The manual gearbox of the 164 come from FIAT's production line. An exception is the 6-speed box from the 4-wheel-driven-164 Q4, coming from the German company Getrag. The durability of the standard transmissions of the models until 1993 suffer from bearing failiure, they have bearings with plastic bearing cages. These wear out faster-than-average. In the majority of cases one can hear a whining noise in the first three gears. First one can
hear it only when the car is overrunning the engine, when the problem advances one can hear it also under power. A repair will cost approx. 768.-. A new transmission is available for approx. 1535.-.
Sectional drawing of the manual transmisson
All Wheel Drive
Due to the fact that the Q4-transmission is a rarity, maintenance and/or replacement is expensive. To check and fill up the transmission and the differential units takes quite a lot of time and each unit needs a different gear oil. It is to suppose that a missing or incomplete service-booklet indicates that neither the transmission nor the differential units have been
serviced. Repairs on the all-wheel-drive system are extremely expensive, which for sure is a reason that especially the 164 Q4's are traded at relatively low prices.
Schematical drawing of the all-wheel-drive of the 164 Q4
The automatic gearbox used in the Alfa 164 comes from ZF. We never heared about problems with it. As with all automatic transmissions it is of major importance to check the oil level periodically. Also a complete oil change should be done regularly. Only ATF (Autom.Transmission Fluid) is allowed to be used in automatic transmissions. If you are changing the oil, one should change the ATF-filter as well.
Sectional drawing of the ZF- automatic gearbox
The weakest point concerning the otherwise perfect suspension of the 164 are the silent-bloc mounts of the front- and rear suspension. The best indication of worn out rubber-mounts is the spongy road behaviour. Unfortunately the rubber-mounts can only be replaced together with the corresponding rods. Spares are
available through Alfa Romeo. The front wishbones together with the steering knuckel pins for the steering knuckle cost approx. 179.- each. The rear longitudinal control arms are available for approx. 72.- per unit.
The british supplier SuperFlex offers polyurethane bushes for the front wishbones, but from Germany there are no references or information available.
Generally it can be said that here too the bushes and rods should be replaced after 60000 km.
On older 164's (especially models till 1992) it can happen that the lower spring retainer almost rusts away. If corrosion is that intense it could happen that the retainer brakes away under load, the car will then, be extremely lowered either on one side or in the worst of cases on both sides ;-). For this repair it is necessary to uninstall and disassemble the complete shock-strut. Due to the high preload of the coil springs it is recommended to either use professional tools ( spring compression plates/rods) or let the workshop do the job. The spring retainer can be ordered at Alfa Romeo for approx. 26.-.
It's quite common that a 164 from the first series (till 1990/91) sometimes steers in a different direction than the driver expects. Especially with fat tyres, worn out suspension bushes, and on rough roads this effect can be even worse.
164 Suspension layout
QV- and Q4-models are equipped with the electronic suspension control system. The adjustments are done by lowering/increasing the damping force and not as thought by many dirvers by adjusting the height. When switched into "auto" the shocks are automatically controlled by different sensors. In position "sport" the shocks operate with increased damping force. Due to the lot of different sensors massive electronic problems can occur. Troubleshooting is very complicated and time consuming. Replacement for a leaking shockabsorber is very expensive.Die QV- und Q4-Modelle besitzen die elektronische Fahrwerkssteuerung.
This electronic suspension control system was available as an option for the "standard" Super-models.
Schematical drawing of the electronically controlled suspension system
The 164's brake system with ABS (optional for TS-models), internally ventilated front discs and ventilated rear discs met the standard of this class. The pure braking power of 8.8 - 9.1 m/s² was rated good at the beginning of the production. In the meantime good brake systems reach deceleration values around 9.8 - 10.0
Schematical drawing of the brake system with ABS
As the Alfa 164, especially with its V6 engine, motivates to drive fast, the brake wear on the front brakes is of course very high. If one is always driving really fast, it can happen that the front brake discs are shot after 20000 km and have to be replaced.
Among others the high brake fading (decreasing braking power and/or decreasing friction between pads and discs due to heat) is a weak point. This can be solved by replacing the stock pads with Ferodo DS 2000 pads. If brake servicing is due, it is recommended to use o n l y high-quality spareparts.
The actuating mechanism of the hand brake (situated on the rear axle) often blocks. This can be solved by installing an overhaul kit but it is better to replace the defective caliper.
Heater/ Ventilation/ Airconditioning
Many 164's were delivered with the optional automatic airconditioning. A known weak point of the system are the servo-motors actuating the ventilation drum, ventilation flaps and the temperature adjuster. As the the servo-motors carry plastic gears, wear is pre-programmed. Damaged servo-motors produce a clicking noise which seems to come out of the glove compartment. If this fault
occurs it is not possible to change the position of the ventilation flaps or change the temperature (no reaction even when pre-set temp. is set to another value).
