Archive | July, 2015



Alfa-Romeo-159-300pxThe handsome Alfa Romeo 159 is next up on our ramp for further investigation.

The 159 was Alfa’s replacement for the adored 156 and another attempt to crack the German dominated compact executive car market.

The 159 came in both saloon and sportswagon guise, as it tried to grab some of the fleet market from the clutches of BMW, Audi and Mercedes, and the Alfa also was fitted with a selection of petrol engines including a 1.75-, 1.8-, 1.9-, 2.2- and 3.2-litre V6, and 1.9-, 2.0- and 2.4-litre diesels.

The Alfa Romeo came equipped with a host of technology and safety features, and Schaeffler warns that determining the right parts for each model is difficult and often requires the use of the car’s VIN, so this provides the aftermarket with extra challenges.

Alfa-Romeo-159-300px-2Next month we’ll be looking at the Range Rover L322, so wherever you work in the aftermarket if you have insight to share, we would be delighted to hear from you.

To get your advice included contact

Click below to see technical contributions on the Alfa Romeo 159 from:

Alfa Bulletin Board – looks at common problems on the 159 – showcases issues with the rear doors and Selespeed gearbox – on how to tackle wet carpets and heated seats in the Alfa Romeo

Autoelectro – rotating electric considerations and foibles on the 159

Cambiare – various technical faults that affect the Alfa Romeo 159

Comma – discusses the importance of servicing the fluids and lubricants on the Italian saloon

Dayco – why it is important to check the condition of the Alfa’s belts

First Line – a look at foibles with the 159’s steering, suspension and water pumps

Meyle – advises on the 159’s glow plugs, brakes and suspension

Motaquip – looks at the steering, suspension and filtration on the Alfa

RMI – looks at a few common faults with the Alfa 

Schaeffler – gives good practice advice when changing a clutch on the Alfa 

TecRMI – gives technical insight into a couple of common faults on the Alfa Romeo 159

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Inside Line: Schaeffler

It is notoriously difficult to identify the correct parts for this vehicle. To help with identifying them the vehicle’s version and motor number are required and these can be found on the chassis (VIN) plate.

When the old clutch components are removed from the gearbox carry out a visual comparison of the old clutch and Concentric Slave Cylinder (CSC) against the new. Don’t be tempted to ignore the CSC replacement when changing the clutch, remember it’s a bearing and the last thing you and your customer want is to be removing the gearbox again. Some variants are also fitted with a Dual Mass Flywheel (DMF). This should be checked when the clutch is being changed for wear.

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Inside Line: Motaquip

Steering and Suspension

The steering rack on the Alfa Romeo 159 is known for failing. If you can hear a knocking noise coming from the steering rack as you turn the wheel, and/or the steering is feeling heavy, then you most likely have an issue with the steering rack. The steering warning light may also illuminate on the dashboard to indicate this fault.


In certain cases, the factory fit rubber brake hoses on the Alfa Romeo 159 were not correctly vulcanised during the production process. As a consequence these brake hoses may partially or totally restrict the internal flow of brake hydraulic fluid, causing a significant reduction in efficiency during braking.


The Alfa Romeo 159 can experience a loss of power due to a possible fault with the Air Flow Meter. If this fault is detected, check the Air Filter for media integrity that could be contributing to the degradation of the Air Flow Meter.

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Inside Line: TecRMI

Gearbox issues

Fault symptoms:

Poor switching properties at heat or cold.

Reference number(s):

21 02.99


Transmission oil of inferior quality.


Replace existing transmission oil through Tutela ZC 75 Synth.


The old transmission oil needs to be replaced with new one on all models when service work is done on the transmission.

Driveshaft noises

Fault symptoms:

Noises in the drive shaft(s) region and droning

Reference number(s): 27 01.10

Environmental condition(s):

On starting or at speeds of 20-30 km/h


Production defect.


Replace drive shaft(s).

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Inside Line: Dayco

Primary (timing) Drive System

The diesel engines used extensively across the 159 range are fitted with a Dayco High Tenacity (HT), or ‘white’, timing belt as its original equipment (OE) fitment. These units also feature a water pump that is integrated into the timing drive system and driven by the HT timing belt. Therefore, workshops undertaking either a water pump or timing belt replacement, need to realise that only by fitting a Dayco HT timing belt kit can they be assured of a genuine like-for-like replacement.

Technicians should follow industry best practice and ensure that they replace the water pump when the timing belt is being replaced and vice versa. Both of these components cover the same mileages, so replacing both at the same time is the most cost effective option in the long-term and provides motorists with much needed peace of mind following a vehicle repair.

The petrol variants use a combination of belt and chain driven primary drive systems, so check the Dayco’s web catalogue for the correct kit reference for each application.

FEAD (front end auxiliary drive) System

Dayco was also the OE auxiliary belt and component supplier for both the diesel and petrol engines in the 159 range.

Despite being subject to inevitable wear and tear during the lifespan of the engine, the FEAD system has not traditionally been subject to any particular maintenance or replacement schedule. However, Dayco believe it is important for technicians to regularly examine all the components within the FEAD system.

Although it may not directly be a safety critical component, the auxiliary belt in the 159 drives so many vital components – alternator, power steering pump, air conditioning compressor etc. – and even if its failure does not directly stop the vehicle, it could certainly leave the driver without power to some parts of the vehicle that could make it in effect, un-driveable.

Dayco provides a small tool named the ‘a-WEAR-ness gauge’ with which technicians can quickly and accurately carry out three visual checks (wear in both the profile and the depth of the belt groves, plus any cracks in the belt) that will clearly reveal the condition of the belt.

