknown age) it might be worth considering having it replaced. If the t-stat sticks open the engine will not reach proper operating temperature and the computer will remain in the default/slightly rich warm up mode. The catalytic converter can last indefinately if it never gets overwhelmed (due to failed O2 sensor/faulty t-stat/etc). But once overwhelmed they're done. The entire front pipe with cat can cost $400+ but a muffler shop can cut out the old cat and weld in a new one for ~ $150.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
629 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Thanks so much for all of the fantastic information and insight! This forum is awesome. :)

Robert, I live in Franklin, just South of Nashville. I actually will be in Memphis racing in on August 9th-10th but won't have the Alfa with me, unfortunately. I really appreciate your offer to help change the fluids!

Regarding the driver/rear, the car had been checked out thoroughly and has no prior collision or repair history. It's literally as if it's not being suspended quite as high as the passenger side. There are no noises coming from the springs or from the rear, but I assumed the springs were shot based on how absolutely 'marshmallow' they were. I can't imagine a spring rate being that low on purpose, but hey this is my first Alfa Spider. :) I will check for a broken coil and if not, assume it is the rear shocks that are shot.

John, I just checked my calendar and I may be free from work the weekend portion of Alfas In The Bluegrass. That sounds like a fun road trip!

Just so I'm clear, those that are using the Redline in the tranny and the diff are using 75/90 NS for both?

Finally, can the odometer be a DIY repair, as was the case with replacing my BMW odo gears?

Thanks again for all of the help!!!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,267 Posts
If you are in Franklin, you have no excuse not to contact our resident artist and all-around good Alfa guy - Jerry Quinlisk...He's on the board, by name....:cool: (actually I would rather hang with his wife, the good and loyal, Nancy, but.......):rolleyes:
Welcome to Alfa ownership and enjoy that beautiful S4....
 

·
Premium Member
71 Berlina 74 GTV 17 Giulia Q4
Joined
·
6,568 Posts
No, there are two different redline oils for each. the guys at centerline can tell you which.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
629 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
If you are in Franklin, you have no excuse not to contact our resident artist and all-around good Alfa guy - Jerry Quinlisk...He's on the board, by name....:cool: (actually I would rather hang with his wife, the good and loyal, Nancy, but.......):rolleyes:
Welcome to Alfa ownership and enjoy that beautiful S4....
Ha, thanks for the contact, Nicola! I just emailed Jerry and hope to get to meet him one of these days...

FWIW I just went and took some measurements of the ride height in the rear. At the wheel center line, the driver side rear is 24 1/2" from ground to bottom of fender lip, and the passenger side is 24 7/8". Maybe it is just a lazy shock on the driver's side?? Regardless, I think the suspension is the first thing I'm going to attack on this car.
 

·
But Mad North-Northwest
Joined
·
11,118 Posts
Stock shocks aren't pressurized so they won't cause sag. If it's sagging it would be springs.

That being said, the fuel tank is on the left and I've noticed my S4 is lower on that side in the rear, probably because of the extra weight. It's only like a quarter inch at the wheel well but for some reason it's really noticeable visually. You may not have a significant problem.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,267 Posts
...That being said, the fuel tank is on the left and I've noticed my S4 is lower on that side in the rear, probably because of the extra weight. It's only like a quarter inch at the wheel well but for some reason it's really noticeable visually. You may not have a significant problem.
In which case, I would recommend Jackson Browne's sage advice, "Running on Empty" :D
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
629 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
Stock shocks aren't pressurized so they won't cause sag. If it's sagging it would be springs.

That being said, the fuel tank is on the left and I've noticed my S4 is lower on that side in the rear, probably because of the extra weight. It's only like a quarter inch at the wheel well but for some reason it's really noticeable visually. You may not have a significant problem.
Yeah, exactly. We're talking 3/8" on mine, but it is very noticeable when viewing the car from the rear! Are stock Alfa spider springs supposed to be super 'soft' in the rear?

Well heck... Just because I'm darned curious, anyone know the stock spring rates on these cars compared to the 'sport' versions sold by IAP, etc?
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
17,516 Posts
Yes, the stock springs are relatively soft.

I would also check/measure the front suspension. IIRC, there are shims placed under the front springs - different thicknesses left & right. If those were swapped the front might be off and causing the rear to appear crooked.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,122 Posts
My rear stance is little lower on the gas tank side too and I have new IPA sport springs.........No fat chicks ride in my Spider! :D:D:D
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
692 Posts
If you are in Franklin, you have no excuse not to contact our resident artist and all-around good Alfa guy - Jerry Quinlisk...He's on the board, by name....:cool: (actually I would rather hang with his wife, the good and loyal, Nancy, but.......):rolleyes:
Welcome to Alfa ownership and enjoy that beautiful S4....
Just cause I lust over Jessica does not mean you get to bring wifey into this...........................................................;)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
692 Posts
My rear stance is little lower on the gas tank side too and I have new IPA sport springs.........No fat chicks ride in my Spider! :D:D:D
Plus 1, Plus 1 !!!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
464 Posts
Congrats on the purchase. As others have mentioned, a gearbox fluid change may help the grinding. I didn't see anyone mention 1st gear however; if I missed it, I apologize. If the S4s are the same as S3s, there is no synchro going into 1st gear. To avoid grinding going into 1st, I have gotten into the habit of shifting partially into 2nd before 1st (and into 4th before reverse); others prefer shifting into 3rd before 1st to avoid any additional strain on the synchro for 2nd which seems to wear the fastest.
 
1 - 20 of 24 Posts
Top