The servo-motors, although they are produced by Bosch, are only available through Alfa Romeo and only as a complete set, they cost " only " 266.- As it is necessary to disassemble the whole dashboard to replace the servos, Alfa Romeo will charge about 1025.- for the working time.
For the tinker freaks an australian supplier offers a repair kit containing metal gears for the servos. The price for the gears rise up to 266.- by the time they arrive in Germany. But they sure are year 3000 compatible ;-).
The service life for the stock servo-motors (at a normal yearly mileage) is approximately 160000 km. But it can happen that the gears peg out much earlier.
In most cases the holding fixture of the ventilation-drum is also broken, but Alfa Romeo can supply a reinforced ring to solve the prob.
Older 164's can also bother with squeaking noises coming from the blower. In this case either the whole motor or the bearing of the blower-wheel has to be replaced. There are two ways to get the blower out. Either from the engine compartment, which means that the airconditioning system (if there is one) and the heater have to be disassembled, or from the interior,
but then the complete dashboard has to be taken out.
Many of the older 164's airconditioning systems are filled with, the in the meantime forbidden, refrigerant R12. However, in some specialized workshops the R12 can be superseded with the non polluting refrigerant R134a, which has less impact on the environment. If this has to be done, it is necessary to suck out the R12 and disassemble the airconditioning and replace all seals with
R134a-proof seals. The compressor gets a new oil-filling. It is recommended to replace the drier right away. Depending in which condition the system was, the repair charges start at around 385.-. Eventually the whole job is going to be rather expensive, but driving in summer will be great fun. Keep cool ;-)
The many electrical "helpers" and the whole lot of control lamps suffer from permanent malfunctions. Basically this is a typical problem of Italian cars, but compared to other earlier types of Alfa Romeo, remarkable improvements have been made.
Generally one should duly test all electrically operated equipment, like window lifters, rear view mirrors, seat adjusters and seat heaters, remote controled fuel cap and trunk lid, head lamp adjuster, and so on. To have malfunctions solved by Alfa can cost a small fortune. Another important thing is to test all indicators of the check panel. Some witty fellows
like to remove the bulbs, indicating a malfunction. We have also heard about knowingly people using black coloured bulbs. The main thing is, that when the "Test"-button is pushed all indicator lamps, except the ABS-control, have to light up and have to go off when the button is released.
If an indicator lamp is on, it is not always sure that the belonging equipment is defective. It could also be a malfunction of the Alfa-Check-Control unit or just a loose connector or a defective transmitter. An old trick is to bridge or by-pass defective fluid-level-transmitters. All transmitters, except the oil-level-transmitter, are controled via ground (negative). A
series resistor has to be placed if one wants to by-pass the oil-level transmitter. A new transmitter costs 72.- at the Alfa dealer.
The ABS-indicator lights up when the ignition is turned on and should go off when the engine is started. If the indicator stays on, one can worry about a defect in the ABS-electronics. As a rule in most cases it is " just " a broken wire leading to one of the four wheel-speed sensors. To find the faulty wire is very complicated and requires adequate measuring instruments.
In the 164's produced after 1993 a different, new display and new controls for the airconditioning system was built into the middle console. The display, also produced by Bosch, suffers due to variations in temperature under broken conducting paths. A typical sign of a malfunction is that not all segments of the LCD-display are correctly displayed. The price for the display is 1023.-, but a
replacement is rather useless, because the new one can fail again within short time.
On older 164's the speedometer (not the odometer) can show incorrect values. The pointer flickers and the indicated values are in most cases far to low. The reasons are the potentiometers necessary for calibration. They are fixed to the printed circuit board of the speedo/tacho-unit. With increasing age the conducting paths corrode and the conductivity decreases.
The speedo has than either to be replaced or repaired at a speedo-service shop (No!!! We are not talking about these dubious "odometer-specialists" offering lower/higher mileages!!!). The indicated speed range then has to be adjusted using an oscilloscope.
The carpets are sunlight sensitive and often bleach out. Same can be said about the seats.
An eventually existing leather outfit should be in neat condition.
Well, if the leather shows a little bit of patina, this is sure tolerable, considering that we're talking about used 164's. If the leather is brittled or the colour is scraped off, the only remedy is to get new ones made in a specialized saddlery. The costs will sure be over 1025.- .
Some of the
QV- and Q4- models are equipped with Recaro seats, which could be ordered as an option. These seats provide perfect, sporty comfort and are even better than the stock seats. Besides the standard electric adjusters and seat heating system, these leather "noble-seats" are equipped with an additional memory function.
The optional available `noble-seat΄ from Recaro
The dashboard on QV and Q4 models is also covered with leather. Sunlight and solar radiation cause the leather to shrink and unveils a gap between instrument carrier and instrument bezel. If this happens, the saddlery, for little money, can help you with a new cover.
