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What to do, what to do....

4610 Views 49 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  planner3357
So, here is my list of things that need attention on my 94 LS with 86,500 miles.

I am debating on what to fix first although I think I already know the answer. Just thought I would get some input from the BB.

1)Car stumbles at idle and I'm thinking the timing is off...belt change? Costly
*Car is due for a belt change in 10k.

2) Passenger side has a bad camber and pretty sure it needs new control arm and tie-rods as there is a clunk when turning...not too costly...easy fix. Should I do both pass and drver at the same time? May be motor mounts too as at 80 mph on swooping right curve it wants to pull to the right hard with gas.

3)Had a hard start the other day so I'm thinking split hose in tank which would mean replacing the fuel pump, since I'm there already....not the easiest I hear.

4) Still have winter tires on and don't want to run them during the summer..costly.

5) Some rust in the usual fix it this year or wait till next?

These are the most pressing issues....which would you tackle first?

...note that I am on a ever $2,000 will get done.

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My own opinion:

Wait on changing the timing belt til next year, unless you drive many miles a year. Spend the time to find a very trustworthy Alfa mechanic who is skilled in the 164 timing belts. This is the big ticket item, and you want it right.

Check the suspension/steering to see what might have deteriorated. Might take new lower suspension arms, but that's not expensive (about $90 each or so, with new bushings), and you can do the replacement work yourself, if you have worked on cars before. You can also rebuild the struts, the large dia bearing has a tendency to bind and jump with a bang in turns if it gets very dirty. Lousy design. The tie rods last a long time. Check alignment (toe) front and rear.

Change plugs, and clean and use dielectric grease on every electrical connection in engine bay, including those under the air filter box. Haven't heard of the split hose problem much on the LS. Not expensive to fix, though.

Run on the winter tires until later. The new ones don't wear nearly as fast as the old versions.

Rust, you have rust? Oh yes, salty Detroit. Personally, I'd have the rust areas fixed before they become too much to handle.

Save your money if you plan on keeping an Alfa 164. Difficult to maintain such a car in your rust producing area if you are on a tight budget, and drive it all year.
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Thanks for the insight, Del. I do have a very well know mechanic so I'm safe there with the timing belt.

I plan on doing the front suspension myself as I'm not a rook when it comes to this stuff...just on an Alfa.

I drive a lot of miles, probably 350-450 a week. BUT, I'm taking a new job that will bring that to down 45 miles per week.

Also, timing off doesn't concern you?
My LS stumbles slightly at idle. It too has a new timing belt as well as spark plug coil packs. My mechanic said it is probably the injectors that need to be taken out and cleaned. I have been running injector cleaning treatments through the gas tank and it has gotten a bit better. So, it may be something like injectors needing cleaning. Certainly less costly than a new timing belt service.

Let us know how things turn out and best of luck.

Dallas, Texas
1994 194 LS, just turned over 70K miles
It is more likely the stumble is not the timing belt being off, if the car has been running ok otherwise. Usually something else. I did forget to mention to start using some Techron or something similar. I've found that it does work, also proven by industry tests. I've used it once in a while for every one of my injected Alfas through the years, and have never had an injector problem. My 94LS runs very sweet at 95k miles.

I do think that these LS's are more prone to problems due to poor electrical connections, ie, connections getting dirty oxidized in the engine bay. Cleaning every connection in the engine bay with electrical cleaner and using dielectric grease seems to cure many problems people have thought are something more complicated.

Also, what plugs do you use? I use the NGK Iridiums for the LS. It's picky on plugs, and they can cause the stumble.

Better to try to solve a problem by getting the simple stuff out of the way first. Then, if all else fails, then try the belt timing.
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That's what I like to one wants complications!

