Here is everything that’s wrong with my 131k-mile Alfa Romeo 159

I bought the cheapest 159 in the whole of the UK; here are many reasons for that very low price

3y ago

When purchasing any used car, it’s inevitable that at one time or another it’s going to break. In the case of my Alfa Romeo 159, or the cheapest 159 Ti in the UK as it’s known has so far held it's collective self together reasonably well.

Instead of waiting for the dash to light up like a Christmas tree I decided to fight the incoming tide of failure by attempting to address the obvious maintenance requirements alongside some additional future-proofing alongside some cosmetic work to remove a bit of the tiredness.

After many hours of inspection consisting mainly of lucky guesswork here is everything we found wrong with my Alfa Romeo 159 ‘broken down’ just for you using in the form of useful infographics.

The horror that hides beneath the bonnet

After consulting the hardback book that is known as the service history, it soon became apparent that the timing-belt was below the recommended mileage (just about) but had been on the car for more than double its recommended useful life.

When changing this, Alfa insists that the well-used (possibly tired) water pump is also changed out so a nice easy win there as it becomes accessible with the belt removal.

While investigating the cars sluggish starting and lack of low-down grunt, it was deemed that clogging of both the inlet manifold and EGR valve were the likely culprits. Again, the removal of the timing belt gave access to the inlet manifold, so it was added to the list.

We also added a swirl-flap delete kit which could easily be installed once the inlet manifold was free from the motor. This is a preventative measure to stop the swirl flaps breaking away to never be seen again as they get eaten by the engine. Because engines eating parts of themselves is never good.

This is a swirl-flap delete kit and an inlet manifold for my Alfa Romeo 159 - credit DNA performance

This is a swirl-flap delete kit and an inlet manifold for my Alfa Romeo 159 - credit DNA performance

During the strip-down process, the excellent team at Flowtech Exhausts also discovered a water leak at the back of the motor which was successfully patched up. During the de-clogging operation of the inlet manifold and EGR, my trusted master mechanics found no end of gunge blocking up both items which is down to the many miles covered and that no one else bothered to remedy it before now.

As a last-ditch effort to preserve the motor for future generations, a blank-off plate was added to the EGR valve meaning it shall clog no more.

The end result of all of this work is that the five-pot motor fires into life smoothly from cold and pulls like a train under hard acceleration. Gone is the lumpy start and hesitant acceleration, replaced with a somewhat smooth and vastly more responsive action while showing improved MPG.

Clunking and more horror on the outside

First up was that very unnerving sound from the driver’s front suspension. Here I merely gambled £72 on the issue being a knackered upper A-Arm, and luckily I was right.

The main sticking point was the Italian design stopping us getting the dead part out. This required the pair of attaching bolts to undone into the expanded front spring. After some swearing, we got everything lined up before we were again stopped by a spinning ball-joint that proved no match for our old friend, the angle grinder. A quick reverse of the process with the new part, and the horrid clunking noise was reduced to a distant memory.

He is very tall and mechanically wise Andy, or Andrew to his friends......

He is very tall and mechanically wise Andy, or Andrew to his friends......

Next up was a full bumper to bumper machine polish via tall and mechanically wise Andy to successfully resolve most of the horrid hedgerow related scratching from the bodywork. This was after a full de-grime of the car followed by a compound scratch remover and a specialist car wax top coat.

After this came fix for the cars biggest let down, the awful wheels. These were entrusted to the team at Ultimate Alloys who stripped them down and powder-coated them in Volvo grey because I like to mix things up.

Not the greatest picture, but trust me when I say the wheels were in an awful state.....

Not the greatest picture, but trust me when I say the wheels were in an awful state.....

The finishing touches involved the removal and swift throwing away of every badge on the outside of the car as all were sun faded. These were replaced with Alfa originals in black and silver along with new number plates to replace the cracked old ones.

Lastly, while collecting the car from the wheel people the rearview mirror decided to jettison yet again as I drove over a small pebble. A quick bit of convincing with a pair of pliers and the ability to see backwards was quickly restored.

As you can see by the before and after pictures, the difference these cosmetic mods make is substantial.

Always room for one more - The pedal powered horror show

We are no longer friends car......

We are no longer friends car......

This was one of the actual problems that did rear its ugly head, the clutch pedal sensor. I will admit to not knowing much about this issue until my dashboard told me that I had no traction or stability systems, no hill hold, no ice mode and no ABS in zero temperatures several hundred miles from home.

I managed to use a fix I found on a forum to reactivate everything to get home before sourcing a replacement at a total cost to replace the sensor of just £15. All of which took 15 minutes to change out.

As the car was very cheap in the first place, I knew I was going to be on the hook for some additional cash to ensure it operates as it should.

The fact that I was able to improve the shabby cosmetics for a reasonable amount of cash alongside the big bill of getting the greasy bits working right for the foreseeable future means that now the car is ready to receive more horsepower.

So, how much extra power should I give my 159? Or have I lost my mind attempting to tune a 131k mile car? Let me know in the comments.

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Comments (36)

  • You are a brave soul! I gave up on my 2.2 jts after parting with a couple of thousand 😱 Looking forward to following your new posta

      3 years ago
    • Ha ha, cheers I’m putting on a brave face through the cost, trust me!!

        3 years ago
  • I would say you are probably nowhere near as mad as I am trying to rebuild and tune an e46 BMW 325i with 226k miles lol

      3 years ago
  • Alfa is Alfa, love it or leave it. Simple as that. I love mine :D

      3 years ago
  • I did all of this to my 159 Ti SW in 5 years owning it :) just didn't have to do it all at once. It will be 10 years old in May, but it doesn't show, and I have no plans selling it.

      3 years ago
  • Loving this! Sounds like typical Alfa life to me, but in a good way! Always loved this car. Promoted to Best of Classics!

      3 years ago