15th Feb 2005, 13:20
You have either been very unlucky with clutches or perhaps you "ride" the clutch to hold the car when waiting in uphill traffic (instead of using the handbrake). I have only changed a clutch once (in 200,000 miles of 164 driving) - at 160,000 miles!
14th Jun 2005, 07:06
Since I wrote this review I have changed jobs and now have a company car (a Mondeo TDCi). However, I couldn't bring myself to part with the Alfa, and my wife has grown quite fond of it, so we decided to keep it as a second car. It's still a joy to drive, although its use tends to be restricted to weekends these days.
I'm never closed to the idea that my driving technique may be at fault re: the clutch issue, but having done 104,000 miles in the Mondeo with the original clutch still working fine, I suspect it's not me. And I abuse the Mondeo more than I ever have the Alfa.
2nd May 2006, 17:44
I can agree with your comment on clutches, but only on age not mileage. I have a 36k miler 24v Cloverleaf, and the clutch will have to be replaced soon, not because it slips, but because the pedal is getting heavy, as the pressure plate fingers are getting tired now that it is nearly 9 years old. Classic symptoms, of easy gear change when cold, but as heat transfer builds up from the engine, the hotter it gets, the more the gear change relies on syncromesh ability than the clutch itself.
My old 12v Cloverleaf, has a similar heavy pedal problem due to the above, but that is up at 120k miles, and there is no sign of slippage yet.
Also I would partly agree with you on Alfa electronics, as sensors do fail, such as oil pressure, and water temperature etc. (Bosch sensors, which just goes to prove that not everything German is ultra reliable). Plus the LCD display on the face lift models has a habit of becoming dim, or bits of it, or even all of it, not displaying at all. Sometimes this can be rectified by dismantling it completely, and just cleaning off all the contacts on the circuit board etc! If you are getting intermittent and spurious warning lights on the dash, it is usually the bulkhead multi connector plug causing the problems. Just disconnect it, and with a good electronic contact cleaner, liberally spray coat all the pins / sockets, and then remake the connector loads of times to try and clean them all up a bit.
As to the engines, you do need to keep the oil & filter changes, with good quality oil up to date. Whatever you do, do not go past 5 years without a cambelt change on the v6 motor, especially the 24v one. Also do not skimp on the tensioner change out at the same time, you will live to regret it, as the back plate / bent steel part of the bracket can snap off with age. This means the cambelt becomes loose, and you can guess what happens next.
Also the Cloverleaf switchable suspension quite often has a mind of its own, and for no reason reverts back to the default setting of Sport, even though it’s set in Auto, for which read as, “ Your fillings will fall out soon if this does not revert to Auto”.
Apart from that, the body and suspension is pretty damn well bullet proof, apart from the need to replace the main suspension bushes to limit the torque steer at the front, and the rear wheel steer at the back. This is best done with polypropylene after market bushes, from someone like Superflex etc. This does not take too long to do, and transforms the handling, but just remember to get it 4 wheel aligned after replacement. The rear suspension beam can also rot out, but it is less than £100 from Alfa, but it is a nightmare to fit, as by that stage, the long bolts attaching the arms to the bottom of the rear struts etc. will all have corroded into position! Eventually the rear suspension trailing arm mounting points rot out, and that means welding to get it through an MOT.
Would this lot make me sell my 164, or more truthfully 164’s, as I’ve got 4 of the various versions? Not a chance! I already own a 166 3.0v6, and it is “asleep” on the road compared to a 164. I was going to buy a 156 GTA as well, but although it produces a tad more horsepower than the 164 24v cloverleaf, from its 3.2v6, it is heavier to boot, and it does not turn into a corner as quickly as a 164 either. It is definitely not as well balanced on the road, and also you cannot dial out the understeer on the 156 by nearly paralleling the rear wheel alignment as you can on the 164, there just is not the amount of adjustment available.
To sum it up, keep a 164 for ever, preferably a Cloverleaf, it was the best car Alfa have ever produced!
30th May 2006, 09:02
I've just read your review posted on 2nd May 2006. I too have had more than one 164 - in 1996 I bought a 1991 red 12v Cloverleaf and a couple of years ago got a 1996 24v Black Cloverleaf.
I have had good reliability over the years with no major problems. My dashboard display is only showing parts of the readout so I'll do as you suggested and clean the contacts.
I also have found that the difference between "sports" and "normal" suspension settings is far less noticeable on the later car.
These are certainly the best cars I've ever had, and so rare nowdays - they allow you to be different.
1st Dec 2009, 04:19
Ahh some very good comments there. I own a 12v model, and it pulls/revs out very nicely, and yes, as they say sings a fine falsetto indeed going through 5000 rpms. I'm assessing my options presently, as 1, I need new stepper gears, and 2; it's about as sharp and communicative as a retarded blancmange. Yes new front struts required, which aren't easy, nor cheap to source. I'd love to do a big road adventure when these niggles are sorted, as I'm sure it'll deliver so much more of that Alfa spice and zest. All comes down to cost however. Heart yes, head no..