Right now it has Bosch plugs in, but I think I will pick up some NGKs this weekend. Hopefully after pulling the plugs and cleaning up the dizzy my issues will be forgotten...until the next one.
no dizzy

If you hear some 'snapping' sounds during idle that generally is a spark that is exiting from the coil-on-plug and shorting to ground. Can be caused by a few things but very first thing to check is spark plug gap (with the correct NGK plugs if you can find them). Very important.
If you hear some 'snapping' sounds during idle that generally is a spark that is exiting from the coil-on-plug and shorting to ground. Can be caused by a few things but very first thing to check is spark plug gap (with the correct NGK plugs if you can find them). Very important.
There is a kind of tick...maybe its a snap coming from that general area. Guess I'll look into that.
I found that the Bosch plugs did not work well after a while in my 164S. I think Bosch got the heat range wrong for the plug they recommended. I would always get a miss or irregular throttle response in my 91S when the Bosch had just a few thousand miles on them. Looked ok, but the problem would go away upon replacement. I've always used NGK's in the LS. I buy my NGK BKR6EIX plugs at O'Reilly's Auto Parts. I'm sure there are others as well which probably work, at least for a while.

You won't be able to clean the "dizzy" as the LS doesn't have one, only the 91-93 164's. I found, for my 94, the ignition multiconnectors under the air filter box were extremely dirty due to their poor location, but once cleaned and protected with dielectric grease, a peculiar intermittent ignition cutout disappeared, and hasn't been a problem in years.

For the occasional "snapping" or shorting out of the coils on plugs, I lined the sparkplug hole and surrounding areas around the coils with insulating Mylar sheet. Worked like a champ, no longer hear any snapping.

I will repeat what I said about Techron, or other injector cleaners. I've never had an injector problem in any of my many Alfas, even with many thousands of miles on them, when using this cleaner once in a while.

Good luck on keeping your LS up and running correctly. I really enjoy my 94LS. I installed Koni shocks, aftermarket stabilizer bars, S springs, 45mm intakes, and 205/55-16 tires. It is a very nice high speed performer, taking it on long highway trips, such as to Galveston, Texas and back to Seattle, about 6k miles, what with visiting Nat Parks on the way. To Yellowstone and back was another fine trip. This spring, Banff/Jasper might be a fine place to revisit. Do have to visit San Diego for relatives as well.

We get about 28 mpg on the highway with the LS, driving about 80 mph most of the time (except for Oregon, which has really sucky absurd speed limits even out in the middle of nowhere, I really dislike that State in general), about 20-22 mpg in town. I use the 91S for almost all of my city driving. My wife screams around in her Shankle suspension equipped Milano.
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I have noted and plan to do exactly what you said. Might have to drive out to Orange county to visit the family one of these days...gotta love road trips.
Maybe the spark intensifier (amplifier)?

You have an LS. One of the specific problems the LS has in totally different from the other older 12 valve 164 cars is that it has computer triggered ignition firing. But the trigger impulse from the ECU unit is not enough to really give the necessary zap to the spark. There are two small spark amplifiers (each doing 3 plugs) attached to the inner lower edge of the air filter structure that step up the impulse. They get grungy and the contacts need cleaning. To check, try switching the leads from them and checking to see if it puts the miss on some other plug. It acts almost like what would happen if the car slipped a tooth or two on the timing belt at idle, but when going at higher rpm works just fine. That problem can be easily fixed by working (and prerhaps replacing) the spark amplifiers. If that cures the low speed miss you will have money to take care of the rest. REMEMBER THIS IS AN LS (24 VALVE) PROBLEM, NOT ONE ON BASE, L, OR S.
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Yes, those amplifier multiconnectors are in a bad location, being exposed to dirt and water coming through the grill past the driver's side of the radiator. Mine were incredibly filthy, crudded up. took a while to make sure they were clean. I then made sure that they had enough dielectric grease to seal the plug-ins.

One note, early LS's had a plastic shield on that left side (driver's side) of the radiator similar to the one on the right, but I believe there was a note (bulletin?) to remove that one to prevent the modules from overheating and failing by letting more fresh cool air through. I took mine off, looked better with it on, but I don't want one of those modules to fail while out on the road. That then is how they can get cruddy if not sealed with the dielectric grease.