Miscellaneous parts of the interior panels and trims are often loose and make different kind of noises. Either one learns to live with that or "tinkers" around with special automotive silicone to get the loose parts fixed till the end of time ;-)
Sometimes the condition of the rubber pads on the pedals can reveal the true overall-condition of the car.
The 164 is not only a good touring car, it is definitely a good long distance car. But it is rather a fast freeway car than a roadracer, as it is not very handy.
The 164's brakes and the achieved brake forces are unfortunately far below the engines power level. That applies especially to the QV- and Q4- models, even though the Q4 has internal vented brake discs on all four wheels.
Alfa Romeo 164 QV 24 V
Concerning sheer engine power with a fast QV 24V it is possible to hang on to a Carrera 2's rear on the freeway. As long as the Carrera 2's driver does not think about braking. If he would, the QV driver would see trouble coming his way.
If one can afford or wants to spend a lot of money for a good braking system, it would be best to talk to car tuners or brake manufacturers like AP-Lockheed, Brembo or Tarox. They offer complete upgrade-kits with 4 or 6 cylinder fixed calipers
for about 1790.- plus the charges for installation and TÜV/ MOT approval. The diameter of the front discs of only 284 mm (11") increases to "gigantic" 320 - 330 mm (12,6" - 13"). The anticipated braking forces will live up to a modern sports car and will be able to handle the engines power. For an
expirienced 164-driver a Carrera 2 "on the brakes" should not be a problem any more.
Brake upgrade kit from Tarox with 6 cylinder caliper
However, as mentioned above, the only way to replace worn out brake components like pads or discs is to use high quality spare parts.
In general it can be said, that repair and/or maintenance costs for all 164's are on a high level.
Recommendations for buyers
Basically it is not possible to give real buying recommendations on every single model of the 164. Each model or better each model related to which motorization it has, has its advantages and of course disadvantages. One might prefer a 12-valve engine with its smooth torque increase rather than a more or less "nervous sports engine" with 24
valves. Another one might swear by the classic 2.0-liter DOHC 4-cylinder engine with dual ignition system. The next one might prefer a Diesel rather than any gas engine and another one by all means wants to have a 6 cylinder turbo.
At least there's one thing all gas engines have, even without a sports exhaust system: a nice sound.
Sure one should prefer a neat and well treated 164 with a complete service booklet rather than a scruffy, abused one.
The models till 1990/91 have, due to the rather inferior front axle, quite a lot of problems with the enormous drive forces affecting the steering system. But also on the later, improved models the problem has not been completely solved.
The "normal " V6 models and the 4 cylinder models fetch almost same prices.
Also the costs of the upkeep are not very different, but the gas engines >from the " Super "-series are classified as " Euro 2 ", which at least reduces the tax load to a tolerable level for the coming years compared to the higher taxes for " Euro 1 "-classified, older models.
QV- and Q4-models rather seldom appear on the second-hand car market. No doubt that a Q4 has to be definitely higher rated than a QV. But the Q4's have due to the very high service and repair costs a very bad reputation. Therefore it can sometimes happen, that a Q4 is offered a lot lower price than a QV.
Finally the service and maintenance condition is the point to rate it as a good or rather bad car. A completely filled out service-booklet can save one a lot of inconviniences and keeps ones bank account in good condition ;-)
The "Super"- models have, compared to the first series gained a lot of weight. On some cars the difference makes up to 300 kg (660 lbs). But consider that in fact this overweight has to do with the extras and first of all with the two airbags, of the later models. Therefore it is possible to beat a 24-valve "Super" (which in fact is 10 bhp stronger) with a QV of the first series.
So if one wants to call a well-conditioned first-series-164 with "only 184 bhp" his own, inevitably does not have a worse car, compared to one who ownes a last-series- "Super"- model.
Anyway, they are all beautiful.
Alfa Romeo 164 Super 3.0
One thing is for sure. The 164 will be due to the high number of units, one of the classics of the modern Alfas.
At least all the honour is due to the 164, as after the take over by Fiat, it secured Alfa Romeos survival.
Strictly speaking it is the last REAL Alfa Romeo. But some Alfisti might disagree with that...... For them a REAL Alfa Romeo has front mounted engine and transmission and the driven wheels have to be at the rear.
But don't let them mislead you, stick to your opinion: the 164 is a real Alfa Romeo too!
Sectional drawing of the 164 3.0 l of the first series (up to1990)
Sectional drawing of the 164 QV 12V
Sectional drawing of the 164 Super
A list containing all technical data of all models of the 164 can be found and downloaded (as Excel-file) at the Service - section.
Pictures: Alfa Romeo und Andi
Copyright by Chris und alfisti.net