1997 Alfa Romeo 146 Ti 2.0 TS


Provides endless driving entertainment


Nothing major, other than engine mounts (forgivable) at 175,000km, a few minor electrical gremlins (rare), and a totally worn through interior, especially the seats.

Engine has been almost 100% reliable so far, and the only major components that have been changed are the variator and the water pump; the latter out of an abundance of caution, more than anything else.

Oil changes are 5000km (full synthetic) and belts every 30,000km.

Other service items to note are shock absorbers & front lower suspension arms.

General Comments:

Despite having a hard life of almost 193,000 km, the car has been surprising reliable. Other than having cracked a sump last year (my stupid fault), nothing major needed replacing.

Dealer service and especially the spare parts situation in Malaysia sucks big time, so unless you are prepared to play intelligent with 3rd party repairs and service, it's a vehicle I would avoid for the obvious reasons.

The recent addition of a pair of C&B camshafts and a Squadra chip adds another 200% to the fun factor of this car.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 25th April, 2012

2000 Alfa Romeo 146 1.6 Twin Spark 1.6 petrol


I would've kept it if it was reliable


Air Flow Sensor failed and replaced three times (!)

Faulty Intake Cam Variator.

Head gasket blown at 140,000km.

Shifter cup broke, could not select any gear. Had to have it towed home.

Clutch slave cylinder leaked in a middle of a traffic jam. Had to limp it home in second gear and turn off the engine every time I had to stop since there was no clutch disengagement.

Hatch creaked badly when raining. Never figured out what the problem was and just lived with it.

Electric fan failed in a middle of a traffic jam, causing overheating. Had it replaced with an aftermarket electric fan which was a lot cheaper.

Left rear wheel bearing failed.

General Comments:

Every time I looked back and think of all the problems this car had given me throughout my (brief) ownership, I just think some kind of curse was cast upon me. I mean, how could a car merely four years old could give me so much trouble? And the fact I sold my father's hand-me-down '84 Mercedes 280SE for this car made me think maybe I deserve such a curse for making such an inexcusable mistake.

Superstitions aside, I bought this car with the promise that it was a hoot to drive, and it was. Of course it was, it's an Alfa Romeo. The engine made the most intoxicating noise this side of a Ferrari, the shifter very slick, the looks are just drop dead gorgeous. The seats were contoured just right, and although I'm not a big fan of the Italian driving position, I learned to live with its quirk. The pedals are close together and made heel-and-toe shifting easy. What surprised me the most was the amount of interior room this car had, especially considering its compact size. I could easily carry five adults comfortably, and the boot will swallow quite a bit of luggage load.

Overall, I found it hard to fault its capabilities and practicalities. It really would've been a good car had it been (much) more reliable that it was. Because even with its enormous reliability problems, I still had some regret when I finally let go of it. I was truly disappointed with its problem. If it was even half as reliable as a Japanese or German brand, I would've kept it. When it did work, it put a smile on my face every time I drove it.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 3rd October, 2007

4th Jan 2008, 04:06

Hi, I'm the original poster of the Alfa 146. Yes, the cam variator made a diesel-like noise. At first, it was manageable, then it got worse and worse to the point where the cam position was stuck in the high rpm phase, so taking off from a stoplight, especially with the air-con on, was agonizing because it basically lost all power below 3000rpms.I finally gave in and replaced the variator which cost me about US$250.00.Its funny how you mentioned you're looking at a 156, because that was suppose to be my next car after the 146.I still think about the 156 every now and then because I just love Alfas when they work. Problem is, they often don't work.I've driven a Selespseed 156 2.0TS and my only complain is the jerkiness of the shift in auto mode around city. Other than that, it's a wonderful car. So there's my two cents in. If you have your heart set on the 156,get it at your own risk. I know that feeling, because Alfas have a way of seducing us car buffs.

24th Sep 2008, 06:10

I own a 145 1.6 TWIN SPARK and my variator has been knackered since I bought the car at 30,000 miles. I have just lived with the diesel rattle as it is only on start up. My main problem is rust on the floor pan due to inadequate under body sealing. Other than that the car has been fine besides having regularly to change the front wishbones due to bush wear, if not replaced in time can ruin your front tyres pretty quickly with wear on the inside edge. Also the support holding my windscreen washer bottle in the engine bay has rusted right through leaving the bottle slightly loose, anyone had a similar problem?

8th Mar 2010, 02:44

I have driven Alfas since 1979; Giulia, Alfetta, Alfasud, etc. They are wonderful to drive. Last year I bought a well-kept 146 1.6 TS for RM12k. The car is wonderful, but the 5th gear feels like a 4th, especially if you are driving below 120km/hr on the highway. Above it, it goes all the way to 195km/hr.

Bought it with a cam-variator spring loose (diesel sound on starting). So I changed the variator, timing belt kit as well as the tyres. It's 8 months and 17000 km now, and no problems. Only problem is you want to drive fast, a boy-racer not befitting my age.. haha.

13th Aug 2010, 06:50

I just bought a second hand Alfa 146. Your comments here really helpful. Will have mechanic look at the few areas mentioned and change if necessary. My previous car was a Peugeot 405SRi - literally bled my pocket numb. Hope this Alfa is better.