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Discussion Starter #1
Hi after being influenced by my friend's GTV6 I pulled a middle life crisis move and bought an 87 Milano Gold off of ebay on Xmas Eve (day of my 50th bday).

Car was somewhat local to me so I recruited a co-pilot and drove to the mountains to pick the car up. Car has 97K miles and came with a pretty complete service history from the previous 4 owners.

I questioned the blinking battery light while driving with the previous owner to get the title signed. He shrugged and indicated that the ARC acts funky, which I had determined as common Alfa issue during pre-purchase research. Well...on the drive home the battery died. Car had a new alternator, so we trudged off to Autozone and picked up a new battery after conference with previous owner (he did make good and paid me for the replacement battery even though the existing one was pretty new).

Got car home and got out the multimeter...hmm not charging. I removed the power steering pump bracket and the connections on the rear of the alternator were snug. So I decided to clean the in bay alternator wiring block and connectors and the battery grounds. That seemed to do the trick, as car is now charging and doesn't run down the battery.

I decided to be a bit ballsy and drive the car to visit my friend with the GTV6. He lives in Raleigh, about a 2+ hour one way trip. While driving out I noticed that as I hit heavier traffic (and subsequently slowed down a bit) that the car was bogging a bit...almost a bit of a miss. It was quite noticeable around 2.5 - 3K RPM range.

Purpose of the trip was to secure a set of Verde phone dial wheels/tires and pick up a few other bits from my friend as he has acquired a parts GTV6 and a parts Milano.

Driving home I kept the car up higher in the RPM range (80 MPH, high 3K RPMs) and it seemed a lot happier there. I noticed that I was getting a distinct flicker from the dash lights once I had to turn on the lights. It also seems that the headlights flicker along with the cabin lights. Previous owner did mention that he had replaced the dimmer switch and a shorted wire in the light circuit (car smoked the old switch).

Here are my assumptions about these two issues:

Slight miss and bogging could be from a worn AFM, likely from historical driving in that range of the power band (pretty much the around town in 4th or highway in 5th range). I am going to acquire the spare AFM from my friends parts Milano and inspect it, and then test. I know that you can modify the arm in the AFM to ride on a new track on the contact, so maybe that will solve the issue.

The flickering is likely the switch or a wiring issue. I am less confident in how to chase this one down so I'd appreciate any feedback.

Overall I am very pleased with the car. It is fairly stock, but has some good maintenance performed. I also have a bit of belt squeal right now, but I know that both the power steering and alternator belts are a bit loose. It has happened during the recent cold, wet weather.

I plan on upgrading the suspension which is entirely stock, and fitting the rear Ansa muffler that is also currently on the parts Milano. Other than that it is staying the way it is.

Thanks for looking. I purchased this car from Doug in Asheville in case any of you know him - I think he was a member on this forum.

Here is a pic as received:



Here is a pic with the Verde phone dials:

 

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The AFM sounds like a good call. I'd start by checking for oil blow back from the oil vapor separator can. Clean out the hoses if any signs of oil clean AFM with carb or electrical cleaner and see if this helps. If so I'd take the vapor separator can off and clean it out with a can or two of carb cleaner and compressed air. After that another AFM may be needed. If I remember correctly I replaced one on my 87 Gold back in the day.
 

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The AFM sounds like a good call
I agree. All of these AFM's are getting old and tired.

I plan on upgrading the suspension which is entirely stock
The Verde torsion bars and front anti-roll bar are stiffer but not too stiff. Check the condition of the ball joints, bushings and tie rod ends. The torsion bar suspension is different but not difficult to work on.
Keep your fingers crossed that the rear wheel bearings are good. They are a pain to replace.
 

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Congrats on what looks to be a good buy.

Several things you might do to make for better running:

When you get a chance, put in the appropriate NGK Iridium spark plugs. They have worked very well in our Milano for thousands of miles.

Clean/scrape the rotor and cap insides. Who knows when they were last checked.

Try using an injector cleaner such as Techron for a few tank fillings. Has worked well in my Alfas for years, no poor running issues from dirty injectors.

Also, I suggest using Mobil 1 15W-50 oil (for older cars). Change the brake and clutch fluid (I use ATE 200 in all my Alfas) when you get a chance as well.

