Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Vancouver, BC
Read some of the antics of Doug Hayashi at NSXFiles.com
Everyone wants to know, "What's it like to maintain and service an F355? The car comes with a two year warranty. In the first seven months of ownership, here’s what has maintenance has been on my car:
My driver side window wasn’t going up sometimes. I would have to bang the door panel with my fist, and then it would work, or else I would have to completely shut the car off, and turn it back on, and then sometimes it would work. This went on for two weeks, and then mysteriously it now works all the time. Jeff says it is because of the aftermarket stereo system that was put in. Wayne was cracking up when this happened after two weeks of ownership.
That black stripe down the side of the car looks cool and give it a good "line". Unfortunately, that black stripe is not painted on. Instead, it is plastic tape. Yes, kinda like electrical tape. And it is peeling off on my car. You pay this much for a car and they put electrical tape along the entire side of the car? This had to be replaced on the driver’s side.
I add a quart of oil every 700 miles or so. Ferrari of North America says that this is "normal". I never had to put oil in the NSX the first 127,000 miles that I owned it. It holds 10 quarts of oil, which you can only buy from the Ferrari dealer. It is some "special" Shell blend that goes for $12 a quart. Oil changes cost $250.
I dropped two quarts of gear oil in front of my wife’s work when I went to pick her up. Oil got on the exhaust/header, and caused tiny flames to dance on it after I stopped and opened the engine compartment. I proceed to try to blow the flames out, which is a bad move, as I am just giving more oxygen to the fire. Wayne was really cracking up about this one when he heard it. He then proceeded to buy both of us a little 2.5 lb halon fire extinguisher to keep in the trunk.
My car started stumbling badly, like it was missing. Turns out the #5 cylinder had a shorted out injector wire. Injector wire shorting out?? The car is only 7 months old.
Car battery idiot light comes on intermittently when driving, as if there is a loose wire or something.
Rear tires wore out at about 4600 miles. $400 bucks a tire. My car has the Goodyear Fiorano F1 tires on it, and it took about 3 months to get a set of rear tires for the car. I put Pirelli tires on the rear for a couple months until the Goodyear tires were back in stock. Car handles horrible with Goodyears on the front, Pirelli’s on the back. I guess because of the different tire treads.
Saturday, December 20th.
I make it my goal to try to get all the cars working by January 1st, to start off the New Year with a bang. I drop the F355 off at the dealer to fix the following things:
1. F1 Tranny leaking a 12 inch wide puddle of red fluid every morning.
2. Two of the four motor mounts are broken
3. F1 gear indicator light has 5 of 10 LEDs that are burnt out
4. Reverse lever loose, apparently a pin/metal piece broke off
5. Hand brake warning light comes on under hard braking or hard cornering
6. "Check Engine" light comes on all the time, won't turn off, seems emissions related
7. Clutch slips under hard acceleration under the 3-4, and 4-5 shift
The Ferrari dealer will charge me more than an independent Ferrari mechanic, but I figure that if the dealer does a major servicing on the car, it would help with resale value. Yes, I am thinking maybe I'll sell the F-car. Dealer gives me the estimate, and it is ugly. I tell them not to fix the gear indicator light ($500+labor) or the loose reverse gear lever ($2500, I guess it is made out of ahhh...titanium plated gold), but fix the rest. Wayne says some guy on the Ferrari chat list will fix the shifter gear light for $100 bucks if you send him the gauge, so I do that. A couple of days later, the dealer says that the pressure plate is cracked, so I need a new one of them, and the whole unit has to replaced. The dealer calls me and says it is "twenty nine ninety nine". Cost is $29.99? Too good to be true? Yes. It is $2999.00 Damn Italians.
Wayne and I are still driving the F355's around town like a bunch of maniacs. They are our daily drivers. When they work. Here's the story of what is new since the last update on the F355's��..
