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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Those follow my more bad luck thread in the 164 section will know that our mint 164 was nearly totalled the other day. It is borderline repair/write off, so I'm thinking about the next car. I really can't seem to find anything else that offers the same value for money in the $10k-$20k (Aussie) range. BMW 5 series seem to be high mileage and parts (more) expensive, I'm not too keen on a VW Bora/Passat, Peugeot 406 (too small). I haven't looked at Audis other than a friend's A4T (again too small), and my wife doesn't want a "big Aussie" Ford Falcon or Holden Commodore. I guess the answer is in my face? The 166 is a lot of car for the money...

I'm considering mostly the series 2 as I've heard a few horror stories about the series 1, in particularly the heater hoses rupturing and leaking onto the ECU. The 4 speed auto is the only option in Australia unfortunately and we only got the 3L or 3.2L(?) V6. I also much prefer the styling of the series 2 facelift compared to the earlier model, but they are generally at a premium.

So, what do I need to look for aside from the usual servicing/timing belts etc? I have seen 1 or 2 cars for sale with gearbox problems - is this common? What are the specific issues?

Any tips and pointers most appreciated!

Cheers,
Benjamin
 

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Surely the drivetrain is all 164??

Pete
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Well the 166 is the evolution of the 164, so I would say a fair bit would be similar, but I'm doubtful it would be exactly the same. I like the way the 164 handles and the performance of the V6, despite being a large front wheel drive car. I bet engine mounts, suspension bushes/arms, brakes etc are all different.

Benjamin
 

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The 166 is generally of high quality. I've just checked the Danish Alfa Forum, since new year only 14 treats on the model, nearly all seeking for info of best tires, exhaust and other comsuable parts.
Denmark have a fair amount of 166s (mostly due to the success of the 156) but few with auto boxes.
Check Alfaowner.com - UK based international Alfa forum.
Good luck - I'm sure you be happy with af 166.
Erik
 

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It seems the suspension bushes etc may not be as robust as the 164. My Alfa mechanic recently had to completely rebuild the suspension on a customer's sub 200,000 km 166 at a cost of $7,000!
 

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On Alfaowner.com there is a tread on Auto Boxes which is good to read with good advice.
Also one on radiator fins disapearing after 10 years, but climate in the UK and Eire is much different to Aussie.
Erik
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
$7k?!

I'd be interested to know what was replaced and how much labour was involved? Seriously, a set of 4 shocks wouldn't be more than $2k, bushes perhaps $1000 (if the bushes only come preinstalled in the lower arms as per the 164) and labour maybe 2-3 days tops say up to $2500 = $5500. It's getting there, but $7k is crazy...

It seems the suspension bushes etc may not be as robust as the 164. My Alfa mechanic recently had to completely rebuild the suspension on a customer's sub 200,000 km 166 at a cost of $7,000!
 

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$7k?!

I'd be interested to know what was replaced and how much labour was involved? Seriously, a set of 4 shocks wouldn't be more than $2k, bushes perhaps $1000 (if the bushes only come preinstalled in the lower arms as per the 164) and labour maybe 2-3 days tops say up to $2500 = $5500. It's getting there, but $7k is crazy...
Apparently he owner said the car had become undrivable. I was surprised and disappointed because I fancy those cars too. I don't know how common this is. I haven't heard of it before. Maybe they don't all wear like that, but it is something to watch out for. Even five grand is a lot for a car that is only worth seven to start with.
 

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Here in NZ there appear to have been a few brought in - NZ new sold off Alfa dealer`s floor and also as Japanese used imports. Have either 2.5 or 3litre V6 and all appear to be autos. Apparently heater problems and auto (if have the Selespeed system like 156) can give problems but overall those that I`ve spoken to who own or have owned them seem to think ok and there are a few with highish k`s (around 200km). Been thinking of ditching my MB 280E (148km) for one as Mercedes far from trouble free and it is boring (compared to an Alfa) 166`s seem good value and I personally like them over 156-ever seem the back seat of a 156-less space than our E36 BMW 4 door.
 

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Photos of series 1 and 2 please? Would be interested to see the differences.

Pete
 

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Photos of series 1 and 2 please? Would be interested to see the differences.

Pete
Here you see both (and can read all about the 166s)The Alfa Romeo pages @ C a r s f r o m I t a l y
clik at 166

Lower down in the "New Production Alfas" there is a tread "Pictures of 166" with lots of pics of a series 2 in and out side.

The auto box is not a Selespeed box but a real electronic managed auto box. It seems that it's ECU needs protection from the heater matric drips.

From what I've read the 3,0/3,2 is much better than the 2,5 - which consumes as much petrol that the bigger versions.

Erik
 

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..heater matrix can leak onto the gearbox ecu, but all you need to do is wrap the ecu in some plastic in case this happens. Gearbox itself is a reliable 4 speed ZF that’s used in plenty of other europeans of the same vintage (it’s not the robotised manual selespeed found in the 156).