As Jay says, switching them to see if that moves the miss is ok, a good move, but in reinstalling the connectors, you might reestablish the connections perhaps temporarily, cutting though the crud. Then it is hard to tell what happened. The only cure is to clean those suckers. Then you will be able to also find out whether or not an amplifier is faulty.

I feel that all owners of the LS models should do a complete electrical connection cleanup in the engine bay of their cars before blaming anything else for a problem. It's a simple thing to do and it is then out of the way. It's all too easy to get led astray chasing a quirk or failure. I'm a firm believer in "lex parsimoniae", ie, Occam's Razor.

That's my put on it, anyway.
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one caution on the ignition amp

depending on how one cleans these, one can have a deleterious effect on the heat transfer from the amplifier to the heat sink it is mounted to. Do not use any solvents. If you do, then remove the amp entirely, go buy some "arctic silver' or other heat-sink compound, and remount them.

It is important to remove the heat from the package and the heat conducting paste is critical.
Ummm, I think that is a different problem, using a heat transfer film between a heat sink and a component. Yes, using too much can be a problem, one is warned on the packaging to use very little of that compound. I have a injector of Arctic Silver in my desk for installing heat producing components in circuits.

What we are talking about is just the cleanliness of the actual connectors themselves. No module removal or ability to use the heat transfer film is involved. You are correct, though, that if one did remove a module, some of this compound should be used, sparingly of course.

Good catch.
These are all things I would much rather tackle then shelling out $ for timing belt change right now. I believe by cleaning and treating all electrical connections, replacing plugs with NGK Iridiums I bought today, and treat injectors with the Techron I got today also that she will be running smoother...(fingers crossed) BUY 1 GET 1 on the big bottles of Techron today at Advanced least where I live.

Honestly, I thought that this car might be on par with the 87 XR4Ti I used to own in terms of complexity, but that car is like a two stroke compared to this. I do have to say that I am 100% pleased with the vehicle and I enjoy putting time and effort into it. Especially when people look at you wondering what the hell kind of car it is.
Especially when people look at you wondering what the hell kind of car it is.
Does it happen to you to? I always see some heads turning while I'm driving in town. People here are used to Alfa Romeos, there's lots of them, mostly the newer diesels. I've only seen two other 164s on the road.
My father owned an XR4Ti for quite a while, and it was fun to drive, except that he bought the weaker powered auto version, rather than the stick with more horsepower. Still... it was fun. He loved driving it compared to the Oldsmobiles and weak kneed Mazdas he had before. Of course, he never drove any of my Alfas, pity. Should have done a better job of that, but for the longest time he didn't like Euro cars. Thought I was crazy when I bought my first Alfa, a absolutely cherried out Giulia sprint GT with 20k miles on it. Better than new it was. Hand rubbed paint, rechromed bumpers, sigh. Put 260k miles on that one.

"Especially when people look at you wondering what the hell kind of car it is".


Sorry for the ramble, but when it comes to Alfas, well...
Thought I was crazy when I bought my first Alfa, a absolutely cherried out Giulia sprint GT with 20k miles on it.
A few weeks ago me and my brother met an old friend of mine in the supermarket. His way of starting the talks was saying how crazy I was because I've bought an Alfa! I took it easy, he kept going "I'll get where I want in my Fiesta and I'll do it with more money in my pocket."

"Granted, but even if I arrive in a tow truck, I'm arriving in style on my Alfa Romeo."

Walking out of the supermarket, my brother says "Nice friends you've got! Jealous as hell". Was I disappointed.
The XR4Ti I had was the more powerful one with the 5 spd and double that was goofy looking but was pretty fun to drive. Also got that "what the hell kind of car is that?" look as well. However, the Alfa is much more refined, IMO.
So here's an update to my stumbling issue on my 94 LS. Put a large bottle of Techron in the fuel tank and filled her up accordingly. It seemed to run better for a while and then as the same tank of gas is getting lower the stumble has returned.

When I need to refill should I put the second bottle of Techron in and see if maybe it rids of it again? No harm right?
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