1421 Francisco Blvd E, Suite 2 San Rafael, CA 94901 Call Now: 415-259-5488

Company Blog for San Francisco Motorsports

Get Off Your Ash!


  
   

GET OFF YOUR ASH!
San Francisco Motorsports understands how nasty the air we are breathing in the Bay Area is lately and would like to extend some services to our valued clients. From now through the end of the month Sept 30th 2020 we are offering free installation of cabin air filter with purchase and a hand wash of your vehicle.
By appointment only. Please call 415-259-5488 Monday – Friday 8-5
 Familiar faces
 Getting the band back together better than ever! As many of you know we pride ourselves on being one big team here at SFMS and we are proud to announce the RE-arrival of a couple of team members you may have heard of or met before.
Rick Rosa is back in the shop, he is a Ferrari and Porsche factory trained and seasoned veteran of the exotic world. Rick’s extensive knowledge of all different models/makes of european vehicles makes him the perfect fit for our ever so diverse shop. We are all very excited to have him back on the team.
Daniel Gentry is back and ready to schedule your appointment! Some of you may remember Daniel. He started in the shop as a young technician and had the desire to get more hands on with day to day operations to make sure customers got the full experience when visiting SFMSS. After a year hiatus he is back as our Shop Manager and eager to help you and your car get to the next level!
 In addition, San Francisco Motorsports has another piece of exciting news: We are now fully equipped and stocked with all necessary equipment to perform tire mount and balances as well as full 4 wheel vehicle alignments in house! Watch our monthly news letters for future special offers!

