Fix It!

Don't Replace It — Have It Fixed!

By Tom Letourneau

While most of us own older Alfas, there are some who own Milanos and 164s, both of which have modern electronics and controls (such as the heating and A/C dash modules, etc.) that often decide to “take a hike”. This leaves us with the task of trying to find a good used one (that works) cheap, or asking the question, "Where can I get one of these suckers fixed (cheap)?”

I know that these Alfa (and other makes) units can fail, malfunction, and/or leave you stranded, as I have owned two Milanos and have suffered with such maladies. I have also heard the horror stories of what 164 owners (especially "Q"-model owners) have gone though.

As good old Alfred E. Newman has told us for years, "What, me worry?"

The other day, while visiting a friend who owns a large specialty and imported car repair facility in Wakefield, Rogues Island, I mentioned to him that the $1200 heater and A/C module in my Saab 9-5 AERO Combi had packed it bags and headed south. I asked if he might have a good spare used one hanging around. We looked but to no avail. He had one for just about every other Saab model but, needless to say, not the one I needed.

Then George said to me, "Why don't you bring it up to BBA Remanufacturing in Taunton and have them fix it? They fix all kinds of these units — ECUs, you name it — and they are very, very reasonable. And they just don't do it for repair shops and car dealers — the consumer can walk in right off the street and get his unit done for about $150 (+ or -) for a A/C heater control module. Everyone pays the same price!”

Now, I’ve been in this rat race (the automotive industry) for over 40 years, and I had never heard of this place! I knew that such operations existed, but didn’t know that there was one so close by! So, since they were about 14 miles from my house, I took a ride up there. They are located immediately off of Route I-495 in Taunton, just in back of the Holiday Inn Convention Center at 300 Miles Standish Blvd (the second driveway entrance).

When I got there, I introduced myself, told them who sent me and why and what my issue was, and asked if they could fix it. The answer was, “Yes, we can” ... and they let me borrow a tool to remove a dash cover so I could pop my unit out. It is being fixed for $185 vs. around $1200 to buy new one from Saab! Plus, as mentioned, they charge both the consumer and shops the same price.

By the way, you must go to the BBA Remanufacturing website and see what these people do and what they can fix. And the kinds of modifications and upgrades that they can do to just about anything and everything — American, European, and Asian. For Alfa Romeos, they list ABS pumps/controllers/modulators, Air Flow Meters, Airbags, Ancillary ECUs, Blower and Fan Systems, Body Controls, Climate Control Units, Dashboard/Instrument Clusters, Display Units, Electric Hydraulic Power Steering (ehps), Electric Power Steering (eps), Engine Management, Entertainment/Info/Sat-Nav Screen, Fuel Injection, Fuel Pumps, Gearbox ECUs, Heater Control Units, Ignition Module, Throttle bodies, and Washer Systems.

So, given that most shops mark up 50% or more, if you have at least some degree of competency and have this kind of unit fail in your Alfa (or other make), pull it out yourself, take a leisurely ride over to BBA, have them fix it, and save yourself a lot of money!Tiny Quadrifoglio

Fix It!