Workshop Manual 

The Routine stuff 

Head Gaskets 

Timing Belt 

Timing Belt Tensioner 

Valve Adjustment 

Water Pump/ Cooling System 

Drive Line 

Braking System 

Transmission 

Suspension Ride Height 

Speedometer Sensor 

Alternator Voltage Regulator 

Electric Mirrors

Fuel Injection

Heater Valve 

Wheel Bearings 

Factory Recalls

Rust

 

The Alfa Romeo GTV6 F.A.Q. @ GTV6.ORG

As with most documents on the World Wide Web, this one will definitely continue to grow. If you notice any errors (and there are bound to be some), please let me know. Also, if you think something should be included in this f.a.q. that presently is not, drop me a line, or even better, end submissions to be included herein.

This document is not an attempt to rewrite either the owner's manual or the workshop manual. It is written to address some of the more problematic issues related to owning, driving and maintaining a GTV6 - issues that were, in most cases, not addressed in the factory literature. 

The abbreviation 'faq' (Frequently Asked Questions) has been used when in fact no questions have been posed - they are implied however - as in "Which workshop manuals and books are helpful in maintaining my car?"  You get the picture  


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Workshop Manuals & Books

The Factory Manual is a good reference. It is really the Milano (Alfa 75) manual - but has extra chapters to cover the GTV6. Unfortunately, there is no information on brakes (non ABS) or even bodywork. It is useful to have the Haynes manual that covers the 4 cylinder Alfetta's as a supplement. This manual will have information on most of the GTV6 bodywork as well as the complete (non ABS) braking system.  
An alternative is to purchase the GTV6 manual on CD ROM. One source for this is a company called CarDisk. - highly recommended! 
Another book that is highly recommended is "The Alfa Romeo Owner's Bible" by Pat Braden. A great book for any Alfa enthusiast!  
Alfa Romeo Alfetta GT - All 4-cylinder and V6 coupes - by David Owen. Not sure if this is still in print, but it provides a good description of the development process for the Alfetta. This book is published by Osprey AutoHistory

 

The Routine stuff

Fuel - the US version will run fine on regular 87 octane unleaded gasoline. If the car is modified for higher performance or the ignition timing is advanced, super 92 octane unleaded gasoline should be used to avoid "knocking." 

Oil & oil filter - use a quality synthetic oil of a weight appropriate to the climate in which the car is operated. If synthetic oil is used, it is OK to change the oil every 6000 miles [about 10 000 km] (mineral oil every 3000) - but the filter should be replaced at 3000 mile [about 5 000 km] intervals regardless. I have had good luck with Tecnocar filters from IAP or UFI filters from Alfa Ricambi.  

A K&N air filter is a good investment since it can be cleaned, re-oiled and reused and also provides a modest performance increase. They also claim to improve the effectiveness of the filter as far as removing more dirt from the air. The cost is about $50.  This filter is a replacement for the stock, rectangular filer, not a conical replacement filter.

The fuel filter is located at the back of the car near the fuel tank. The fuel injectors easily become blocked if the fuel filter is dirty, and since they are fairly expensive (US$80 a piece), this is not a pleasant prospect. Be sure to use gasoline from reputable stations and change the filter frequently (every 20 000 miles or 32 000 km]). 

Coolant - use high quality phosphate-free coolant and replace this often (every 24 months or so). It is a good idea to mix 50% with distilled water (not tap water). 

Brake fluid - change & flush yearly or every second year (depending on climate). ATE DOT 3 or Castrol GTLMA DOT 3/4.  Apparently, the silicone based DOT 5 fluid will cause the rubber seals in the hydraulic system to deteriorate so should be avoided. 

Spark Plugs - Stock plugs in the GTV6 are Lodge 2HL. These are quite expensive - and a good alternative is the NGK BP6ES. One plug to avoid is the older (single electrode) Bosch Platinum which have been found to become fouled quite easily, though the new Bosch Platimun +4 plugs apparently work very well.

 

Head gaskets

Head Gaskets leaks might allow oil to collect in 'V' of engine, might allow the oil to enter the coolant jacket or even allow the coolant to enter the oil. This last possibility is unusual and will most likely occur only after protracted use with leaking head gaskets. Keep an eye on the coolant reservoir bottle - any frothy white emulsion on the cap indicates oil contamination and the probability of a leaking head gasket. The oil leaks from oil feed holes between block and head - the OLD design of gasket using 'O' rings to seal oil passage is the culprit. The newer one piece gaskets work well - just came a little late after number years of making these great engines.  
There is an ultimate fix which is to reroute the oil passages external to the head using bypass hoses. To do it properly, you still need to remove heads to seal original oil passageway and install hoses that feeds oil from the block to both heads. This complete bypass kit is available from Alfa Ricambi and is called the "Shankle Sure Seal Kit."  if you live in the Los Angeles, CA area, Omega Motorsports in Culver City can perform this operation, but they use stainless steel braided hose - really top quality work. 