OBD II Smog Monitors on Ferrari Maserati Cars

Article Published by Forza Magazine - Written by Jesse Westlake

I have heard about three separate Superamericas that had difficulty passing the California smog test. Is there something unique about the 2005 Superamerica’s exhaust system that is causing this? Fortunately, I have had no issues (yet) getting my 2004 575M smogged, and hope that I won’t run into the same problem! There’s nothing unique about the Superamerica versus a 575M?that would make it difficult for the car to pass a smog test. If I had to guess at a cause, it would be that a typical Superamerica is driven less than a typical 575M. Why does that matter??The answer calls for a brief history of automotive emissions-control devices. Before the current European vehicle-emissions standards arrived, just about every emissions device and test came into being through the efforts of an organization called the California Air Resources Board. Formed in the late 1960s to battle the smog that was then hiding Los Angeles’ skyline, CARB set emissions standards for all new cars sold in California. Many other states adopted these standards, which are stricter than the Federal ones, and given the size of this combined market vehicle manufacturers ultimately built almost every U.S.-model car to meet CARB’s standards. Over the years, these standards led to a variety of emissions-control devices, including air injection, oxygen sensors, feedback carburetors, EGR valves, and catalytic converters. In the early 1990s, CARB introduced a new mandate that cars had to have a universal, standardized On Board Diagnostic system, which would allow for more accurate and comprehensive smog testing. OBD-II would come into effect in 1996. OBD-II introduced a standardized diagnostic connector, trouble codes, and readiness monitors. These monitors check to see if the vehicle has performed all of its emissions-related diagnostic self-checks, which extend far beyond the tailpipe. If you’ve ever left the gas cap loose on a post-1996 vehicle and had the Check Engine light come on, that was because the evaporative-system monitor discovered the leak. (The EVAP monitor also checks for vapor leaks from the fuel tank and lines.) However, while the vehicle manufacturers were responsible for monitoring emissions and communicate the results, there were no requirements about how they did so—more on that later. Here in California, the state has a three-part smog-testing program: a visual inspection to make sure all of the emissions components are installed, a functional inspection to make sure (some of) those components are working, and a tailpipe emissions test for some model years. (Many other states have similar smog-check standards.) For a post-1999 model like the 575M to pass the test, all of the OBD-II monitors except the EVAP monitor must be tested and passed, and no tailpipe test is required. This is done with a state-mandated machine that sends the results directly to the DMV; if the car fails the test, it cannot be registered. Outside the confines of a state emissions test, the monitors’ status can be checked with any generic scan tool that’s plugged into the OBD-II Data Link Connector, or DLC. On the scan tool, the passed and not-passed (this does not mean failed) monitors are usually displayed as red or green, or sometimes flashing circles with the corresponding acronym inside. You won’t always see the same results from vehicle to vehicle, however, because different cars can have different monitors. For example, the F430 has a monitors to check the evaporative system but not the EGR valve or the secondary-air system, because it was not built with those systems. But the later 430 Scuderia and Scuderia Spider 16M were equipped with a secondary air system (to compensate for their lack of pre-cats) so therefore have the accompanying monitor. Most OBD-II Ferraris have monitors for the oxygen sensor (O2S), oxygen sensor heater (HTR), catalytic converter (CAT), secondary air injection (AIR or SAIR), and evaporative system monitor (EVA or EVAP), along with a standard key-on electrical monitor called Comprehensive Component Monitor (CCM)—usually seven to nine monitors in total. Still with me??If so, here’s where “driven less” comes in. One common side effect of letting a car sit for long periods of time is that its battery will drain. (A battery maintainer will prevent this, but I can’t tell you how often I get calls after the power cord has been accidentally unplugged.) The OBD-II monitors reset to “not passed” when the battery dies or gets disconnected, and the car won’t pass a smog test until the monitors are “set” and then “passed.” This isn’t always easy, since there are several checks that need to take place. Sometimes, they need to take place over and over again before the monitors will set. Ferrari’s programmers wrote code into the engine-control software that defines exactly how and when the monitors function; this is called the enabling criteria. Enabling criteria happens during what is generically called a drive cycle, a set of parameters and circumstances that allow an individual system to be tested while the car is being driven in a baseline manner. For example: An oxygen-sensor heater can only be tested after a car is started when cold. In order for this monitor to pass, the car’s computer must see an initial oxygen-sensor voltage (usually 5-9 volts) with the ignition key turned to the On position. Then, after the car is started and is being driven, the oxygen sensor heats up and the voltage decreases to 0.2-0.8 volt. When all of this happens as expected, the HTR monitor is set and passed. But if the vehicle is too warm when started, or driven too aggressively immediately after being started from cold, the enabling criteria is not met and the monitor is not set—and therefore cannot be passed—on this particular drive cycle. It’s important to note that a monitor that is not set does not mean there is a problem with the car. It just means that the steps necessary for the car to test itself have not been completed. As I mentioned earlier, the OBD-II standards state that each car must meet the emissions results but don’t dictate how to do so. As a result, each manufacturer does things a little differently, and Ferrari is certainly not the only small-production European automaker that struggled to correlate its engine programming with passing the California smog test. That challenge falls to the technician working on the car, and there’s no universal set of guidelines available from Ferrari on how to do it. Another example: I frequently get calls throughout the summer about 360s, 456s, and 550/575Ms that will not pass the secondary air monitor. This doesn’t indicate a problem with the secondary air system, which blows fresh air into the hot exhaust to ignite any unburned gases remaining after combustion. Instead, it reflects this monitor’s very specific enabling criteria. Specifically, the car must have been sitting for two to four hours, minimum. Next, the ambient temperature must be below 70 degrees, and the car should be allowed to warm up for five to ten minutes after starting. Then comes a few miles of driving between 50 mph and 60 mph on a flat or nearly flat road, followed by a stop and some more idle time. While this enabling criteria will be met eventually during normal use, how often do all of these exact steps happen in this exact order? Not often, which is why I have sometimes had to resort to driving customers’ cars with scan tool in hand, monitoring the oxygen sensors and OBD-II monitors, after wiring a light into the secondary air pump relay so I?can see when the pump is turning on. Why? Because the pump occasionally cycles on for just a second at a time during steady cruise, and it’s at this moment that the car checks, via the oxygen sensors, that there really is fresh air flowing into the exhaust system. Sometimes it really does take a professional mechanic just to pass a smog test!

Ferrari Limited Slip noises

Published by Forza Magazine

A “rubbing” noise has just started at the rear of my 599 GTB?Fiorano. My family has owned the car since new. It has 14,000 miles and receives the factory-recommended service/oil change/inspection every year. The noise occurs at low to medium speeds when the steering wheel is turned away from center, but it doesn’t sound like a worn bearing or CV joint, a tire rubbing, or anything I’ve heard before. Performance seems unaffected, although I’m not going to attempt any burnouts or try to hit top speed until the issue is figured out. 

I?applaud your decision to drive cautiously and investigate this noise!?It truly is better safe than sorry with these cars, as undiagnosed issues that get ignored can quickly turn into very expensive, potentially dangerous problems. 