Only issue with the gearbox is that 4 gears isn’t really enough for a car geared to do 150mph with a torque peak at 5000rpm, but in fairness the “sport mode” setting does its best to keep the engine on the cam. You really need to take some time to figure out how the gearbox works though, otherwise you just won’t like the car.. it’s a “learning” box with 16 presets depending on how you drive. You can also shift manually, or just lock it in the sportiest setting.

Only real weak point is suspension wear, but a 7k rebuild seems a little OTT. Springs and dampers wear and are often replaced with koni/eibachs. The top wishbones at the front wear too, plus the infamous “merc bush” in the rear.. this is actually a bearing, and is important as the complex rear suspension has lots of passive steering. When this bush wears the car feels very sloppy, and you’ll feel the “a55 wiggle” over lateral ridges on the road. Alfa only sell the bush as an integral part of the arm which is pricey, but you can buy the actual bush seperately..

You need to make sure you get the code for the ICS (display) unit or you’re in for some pain if you disconnect the battery for any reason.

Generally though they are a lovely car, very well made and reliable if you're any way lucky. Slightly different character to the 164, much more modern, but very nice as well. How can I put it.. if you multiplied a 164 by 100 you’d get a ferrari, but a 166 x 100 = maserati :)


PS the pre-facelift cars need to be sitting lowish on the 17" wheels to look right i think..

http://www.alfabb.com/bb/forums/new-production-alfas/179380-alfa-166-picture-thread.html
 

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..
Only real weak point is suspension wear, but a 7k rebuild seems a little OTT.

http://www.alfabb.com/bb/forums/new-production-alfas/179380-alfa-166-picture-thread.html
When I think about it it may have been more like 5K, but it is still a lot for a car of that age that is only worth 7K or less. Unfortunately Alfa seem to have had a problem with premature suspension wear during that period. They are still nice cars though. My mechanic told me that one of the reasons the 159s and Breras were heavier was because they beefed the suspension and bushes up on them.
 

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When I think about it it may have been more like 5K, but it is still a lot for a car of that age that is only worth 7K or less. Unfortunately Alfa seem to have had a problem with premature suspension wear during that period. They are still nice cars though. My mechanic told me that one of the reasons the 159s and Breras were heavier was because they beefed the suspension and bushes up on them.
$ 5k or 7k, isn't it the problem we all face if we want a premium driver's car (Alfa, BMW etc), second hand to save the many extra $ 1000s for a new, but still want it to run optimally.
When a premium class car will be 5 + years old, it does not make the spare parts cheaper.
Erik
 

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True enough Erik but parts prices for BMW and Mercedes are cheaper (at least over here) plus there are more choices of supplier, especially as the car ages. It is that fact and the reality that the 166 is a comparitively rare car compared to the German competitors which makes me a little shy of actually shelling out my hard earned dollars for a 166- you know with a smaller number of cars built and sold parts can never be as cheap as the more popular Germans, plus Fiat Corp don`t back their older models like MB and BMW do.
Emotionally I want one but the logic causes me to hold back.
 

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It's always a question of letting your heart or brain decide.
I can see from you fleet of Alfas that you are an Alfisto. So you probably already know an independent Alfa specialist and are used to get parts overseas, check out one of the UK based Alfa parts supplieres THE EXCITING Alfa Romeo 156
I don't know your needs. My needs and willingness to spent money on a big car has prevented me from buying both the 164 and 166, besides the meddle sized Alfas have always been more of drivers cars, especially on A, B and C roads but still capable on motorways. Danes who likes to go to the Alps or the Mediteranian have to cross Germany nord - south = 1000+ km on largely unrestricted Autobahn; something all my mid sized Alfa did formidably.
This brings me to the 159, have you considered that?
Erik
 

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No I haven`t Erik, don`t really like 159`s, it`s just that the 166`s over here are temptingly cheap and my W124 Mercedes (280E) is worthy but dull and has not been the shining example of good design and superb engineering it is held up to be-I deliberately chose a W124 (sold my then current model C class Merc which was beginning to go wrong) after reading how W124`s were supposedly one of THE BEST Mercedes ever made and the M104 straight 6 one of their best engines.
I think I will give up on "modern" cars and keep just the oldies-no depreciation and cheap and simple to fix.
 

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Well, you just need to check out all the 166s for sale in your arear, they are good car, maybe expensive to repair, but if you get a newish one with no faults you just look after it.
I sold my 156 1998/215k km in May, it never had anything done to it exept servicing and change of comsumerables in the 9 years I owned it. If you buy a good car and look after it you be alright.
 

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I own an automatic 1st series 3.0. finished in aurora white with white leather interiors, I also have a 164 3.0 q.v.
they are really different, the 166 is far more precise to drive tan the 166.
be sure to change the gearbox oil every two services and the zf 20hp4 gearbox will last forever. ;)
 

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