 

Timing belt

As with most modern cars, the consequence of the Alfa V6 engine design is such that if the camshafts lose their synchronization with the crankshaft (after belt snapping for instance), the pistons and the valves will collide. For this reason, one cannot take any chances with the condition of any components near the timing belt. The belt itself should be replaced at 30 000 mile [48 000 km] intervals. If the car does relatively low mileage, it should be replaced more frequently than that since the age will affect the strength of the belt. Ensure that there are no oil or coolant leaks that might foul the belt, making it more prone to breaking or slipping. Parts to check are the water pump for coolant leaks, the camshaft and distributor drive seals as well as the crankshaft main seal for oil leaks.  

 

Timing belt tensioner / detensioner

Which tensioner shall I use? This is one of the more controversial issues of V6 engine maintenance. All GTV6's came fitted with a hydraulic timing belt tensioner.  
This device uses engine oil pressure to regulate the belt tension - making it tighter at start up and when the engine is cold, and slackening tension as the engine warms up. Unfortunately though, this device is very prone to leaks, and when it does begin to leak, it deposits oil in the worst possible place - all over the timing belt, making it more likely to slip or break.  
Anyway - how to solve this problem? Two schools of thought exist.  
Some say that one should keep the original tensioner no matter what it's deficiencies are, since they claim that it is of a superior design compared to the alternatives. This generally means replacing the seals every 30 000 miles [48 000 km] or so, perhaps sooner. It is also possible to have your detensioner professionally rebuilt to utilize better seals which are apparently guaranteed not to leak. Sperry Valve Works performs this service.  
The alternative is to install the new thermo-mechanical tensioner that does not use oil pressure to vary the tension. It uses a simple bi-metalic coil to adjust the tension - lessening it as the engine heat acts on the coil. The main advantage is that there is no possibility of leaking oil since the oil feed and return holes are plugged when the new device is installed. It is also fairly inexpensive at around $60 or so for the complete kit. One down side to using the thermal tensioner is that it is necessary to drill out and tap threads into an oil passage in order to install a threaded plug. This is not so much difficult as it is nerve wracking! There is some controversy over the origins of the new tensioner, who designed it and so forth. I saw that it is manufactured in Canada, and appears to be of good quality. One strange thing though - as far as I can tell, it is only recommended as a replacement for the original tensioner in America - Alfa distributors/dealers in the rest of the world do not seem to recommend this retrofit, or even know much about it.  
Addition (18 December 1996): Some people on the Alfa digest have reported good results by merely tapping out the existing oil return hole when installing the thermo-mechanical tensioner. One can tap the hole directly with an M7x1.00 tap and then make a plug from an M7x1.00 bolt that you saw off to the correct length. This of course eliminates the need to drill into the block. 

Keep in mind that it is critical to avoid rotating the crankshaft backwards (especially if you have the thermo-mechanical tensioner installed!) as this will likely result in the belt slipping a few teeth - perhaps enough for the pistons to strike the valves when the car is next started. This can happen in a number of situations - some of these include during driveshaft maintenance when the driveshaft has to be turned to bring the bolts into position for removal. I have heard of another situation where the owner was simply loosening the wheel nuts preparatory to removing the road wheels - without having the handbrake applied. It might even happen is the car is left on an incline, the handbrake improperly applied with the transmission in gear - if the car rolls back slightly, the engine will be rotated backwards.

 

Valve Adjustment

Valve clearance needs to be checked often - every third oil change (9000 miles or 14 500 km) is advisable. The intake valves are operated directly by the cam lobe while the exhaust valves are operated by a short, transverse push rod. Because the exhaust valve train is more mechanically complex, the clearance tends to go out of specification more often than the intake valve clearance. Fortunately, the exhaust valves are easy to adjust - it is just a matter of loosening the set nut and turning the adjuster until the correct clearance is measured. If the intake valve clearances are incorrect, removal of the camshaft is required and the clearance is adjusted by using an appropriate sized adjusting shim (cup). Fortunately, Alfa have engineered the camshaft pulley so that it is possible to remove both cams without disturbing the cam belt or cam sprocket. The GTV6 valve train is a little 'vocal' - so expect to hear some ticking from the engine. It is when you hear no valve noise that you should be concerned, as this generally means that your valves are set too tight - and might get burned and damaged.  

