My GTA

- The experiences -

Long term test - 1 year/ 18,000 km

The experiences - blog

- The blog -

Year 2006

27 Mar 2006 4 May 2006 11 Nov 2006
Year 2007
8 Feb 2007 20 Feb 2007 7 Apr 2007 12 May 2007 20 May 2007 27 Jul 2007
24 Oct 2007 8 Dec 2007        
Year 2008
23 June 2008 11 Oct 2008        
Year 2009
2 Jan 2009 26 Mar 2009        

27 March 2006

So far I don't have a lot of experience on the car. The car has just been imported from Germany to Finland and I've only driven around 1,000 kilometres with the car. More updates on this page will follow after I've gained more in depth knowledge of the car.

4 May 2006

I got the decision from the customs on how much I have to pay registration taxes on 2 May 2006. The next day I paid the taxes and the day after that I got the official Finnish license plates. The accident damage due to the deer accident has also been repaired.

During the first month of my ownership I have driven approx. 3.000 kilometres which is quite a lot more than my usual 1.000-1.500 km per month. Very nice 3.000 kilometres I might add.

Even though I'm mostly quite peaceful driver, the sound of the V6 engine is so sweet that sometimes I just can't resist the temptation and I have to push the gas pedal just to hear those lovely noises. On my winter holiday I visited my parents and that trip was more than 700 kilometres. During that trip I had a chance to test the overtaking capabilities of the GTA - no complaints there!

So far I still have the winter tyres on the car since I have not yet received the new summer wheels and tyres. With the winter tyres there is noticable torque steer on the Finnish roads which are generally in bad condition. Let's see what happens when I get the summer tyres on the car.

I got the navigation CD which includes the Finnish map just a couple days ago. A nice toy...or actually a useful tool especially since my work takes me to unknown places sometimes.

The fuel consumption on the GTA has been 10.7 l/100 km during the first 3.000 km according to the trip computer on the car. However since the trip computers on the Alfa's are generally quite optimistic I once compared the actual consumption with the reading on the trip computer. The difference was 0.5 l/100 km. So based on that the actual consumption has been around 11.2 l/100 km. That's approximately as much as I expected. The driving has been a mix of long trips and commuting to work and back (10 km each direction).

The problems encountered so far:

- The engine underguard is broken. This seems to be quite common on Alfa's and I will have to replace the engine guard sometimes in the future.

-  The "Motor control management failure" -message appeared on the trip computer after a cold start one morning. The message disappeared the next time the car was started and has not been seen since. Let's see if it appears again in the future.

- The third problem is a ticking sound coming from somewhere behind the dashboard on the passenger side. This sound can be heard on the lower revs. Possibly a relay ticking or something like that. This has to be investigated in the near future.

Those problems have been very minor and they haven't bothered me much. Generally the car feels excellent and I have been very happy with the car so far.

11 November 2006

So far I've driven my first 10.000 kms with the GTA . Ownership experience has been so far very care-free and most of all enjoyable. The car has been through for example a 1.400 km trip in East-Finland during the summer. I have also participated in the Finnish Italian car meeting called Bella Italia.

GTA in the Alfa-line up at the Bella Italia meeting in summer 2006. © Sami Uotila.

 

The rear end of the GTA at the Bella Italia meeting.  © Sami Uotila.

 

One more picture from the Bella Italia meeting.  © Wile E. Coyote

I have written a few words related to few interesting topics down below:

Wheels/tyres

When I bought the car it came with one set of new Continental studless winter tyres on the original 17" GTA wheels and one set of used and pretty worn summer tyres. The intention was to buy new summer tyres and wheels for the summer but it has proven to be more difficult than expected.

One set of 18" wheels and tyres arrived in May but they didn't fit under the car. The wheels had the right size, ET etc. but the front brake calibers were too large and the spokes of the wheels didn't have enough room. Back to the drawing board.

The next candidate was a set of original Alfa 18" multispoke wheels which would arrive from Germany. While waiting for these wheels to arrive I already bought a set of new 225/40/18" Goodyear Eagle F1 tyres in June. However it has taken much longer than anticipated for the wheels to arrive. Now it is November and the wheels are not yet here.

All that meant that I had to use the studless winter tyres whole summer which was a shame since they are much softer than proper summer tyres. This is not so nice especially while driving on the small and enjoyable roads with lots of corners.

In the beginning of November I had a flat tyre. I didn't use the car during the weekend and when I drove to work on Monday morning I noticed that the car wanted to turn to right all the time. I wondered what the problem was but decided to drive a few kilometres to the office anyway.

