2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Electrical, structure, brake and engine issues among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

The 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio has been hailed as a family-friendly luxury SUV created with performance in mind. The automaker claims that the newest models are “built to lead, not to follow,” but owners tell a different tale. This SUV suffers from a defective electrical system, malfunctioning brakes, a weak structure, hazy visibility and a failing engine.

Click on other model year to view more problems:   2019

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Problems with the Electrical System

With a properly functioning electrical system, driving a car can be enjoyable and fun, but when components start to become glitchy, everything falls apart. That’s precisely the case with the Stelvio.

One post on the Stelvio Forum showcases numerous problems by saying, “ Day 1: we drove the car (started all well, no issues) for around 10 miles parked the car in a lot. Came back say 30 mins later – left turn signal failure, brake light failure. Hopped out, everything is fine dash signal indicator going fast. Resolved next day on its own. Day 2 – Started the car, service engine light/message came on disabling Auto Start / Stop. Day 3 – tried restarting multiple time, relocking the hood. No use. Day4 – The issue is still there. Start the car to idle for around 30 – 40 mins. No improvement turned it off. Day 5 – Scheduled apt with Service. Turned it on to start my drive to the dealership. All is well. I still head to them to check. Just after start the tailgate didn’t close auto so I had to manually push it and the power windows acted funny to be operated from the driver door console. Major issue which came up while driving – Climate Control failed. The dash displayed 20 F when it was 70 outside. Crazy ride.”

Sadly, this SUV is riddled with electrical problems on every front. Recall Number 19V551000 highlights a defective Body Control Module that causes the fuel gauge to read higher than it actually is. Recall Number 19V148000 also indicates that faults with the Brake System Module software might prevent users from disabling the Adaptive Cruise Control. This problem can put owners at risk of an accident. So what exactly is the Stelvio “built to lead?” The way it looks, it spends more time in the shop than most luxury SUVs, making it the leader of lemon cars, but we can’t imagine that’s what the automaker intended.

Problems with the Brakes

The braking system must operate properly so that stopping is possible on the road, especially when driving a vehicle that might have kids inside. Yet, the Stelvio fails on this front as well.

One Stelvio Forum user claims, “I don’t like the brake pedal feel, it’s much better to fell the actual pressure in the system. The pedal feels dead.”

This is the least of the braking issues. Recall Number 17V823000 reveals that the system might have contaminated brake fluid included, which doesn’t just damage the parts, but also affects performance. With this in mind, it’s possible that the only reason the Stelvio is leading is because it cannot stop. Does anyone really want a runaway luxury SUV that loses braking power?

Problems with the Vehicle Structure

Let’s face it. The 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio is not a low-dollar SUV. Owners pay a pretty penny to drive this SUV and they expect that the vehicle will hold up over the years, but that’s not the case.

Here’s what another comment on the Stelvio Forum states. “Last Saturday evening, we had a major rainstorm hit our region. I had to see a client.As I was driving, I saw water coming onto the floorboard of the passenger side. Like from under the dash. See photo. It kept coming so I placed a rag I keep in my car to prevent the water from getting onto the carpet as I was driving.At that point I got all the major warning signals on my dashboard: no forward frontal collision warning, no rear brake lights, left turn signal bad, etc. I knew at that point the battery must be the culprit.Unfortunately, I could not open the passenger door since none of the door worked except the driver’s door. I keep an emergency flashlight inside and wanted to see where the water was coming from. I was not in the mood to climb over the console and play stunt man.First I thought it was related. But it’s not. Without the heated seats on, heated steering on and other equipment on, the warning lights disappeared. I made a short video to prove to my Service Advisor I wasn’t on mushrooms at the time.Yesterday, I dropped he car off at the dealership since I still could not open the doors of the car.”

The Stelvio is not meant to function as a boat, and this water damage probably caused permanent loss. On top of these complaints, we see other structure-related issues. Just look at Recall Number 18V203000. It illustrates that water might also leak into the wiring connectors in the rear liftgate, leading to corrosion. If corrosion exists, the tailgate could open on its own while driving, allowing cargo to fall out and causing a road hazard. This is just one more reason why someone might not desire to buy a luxury automobile from FCA – the creators of the Dodge Grand Caravan and FIAT 500X.