I suspect I know what’s causing the noise, which is a fairly common issue, but rather than jump the gun let’s start with the basics. First, is anything about the noise related to traction??For example, does the noise occur when you turn the wheel and stand on the throttle, and the worn rear tires scrabble for grip??I’m guessing not, because you’re likely very familiar with the car’s behavior after 14,000 miles, but it’s important to address the most obvious possibilities. Second, during its yearly visits to your dealer or mechanic, has the car received its most recent biannual gearbox fluid change??Ferrari calls for changing the fluid every two years with Shell/Pennzoil TF1055, a special blend that’s much different from a generic, Brand X gear oil. Assuming the noise isn’t related to traction and the gearbox is current on fluid changes, the issue likely relates to the internal workings of your car’s transaxle. It’s probably not a serious problem, at all, and it provides the perfect opportunity to do a little digging into a piece of performance hardware most people have heard of but few understand. 

Most readers of a certain age will have heard of Posi-Traction, an American brand name of the humble limited-slip differential. Many readers may also have learned how these devices work thanks to the courtroom scene in My Cousin Vinny, starring Joe Pesci and Marisa Tomei, but for those who haven’t seen one of my favorite films, here’s the basic theory. The right wheels of a car making a right turn are covering far less ground than the wheels on the left side. At the same time, the engine and transmission continue to drive the car forward at a constant speed. In order for the car to turn smoothly, without jerking or skidding, the driven wheel on the left needs to be able to turn at a different speed from the one on the right—and the device that allows this differential in speed is called, suitably enough, the differential. In a front-transmission, rear-drive car, the differential is housed in the rear end. In cars with transaxles, like your 599, the differential is integrated into the transmission casing. However it’s packaged, a differential contains a small gear set that allows the constant flow of power from the pinion to the ring gear to be split through two axles spinning at different speeds, and then to the wheels. This “open” differential design works perfectly well in many situations, but there’s a catch:?It only supplies torque to the wheel with the least amount of traction. This means that if one wheel has no traction, the car may not be able to move at all, as one wheel spins endlessly and the other just sits there. The solution to this problem was to add internal clutches to the differential assembly that allow power to be transferred to both wheels, which can keep a car from getting stuck in place and deliver more torque to the tires for improved performance. 

Over time, those internal clutches have been augmented and enhanced with springs, pumps, and/or electronic forks (as found in Ferrari’s later E-diff electronic differentials), although the basic function remains unchanged. That brings up one final piece of the puzzle:?If these clutches were only able to be fully open or fully closed, the car couldn’t turn smoothly without the jerking and skidding the differential was invented to prevent. As a result, they have to be allowed to slip—a limited bit—to allow for smooth cornering. To do this slipping, the clutches require a special type of lubrication or friction modifier. On cars with a separate differential, this friction modifier just gets poured into the differential housing along with the differential oil. On a car with a transaxle, the same fluid lubricates both the gearbox and the differential, so changing that fluid is key to maintaining the limited-slip clutches. That’s why Ferrari specifies the TF1055 fluid, which already has the proper friction modifiers. This brings us all the way back to your issue. When limited-slip clutches get “dry,” they will let you know by a groaning or rubbing noise on turns. In severe cases, you will feel a chatter around tight turns. Sound familiar? This issue usually occurs on cars with low transaxle fluid levels, but every once in a while a correctly filled 599 (or, much more often, F430)?transaxle will create the rubbing noise. In these relatively rare cases, a bottle of limited-slip friction modifier—we use BG Products’ MGC 328CC here at San Francisco Motorsports—should take care of those around-town groans. 