At the office car park I noticed that the right side front tyre had lost all of its air. I left the car to the car park for a day and changed the temporary spare tyre in the evening. Next morning I drove to the tyre shop and bought a brand new set of Nokian Hakkapeliitta 4 studded winter tyres.

Navigator

This is very handy. It's a bit like the mobile phone - you used to get along fine without it but nowadays it's hard to imagine life without it.

During our summed holiday the navigator was used a lot and since I also drive to new destinations at work the navigator has been very useful to me. Sometimes it might guide you to undriveable roads or tell you to turn to the wrong direction in one-way street so naturally you have to use your own sense while using the navigator.

The good thing with Alfa's own navigator is that it is neatly integrated into the dashboard and the navigation commands are also visible on the info screen between the speedometer and the tachometer. Also the combination of the radio, cd-player, navigator, phone and trip computer equipped with a large display is very nice and handy.

The navigator in action.

So overall a very good piece of equipment despite few little quirks.

Faults

No new faults have appeared during the summer and autumn. During our summer holiday there was one specifically horrible stretch of road in eastern Finland. On that road the engine underguard suffered more damage than previously. The consequence of this has been the fact that the ground clearance of the car has been quite low recently. I ordered an aluminium engine guard which arrived a few days ago and it will be installed in the near future.

The ticking sound mentioned earlier disappeared during the summer months but is has appeared again after the temperatures have dropped. With the helpful tips from the alfaowner.com and the Finnish alfa-forum the most likely source of the sound has been located. It is most likely the EGR recirculation valve and it is nothing serious.

Rust proofing

The car has been rust proofed during the autumn.

Fuel consumption

Fun costs money. The average consumption so far has been around 12 l/100 kms which is about the same as I anticipated so no surprises here.

Fun factor

Both the fun factor and the smile indicator are still very high. Keep on driving.

8 February 2007

The GTA has had its first service during my ownership of the car. At the same time also the timing belt was changed. Also the electric engine heater, wiring for the additional interior heater and the engine undertray have all been installed.

The installation of the electric engine heater, wiring for the additional interior heater and the engine undertray

The car was at the local garage to get the new aluminum engine undertray installed in mid November. The undertray is actually meant for Alfa 156 2.5 V6 but at least according to the mechanic it fitted perfectly to the 147 GTA.

At the same time also the electric engine heater was installed as well as the wiring for the additional interior heater.

The engine heater is manufactured by Defa and its product code is 412828. The heater heats the oil in the oil sump and is of a different type than the regular engine block heaters. The engine block heaters have caused some problems with other GTA owners since the engine management system sometimes gets confused because it can't understand that the radiator fluid is warm even though the outside temperature is way below zero degrees Celcius. So far I've not had any problems with the oil sump heater.

Timing belt change and 60,000 km service

At the same time as the year end was approaching also the 60,000 kilometer limit was also approaching. This meant that a scheduled service was needed. I also decided to have the timing belt changed at the same time since the car would be four years old quite soon. The official timing belt change timetable required change only after 120,000 km or 5 years but better safe than sorry.

Therefore I started looking for parts for the timing belt change as well as a garage where I could get the car serviced.

In the end I ordered the timing belt parts from a German Italo-ersatzteile -shop. The parts which I ordered were as follows:

I decided not to change the water pump at this stage. The total cost of these parts were approx. 300 euro which was approx. 50 per cent less than the prices of the official Alfa importer here in Finland. The delivery time of the parts was two weeks and the parts had to be paid in advance.

The parts needed for the timing belt change.

I also bought 8 liters of Selenia 10W-60 oil since the oil capacity of the GTA is 5,7 liters and I also wanted two liters for the fill-ups between the services. During the first 15,000 kilometers I had added 1.75 liters of oil to the engine.

The local garages didn't have much experience on changing the GTA timing belt but I found a place with experience on the 3.0l V6 Alfa engine and decided to use that for the change and service. The actual service and the timing belt change went smoothly.

The pricing on that garage was very reasonable since the labor charge for the timing belt change was 250 euros and the 60,000 km service (without oil) cost me approx. 100 euros. Total cost of the timing belt change including the parts was approx. 550 euros. Not bad at all and I feel that these costs were very reasonable for this type of car.

Only thing that is bothering me is the fact that the squealing sound while starting the engine when its cold is still the same after the service as it was before.

Other stuff

The car is still working very well. It seems like the GTA is surprisingly good winter car, the interior is quite warm and the car has started without problems even when the temperatures have dropped to -25 degrees Celcius. The low ground clearance is the only thing that you have to be careful about while driving in the winter. This means that you have to be careful in places where there is a lot of hard packed snow.