Wayne and I crack up about each other's misfortunes with the F355. It is like having a wife who is a bi-polar, psychotic, nymphomaniac Victoria Secret lingerie model, in a drug rehab program, with multiple personalities, that you happen to fall in love with. Meaning that it can be a tremendous pain in the ass at times, but you know you can't live without it. So you just deal with the various wacked out incidents that happen. When we talk about the F355 problems, it is like going to an AA meeting for friends and family of alcoholics. We sympathize with each other, we are our own support group.
In early April, it seems that Wayne's car started to overheat a bit, and one of the warning lights was lighting up on the dash. Since he has another month or so left on his two year warranty, he takes it immediately into the dealer to get fixed. The dealer checks it out and determines that it is one of the cooling fans that is not coming on, which seems to be the cause of the warning light. The dealer also notices that a small amount of oil is leaking from the motor onto some of the belts. The dealer want to make sure everything is okay in the engine, and this oil leak is from a suspicious place. Which means they have to pull the motor out of the car. His car has only 14,000 miles on it. He has never taken it to the racetrack. The dealer checks everything out, and also does Wayne a favor by doing the 30,000 mile service at the same time for a greatly reduced cost, since the motor is out. A 30,000 mile checkup normally means they change the timing belt. So I guess this means that a 30,000 mile service is $5000 or so. But instead of crying tears over the car, we crackup laughing about it. Remember, we both "married" the same type of lingerie model described above. We are used to it, we expected it, we live with it. We have conditioned ourselves to not get upset about the maintenance on these cars. We support each other in our co-dependencies with these cars. It is the price you pay for a good time.
My car went in for the 15,000 mile checkup. Cost for this check up is $1500. Ouch! Wayne was driving my car around before the checkup, and he noticed a slight "clunking" sound that you can hear when you turn the wheel from left to right, and the car is stationary. He is worried about this, since we drive these cars within an inch of their lives, and if the steering rack should somehow fail, we would be in deep shit. The Ferrari dealer checked it out, and concurred that something didn't seem quite right. So they graciously replaced the rack under warranty. Whew, I would hate to see how much that would have cost. Wayne cracks up about this. I laugh about it to. We are expect weird stuff to happen.
I drive my car around for a bit. Then, I notice that it is way too quiet. I mean WAY too quiet. It sounds like�.a stock Japanese supercar, if you know what I mean. The awesome F1 sound isn't happening anymore. I take it back to Ferrari, and tell them that something is wrong, my car is way too quiet. It is so quiet, that I don't want to even drive it around town, as when you accelerate, it no longer makes your adrenaline flow. Instead, your heart rate goes up, you get stressed out, and you keep thinking, "What the hell happened to the sound." I take it back to the dealer. The Ferrari guys think I am wacked out, but after poking around, they discover that the hose that opens up the exhaust at 5500 RPMs isn't connected. Since the exhaust doesn't get opened up fully, performance is down, and it no longer makes that awesome sound. They tighten it up, and off I go, ripping through the underpasses of the freeway, thinking I am at Monaco racing through the tunnel. Later that day, no sound again. The hose came off again. I look at the hose, and it is held by the tiniest, cheapest, hose clamp that I have ever seen. I put it back on, and drive around, and I experience "the sound" again. Next day, driving to the shop, I get no sound. At the shop, Brent cuts the hose end to see if we can get better grip, and retightens the itty bitty hose clamp. Hopefully, this will secure it so it will stay. I get the sound back, and life is good again. Without the sound, this car goes from being $140,000 car to being only worth about $70,000. Whoever is the "sound" engineer at Ferrari that tunes the exhaust/headers should get a huge contract like Michael Schumacher, as that sound engineer makes magic happen with these cars.