Ferrari 348 Gearbox Shifting

Published in Forza Magazine - Written By Jesse Westlake

I just bought my high-school dream car: a red/tan 348 tb. I still have all the magazines that reviewed the 348 when it was new, and never cared about all the complaints -- the 348 just looked so perfect. I drove several cars before buying mine, and mine was definitely the best of the bunch. There's only one problem: In every single case, the shift lever was really stiff. It's something "built" into the car, and that's okay, but is there any way to make the shifting lighter, easier, something? Shifting improves very slightly when the car is fully warm, but remains very stiff.
Growing up, the my Testarossa print sat alongside posters of two supercars. An elite German car of the 80’s as well as a timeless, over-hyped, English rocket ship. I should have had the F40 because it was the rightful part of that awesome trio. But the Testarossa just had these irresistible lines that I just had to have. Now, all grown up and having the chance to work on and drive all the horses in the stable, when I want that 80’s look and feel, I gravitate towards the 348 that I dub The Mini-Testarossa. All those great lines put in a small sports car package that’s much easier to handle. It may be the door scallops that do it for me, or the square taillights. Or, maybe it’s just because they represented a whole new language of love. Either way, I think Ferrari got it right with the 348 in that era.
While ushering in new design for your senses, Ferrari also made mainstream the concept of the modular powertrain and subframe unit found on the 288 GTO. The GTO had an interior access cover to perform timing belt maintenance but still had the powertrain set on a removable subframe. On the Testarossa, Mondial T, and 348, timing belts meant major surgery in removal of the powertrain due to the cooling system moving to the midship and the fuel tank sitting directly below the rear window. During the course of this service most people will replace all fluids including the gearbox and will at least have to uncouple and recouple the shift linkages. Since this service is so time consuming, it also means quite costly. Therefore, most 348s commonly suffer what we call “deferred maintenance”. The prescribed three-year timing belt maintenance makes a lot of sense to many owners in the first ownership or decade. Resale value is still high and pride of ownership trumps all. As time ticks by the conversation shifts more to the five-year timing belt interval and “but I hardly ever drive it…” objection. Beyond just timing belts, these intervals inspect and address most items like bulbs, air conditioning, door/window function, and shift linkage adjustment and lubing. The longer in-between these major services, more opportunity lubrication has to get hard or go away completely. The more a poorly adjusted pivot has to grind a permanent groove on itself, the less likely it can be nursed back to perfection. These facts don’t change the valid conversation of cost of maintenance, but they still remain the same. At San Francisco Motorsports, we strive to make a car feel different after any service – better than when it came in. You bet the engine runs its best. But the park brake is adjusted a perfect 3-5 clicks, the doors don’t creak, hopefully the windows may roll up just a little faster, and yes, the gear shift feels as good as possible. This is accomplished through adjustments and lubrication at the shifter itself and at the gearbox during the course of these large services.
The 348 especially suffers from a stubborn cold shift. There is no doubt that temperature is a major factor with the 80’s Ferrari car shift feel. It’s such a non-secret in 348 that Ferrari made continuous changes to the gear shift and clutch throughout the vehicle build. In the field there are many things that can help, including some parts that can be replaced that are “more 355”. There are also aftermarket remedies in fluids and hard parts that can help.
There are three big effective players in the gearbox fluid conversation. I say conversation because all three have been claimed to help, and all three (in my experience and what I hear) have been claimed to be the best. First is The recommended factory fluid which was known for a long time as Shell Donax TF1055. This is a specialty fluid packed with Ferrari co-developed additives and modifiers that they believe works best in the gearbox they engineered and built. SWEPCO makes a very good gearbox fluid that can come in several viscosities and seems to hold up to the miles. The most popular alternative is Redline Shockproof gear oil which also comes in a variety of viscosities. This is a slick fluid that has good initial results. The only downside is that it seems to lose those properties relatively soon and requires frequent changes. I carry all three on the shelf and will fill any request. Without a request, we fill with the TF1055 (which has recently been replaced with Spirax oil as the recommended fill that covers DCT gearboxes as well). Fluid fill is a hot topic for all that have an opinion. When it comes these gearbox oils, or other high quality synthetic oils, you really can’t go wrong. But in the end a well revved and timed shift on a warmed-up car is the best recipe for a great gear change in car and gearbox that has no other peripheral issues.
The shift control on 348/Mondial T is different from all other Ferraris in that they use two cables to translate fore/aft and side-to-side movement. Previous cars used a single rod that twisted and push/pulled. 355 and later cars all went back to the rod setup until 360/F430 where selection cables made a comeback. These cables came together under the left of the engine to a box that re-translated movement into a twist and push/pull movement for the gearbox input. This box, while being redundant, is nearly the lowest hanging equipment on the powertrain. It is common to see this box damaged from a road hazard and needing attention. With this box put out of place and impacted, the fussy cold shifts are even more impacted. This is a first step inspection for a shift concern and must be inspected, repaired, and adjusted before moving onto other candidates. With a screwdriver in the cockpit a handy person can take on a few inspections and repairs. The shift gate is easy removed by removing two screws. Found under the gate should be a pleated rubber cover. The early cars had foam instead, and some cars have nothing by now. This cover keeps dust, coins, and liquids out of the gearshift mechanism. Some cotton swabs put to work here and underneath this boot followed by a good sticky lube is a great way tackle the low hanging fruit. There is also a “slick shift” gate available on the aftermarket that can assist those who’d rather pay attention to driving than how imperfect their shifting is. These feature more rounded entry and exit points for the gear positions. With a stock gate or aftermarket one, the two screws are tapered and determine 90% of the final position. The remaining 10% can allow an extra bit of adjustment for smoother shifts.
Finally, either from refinement issues needing field fixes or for 355 future development, Ferrari made significant updates to the clutch and clutch release mechanisms. The 355 shifting was a huge improvement over previous models’ feel. Early 348s and Mondials used a twin clutch disc that was later replaced with a single disc. The throw out bearing was also updated to a far more solid design. A clutch that continues to spin the input shaft will not allow a shift to take place. Given that so many issues with 348 were worse on the twin disc cars, it is possible to suspect the dual disc system was not able to disengage fully or carried too much mass to slow the input shaft when released. If shifting is truly miserable, and you know you have a twin disc equipped car, it can be upgraded to the single system by replacing multiple components like the flywheel and throw out bearing pedestal along with the clutch and release bearing. I would caution that this is expensive and will not change the stripes on this zebra. There will be a greatly improved shift feel but a resistance into 2nd and 3rd will always be present when cold regardless.
Like all Ferraris, the 348 comes with its own personality. And not surprisingly, those characteristics can be better or worse from one car to the next. As always, a qualified mechanic with a caring ear can help investigate and counsel you on what exactly your 348 needs.

Ferrari interiors

Featured in Forza Magazine 

I have been a subscriber since I bought my 612 Scaglietti in 2013. Jesse [Westlake] is quite knowledgeable, so I am writing today to get his help. The button for the electric mirrors does not work. Is there any specialist that you know who can fix the part? The Ferrari dealer asks $2,000 for it! Any other options would be good to know. This reader brings up a very common issue on both the 612 Scaglietti and the 599 GTB?Fiorano. The mirror switch is commonly found broken, barely hanging on, and/or needing replacement. Normally, an interior plastic piece breaking isn’t a huge issue, but, as stated, Ferrari asks a mint for these switches. The reason is that Ferrari took the standard mirror switch used by former in-house stablemate Maserati and added a gorgeous, knurled-aluminum knob in place of the original black plastic one. The problem is that, while Maserati’s plastic knob weighs next to nothing, Ferrari’s machined billet version weighs too much for the tiny plastic joystick that supports it. The switch is nearly hidden behind the steering wheel, and the forces applied when the driver twists the knob to select the left or right mirror then pushes the joystick in the desired directions means they simply don’t last long in the real world. While it’s a common problem, there are few options to resolve it. The first is simply to buy a pricey replacement from Ferrari. The second is to head to your local Maserati dealer and purchase a mirror switch for one of its 2005-12 models. This switch is a direct replacement, but comes with that black plastic knob instead of the machined metal one. The third option involves a bit of extra work. After purchasing the Maserati switch, you will have to gently break/cut the knob away from the joystick, making sure to keep the latter intact. Next, transfer your car’s original metal knob over to the new switch and secure with glue. This is a very delicate process that is not guaranteed to work the first time, and it will eventually fail just like the original did—but in the meantime, you’ll have the correct factory look at a much lower price. Generally speaking, the 612 and 599 are getting to the age where their cockpits may need some freshening up. The infamous “sticky”?issue is common but straightforward, while other problems are more difficult to resolve.
Leather shrinkage/delamination is another very common issue. This happens most often at the front of the dashboard and around the third brake light trim on the rear parcel shelf, thanks to a combination of heat and sunlight through the glass and the difficulty of applying leather conditioner to the last four inches of the dash below the windshield. Watching the dashboard’s leather slowly peel away is a sad sight, and it’s important to know that the process can damage other items, including the solar sensor, alarm LED, and defroster vents. (I have seen defroster grilles break and become so far dislodged that they leave gooey marks on the windshield, which are nearly impossible to clean away.) These repairs get expensive, as we at San Francisco Motorsports have to remove the entire dash and send it out for leather restretching or replacement, send out all the sticky interior pieces for reconditioning, and replace any damaged upper-dash components. On the 599, if the rear area is peeling, parcel-shelf strips are sticky, or if the headliner is sagging, now is the time to take care of it all. In either car, I think the completed project is well worth the cost—it’s such a beautiful reward!
There are two other items of regular concern:?the steering wheel’s RPM lights and the 599’s radio cover. The RPM lights, an option on most modern Ferraris, are an embedded LED strip in the 12 o’clock position on a carbon-fiber steering-wheel rim. The LEDs start illuminating near the redline, right in the driver’s line of sight, so he or she can keep their eyes on the road and not have to look down at the tachometer to avoid over-revving. The lens that covers the LEDs tends to crack, and sometimes fall out, over time. Replacement LEDs are available, but it wasn’t too long ago that the only repair was to replace the steering wheel, which was as expensive as you’d expect. The 599 radio cover is neat, carbon-fiber piece with the Scuderia’s flags that presses closed over the radio. The cover itself is sturdy enough for the job, but one of its plastic gears, called a dumper, isn’t. While the dumper costs only around $15, replacing it requires multiple hours of labor, as you have to remove the center console, locate hidden bolts, and so on. While these problems sound potentially significant, I’m actually a huge fan of 599 and 612 interiors. While it can take a bit of a budget and some time, once refreshed they are truly stunning and timeless.

By Jesse Westlake
Owner, San Francisco Motorsports

Ferrari oil leak inspection and diagnosis near San

We were asked the following question by Forza magazine:

"I think the valve cover gaskets are leaking on my F430. The car is stored for the winter, so I’ve got some time to tinker. Is this a straightforward job?"

They wanted to know our thoughts based on past experience specializing in Ferrari repairs.  Here's what we had to say:

 

The introduction of the F430 brought sweeping changes to everything Ferrari owners knew about Maranello’s V8 powertrains. The gearbox hardware and software had been upgraded, an electrical differential was added, and the engine was all-new. Compared to the 360’s V8, the new engine boasted more displacement, more power, computer adjustment for all four camshafts, and no timing belts. While the additional 90 horsepower was nice, that last item was a game changer for Ferrari owners who had long agonized over the high cost of timing-belt services.

 

Over the last 13 years, the F430 has proven to be very inexpensive (by earlier Ferrari standards) to own. Aside from problematic headers and some convertible-top issues on the Spiders, these cars are worry-free. Routine maintenance and away they go!

 

We’re just now starting to see some small issues with the lovely 4.3-liter V8, one of which has been oil leakage from up high. The cam-cover gaskets are as updated and beautiful as the rest of this powerplant—they’re one-piece, molded rubber as opposed to the fiddly, four-piece, cut-it-out-and-glue-it-yourself green paper gaskets Ferrari used to use—but, as with anything that is heated and cooled, oiled, expanded and contracted, they do eventually lose their structure and start to leak.

 

When they do leak, it most often shows up at the rear of the cylinder heads, where the gasket is shaped like a pair of half-moons. Spotting oil here is not where the diagnosis stops, though, as there have been many mistaken “cam cover” leaks that were actually caused by leaking variator control solenoids.

Ferrari’s fantastic adjustable camshafts are adjusted via oil pressure, and not the regular engine-oil pressure. Instead, there’s a high-pressure oil pump, driven by an intake cam to an accumulator, that operates the system. The variator control solenoids regulate this high-pressure oil to phase the cam angle. Due to the high internal pressure running through these solenoids, over time oil tends to push through the wiring and out of the connectors located on top of the cam covers.

 

All four connectors come from the factory wrapped in a foil cover and closed with blue zip ties. My recommendation when diagnosing an oil leak up-high is to open up all these foil wraps and slide them back. Even if you find one or more leaks, don’t stop there. Next, using two small picks (I use two paper clips slightly filed at the end), lightly pry the solenoid connector tabs open, slide the connectors apart, and check inside for any signs of oil. If pressurized oil has forced its way inside the connector, that solenoid must be replaced.

 

If a shop is doing this work, given the cost of parts and labor it makes sense to replace all four solenoids while everything is apart. Unfortunately, this can run the repair cost up quickly. If you’re doing this job yourself, however, you have option to repair just one bank or just one solenoid; all the parts are available separately.

 

To answer your specific DIY question, this is not an extremely difficult job. Owning a coupe will make the job tougher, as you will have to do some deep reaching to the front of the engine. I have never removed the interior access panel for this job, but that may be a worthwhile step if time is not a factor for you.

 

A few tips for the DIYer. There was a service campaign (#225/#274) that fitted breather vent covers, which look like odd-shaped rectangles, to the tops of the ignition coils. At first glance, they may seem like they’re part of the coil, but when you remove a coil bolt these will fall straight off—so take care when you’re removing the coils (which you need to do in order to remove the cam cover) and be sure to collect all the parts. When reassembling the cam covers, don’t stress over the position of the solenoid pass-throughs. They’re not fussy even though they look like they’re keyed in place.

 

Finally, it’s important to apply a dab of silicone at the points where the timing cover on the front of the engine meets the cylinder head (there are two points for each bank), as this is a potential leak point. Also apply silicone at the corners of the gasket’s half-moons at the rear of the heads.

Bentley Service near San Francisco in San Rafael


Bentley Maintenance in San Rafael, CA


While performing excellent service on so many Ferraris and Maseratis here in San Rafael, we realised our loyal clients were driving wonderful other European cars every day.  Being such a well respected dealership alternative to Marin and San Francisco for so many years and clients, we just had to ask: If they trust us with their prized Ferrari F430, Maserati Quattroporte, 458, or 360 Modena, wouldn’t they trust us on other brands we know…?   Holding a shop meeting, we quickly realized that all within our staff, we had a Porsche Master Technician, a Jaguar Master Technician, a Land Rover Master Technician, and extensive German car experience. While working in the dealer network we also had experience reconditioning high-end European cars that were in on trade for resale.  This information coupled with the availability for software on our scan tools, we decided to expand our services to include Bentley. We employed our existing honesty and hard work and the results have been awesome.


The Bentley lineup is so luxurious and awe inspiring.  Continental is a stunning machine that comes in two chassis options: Coupe and Convertible.  And each are fantastic. Our extensive Ferrari and Maserati experience is just right for handling and servicing these fine autos.  Continental GT and Flying Spur alike are right at home being serviced here. All Bentleys get covered inside and out during repairs to protect the natural interior surfaces as well as the paint and body panels from damage.  We have plenty of square footage here so all cars are pulled inside our shop at night for added protection. Out of town and can’t pick up your car quickly? We are fully stocked with battery maintainers and car covers to keep your Bentley ready when you are.  We also offer long-term storage options.




We perform extensive services on both the V8 and W12 engines.  We want you to fully enjoy your Bentley with peace of mind. During our services, we also look for any developing issues.  We’re happy to identify and supply an estimate with a repair plan.Below is a condensed version of just the annual/10K Bentley service we perform:

  • Perform engine oil and filter change.

    • Rack car on lift.  Remove under tray and drain engine oil.  Remove oil filter housing cap and replace the filter element with Genuine Bentley parts.

  • Perform brake inspection and record measurements.

  • Rotate tires when front and rear tire sizes are the same.

  • Inspect the upper and lower control arm bushings for wear.

  • Inspect the flexible brake lines.

  • Full brake fluid drain, fill, and flush service.

    • Evacuate the brake fluid reservoir, fill with fresh brake fluid, hook up a brake pressure bleeder and crack and drain all caliper bleeder screws.

  • We remove and inspect both left and right engine air filter housings for debris and inspect the air filter elements.

  • The cabin air filters get removed and inspected for replacement.  

  • Gain access to both the main/primary and the secondary batteries.  Hook up the battery diagnostic tester and print out results.

  • Check wiper blades and washer operation.

  • Inspect interior and exterior lighting system for alignment and bulb function.

  • Lube all body gaskets and seals

  • Lube door hinges.

  • Hook up Bentley computer diagnostic equipment to check the vehicle’s state of health.  We then check and diagnose any active or stored fault codes.  

  • Reset the maintenance indicator lamp so you’ll accurately know when to get your next service.

  • Last, we carry out a final road test to confirm a smooth ride.

Need help pairing your bluetooth phone?  Call us. We will be happy to pair your phone to your car and assist you through the phone book and calling options.  Plus, we’ll help you get acquainted to your voice activated navigation system. We’re here for any and all of your needs.


Offering Bentley service in the Bay Area was very easy.  As stated, we know how to treat a nice car. Also, we’ve already been offering concierge trailer service to most of the Bay Area from San Jose to Windsor.  Including Bentley to this service just makes sense. We have a truly fantastic low-riding aluminum trailer with low, long ramp extensions and a removable left fender for door clearance.  Our truck is perfect for hauling these beauties anywhere. Call 415-259-5488 to set up this service.

Slow Down Light

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Slow Down Light

I’ve been having this new problem with my F430 lately.  I have been getting a Slow Down light and the car gets stuck in gear and will not shift.  This has been happing more and more.

Started late in March when on the track.  Then I did a run of 5 track days in a row at Thunderhill Raceway Park late April and after a few laps at speed it would get a solid Slow Down light and stuck in gear.  Most times it would come back to normal after a few corners and I would pit.  One time it had a clunking like sound and I stopped in the bypass of turn 5.  At the end of that session it started and seemed fine as I once again returned to the pits.  Later laps I reduced the RPMs to no more than 7,000 and I would get a few laps in before the problem happened.  By the end that 5 day stint at the track I was down to half a lap before the problem would occur.  On the street it doesn’t ever have this problem.

I’ve had some issues with the exhaust on this car.  Late last year I put my Tubi exhaust on the car as it appeared my old stock muffler was blowing white powder over the engine.  Looked to be the headers and they were replaced last year also.

After this new problem started happening I also managed to have the Tubi tips on the left side break off on track.  So I put the old stock exhaust pipes and a different center stock muffler I got from Jesse and installed that.  I also replaced the thermocouples and rear O2 sensors.