 

Water Pump & cooling system

Water pumps tend to last only about 30 000 miles [48 000 km]. The good news is that they are moderately priced and can be replaced during the 30 000 mile cam belt replacement service - aren't you lucky!  
Adjust the tension on the alternator drive belt to be as slack as possible (without slipping) - this seems to extend the life of the bearings. Check the water pump frequently for radial play - excessive play indicates that the water pump's days are numbered. A leaking water pump tends to leak onto the cam belt which is not a good idea. The pump is supplied with a paper gasket - and benefits from some kind of gasket dressing such as Loctite Hylomar which has worked well.  

The cooling system is very efficient - the large radiator with twin electric cooling fans and "wet sleeve" cylinder design work very well to keep engine temperatures under control.  
Use a mixture of 50% phosphate free coolant (such as Long life Prestone - available in the USA) and distilled water.  
A lengthy debate on the subject of what type of water to use recently ensued on the Alfa Digest.  Whether de-ionized water is harmful or not seems to me to be still undecided....  It is also apparently not a good idea to use plain tap water 
The bottom line is that Alfa Romeo recommends mixing 50% coolant with distilled water, so this is good enough for me. 
It is also necessary to flush and change the coolant mixture every two years or so. For further peace of mind, a sacrificial anode may be substituted for the brass drain plugs found on either side of the engine block. These may be purchased from Alfa Ricambi. 

A recent development (1998) is that the plastic coolant reservoir tank has become difficult to find,expensive and of inferior quality compared with ones produced a few years ago. 
If anyone finds a suitable substitute for the Alfa coolant reservoir tank (say from another type of car), please let me know so I can post it here.

It is also possible to install a  Milano (75) radiator cooling fan - which seems to work better than the stock twin fan setup.  It bolts on quite easily - though a little grinding is needed to allow the shroud to clear the sides - and allow it to fit as close to the radiator as possible. Follow this link to find out more ....

 

Drive line

Power is transmitted to the rear mounted transaxle by means of a centrally located drive shaft. This drive shaft comprises two sections, which link to the engine and gearbox by 3 large rubber 'donuts.' These donuts absorb the full power of the engine, so tend to wear out occasionally. The center donut is the most long lasting, the front the least. If any vibration is felt through the floor pan, chances are that a donut has gone bad - possibly having even lost a segment of rubber. 
Repair is difficult as you need to raise car, remove part of the exhaust and pry the shaft out. Carefully inspect the center shaft bearing for any wear in either the rubber housing of the ball race itself. It is critically important that the orientation of the shaft with respect to the gearbox, engine and both shaft segments is maintained. The reason for this is that the shaft is balanced at the factory as a complete unit and once this alignment is lost, it is very difficult to get the shaft back into balance.  
See the GTV6 Driveshaft faq. here 

 

Braking System

The front brakes are usually trouble free. Early cars were fitted with ATE calipers and later models with Brembo calipers. There is, of course a lot of discussion about which pad is the best - but a good starting point is the AXXIS Metal Master pads. These are the old Repco brand and will work well, providing less brake dust, good rotor wear and also great stopping ability. 
The entire hydraulic system (including clutch) should be flushed and bled every 2 years - perhaps more often if the car is operated in a humid climate.  
Alfetta's, GTV-6 and Milano cars come with inboard rear disk brakes. Nice design but service access is challenging. Calipers are very pricey if bought new, but it is possible to rebuild calipers oneself - or purchase rebuilt calipers from various parts vendors. Rear calipers tend to leak via parking brake mechanism and also from the four adjusting 'screws.' (used Milano calipers will work on GTV6.) 
Operate the hand brake with restraint - yanking the lever up too vigorously seems to increase the failure rate of the rear caliper fluid seals.  
It is possible to install a set of stainless steel braided brake hoses - these will further improve the feel of the brakes by removing any play caused by the expansion of the stock rubber brake hoses. These are probably only necessary on cars used for time racing (trial-trials or autocross). May be purchased from Alfa Ricambi or the US or AutoDelta Tuning in England (and are not USA DOT approved for use on road cars)

 

Transmission

The Alfetta rear mounted gearbox is an innovative design (even in the 21st century), but makes for problems with the shift linkage due to the length of the rod. This results in a sloppy feel to shifting since any wear in the joints is amplified by the length of the shift rod. 
This problem was largely addressed in later GTV6 (late 85 --> 86) but early models can be problematic. There is an extensive discussion on removing the play from the GTV6 shift mechanism in the Digest Clippings Page. It is possible to replace all the plastic bushings at the front shift rod coupler which should improve the feel of the shifter. It is also possible to have a bronze bushing machined to replace the factory coupler. 
This problem was solved on Milano models, but using this type of linkage (on the early, pre '85 GTV6) requires complete transaxle swap or replacement of the selector input shaft (in the gearbox itself - about $45) and also making some room inside the transmission tunnel. Space between transmission and floor / tunnel sheet metal is too tight for this linkage.  
If you are going to these lengths it is probably best to replace the whole transaxle with a used one from Milano (75). The Milano Platinum model and the 75 Twinspark (Euro) are fitted with factory 25% ZF Limited Slip Differentials and are more desirable for that reason. All the 2.5 liter V6 Milano's share the same gear ratios over all the years of production and are considered superior to the gear ratio's available over the GTV6 production run. The gear ratios from the Milano Verde (the 3.0 liter model) are not well suited to the characteristics of the 2.5 liter engine, and some say that even the 3.0 liter cars are better with the 2.5 liter gear ratio's. This is especially true is the car is to be raced.  
It should also be noted that there are problems adapting the new Milano style speedo sensor & amplifier to work with a GTV6 speedometer. There are a few possible ways to get it to work - one of the best I have heard is to use a speedo sender from a Milano, the amplifier from a Milano (located under the left side rear seat) and a speedometer from a late '85 or an '86 GTV6. Apparently, this speedometer is compatible with the Milano senders and amplifiers. Some rewiring will be necessary though. 
Unless your car is very unusual or has been particularly well cared for, do not expect the syncro's to work perfectly in the lower gears. It is very common for the gears to grind when attempting to shift rapidly from first to second gear. There has been some discussion about a possible remedy involving lightening the gears so as to lessen the wear on the syncro's. I have not heard from anyone who has successfully performed this operation, though it does sound feasible. In most cases, you will be able to adjust your driving style to prevent grinding the gears while up-shifting in the lower ratio's.

An extensive discussion on installing new syncros can be found in the Digest Clippings Page or on the Transaxle upgrade & rebuild page.  Be very gentle with the gearbox when the transmission is still cold. When the car is stationary and you wish to move off, engage second gear first, then slide it forward into first gear - this will decrease the "crunches" produced by the protesting gearbox!  

Check the mounts on the rear cross member holding the front of the clutch in place. If either mount breaks, the drive shaft rear spider will foul the shift linkage and cause the clutch cover to explode to pieces! Replacement mounts are not very expensive. (See the Clippings page for details) 

If you own a '81 --> late '85 GTV6 without the isostatic shift linkage and find that the replacement trans mounts have an extra 3mm plate welded to the back of the mount, it is probably better to grind off the welds and remove these spacer plates prior to installation. If you leave these plates on, you might notice increased drive-shaft vibration once the mounts are replaced. 
Transmission oil: use Redline - synthetic lubricant 75W90NS (non slip) or a similar synthetic lubricant. This will make a big difference to the feel of the gearbox - even more important if you live in a cold climate.  

 

Suspension Ride Height

Cars destined for the American market had the front ride height set to comply with strict headlight height and bumper requirements. This of course does not mean that they are set at the best height for optimal performance (handling). Someone conducted a poll on the Alfa Digest asking GTV6 owners to measure their ride height - from a level surface to the bottom of the engine oil sump (front of the sump). It appears that stock US ride height is near 7 inches but several owners have lowered their cars ride height to about 4 1/2 inches.  
It is possible to adjust the ride height by turning the torsion bars by a given amount for a desired reduction in ride height. Information on this may be found in the factory manual.  

The rear ride height can be adjusted by purchasing performance springs - which will generally lower the car by one inch - while making the suspension somewhat stiffer.  

 

Speedometer sensor

A small, cylindrical object with two spade connectors mounted in the transmission case (not to be confused with the reverse light switch). The speedo sensor can go bad and it makes speedometer operate intermittently, or not at all.  
A number of Alfa Romeos have such electronic speed sensor unit, located at the beginning of the transmission (just after the clutch bellhousing on the driver side). GTV6, Milano (75), Alfetta 2.0, Giulietta 1.6, Alfa 90 .  
The basic function of this sensor is to send impulses of current to the speedometer unit, thus they have an impulses/turn characteristic. I have seen two variations - 4 imp/turn and 6 imp/turn.  
The sender has a generator inside (couple of transistors, resistors, capacitors), a sensing device (coil + metal-leg rotor or gerkon + n-pole magnet rotor). When rotor turns (by transmission gears) and its leg(pole) pass coil(gerkon) the generator excites, and sends an impulse of current via the wire. The sensor has two contacts, one is for 12V, the other leads to speedometer circuit.  
NOTE - this sensor cost was about $75 US / last time I replaced it. units may differ for use in 85 MPH vs. 125 MPH speedometers in a later production GTV6  
Tim Philip contacted me recently with advice on actually repairing the senders. See the Digest Clippings for details. 

If a Milano (75) gearbox is installed in a GTV6, the Milano speedo sender must be retained. This can be made to work with the GTV6 equipment by using the amplifier from a Milano (installed under the rear seat) as well as a speedometer from a 1986 (or late '85) GTV6. 

 

Alternator voltage regulator

This device would work for a long time in most cars but in the GTV6 the exhaust manifold is situated rather close to the regulator (on the back of the alternator) so tends to overheat it.
If the lights behave erratically at night - go dim and bright without reason - check this voltage regulator. Replacement is quite easy if you use small hex screws for mounting it or a stubby screwdriver.  
It is possible to remove the voltage regulator without alternator removal. 

 

 

Fuel Injection

The Bosch L-Jetronic fuel injection is very reliable - the vast majority of problems are caused by faulty ground connections and dirty connections between the sensors/injectors/ecu/air flow meter and the wiring harness.  The Bosch connector plugs are quite fragile and tend to break when removed from the fuel injectors or the temperature sensors.  It is possible to replace the faulty Bosch plugs with new ones.  A small, flat screw driver should be inserted in the front of each connector wire to flatten down the small clip on the bayonet clip - you can then removed the wire from the old Bosch connector plug by sliding the wire out the back.  New plugs may be purchased from various vendors - try Fuel Parts on the web.

 


Electric mirrors and mirror switches

If mirrors rattle at hi-way speeds , use silicon on plastic frame to mirror assembly contact points. Relocate mirror switch - if it gets bumped frequently and fails to work. One place to reposition switch is middle of ash tray, saving face plate from ashtray, drilling large hole for switch, wiring harness is longer than required for new location. BTW- Audi & Saab use same toy motor assembly (Mabuchy) for their el. mirrors and whole mechanism is made by IKU.  

 

Heater valve

This part can fail at the plastic flange on the header valve from aging hard use / or extra friction from temp selector levers. The best protection from a broken heater valve can be obtained by installing a secondary heater valve from a VW (not sure of the model) in the engine compartment - splice it into the hose near the firewall before the coolant enters the interior of the car.  If the stock valve fails, you can simply switch of the coolant supply to the interior with the secondary valve.

 

Wheel Bearings

It is difficult to set the proper tension on the front wheel bearings because the stock castelated nut allows only a few positions of adjustment. A Mercedes 230 nut can be substituted with good results!  
See the GTV6 Wheel bearing mods page for details. 

 

Factory Re-calls

1) Ignition controller retard sensor
Alfa used a temperature sensor mounted in the thermostat housing which signaled the ignition controller to retard the timing by 10 degrees when the engine was cold. This worked quite well but owners complained - so Alfa issued a service bulletin to disconnect the wire from this sensor. It's easy to find - there are 3 temp sensors in the thermostat housing - disconnect the one with only one wire.


Rust

This section is critical enough to be at the top of this f.a.q. - but I have not had too much experience with the dreaded it yet!
This advice is from John: 
Rusty spots to watch for are the rocker panels, the front fenders behind the wheel well also around rear wheels area, the base of the windscreen, trunk area along rear bumper, also check rear hatch at top & bottom. 
I have discovered some rust on my GTV6 - in the splash shields at the back of the front wheel arches. These shields cover the fuel charcoal canister on the passenger side, as well as the sunroof drain pipes on both sides. Removal entails drilling out the 3 rivets - replace with metal thread screws. 
These panels will often be rusted quite badly - I'm not sure if replacements are still available - though it looks as if it would be easy to fashion a pair from sheet aluminium. 

 

Production numbers

According to  "Alfa Romeo Production Cars" by Stefano d'Amico and Maurizio, GTV6 production totaled 22,381 between 1980 and 1987.