Wayne gets his car back. It is running strong, and he is happy. My only problem with my F355 is the irritating hand brake light that comes on whenever I do my normal two G late braking maneuver before every streetlight and stop sign. But hey, I can live with that. It is like having a supermodel forgetting to flush the toilet.......every damn time she uses it. You learn to live with it
For the first time in what seems like months, we both have our F355's up and running great. For about a day. I pull into our shop to pick some stuff up, and then I hop back into the car. Since I have the F1 tranny, you have to go through an elaborate sequence of events to start the car. This makes it so that it is also impossible to steal and impossible for a valet to park the car. One of the sequences of events is to pull back on both the paddle shifters to get the car into neutral before you can start. Except my car seems to be stuck in 1st gear, according to the LED light on the dash. It won't go into any other gear, including reverse. It is almost 5 p.m., and the Ferrari dealer will close very soon, so there is no time to tow the car there. Besides, since the car is stuck in first gear, the wheels won't move, and it will require that the tow truck driver to "drag" the car up onto the flatbed. The car is parked in an industrial area (where our shop is) , so I don't want to leave it out overnight as it will be unsafe, and I don't want to have to hire a security guard to watch it overnight. We decided that it might be electrical, so we decide to disconnect the battery and then reconnect it, kinda like rebooting your computer. Which means you have to pull off the right front tire, as the battery is in the front fender. We go through all these steps, but the car still won't move from 1st gear. I call the Ferrari dealer, and their service guy says that I need to come pickup a special tool that has a quick disconnect cylinder fitting that I can splice into the F1 tranny hydraulic line. Then, using a wrench, I turn the nut on the cylinder, which in turns simulates the hydraulic pump of the F1 shifter to pump fluid through the hose to push the clutch in. Once the clutch is in, then we can push the car inside the shop until the morning, when we can have a tow truck tow the car. If this car was built by the Japanese, they would have included this handy little tool in the tool kit of the car. I decide to buy one of these tools to keep in the trunk of the F355, just in case I break down in a bad area of town and I need to get the car towed quickly before it gets stripped. Cost for this gizmo tool? About $600.......
Note: Remember that the F355 F1 tranny is not a TipTronic, or slush-o-matic shifter that is on all other cars that have a paddle shifter/button/stick. The F355 still has a clutch like the regular manual Ferrari transmission, and has six gears, just like a regular manual Ferrari transmission. The difference is that when you pull the paddle shifter, it fires an electrical signal to the computer to determine if you can engage the gear you want without blowing up the engine, then signals the hydraulic pump to push the clutch in and engages the gear you requested and then releases the clutch faster than you can say "It's broke again".
Note: To be fair, we do probably drive these cars harder than anyone except for the people racing in the F355 Challenge Series. So these problems that we are having quite possibly will never happen to you, especially if you baby your cars and only drive them on the weekend around town. We take our cars to the redline on just about every shift when accelerating to hear the sound the engine makes. We throw the car into on ramps and offramps. We brake in the last 20 feet for every stoplight in town to feel the one g of deceleration, instead of braking 150 feet before the stoplight like normal people. We drive them at least 1500 miles a MONTH. But when we die, we won't have any regrets.....
So the next day I get the car towed to the shop. I take one last look at the car, and then I also notice that the blowoff hose for the exhaust is cracking. I think it is the probably about the 7th or 8th time at the shop in 15 months. But hey, it's a Ferrari. You learn to overlook problems like this, just like you would overlook the fact that your bi-polar, psychotic, nymphomaniac Victoria Secret lingerie model accidentally shot off a 9mm round into the ceiling. "Hey, I thought I saw a bug on the ceiling, I didn't hit anyone, what are you complaining about?", she innocently asks you while she is stretched out in bed, doe-eyed, dressed in the skimpiest underwear you have ever seen. Because for the moments when everything is working great, the F355 driving experience cannot be surpassed, and you can forgive it for all the problems it gave you last week, and the week before that, and the month before that. I've driven Vipers and Diablos and Porsche 911 Twin Turbos, but it those cars don't give the feeling like you are an F1 driver. The F355 does. Wayne and I are hooked, we will always try figure out a way to support the Ferrari habit, just like you could figure out a way to support your high maintenance supermodel girlfriend that you are in love with. We ain't ever gonna buy a German supercar or Japanese supercar, unless they can match the looks and the thrill of driving a Ferrari through a tunnel.