One thing that is bothering me is the squealing mentioned above. The car makes a little squeek when starting cold from temperatures ranging from zero to minus ten degrees Celcius. When temperature drops below minus ten degrees Celcius the car squeals a little bit longer and when it gets to -25C the squealing might last more than one minute after starting the car. The squealing is most likely due to the fact that the oil in the power steering is not suitable for Finnish winter conditions and it should be changed for a correct type of oil. At the moment all you can do is wait for the squealing to stop before you start moving the steering wheel.

Slightly dirty GTA after spending the night at almost -30 deg Celcius. When this picture was taken it was -22 deg Celcius.

Oh, and the new wheels for the summer tyres are on their way.

20 February 2007

The summer wheels arrived a couple of days ago.

The wheels which I had ordered last summer never arrived so I started searching for other options. Finally I found nice looking wheels by Novitec which is a German Alfa-tuner. The wheels I found were called N5 and it seems like they are not in the Novitec wheel program for 2007. Therefore I couldn't find these wheels from Novitec website or from Alfisti.net which also sells Novitec wheels. Luckily an Austrian Novitec distributor Hedl Walter had a set in stock.

The wheels arrived from Austria to Finland in just over two weeks. The wheels were delivered to my home door in two separate packages on two consecutive days. The price of the complete set was just over 700 euros. The size of the wheels is 8*18" ET30 PCD 5*98 mm. I weighed the wheels on a normal scale which is meant for weighing human and the weight of one wheel is almost 13 kg. Not the lightest possible wheels but hopefully good enough.

This is how the Novitec N5 wheels look like on the living room floor.

Hopefully when the winter sometimes turns into spring I will be able to get the wheels installed together with the Goodyear Eagle F1 225/40-18 tyres which I have bought previously. Maybe then I will be able to enjoy fully the handling characteristics of my GTA since I had to use the German studless winter tyres during the previous summer.

At the moment I'm considering on purchasing a set of coilovers for the car. The main goal of this purchase would be to reduce some of the unwanted effects of the front heaviness of the car. The biggest issue is on uneven tarmac roads where the car can bottom out too easily. However I don't want to lower the car too much since that will cause issues with the ground clearance. One place where this could cause problems is the parking garage at work. Well at the moment I'm considering what I should do - we'll see how this turns out.

7 April 2007

The first year of GTA ownership is now behind. I drove nearly 18,000 km during that year. Based on the experiences of this year I have written a long term test report on the pro's and con's of owning an Alfa 147 GTA.

After careful consideration I decided to order a set of Eibach Pro-Street-S coilovers for the car. The coilovers should arrive within the next few days from Germany.

12 May 2007

The Novitec wheels which I bought during the winter and a set of Eibach Pro-Street-S coilovers have now been installed. The summer tyres and wheels have been in use for a while but the coilovers were installed quite recently.

This is how the GTA looks like with the Novitec N5 wheels on the car. The size 18" is not too big for the car in my opinion.

The same garage which I had used before installed the coilovers. At the same time the oil in the power steering and a couple of light bulbs were changed.

I had asked the garage to also check the suspension carefully at the same time as they were installing the coilovers since I had felt a little restlessness after switching from winter tyres to summer tyres. They found some play on one lower wishbone and ball joint in the back and those were changed at the same time.

The car was at the garage for a week since I was on a work trip. I have only very limited experience on the coilovers since I got the car back from the garage.

I didn't measure the height of the car beforehand so I don't know how much it actually has been lowered. I told the garage which installed the set to leave it as high as possible but it seems like the height has dropped quite a lot. The drive down to the parking garage at work is pretty steep and it could have been problem to get there with lowered suspension. However I did manage to get down to the parking garage at work. I just had to drive very very carefully to get there without scraping the front lip or engine underguard - so no need to change jobs because of that.

This is how the GTA looks like at the moment with the Novitec wheels and Eibach coilovers.

First impression after few short trips with the new coilovers are as follows. The roadholding has improved which was expected. However based on short term experience it feels like the suspension is more comfortable than before which is surprising to me. It seems like the suspension is more compliant and handles bumps and manhole covers with ease. That's a bit of a surprise to me.

20 May 2007

During the winter I have also purchased new floor mats for the car. The original GTA mats were pretty thin and a hole appeared on the drivers side floor mat where the right foot rests. I've replaced the original mats with a set of mats which I ordered from a German eBay-seller.