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Inside Line: First Line

Steering & Suspension

All models in the Alfa Romeo 159 range can be particularly prone to wear of their front upper suspension arms, the symptoms of which include a knocking or rattling noise from the front of the vehicle.

As well as causing a noisy, uncomfortable ride, a worn upper arm can also affect the vehicle’s handling, lead to premature wear of the front tyres and potentially to MOT failure.

Although failure of the upper arm is likely to be caused by worn bushes, the best solution is to replace the complete arm and as with all handed steering & suspension components, best practice is to replace both sides at the same time, as it is often the case that if the one side has suffered wear then the opposite will also have been subject to similar damage, which even though may not be evident at the time, may need replacing soon after. In any case, when one component is worn, it can have an adverse effect on the opposite hand.

Water Pump

The bearing in the water pumps on the diesel engines used in the 159 saloon, Sportwagon, Brera and Spider, is prone to seizing during operation, which can cause the timing belt to break. Generally the damage isn’t as bad as it could be as the camshafts do not run directly on top of the valves, instead there are small rockers which are more likely to break before any damage is done to the valves. These small rockers can be replaced without removing the cylinder head or replacing the valves, which minimises the time the car is in the workshop.

If the water pump seizes and the timing belt does not snap, it is still recommended technicians replace both the water pump and the belt at the same time to reduce labour costs. In addition, due to the high chance of water pump seizure, FLG also recommends they check the condition of both the belt and water pump every time the vehicle is in the workshop and advise replacing the water pump (and belt) every 60,000 miles, rather than waiting until 90,000 miles as the service schedule suggests.

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Inside Line: Cambiare

The Alfa Romeo 159 can experience ABS problems, generating the trouble code C1275, which is the result of an ABS/ESP control module software fault. Technicians should consider this when diagnosing suspected ABS sensor faults. The fault can illuminate the ESP and/or the ABS warning light. However, the control module will need a replacement if a software issue is found.

Technicians may also be tempted to replace ABS sensors to cure an ESP related fault on these cars when the ESP warning light is illuminated. However, if fault code C1131 (ABS brake fluid pressure sensor, implausible signal) is recorded, the ABS hydraulic modulator will need to be replaced, not the ABS sensor.

EML illumination and an associated camshaft sensor fault code could be the result of a worn camshaft drive chain on the 2.2 diesel engine version. As the chain wears, the camshafts go further out of synchronisation and are picked up by the ECU, which identifies it as a fault. Technicians replacing the camshaft sensors in an attempt to resolve this issue will have wasted both time and money since the camshaft sensors will still be functioning correctly.

Poor running, usually related to loss of power, can be attributed to a sticking EGR valve or a failing MAF sensor on the diesel engine cars. As the two components can produce similar symptoms, technicians should monitor live readings from the engine management system to ensure correct diagnosis.

The 159 can suffer from oil pressure switch problems too, which is a very popular part for this vehicle. Technicians looking to trace oil leaks should bear this part in mind when they start their diagnostic routine.

Engine management temperature sensors are another popular part for the Alfa Romeo 159. Poor starting, hot or cold, high fuel consumption and flat spots could all be indications that this sensor is beginning to fail.

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Inside Line: RMI

Fault code C1131 ABS Pressure sensor fault, replacement ABS modulator over £1000 fitted – Pressure bleed the ABS first this may fix the fault.

Premature wear (6000 miles) on front tyres – caused by excessive movement/wear on lower suspension arms.

1.9D JTBM engine poor driveability and excess smoke from exhaust – EGR issues and additional EGR restrictor plate and gaskets.

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Inside Line: Meyle

Sven Nielsen, Technical Director from MEYLE, says the following difficulties may arise with the Alfa Romeo 159:

Worn out control arms


In this model, the bushings as well as the ball joints can fail prematurely due to heavy load and a high dynamic strain. As consequence, ball joints often wear out prematurely because they are mostly small dimensioned. Typical for the OE part is also an extreme local stretching of the rubber and failure-prone rubber plain bearings that lead to tears and premature failure of the bushings. The effects are vibration and loud noise from the front axle as well as reduced driving and braking safety.

MEYLE solution:

In our MEYLE-HD control arms we have optimised the ball joints by using a wear-resistant plastic seat and a precision ball pin, lubricated with MEYLE high-tech grease. The MEYLE rubber bushings have an enhanced part design developed in cooperation with the original equipment manufacturer market leader for automotive vibration control components. We have replaced the rubber plain bearings by torsion-resistant rubber compound. The stresses within the bushings are distributed more evenly. There is also less stretching of rubber, even under excessive strain.

Damaged glow plugs


Cold starting problems due to damaged glow plugs.

MEYLE solution:

MEYLE offers high-quality glow plugs designed to provide great durability even at sub-zero temperatures. Using a latest-generation Kanthal wire ensures rapid temperature generation in the combustion chamber and offers exceptionally long service life.

Worn out brake discs


Worn out brake discs affect the braking behaviour of the vehicle negatively. Rust and corrosion may play a major role in this case.

MEYLE solution:

Brake discs are subject to demanding external factors including heat, salt and moisture, making utmost resistance of the coating an essential performance criterion.

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Inside Line: Autoelectro

Feedback from Autoelectro’s technical team, regarding issues on the Alfa 159 (Petrol and Diesel models)

The Starter Motor on diesel applications is prone to failing prematurely due to fluid/oil ingress, and on petrol models a fault with the fuel pump relay can lead to excessive cranking resulting in the Starter Motor overloading and being burnt out.

The Alternators have an issue on both petrol and diesel models with a noisy pulley or clutch failure in the pulley which can usually be attributed to a faulty tensioner, or a worn belt.


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