Thursday, January 4, 2007
Fabryce from GMG gives me a call, and say it will cost $4100 to fix the leaks/parking brake/rear hatch struts on the F355. OUCH! I ask him if that includes labor, and he says, "No, that is parts only". They have to drop the motor, replace the F1 tranny seals and seals on the motor. Since they are dropping the motor, he suggests that they also do the timing belt, blah blah blah. ARRRGH! Labor will be another $4500 or so. I might have to get financing from Brett to get my damn car outta the shop! Dammit, it is going to cost the equivalent of two new Tony Krypton chassis to fix it properly. Or another way to look at it, about 50 sets of shifter kart slicks. I can't take it anymore. I tell them to do the service, fix it real good, and then that car is outta my life. I'm finally going to sell it. I don't car if it is a cool looking car, and that the exhaust note is even cooler, this is ridiculous. Messley sent me an article, "Can You Afford to Drive a Ferrari?". The answer for me is no. After this major service, it is costing me at least $7 a mile in maintenance costs to drive the car for the past year. So a round trip drive from my house to Moran costs about $1050 in maintenance. I could probably fly back and forth in a helicopter cheaper, or maybe even a Lear Jet.
So my current plan is to sell the car, as cool as it is, for say $80,000, and buy something British. Whoever buys the F355 will probably get lucky with the maintenance cost for a year or two, since I've put $12,000 in repairs over the past year or so. They can probably get by with $1 a mile for maintenance costs. Buy my car, drive it for a year, and then sell it before another major servicing is done! Experience the Ferrari Dream before the Ferrari Servicing Nightmare catches up to you.
With the left over change from buying the Supercharged Exige, I'm going to make an assault on the single deck blackjack table at the Hooters Hotel, as I think I can take those bastards down, and make up the cash I have to fork over to GMG for repairs. Then I'll be back to even, and have a new car with a warranty that will drive like my shifter kart. Yeah, that's my plan. Nice if it works, I'll look like a real dumbass if it doesn't.
Hopefully I won't get into the F355 after GMG fixes it, and experience another perfect day like I did back in January 20, 2001, and wimp out and not sell the car. When a 355 GTS F1 is working good, and not leaking or breaking down on you, it is automobile nirvana. Top down, wind rushing through your hair, sun shining on you, car shrieking to its 8500 RPM redline as you bang the gears with the paddle shifter, causing your neck to snap back with every shift. Now that's living! It's kinda like you have this really hot girl friend that you want to break up with. You go over to her house to break up with her, but then she starts seductively stripping her clothes off, saying "Are you sure you want to break up with me?", and before you know it you are having multiple acts of hot sex. So then you postpone the breakup for another day, but then the same scene is played over and over again each day as for the next 10 days as you try to break up with her, similar in concept to the movie Ground Hog Day. A few weeks later, the hot girlfriend goes totally psycho and starts throwing your clothes out the second story window onto Pacific Coast Highway so all your neighbors can see what an idiot you are for dating her. You run upstairs to kill her, and as you are strangling her to death you scream, "I'm breaking up with you forever", but she she somehow manages to unzip her mini-skirt. You momentarily get distracted, and then you end up having hot sex again and not breaking up. All is temporarily forgiven again. That's been my life with the F355 the past 8 years. Maybe I shouldn't even drive it off the GMG lift, I should sell it there directly from the lift to some person so I don't wimp out and sample the forbidden fruit. You don't believe me? Get a ride in an F355 GTS with an F1 paddle shifters, rip it through a couple of tunnels and you'll understand. You'll be ruined.
First, a quick update on the F355 GTS, which everyone has been asking me about.
