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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Due to covid things at work went south which ended my convenient carpool situation that I’ve enjoyed over the past four years and forced me to press the 164 back into daily commuter role. After about a week it started to sound like it had a hole in the muffler and it progressively got worse until it sounded like a Mexican city bus with a straight pipe. So I put it on the lift but everything looked just fine but when I started it I could tell it was coming from the top of the center muffler. I had to disconnect and drop the whole front section to get to it and sure enough the top of the muffler was blown completely open. I was able to stitch it all back together with the MIG and welded a reinforcing patch on top for good measure.

So all was fine again except every time I started the engine I heard some sort of rattle for just a second or two after which it would be gone. This went on for a couple of days then on Wednesday I hopped in, turned the key and - nothing. All the lights lit up and I could hear a relay click but no crank. The battery reads 12.9v, pretty sure it’s fine. Obviously it’s got something to do with the starter but I’m scratching my head. It was working perfect up until it wasn’t.

After owning a pair of 164’s for the past seven years and putting well over 100,000 miles on between the two of them I’ve never had to deal with a starter. I’ve seen it and been all around it but never had to touch it and frankly it don’t look like much fun, even with a lift.
 

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Due to covid things at work went south which ended my convenient carpool situation that I’ve enjoyed over the past four years and forced me to press the 164 back into daily commuter role. After about a week it started to sound like it had a hole in the muffler and it progressively got worse until it sounded like a Mexican city bus with a straight pipe. So I put it on the lift but everything looked just fine but when I started it I could tell it was coming from the top of the center muffler. I had to disconnect and drop the whole front section to get to it and sure enough the top of the muffler was blown completely open. I was able to stitch it all back together with the MIG and welded a reinforcing patch on top for good measure.

So all was fine again except every time I started the engine I heard some sort of rattle for just a second or two after which it would be gone. This went on for a couple of days then on Wednesday I hopped in, turned the key and - nothing. All the lights lit up and I could hear a relay click but no crank. The battery reads 12.9v, pretty sure it’s fine. Obviously it’s got something to do with the starter but I’m scratching my head. It was working perfect up until it wasn’t.

After owning a pair of 164’s for the past seven years and putting well over 100,000 miles on between the two of them I’ve never had to deal with a starter. I’ve seen it and been all around it but never had to touch it and frankly it don’t look like much fun, even with a lift.
It's not fun but there is a method to doing it that makes it easier.
 

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1991 164L
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Been there done that on BB1 mt 164L - starter years ago and mid muffler month ago. Rear short pipe on mid was full of rust holes nothing thick enough to weld. Lucky ebayer had new one in CT. He shipped in 2-days. Haven't seen an S mid for sale on for a long time. I have spare ones in FL for both the L and S but I am in VA. Neville has spoken for The S mid.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
It was a bit odd, there was no rust. The metal on top is very thin, strengthened by the ribs. It must have developed a crack somehow that eventually just went off in about five directions and opened it up like a sardine can. The reason it was so loud, besides having a gaping hole was that the top was flapping like a playing card in bicycle spokes. It was making some horrendous sounds at certain rpms.

As for the starter, I'm not sure. It doesn't do anything, the lights don't dim, it's not even trying. Maybe it's a connection issue. Problem number one is my truck is blocked between the Alfa and the lift so I have to figure out a way to get around that first.
 

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1991 164L
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Since it appears I10 red strip with diode starter relay near back of radio appears to click when you turn key to start, I suggest you try to apply power to pin 1 black wire in Big round G151 connector behind the dash to see if you can get starter to engage.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
Alfas at work.

Obstacle one taken care of. Since the Spider was also trapped by the stricken 164 I used it to tow Blackie inside the gate enough to make clearance and get the truck out. Tomorrow I'll start checking Steve's suggestions. We'll get to the bottom of this. I'm glad this happened at home in the driveway and not 58 miles from home in the parking lot at work at the end of the shift. That woulda' sucked.

And yes, in case you're wondering, I did wash the Spider after it did this deed. It had been parked in it's cocoon for the past six months unused but I think I'll take it out for a spirited drive. They don't like being parked. Just ask Blackie, it suffered the same and now it's like trying to get a bear out of hibernation.

Land vehicle Vehicle Car Regularity rally Classic car


Land vehicle Vehicle Car Sedan Full-size car
 

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Is there another way to drive an Alfa?

I've often wondered.

Mine just goes like a bat out of he!! no matter what I want it to do...l
 
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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
With key to START I get 12v on pin 1 of G151 cabin side. When I put 12v on pin 1 of G151 engine side nothing happens. Looks like I'm gonna get dirty. :poop:

Edit: turned out the battery I was using only had 8 volts so I tried jumping straight from G56 terminal to pin 1 and I get a spark and some clunking sound but no crank. The clunking sounds kind of weird, as if the solenoid is jammed and not fully engaging. With an ohmmeter I read 0.9 ohms to ground on pin 1.

BTW Steve - you said pin 2. The schematic and manual say pin 1.

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Thanks for that info I correct my post above to pin 1.
 

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Kc. After I had reinstalled my stater (removed as I had to drill out broken stud on lower pipes anyway, cleaned it out and added a new solenoid just in case...which proved to be defective), I got that dreaded "clunk. Turns out it was a defective solenoid. Took it all to the rebuild guy. He changed the brass bearings (I had changed the brushes), replaced the solenoid with a better one and everything is now good. if you had an issue with Pin 1, probably no effect when cranking. if so, the exciter wire may have been the culprit but that wouldn't, I think, cause a "clunk".
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Update: Well, rather than dig into the starter I figured it would be easier to put the new heater core in the red car and use it as my commuter over the winter so that's what I've done over the past 4 months. But I figure it's time to get on it and fix the black car since it's the one with a working air conditioner and summer will be here before we know it.

So I got underneath and dropped the exhaust for access and then decided to do some refresher research here and as I was reading through some of the threads I came upon this mention of a low oil level kill function of some sort. I wasn't really aware of this but I'll be darned if it didn't jog my memory and I remembered wondering why I had an intermittent Engine Oil Level warning light on the dash just before this whole fiasco began. I remember I had to look it up in the owner's manual because I had never seen that light come on before (one of the few ha,ha)

So, is this true? Could that really prevent the starter from cranking? Or am I just looking for an excuse not to dive in there.
 

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My oil level sender is disconnected and shorted. Not sure what happens if it is left open circuit. I think you splice in a resistor to inform the computers in the car that the oil level is normal even though the sensor isn't actually working. Sorry, don't know what size resistor.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
Well I suppose the best course of action for me right now is to just try to get some jumpers up in there and see if it will crank if I bypass everything. If not then well, I'm not looking forward to this, it looks like a real PITA.

EDIT: Take that back, after re-reading my own posts I see that I already verified voltage going to the starter (short term memory degradation) So it looks like I'm in for it - the worst job on a 164 by Alfisto Steve's own admission. I guess you ain't a true 164head until you've done this - right of passage... I guess I'll start by spraying those header nuts with PB-Blaster and have a beer.
 

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KB Before dropping the exhaust manifold (which happens after you remove many other items and parts) try to get your hand up over the starter and see if the exciter wire has loosened or rotted off. That was a problem I had a few years back. Mind you, wound up cleaning starter and adding new solenoid last year but that was a "might as well do it" moment rather than a no-start. But I recall you were getting that "clunk" and that sounds like a failing solenoid. It's not really a difficult job BUT some traps are crossing manifold threads, miss-matching the starter bolts to the wrong holes (frustrating) and snugging down the exhaust manifold gaskets so they don't leak. Also tie off the exciter wire so that you don't accidentally pull it off after getting the starter in place. Make sure you have the manifold to exhaust gaskets (factory ones are copper I think) but I used some off market ones that fit although you have to be careful aftermarket ones are not too thick or the flange will not line up and the gasket may be pinched. There is a good chance one or more of the exhaust to manifold studs will break so drilling and tapping may be in order....I replaced the front ones with nuts and bolts as the drill wandered a bit. Best of luck with it.
 

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I took ChazzyD's advice and pulled the engine and transmission when the clutch throw out bearing went out. The power steering rack was leaking the timing belts and water pump needed to be changed as well. While there, the starter was rebuilt as a precaution.

Yes, if your oil level reaches the low mark on the dipstick, something will prevent the starter from engaging. Don't ask how I know, just trust me.

Mark
 

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I took ChazzyD's advice and pulled the engine and transmission when the clutch throw out bearing went out. The power steering rack was leaking the timing belts and water pump needed to be changed as well. While there, the starter was rebuilt as a precaution.

Yes, if your oil level reaches the low mark on the dipstick, something will prevent the starter from engaging. Don't ask how I know, just trust me.

Mark
I don't believe that is true. Oil level sensor is just that and if it is working it only turns on red dip stick icon on speedo cluster if oil level low. Or if not working it will keep that icon on with proper oil level, too.
 

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2015 Chevy (Holden) SS, 1989 Milano (Shankle Sport), 1991 164S
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164s do not have such a device, as Steve says. I've run the 91 164S without the probe installed. No difference. I've had the probe in the S fail and turn the light on permanently. I just replaced it with a resister to put the light out. Tried the same trick with the failed oil level probe in the Milano but it didn't work, so I just put black tape over the light on the dash, lol. Electric oil level sensors do fail, as compared to a dip stick.
 

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Perhaps it was a coincidence but Delmas G. told me that "their 164 burned oil if they topped it up to the full level on the dipstick. Once it reached half way between full and low, it stopped using oil". I was testing this theory and maybe went a bit too far. Knowing the 'S' was near the low mark on the dipstick, I kept a spare bottle of oil in the trunk. I once pulled into our nearby Chick-fil-A with my Alfa friend WL. When we went to leave, the starter motor would do nothing -it was totally dead. Once the engine oil level was topped back up, the starter motor instantly turned and the engine started without protest.

Due to that one experience, I concluded that the 164-S must have a disconnect between the starter motor and the oil level sensor. One might also conclude that I was foolish for letting the oil get so low; in the name of science and I agree.

Mark
 

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I did seem to find years ago that the consumption of oil in my 91S did seem to slow once the oil level dropped below about a qt low, but not sure that's really the case. My 91S doesn't hesitate to continue to consume it, alas.

Have no clue as to why your engine wouldn't start, except I've found that if having taken the S for a short run to the store, ie, the engine, etc, not fully warmed up, the engine is hesitant to start again, except when I open the throttle. Then it starts, and I assume that there was a little bit of flooding going on in the engine, and opening the throttle clears that out.
This is something I would never do in the Milano, as that would more than likely blow the intake plenum, the Milano starting fine, hot or cold, not touching the throttle until it has started.
 

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It's not that it wouldn't start, the starter wouldn't even engage. Once the oil was added, it was fine -started & ran like new
and still continued to use oil like new... Never been a 'glitch' like that before or since. I thought how smart of Alfa Romeo as it would prevent engine failure due to low oil level; maybe not.

Mark
 
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