Used car buying guide: Alfa Romeo 166

An expert’s view

Rachael Whitehead, Italiparts: “We’ve owned about 50 so far. We’ve been on a mission to stop them being scrapped, fix them and find the right new caretaker for them. I believe less than 3000 came to the UK in total and there are about 400 left. I have made an effort to find as many as I can. My personal preference is the 3.0 V6 Sportronic but the 3.0 V6 Supers seem to be the most popular in the UK.”

Buyer beware…

■ Engine: Recently changed cambelt is a strong selling point, particularly on the complex 2.0-litre Twin Spark motor. Alfa Romeo recommends every 72,000 miles on the V6, but 50,000 miles on the same belt is pushing your luck, in reality. Change the water pump at the same time for peace of mind, and because petrol cars are prone to timing variator wear (the engine will sound diesel-esque on start-up), swap that out as well. Check the coolant hoses feel fresh, because overheating can lead to a colossal headache.

■ Bodywork: Galvanised body panels mean rust isn’t as much of a worry as it is with older Alfas but is still worth thinking about. Check dirt traps, such as the tops of the rear suspension struts and behind the plastic cladding at the front of the sills, as well as the bumper mounts at each end and the inside of the front wings. Get details of any previous body repairs, as substandard welding and paintwork can lead to issues down the line. Treat any stone chips to prevent corrosion and refresh the underseal.

■ Electrics: Clogged engine bay drain holes can cause the heater matrix to leak onto the ECU on Sportronic gearboxes, so check for drips and find a way of covering the electrical components behind the passenger footwell. Central locking problems are common and can usually be traced to a dirty contact, sticking pins or a dud motor – all of which can be repaired at home. The heater fan motor is a known weak spot and tricky to replace because access is best from the engine bay.

■ Interior: Plastic trim elements are known to become sticky as the years go by. Replacement is best, but cleaning with meths and refinishing with vinyl paint won’t cost the earth. A ‘climate control fault’ error message is likely to be linked to the heater matrix and motor issues.


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