A good change to do is to modify the ARC circuit board by putting in a better voltage regulator per this:

http://www.alfabb.com/bb/forums/milano-75-1985-1993/69476-real-fix-arc-blinking-lights.html

Easy to do, and makes the ARC work well with no odd/errant flashing lights as happens sometimes with the original.

Get yourself a spare fuel pump dual relay, which mounts on the right hand side of the firewall behind the insulation. If this goes out, and they do, you will not have fuel pressure at all. Keep it in the glove box.

Our Milano has 100k miles of daily driving, and still runs really well with the above mentioned care.
 

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Welcome to the Milano club! Another thing to do is to go over the L-Jet system carefully, cleaning grounds and such, take a look here:

L-jetronic Fuel Injection Technical Troubleshooting Article

I agree on the timing belt, if you don't know when it was last changed best to do that. If the headlights are flickering along with the instrument lights then that is not the dimmer as that shouldn't affect the headlights.

Make sure to register your car on my Milano Registry site (address below) and keep us up to date on your progress!

Kevin
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks for the warm welcome and the advice. The previous owner performed quite a bit of maintenance in the last year or so, including:

Timing belt
Water pump
Gear oil change / input seal
Rear calipers, rotors and pads (assume fluid change)
Front pads
Alternator
A/C compressor, dryer and o-rings (converted to R-134a)
Exhaust center pipe

In addition the car has a very complete history including head gasket replacement at 77K and religious oil change, coolant change, transaxle oil change, power steering fluid change history (plus a few electrical gremlins sorted).

I think I will heed the advice in cleaning the intake and oil separator, replace spark plugs and check out condition of cap/rotor. I'd also like to change the coolant as it currently has green coolant, which I am not sure is appropriate phosphate free for an aluminum engine. Any tips on type of coolant (Pentosin?) and drain/fill procedure?

The headlamp flicker might just be in my head...I'll have to drive at night behind someone who can watch the lights. The dash lights definitely flicker!

None of the suspension has been touched, and the car surprisingly feels pretty tight in consideration. When I do the suspension I will address the various bushings, links and ball joints (while I'm in there!). Does the car require upgraded torsion bars, or can I simply adjust the stock ones? I plan to run some type of lowering spring and sport shocks (Konis or Bilsteins).

I will also address the guibos as well, as those seem to be original (I don't have a record of replacement).

The Alfa will split daily driver duty with my 1985 BMW 325E. That will keep both happy as these older cars need to be driven vs. sitting. It is amazing the difference between the two. The E30 is pretty much mechanically updated/upgraded (sport suspension, Hartge 16" wheels), so it is definitely a more German feel. Both are great...the Alfa revs so nicely and has such a sweet exhaust note!
 

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That's good to hear that the PO did all of that maintenance not long ago, will allow you to drive the car instead of work on it!

I wouldn't worry about the coolant, I've used the green kind (Prestone) for years, it is fine.

Kevin
 

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"head gasket replacement at 77K "

I wonder why it needed a head gasket change? Shouldn't. These Alfa V-6's do need the heads retorqued at a high mileage mark. The 164's are worse, with many people reporting chocolate mousse under the oil filler cap caused by head torques which have relaxed. When this happened with my 91S at 90k miles, checking the torques revealed a relaxing to ~55-60 lbs instead of the required 75-80. Retorquing solved that problem ever since, now at 178k miles. No new head gasket required.

I'd be somewhat leery about lowering the car much, as that sump is already close to the road. We had installed the full Shankle suspension, and it lowered the car just a little, maybe an inch, and that has proved to be quite enough. The Shankle set up was an ok choice (except when you change to stiffer stabilizer bars, the front body pick up points have to be reinforced, otherwise they can tear out). We ran the stock shocks for 95k miles and they were still working reasonably, but I put on Bilsteins for a change. Pretty darn stiff. Probably should have used new OEM.

Having driven our Milano for 100k miles now on all sorts of roads, I wouldn't get too carried away with screwing with the suspension. A little is fine, more, and you do end up having to be pretty careful how and where you drive. Others may differ, of course. Your choice.

Kevin is correct in that the regular antifreeze is just fine. Cars have been using aluminum in their engines for decades with no problems from regular antifreeze, which does have the proper additives. My cars have used it for many thousands of miles.

