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Risky to buy these old Alfas?

How reliable are 1999 Alfa 156 1.8 T-Sparks and 2000 Alfa 146 1.6 T-Sparks? Which would you recommend to buy?


Filed under choosing used car - Asked by Michael Bell (Dublin) - Mon, 17 May 2010 16:58

Shane O' Donoghue Answered by: Shane O' Donoghue - Complete Car Adviser - @Shane_O_D


Hi Michael,

Sorry to tell you that the 156, as much as we love them, have not proven to be very reliable. The Driver Power Survey (carried out in the UK, but usually relevant to the same cars sold here) continuously ranks the Alfa 156 near the bottom for reliability. On closer scrutiny the much talked about electrical problems seem to be niggles rather than serious issues, though blown head gaskets and water leaks have been reported too.

As with any second-hand car, go for the example with the best service history, and make sure with the 156 that it had its 60,000-mile service done at the right time.

Same advice with the 146 really with regards to service history. It's especially important that it has had regular, on time timing belt changes so if there's no history showing this then look elsewhere. Smoky engines are a giveaway to expensive future bills, as are groans and creaks in the suspension. As with the 156, electrical niggles have been widely reported, though it seems that some cars have them and some don't...

In summary, if reliability is the most important aspect of this car purchase to you, then we'd not recommend either of these cars, but if you're already sold on the idea of one of these Alfas then we'd suggest you veer towards the 156.

Hope that helps.

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