Gazza82's 1998 Alfa Romeo 156 TSpark 2.0

Replacing a 156 Brake Master Cylinder

If you have a copy of DTE or eLearn, you will find the procedure they list is complex and involves taking half the car apart: inlet manifold, exhaust, .... This actually isn't necessary as it is possible to replace the master cylinder with a little less work.

  1. Remove the engine steady bar
  2. Remove the steering fluid reservoir. There are two bolts one from the top and one underneath bolting it to the inlet manifold. Catch as much fluid as you can when the two pipes are pulled off. And prepared to be surprised at how dirty this oil is!
  3. Remove the electro-valve. This is held onto the inlet manifold with three hex screws and at the bottom clips onto a ball-joint to operate the inlet manifold flaps. Remove the electrical connector and pull the vacuum pipe off the top.
  4. Remove the clips from the brake fluid feed pipes and pull these off the connectors (again catch as much fluid as you can)
  5. Remove the two metal brake pipes from the side of the cylinder. I found it easier to remove the banjo connectors (14mm), but take care not to lose the small brass sealing washers. (I replaced these anyway).
  6. Undo the two 13mm nuts that locate the cylinder on the servo. It will push itself off due to the spring inside the servo and there will be vacuum so expect a "short intake of breath!". Again there are two small washers under the nuts so take care. I had to move the fuel return pipe slightly to get access to one of the nuts with my sockets. Disconnect and unclip the pale blue connector from the inlet manifold. Remove the screw in the pipe mounting clip and push it away gently. Note: I did not get any petrol loss.

    If you look carefully, you can see the top of the cylinder is wet with brake fluid.
    [Right mouse button over image, and click on View Image for a larger picture].
    <Leaking Master Cylinder pic>
    Once the master cylinder is out, give the area a good clean up as if it has been leaking there is a lot of brake fluid around. Take care not to get this on the paintwork!
    <master Cylinder out>
    Here is the very wet master cylinder. You can get also a servo-fitting kit from Alfa for around £5 which includes a new servo rubber sealing ring, two new seals for the top connectors and two new nuts: Part Number 77362075.
    <master Cylinder>
    Replace everything in the reverse order. Make sure the master cylinder is located on the centre pin of the servo. Don't over-tighten the brake pipe connectors or bend the pipes as this will crack them.
    If you are unlucky enough to have a faulty cylinder and it needs replacing, they are around £155 inc vat from the dealers (OUCH!). I tried to order a replacement from various places but kept getting the wrong one. Note the shape and size of the master cylinder. It has to be short to fit behind the inlet manifold and other parts. Having talked to my Alfa Parts Manager about this, we have come to the conclusion the other cylinder I kept being offered is the LHD version. It is longer and thinner. When I returned one to Brakes International I included a picture of the right part so I hope they will discuss this with their suppliers.

    UPDATE: Whilst searching for some recall info, I found out that the 156 was the subject of a recall in Dec 1998 for these feed pipes. So it is possible they have been changed before. But as I've had the car since new, I don't remember them being changed, although it is possible the dealer could have updated the car without me knowing. Just given the work involved, I would have remembered it being off the road ... and it wasn't except for a clutch replacement in early 2001.

    Added June 19th 2007: Copyright © Gazza82 Enterprises
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