You might think about changing the serp belt idler pulley. It's super easy, and then you can adjust the tension to get rid of belt squealing. You don't want that idler bearing to go, although it will surely last a lot longer than the one in the 164, once again excess bay heat being the problem with the 164, drying out the bearing lube and destroying the bearing. ask me how I know this, lol (well, I guess I can laugh about it now...).

One thing we found out about different exhaust tail pieces such as the Ansa. Put that on and you end up with a very irritating drone at cruise engine rpm. Had to take that Ansa back off and return to stock. Much better. Alfa spends a lot of time and money to get that "Alfa Sound".
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Yeah not sure why the car needed head gaskets...maybe it overheated? The shop instructions state "oil, leak, replace hoses?, coolant loss. Check out and advise." Charged 15 hours of labor with service description "replaced timing belt and tensioner, thermostat, replaced left and right cylinder head gasket. Replaced fuel and vacuum hoses where possible. Replaced lower radiator hose." Parts included 1 gasket set at $240, which I assume is a full upper head set at that price (in 1999).

I plan on replacing the valve cover gaskets this Spring (so I can paint those beautiful covers) and I'll retorque the cylinder heads then.

By serpentine belt idler do you mean timing belt? I don't see a serpentine belt for the engine accessories, just regular old v-belts (one for a/c, one for power steering, one for alternator/water pump). They are all a little bit loose, between 3/4" and 1" of deflection between pulleys.

I'll heed your advice on the suspension...I am not planning to slam the car, just lower a bit for aesthetic reasons and firm it up a little.
 

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Agree with Del- don't mess with the suspension height. The front lowers via torsion bar adjustment, can't be lowered but a fraction without going to stiffer bars or you'll scrape fender wells and road objects, and freeing the torsion bars from their rear mount seats after all these years can be quite a time consuming challenge.
 

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I meant those V-belts since they run around a couple of components, not that it was a toothed belt. Yes, you have too much sag in those belts.

Sounds like the PO got a little taken by the shop, as I always recommend checking the head torques first before getting carried away with head gasket replacement.

I hope you have a workshop manual, either disc or paper, makes life easier.
 

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didn't see it so if I missed it, sorry. Use of distilled water in the cooling system is a good thing as well. Mixed with proper coolant of course!! ciao jc and BTW welcome!!
 

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having reread your thoughts, my 75 is different in that it has a 4 banger in it. Now I'm not a suspension engineer or racer or anything like this so take my thoughts for what they are.

I installed one of Alfaholics "handling kits" consisting of Konis, a fat front sway bar, tighter rear springs and poly caster arm bushings. I love it. The car stayed the same height and is just better planted. The car moves around a little while tossing it about but that's the nature of the rear pinnings/DeDion I think. The body does that is, not so the suspension which feels stuck like glue to the road. It carves up the corners pretty well and I like how the car "feels". I'd like to lower the front a small amount as to my eye, it'll look better and might do so in the spring by changing the orientation of the lower control arms to the torsion bars by one spline. It's an afternoons work and pretty easy - well it was easy on my Alfetta GTV which is the same chassis. I'd do this for the lowered look and based on my GTV experience, it didn't cause any issues at all but you have a 6 and clearance seems to be a concern here on the forum. Anyway the handling kit was easy to install and I followed Jims advice and left the Koni's as they came - full soft tho they are adjustable. Jim suggested the ride would suffer if I dabbled with the settings and I trust him implicitly. I "upgraded" to 14 inch wheels and Falked Ziex 912 tires and they undoubtedly made a difference as well. I say upgraded as mine came with 13 inch 4 bolt wheels! Just thoughts. ciao, jc
 

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When I put Koni's on my 94LS (granted, not a Milano of any sort, lol), I had to turn them to ~2/3 toward firm in order to get the car to feel exactly the same as the Sport setting for my 91S. That setting works well. Any firmer, and as you say, the ride would suffer.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Thanks again for the suspension advice.

Yesterday I tightened up all of the v-belts (nice that the owner's manual shows you how to do it) and replaced the spark plugs with the NGK Iridium plugs. Car now does not squeal like a pig and it seems to run much better. Still has a little hesitation at certain RPMs, but doesn't seem as noticeable.
 
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