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Syncros probably getting weak in 1st and 2nd. Double check the fluid level. Pretty common. Alfa boxes don't shift real great when cold. As the Alfa engine is aluminum, recommend that you warm it up somewhat before you drive off. Easier on the head gasket.

As a matter of course, don't downshift an Alfa into first. No operational need to. All you'll do is wear the sycros faster. When at a stop and you want to shift to first, put it in 4th momentarily, then 1st and that will prolong the life of your first gear syncros quite a bit. As for second gear, don't try and speed shift into second. If you do you'll wear those syncros unduely as well. Pause for a half second or so going from 1st to 2nd. As for down shifting, I don't do it in second to save those syncro rings. If you must, a double clutch technique will help preserve those syncros.

A rebuilt box is about $500 assuming you do it yourself, so be kind to it. You can have plenty of fun without abusing it.

Clutch? Check for air in the hydraulic line first. Air in the line would result in a spongy pedal, similar to air in a brake line. If that's still good, it may be the clutch is worn badly. Does it grab or slip on engagement or is it smooth? With 48k, if most of it was city driving or the PO abused the clutch, it's possible that the clutch is worn.
 
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