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Before doing anything (aside from changing those tires-yikes!), I would check and change all of the vital fluids.

When was the last time the transmission fluid was checked and/or changed? That could be a big part of it, although Roadtrip is right- don't hurry an Alfa 5-speed into 2nd gear and you'll be fine.

However, given that it was on original tires, you might want to check to see how much maintenance was done. I'm not questioning your purchase- I'm sure it's a good car, but 15 year old tires with 48k raise a big red flag to me.

By the way, since you're in SF, you should have no problem connecting with local Alfisti for comparison. Since you're an Alfa newbie, like many of us (me too), getting together with others (and comparing your car to theirs) will assuage your concerns. Then again, it might make things worse! ;)
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