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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have an opportunity to buy a 164 S that needs a little work, but I am not real familiar with the rear suspensions on this car. The car has a bent rear axel beam that needs to be replaced and the self leveling suspension does not seem to be working when the car is running, staying very low in the rear. I am guessing I can replace the axel beam without too much problem, but the leveling suspension I am not familiar enough with to know what usually goes wrong with them and to make a guess to what it will cost to fix. Can the air shocks be replaced fairly easily with standard shocks or is it not that easy to do on these cars? What usually goes that makes them not inflate properly and what is the cost to replace it? The exhaust sounds so soulful when I rev it reminds me of all the Milanos I used to have that sounded soooo good, and I would like to get it if it is not going to cost an arm and a leg to fix. Thanks in advance.
 

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Alfisto Steve can chime in here. He's the expert, but I don't think 164 suspensions are truly self-leveling. The S models have the Sport suspension struts that have two settings, normal and "sport." A lot of these struts have failed solenoids and, I believe, revert back to sport ride setting. The are very expensive to replace, but normal L model struts can be substituted no problem and are a lot less expensive. I think almost all S's spend 99.9% of their time in normal mode anyway.

What I would be concerned about is how the beam got bent in the first place. Accident?? Have you done a Carfax/Autocheck report to see it's history?

I just bought a 91S and got a hard lesson in compressor bearing failures on the drive home. If you get this car, I'd probably recommend that you get it transported. If you need the name of a really good guy in New Jersey that does transporting, send me a PM. He just transported mine from mid PA to NYC and was outstanding in every respect.
 

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The 164S doesn't have "self leveling" or air struts. They have a normal or sort setting. When anything goes wrong with the suspension, it defaults to the Sport setting. If the car is sitting very low in the in the rear, either the struts or springs are back. If the struts are weak, the logical replacement is Konis. They are far cheaper than than the original struts and are mechanically adjustable.
It sounds like this car has several problems. I bet it will cost several thousand to fix everything.
 

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You have to swap out the S struts for the L struts and then you can put in Konis in the L tubes. We'll all be there eventually.
Check for broken springs. I just had to replace one. The bottom one full turn broke off.
 

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2015 Chevy (Holden) SS, 1989 Milano (Shankle Sport), 1991 164S
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Don't think it will be that bad. Read the owner's manual first of all, explains a lot. Also, if you buy the car, get a copy of the Fiat parts disc (eper) available on ebay from the UK. Also look into getting a repair manual disc, or the paper version of it. These discs are essential if you plan on owning a car of this vintage. Living in New Jersey, have a chat with Difatta (not too far away) about maybe doing work. They have a good web site and lots of parts, as does Alfissimo, and others you can easily find on the web.

Check on the 164 Digest web site for a whole lot more info on specifically the 164 models. A ton of info there and you'll probably find everything you need to know.

You will probably need a used but straight suspension beam, and maybe one or more rear springs.

Does the little red light between the auto and sport suspension buttons flash on and then off when you start the car, or does it stay on all the time. If it goes out, probably the electroshocks are ok, but if it stays on, then something is wrong in the system and it has switched to the default sport setting. Actually, nothing wrong with that, as that's where I have mine set all the time anyway. Might be just a bad connection somewhere. Check all of them. I think there is a system check you can do?

Others are correct that if you do need to change the shocks, just buy konis (rear struts and front inserts) and the b/l front struts (used obviously) to install the koni inserts. Not hard to do, did this on my LS. Sometimes you can find a set of used S shocks in ok condition. I did just that, and have a spare low mileage set hidden away, but also a set of L front struts, just in case. Doesn't hurt to be ready and prepared, lol.

good luck,
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
What I think happened regarding the axel beam is that the owner got a flat tire while driving and called AAA to come tow the car and the driver hooked the the tie down chains up the the axel beam and pulled the rear one too tight...idiot...I have seen this dozens of times being in the car business. I think I can get a straight used beam for a reasonable price without too much problem, and then just get the Koni's for the rear. No I dont remember the light blinking or staying on, but I was not really looking for it either so I will have to recheck. By the way, I hate Koni's and have always bought the Bilsteins instead as they are much better IMHO....is there any reason I can't put the Bilstein struts in instead? Thanks again.
 

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I believe the L strut tubes are needed to convert the front struts to Konis, not the rears.
 

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I have not seen Bilsteins available for the 164. Boge/Sachs, Monroe and Koni are your choices. Of course Boge and Koni are your only real choices.
Charles
 

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As you note, the different brand shocks have different characteristics, so IMHO it wouldn't be wise to have two different brands on the car. Stick with one brand. I have Konis on my LS, set to match the sport setting on my 91S, and I think they work well, having driven the LS many miles on trips on all different types of roads, including a 7000 mile trip to Texas and back.

At this time, I'm not sure you have anything wrong with the OEM electrostruts. I have 155k miles on mine and have had only one leak a little. otherwise, they work just fine.
 

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There is no axle beam but the most common bits to get bent are the transverse arms. Pretty cheap but you have to disassemble the rear suspension to change them. The track rods can also be bent (round adjustable rods at the rear of the suspension) and those are easy to replace.

If you meed new struts then the transverse arm can be replaced at the same time. Do not try to fix it, replace it.
 

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Rear Suspension 164

What arm is bent in first pix item 2 or 3? Usually they bend item 2. Sometimes they hook onto cross-member 1 but usually they don't bend it enough to change alignment.
 

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What I think happened regarding the axel beam is that the owner got a flat tire while driving and called AAA to come tow the car and the driver hooked the the tie down chains up the the axel beam and pulled the rear one too tight...idiot...I have seen this dozens of times being in the car business. I think I can get a straight used beam for a reasonable price without too much problem, and then just get the Koni's for the rear. No I dont remember the light blinking or staying on, but I was not really looking for it either so I will have to recheck. By the way, I hate Koni's and have always bought the Bilsteins instead as they are much better IMHO....is there any reason I can't put the Bilstein struts in instead? Thanks again.
Konis are the only thing available. Bilstien does not make them for the 164 anymore. Konis are nice. I have had both in several cars and KONI is just as good or better than Bilstien, but it does not matter cause there is no other option but Koni or factory. Electronic struts are NLA. So you could just put standard Sach's on there.
 

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2015 Chevy (Holden) SS, 1989 Milano (Shankle Sport), 1991 164S
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I would suggest that you get the rest of the car sorted out before you consider the condition of the OEM struts, unless there is something obviously broken or bent. As I mentioned before, if when you turn the key on, if the little red light between the auto and sport buttons comes on and then goes off, and if the red lights for the two settings work as advertised, could be that everything in that system is ok.

If the center red light comes and stays on, regardless, or the red light for the sport setting stays on, regardless of setting, then there is a problem. However, it is safe to drive when the system defaults to the sport setting in that event, provided, as I mentioned, there is nothing broken or bent. Personally, I would just leave it on the default, lol. You didn't buy a "Crown Vic".

Be sure to check the condition of the springs/holders(item 8, strut assy) on the struts.
 
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