The new mats are slightly thicker than the original ones but still thinner than the ones I had in my previous car. There is no reinforcements in the mats on the drivers side where the right foot rests so we'll see how long it will take until a hole appears in the new mat. The quality of the mats does seem good and they fit nicely although there are no attachment points in the mats.


New floor mat on the front passenger side.

27 July 2007

I have enjoyed the GTA a lot during this summer. Not much worth reporting has happened. However the remote control locking has given me some trouble recently.

During our summer holiday we visited Germany, Holland and Belgium and co-incidentally we had an Alfa as our rental car during that trip. The car was Alfa 159 JTDm 1,9 Sportwagon automatic so I had a chance to learn how a new generation Alfa is like.

Our rental Alfa somewhere in Holland.

Once again I took part in an italian car meeting called Bella Italia in July. Here are two pictures which I took during that day and also three lovely pictures of my GTA taken by Sami Uotila.

The most impressive car in Bella Italia this year was a Lamborghini Countach which is an extremely rare car in Finland.

An overview of the Alfa-lineup in Bella Italia. In front one of only three known 147 GTAs in Finland. This car was imported from Germany to Finland late 2006.

The front end of my GTA in Bella Italia. © Sami Uotila.

...and the rear end. © Sami Uotila.

Yet another artistic picture of my GTA taken by Sami Uotila. © Sami Uotila.

24 October 2007

Summer is now over and I have already put the winter tyres in the car. There has also been other tyre related things going on lately since I had yet another flat tyre. 

This happened when I was traveling from Lahti to Helsinki with my boss and a client. The car started feeling nervous and I heard some crashing noises from the front at the bumps. Therefore I decided to stop at the gas station to check the tyre pressure. At the gas station I noticed that the left front tyre had lost almost all of the tyre pressure. When I started to add some air into the tyre the tyre blew right next to my ear. The resulting bang was pretty noisy which startled me a bit.

Only thing to do in these circumstances was to start changing the tyre while my boss and the customer took a taxi to Helsinki. The local tyre shops didn't have suitable replacement tyres in stock so I ordered one from a German online-store called Reifendirekt. By ordering from Germany I saved almost 100 euros compared to buying from Finland. The old tyres had been used for less than five thousand kilometers so I didn't feel it was necessary to replace other tyres.

The flat tyre made me take the car to the garage for a check-up. The battery and the front brake pads were also changed at the same time. The change of battery was just a precautionary procedure due to the fact that the car would be five years old quite soon and the battery on the car had probably been on the car since the car was new.

The replacement front brake pads turned out to be quite expensive. The local garage had managed to source reasonably priced spare parts previously but they had to source the brake pads from the Finnish Alfa distributor Delta-Auto. This meant that the price was 199 euros which was twice the price compared to sourcing the pads from for example Germany.

The problems with the remote control locking which I had reported earlier were solved just by replacing the battery on the remote.

The car has also been taken to the MOT test and at the same time the Eibach coil-overs were subjected to inspection. The car passed the MOT test barely because the Finnish regulations state that the ground clearance has to be at least 8 cm and my GTA with the coil-overs was at the limit. It'll be interesting to see how the car handles the snow banks in the coming winter.

8 December 2007

My old electrical interior heater had broken last spring and I replaced it with a new Defa Termini -heater which is very compact in size. At first the heater was placed on the passenger side footwell but now it has been attached to the side of the center console on the passenger side.

I didn't want to drill any holes to the console so I asked around if anybody had used some kind of sticky tape to attach an interior heater. One friendly fellow Alfisti gave me advice and sent a little bit of Velcro-tape to attach the heater. The Velcro-tape is kind of furry tape which is supposed to be attached to both fixing areas.

The Velcro-tape.

I had to attach narrow pieces of wood to the bottom of the heater to attach it properly to the centre console. Since I made these modifications the tape seems to hold the heater very well in its place.

A side picture of the Defa Termini heater attached to the centre console of the GTA.

Frontal view of the Defa Termini.

Another recent event worth mentioning is the fact that the GTA developed a metallic clonking sound coming from the front a while ago. The sound could be heard after accelerating with a small gear and then letting the gas pedal off. The first suspect for causing the sound was loose engine attachment points but it turned out that the sound was caused by the upper front wishbones. The wishbones for both sides were changed and the sound disappeared after that. It seems like the loose wishbones are typical fault on Alfa 147 and 156 models and also my car has had both the front and rear wishbones changed quite recently.

