2004 Alfa Romeo 156 2.0 JTS Distinctive

Alfa Romeo - 2004 Alfa Romeo 156 2.0 JTS Distinctive - Garage

A love indeed, but at what cost?

Bought on January 2021 from czech Lancia Club member. With only 1 rust spot on the entire car, it was quite a delight to find a car for relatively good money and with no rust. The rust spot was above the RR wheel on the arch. The entire arch was replaced and now it is completely rust-free.

The car is currently in a very good shape, although a lot of time was put into it to make it so.

The car started its life as a journalist car, my dad even drove it when it arrived in the Czech republic. It was the first car with a 2.0 JTS engine here, even delivered in its 1B chassis. Later in its life there was a throwback test drive, visible here: https://www.autickar.cz/clanek/alfa-romeo-156-comeback/

Hidden Issues

Drove it for a month after it was registered, but suspecting the car acts a bit nervous on bumps in the meantime. I attributed such behaviour to old tires, so I drove it carefully until I got to change tires with the new season. When I tried to unfasten RL wheel, the whole wheel orbited around the caster point. I changed all arms, rubber bushings, dampers and springs (BC Racing suspension kit). Now it’s ok, but it was the first sign not all will be as good as I had dreamt.

After a few months of running, I noticed the engine started running under more load when the AC was on, something I didn’t know at the beginning as I bought it in the winter. The engine also started consuming too much oil, about 3l/100km. Yes, it consumed almost as much, as petrol. After a few weeks, the engine started knocking, despite me checking the oil level very regularly. Disassembling the engine uncovered a flat cam on 1st cyl., and completely misaligned timing. There were scratches from the engine running sometimes dry, it has apparently done so for long before it was bought. Some more damage was done in the engine from unprofessional completion of the engine, such as a misaligned piston rod on 3rd cyl. It cost me a ton of money and nerves and I was pissed the previous owner didn’t even mention such things when selling the car, despite him knowing the problems (there is actual evidence the engine was re-built more than once).
Engine block was kept, the rest was replaced. Engine now runs smoothly, without any problems. Sometimes it is leaking a bit from the sump, but the oil is not missing in the engine, so it is just a little leakage caused by the sump being probably not too flat-surfaced.

Right xenon light used to act up. When I switched it on, it stopped working after a few miles. Turning it off and on worked, but stopped working again. I managed to find a new xenon control unit which solved the problem for the entire summer of 2022. It started doing it again in the winter. I was told this usually happens with old xenon bulbs. Both front lights were changed in the past as it states on the hood written by hand, so xenon bulbs are apparently of different age from each other.
Thankfully it is fixed now.

Catalytic converter
When I was on vacay in San Remo (IT), travelling from Prague (CZ), the check engine light turned on. According to the serial diagnostic, there is a CAT problem with one of the sensors. Yet reading raw values affirms me in the system working correcly, though with a slight delay of a few miliseconds. No biggie then, all works without any real problems.

When driving in low RPMs from a cold start in the winter, VDC turns off. After the car is restarted (after the water temp gets a bit higher), VDC turns on again. No idea what happens there. When VDC / ASR is on (no VDC error from a cold start), the “VDC / ASR off” button doesn’t actually work. I don’t have anything that correctly communicates with the VDC ECU, so can’t check for issues.
I would like to turn it off though, the ASR seems to be a bit suicidal sometimes…

The car also has some problems with electrics in general. Usually very random, but boy are they annoying!

Original height vs. BC Racing kit:

Photos from car's history prior to my ownership: