One of the most crucial aspects of owning and maintaining an Alfa Romeo 156 GTA is to make sure that the timing belt (cambelt) is replaced at or before the correct intervals. If you don’t replace the timing belt, the fantastic 3.2-litre Busso V6 engine inside your GTA could turn into a very expensive paperweight.
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Does the 156 GTA have a Timing Belt or Chain?
As the title of this article hints at, the Alfa Romeo 156 GTA features a timing belt, not a chain, so don’t let anybody convince you otherwise.
When Does the Timing Belt Need to Be Replaced on a 156 GTA?
Originally, Alfa Romeo recommended changing the timing belt every 116,000 kilometres (72,000 miles) on the 156 GTA and other cars fitted with the Busso V6. However, they later amended this to a much shorter interval of 60,000 kilometres (37,000 miles) as there were reports of belt failures over this mileage.
If your 156 GTA doesn’t do a lot of miles, the timing belt should be replaced every 36 months, regardless of mileage. In some markets an interval of every 48 months was recommended, but once again there were reports of timing belt failure in the fourth year, so it is probably better to get the belt replaced every 36-months or before.
What Happens if the Timing Belt Breaks on a 156 GTA?
Unfortunately, the Brusso V6 is an interference engine, so if the belt fails catastrophic damage to the engine will almost certainly occur and you will be left with a very expensive repair bill.
The primary reason for timing belt failure is often attributed to a defective tensioner, not the belt itself. To get a bit of an idea of health of both the belt and the tensioner, you can try to listen for any abnormal rubbing, squeaking, tapping, or ticking sounds originating from the timing belt area. The presence of such noises may signal that the belt and tensioner have surpassed their intended lifespan.
What Else Should be Replaced with the Timing Belt?
Along with the timing belt, you should get the idlers, tensioner, aux belt and water pump replaced at the same time. Lots of 156 GTA owners opt to upgrade the water pump to a metal version with a sturdier impeller for enhanced durability during the change. Unlike the original plastic variant, a metal pump offers an extended lifespan.
To Sum Up
It is recommended to replace the timing belt (also known as the cambelt) approximately every 60,000 kilometers (37,000 miles). If the specified distance is not covered within 36 months, it is still advisable to replace the belt along with the tensioner, idlers and aux belt. Additionally, it is a good idea to replace the water pump during each timing belt change and upgrade it to a metal one if it hasn’t been done already.