23 June 2008

The winter 2007-2008 went by without any major events or incidents. The winter was historically warm and the lowest temperatures were less than minus 20 deg Celsius. It seems like the squealing of the power steering which appeared on the previous winter has not gone away even though the power steering fluids have been changed.

I took the GTA to the 75,000 km service at the Autohuolto Järvinen in the end of March. There was not much work that needed to be done. Only thing outside of the normal service schedule was the changing of two light bulbs. The cost of the service was approx. 200 euros excluding the oil. I bought the oil separately for 80 euros per 6 litres. The oil used was Selenia Racing 10W-60 again.

In March the Motor Control System Failure -warning appeared after I had started the engine and let it run on idle for a while. At the moment the temperature was slightly below zero degrees Celsius. The warning message disappeared after I turned the engine off and started it again. I asked the garage to check the message during the service and they told me that the reason might be the ignition coil pack on the cylinder number one. 

I did get the same warning message again after a cold start in May. This time it happened while I had not used the car for a week and once again the message disappeared after I turned the engine of and started it again. Maybe I'll have to do something about it at some point in the future.

The second year of my GTA ownership ended at the end of March. When that happened the car had 74,500 kilometres on the clock which means that I had driven approx. 11.5 thousand km during the second year. The total amount in two years was 29 thousand km.

11.10.2008

Yet another summer with the GTA has gone by. Like in previous years I participated in the Bella Italia car meet in Tammela in July where the GTA was parked under the same tree as last year.

Sami Uotila's stylish picture of my GTA in the Bella Italia 2008. © Sami Uotila.

A general view of the Alfa line-up on the Bella Italia 2008. The rear end of my GTA can also be seen in the middle. © Sami Uotila.

I didn't drive that much with the GTA this summer and nothing worth mentioning happened during the summer. However in the autumn the hinge on the drivers side door broke down causing the door to collapse slightly. Apparently the long doors on the GTA are pretty heavy which causes quite a bit of strain on the hinges. At first the local gagage tried to source a new hinge from the Alfa distributor in Finland but they were unable to deliver the part. In the end the garage manufactured a new hinge for the door. All this took two weeks during which time I used the passenger side door to get in and out of the car. A little bit of exercise everytime I needed to use the car.

A side light was also changed at the same as the hinge was repaired. I also MOTd the car in October so the next MOT is in January 2010 at the latest.

At the moment I don't drive that much with the GTA since most of my driving is from home to the office or to the railway station which is approx. 10 km each way. Sometimes I feel that it is such a waste to be driving the GTA mostly on rush hour traffic.

I've had the car for about two and a half years and previously I've changed my cars every three years. Therefore I'm planning to sell the car in about six months time and I've already started thinking about a car which will replace the GTA. But there is still plenty of time to enjoy the car before that time comes. Hopefully I'll find a buyer who appreciates the car when as much as I have done.

2 Jan 2009

Not much worth mentioning has happened during the autumn. There was however another instance of the Motor Control System Failure -warning while the car was running on idle after a cold start. I took the car to the garage after that and the fault was diagnosed as beeing something related to the ignition on the cylinder number 1.

No fault could be found on the actual ignition systems, instead it seemed like one of the valves on the cylinder 1 didn't return properly causing uneven idling of the engine. After the engine had warmed up the problem dissappeared. The fix for the problem was the flushing of the engine and replacing the thick 10w-60 oil with thinner 5w-40 oil which would fit Finnish winter conditions better. An additive called Forte was also added to the oil to flush the engine even more.

The car has 80,000 kms on the clock at the moment which means that I haven't driven it that much lately. I've also placed a for sale ad for the car as I had planned earlied.

26.3.2009

I found a buyer for the GTA and the car was sold yesterday 25th March 2009 which means that I owned the car for 3 years and 1 day. Owning a GTA was a great experience and I will miss a car which has so much soul as the GTA has. Even though my next car won't be an Alfa maybe the next one after that could be another GTA, a Mito GTA. However the next car will also be from a Fiat Group since the GTA will be replaced by an Abarth 500 esseesse as pictured below. My Abarth pages will be opened in the address www.pertti.com/en/abarth in the near future.

No new updates are expected on these GTA pages after this so thank you to all the readers. Arrivederci!

Year 2006

27 Mar 2006 4 May 2006 11 Nov 2006
Year 2007
8 Feb 2007 20 Feb 2007 7 Apr 2007 12 May 2007 20 May 2007 27 Jul 2007
24 Oct 2007 8 Dec 2007        
Year 2008
23 June 2008 11 Oct 2008        
Year 2009
2 Jan 2009 26 Mar 2009        

Long term test - 1 year/ 18,000 km

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