Problems with the Windshield Wipers

Along with the structure, the visibility must be up to par. Otherwise, owners put themselves in danger while trying to navigate the road.

Look at what this Stelvio Forum user had to say, “Was stuck in a commute home in the snow / ice for about 3 hours and my windshield wipers kept accumulating ice. Only way to (somewhat) be able to see was to keep the wipers on high and pin the defrost on super hot. Well, at not so great times, my car made the decision that high speed was not really necessary and dropped down to normal mode – even though it was definitely set to high speed. When that happened, I couldn’t see anything. Pulling over wasn’t really a good option because I was on the highway and cars were sliding around everywhere.”

Does it surprise anyone to find out that there’s a recall related to the visibility as well? After all, there’s been a recall for almost every component. Recall Number 18V147000 shows that the wiper motor software might misinterpret overheating issues, causing a limitation that only allows for low-speed operation. Drivers are experiencing reduced visibility as a result. Maybe it’s for the best that owners can’t see the other sleek luxury SUVs on the road. Otherwise, they might decide to jump ship for another brand.

Problems with the Engine

Finally, it’s time to take a look at the powerful engine that’s supposedly included with the Stelvio. Yet, once again, there’s nothing but complaints.

One such user on the Stelvio Forum said, “Our Stelvio service lights came on after getting off highway. Then the engine quit at the light. My wife was in one of the busiest intersections in the area for 3 hours. The drivetrain was locked up, the engine would not turn over. Had to have it flat bedded with Dolly’s on all four wheels. 12 days at the dealer and still in the same condition. Engine will not turn over and can’t put the vehicle in neutral.”

Recall Number 18V635000 talks about another engine issue that states the motor was created with inadequate webbing material that might cause a coolant leak. In addition, Recall Number 18V636000 says that the engine can cause a misfire, which damages the catalytic converter. In extreme cases, this could lead to a car fire. In review, how does the Stelvio lead the pack? By having the issues in every single system, making it the poster child for lemon cars.

Your Lemon Law Legal Rights

Think you have a lemon? Sit back and let the experts work aid your lemon at no cost to you. The law makes Alfa Romeo pay legal fees. You may be able to get your lemon out of your life. Every year, auto manufacturers buy back, replace or pay cash settlements to thousands of ‘lemon’ owners like you.

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Brian Jones

About the Author:

Brian Jones spent more than 20 years working as an ASE Certified Master Tech and Parts Specialist at multiple dealerships. Brian has become an authority in the industry, traveling across the country to consult for car dealerships and contributing his expertise as a writer for several major automotive publications. In his spare time, Brian enjoys working on pickup trucks, muscle cars, Jeeps and anything related to motorsports.

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  • Diamond

    Nothing as of yet but stay tuned I’ll be keeping my eye out for things that was bought up by these consumers very helpful info.All eyes on the Stelvio .

  • James D

    My 2020 stelvio diesel bought new has now had a engine failure at 26000 kms
    Stuck in dealers now told 3 month wait for a new engine
    Perth Western Australia

  • Gordon W

    Devin, my sister has just experienced the same thing returning to Ireland from Italy and is getting it looked into on Monday. Did you get any satisfaction in the end? I’ll let you know if we find a solution.

  • Philip A

    In January 2021, the engine on my 2018 Stelvio failed completely in less than 60,000 miles and had to be replaced. Alfa would NOT help me because the car had over 50,000 miles and was out of warranty. I am about to file suit in the USDC NJ, bit was curious if there are any class actions pending against Alfa as a result of engine failure?

  • Devin P

    I love my Stelvio but has anyone ever had an issue with their windshield wipers not turning off? My poor truck has been at the dealership for a little over 2 weeks now with no resolution on how to fix the issue. They have changed the modem and checked all sensors, followed every module instruction but, still nothing, please help?

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