I finally got the car running great in late July. That's after I got the following work done on it:
1. 45,000 mile service from GMG
2. Fix tranny leak, oil leak, shifting problem. International Motorsports figured out how to fix this stuff
3. New parking brake shoes
4. New parking brake assembly (cable and actual hand lever)
5. New shock motor actuator (adjusts suspension from soft to sport mode)
6. New rear hatch struts
7. New rear wheel bearing
8. Detail from Premier Motorsports in Culver City
9. Rebuilt water pump
Special thanks to Martin at International Motorsports for being the one that eventually got the entire car back to excellent condition. If it wasn't for them, I'd have to set the car on fire and collect insurance money to pay for all the repair bills.
Car runs great now! Only problem is that I charged $18,000 ffing dollars on my credit card to have all the above repairs done. Which is ridiculous. So now I'm faced with the dilemma: Should I sell it now since everything is working great? Or do I pound on it for another year with the chance that I might have to drop another $5000-$10,000 into it if something breaks? What if I blow up the motor and it cost me $30,000 to fix it? It seems a shame to sell it. But then again I've been running up my credit cards in an effort to get me to face reality that I need to sell this thing before it breaks me financially. Premier Motorsports puts me in contact with Richard Purcell, who is a Ferrari broker. I agree that I'll use his services to help sell the car.
I priced the car at $79,000,which Richard said was too high. I got no offers whatsoever. Copy of my "for sale ad". So then I agreed to drop it to $75,000. Still nothing. Richard then said I should really price it at $69,000, and he can sell it for sure. Which I told him was ridiculous, as it is a 1999 GTS with F1 transmission, factory carbon fiber racing seats, red removable top, has custom five point harness installed for the driver, red brake calipers, etc. He said that is all good and dandy, but as soon as he tells people that it has 43,5000 miles on it, they hang up the phone on him. So I tell him that if I factor out all the repairs into the car, that means the car was worth $51,000 before I went into the rathole of fixing all this shit on it? Ridiculous. Plus factor in a few thousand for his commission, and suddenly it comes a $49,000 car prior to repairs. Absurd. If you look at the car up close, you would think it only has 10,000 miles on it, as the paint/body work looks real good. Leather is a bit worn on the driver's seat, but that is to be expected.
I paced back and forth for a few days over this. Seems a shame to sell it for that price. But then again I could pay off all my credit card bills, be debt free, and have some money left over to buy a new shifter kart. Heh. I start thinking.....brand new shifter kart chassis...never been crashed....frame will be tight and responsive....all new bearings so it rolls real good......plus Supernationals XI is coming up in 3 months, and it will be the biggest one ever. But if I kept the Ferrari, and I drove it like I usually did, and the tranny started leaking again, I'd be out another $4000-$5000. If I wanted to drive one of the kids around in the F355, I'd have to take it to the dealer and them install a "Ferrari factory passenger air bag disable switch", at a cost of about $2000+.
I relent. Screw it. Sell the Ferrari. Maybe it will make me get off my ass and figure out a way to come up with some quick cash to buy another one sometime in the future. This is the first car that I have ever sold in my life. I still have my trusty 1986 Toyota MR2. That car is amazing, as it can sit outside the shop for two months, and all I have to do is turn the ignition on, and it fires right up. The only repair in the last five years on that car was one wheel bearing. And, it doesn't have a passenger side airbag, so I buzz one of the kids around in that if I don't want to drive the truck. It is truly a "reliable beater car".
So what it comes down to is I can race a 125cc shifter kart with PKC, or I can try to keep up with the maintenance on an F355. Hummmmm......since I'm married with two kids, I can't pick up hot young chicks, so I guess I'll sell the F355 and get my ya-ya's out with a shifter kart. I sell the F355 for the dirt cheap price of $69,000. Shoot me in the head. It was a sad day when the truck came to pick it up.
The next morning, I woke up, and felt kinda funny, like I was castrated. Oh yeah, makes sense....I no longer have an F-Car to buzz around the neighborhood in at 8500 rpms, engine shrieking like I'm on the streets of Monaco. I need to hurry up and get a practice day in the shifter kart.......