When all this was happening I noticed that the left side of the that different center stock muffler seemed like it was torched (see picture below).  And the usual white ash on the the inter tail pipe when running on the track appeared on the right side but not the left (also see photo below).

So with all this I’m thinking maybe some how the left side is not working correctly and heat is getting backed up into the system and eventually the thermocouple gets triggered and the solid Slow Down light happens.

I have seen flashing Slow Down lights on hot days at the end of a track day before.  But never a solid Slow Down light and the car stuck in gear.  And these were cool days by Thunderhill standards.

Finally I did get a nice take off F430 stock muffler and pipes which are on the car now.  Did a few touring laps at Laguna on the Ferrari Challenge weekend running a bit high RPMs with no issues, but that is not much of a test.  We’ll see what the next track day brings.

Any thoughts on what can  an F430 Slow Down light and the car to be stuck in gear?


The complexities of these cars can be intimidating and quite frustrating at times!  It takes years of experience and training to diagnose the technology that keeps Ferrari so respected and exhilarating.  And I find it so fun and important to have a basic understanding of what’s going on with each click, buzz, and whine while out on the open road or all-out hustling around the track.

For decades Ferrari has used exhaust temperature sensors known as thermocouples to monitor engine performance and catalytic converter safety.  Threaded into the exhaust are thermocouple probes that don’t look too different to the probes used in your oven for that prime rib roast or turkey.  They are wired to thermocouple ECUs.  The ECUs translate the thermocouple analogue signal into a warning light on the dash.  Or, on later cars the signal is converted for the main engine motronics to read and interpret.  The exhaust temperature is a great way to monitor engine efficiency from a basic safety point.  An engine running without enough fuel (lean) can get extremely hot and damage itself.  An engine with too much fuel (rich) or misfiring (passing unburned fuel to the exhaust) with start to overheat the catalytic converters.  Too far advanced ignition timing can cause engine damage through pre-detonation.  A precursor to the damage is hot exhaust.  So, this is a reliable system to get the driver to pull over or “slow down” to protect the engine.  When the exhaust starts overheating the dash will indicate to the driver a “slow down” light.  On late cars a slow-down light can be accompanied with engine torque reduction.  As most Ferrari owners know, the engines and cats have been far more reliable than the individual components of the thermocouple systems.  Most slow down lights that I have encountered are due to a failing thermocouple or thermocouple ECU rather than a cat failing or engine malfunctions.

The F430 introduced an all-new powertrain system known as “E-Diff”, standing for electronic differential.  The system takes what we know as a standard limited slip differential that was automatically and mechanically controlled and takes full control through hydraulic pressure with electronic modulation.  This E-diff (like most things Ferrari) takes traction control to all new heights.  With the introduction of the E-Diff also came the steering wheel manateno.  The pilot could choose between different settings of electronic intervention for ABS, throttle, and traction control to meet road conditions and driver skill.  

The reason E-Diff is being discussed in a slow-down/thermocouple article is because Ferrari hydraulically tied this to another vital system on these cars: the F1 gearbox.  E-Diff shares the F1 reservoir, pump, accumulator, and valve block.  On a gated shift F430 these components are present solely to run E-Diff.  The combined demands of an active differential clutch, gearbox clutch, and automated shifting hydraulics can sometimes overcome the F1 system pump and accumulator.  Instead of creating yet another driver warning, Ferrari alerts the driver to cool-it with the slow-down light.  If there is an outright failure with a sensor there are other failure lamps that will come on along with some sort of limp mode.

Any developing issue with the E-Diff will first manifest with the slow-down light and start storing faults in the sand-alone E-Diff module and/or the gearbox module.  Our reader’s symptom of not being able to shift gears is the determining factor to start looking at the E-Diff for the cause of their slow-down light.  The fact that gears become unavailable leads to reason that the F1 pump is unable to keep up the track demands of gear shifts and E-Diff use.

Our scan tool would be able to hook up to the car and read stored and live data.  Aside from stored faults to guide our diagnosis, we’d be looking at gearbox parameters such as F1 pump run time and base pressure.  Just opening the door on an F430 will tell me much about the health of the F1 pump and related system.  The pump is programmed to run to prime the F1 system upon door opening to apply the clutch and achieve neutral for start-up.  A weak sounding pump or one that runs too long can be indicative of a failure.  Ferrari has bulletin **_(FNA29?)_** to monitor pump on-time as a percentage and determine if it is running too much.  An early issue while I was at the dealer with these cars under warranty were loose bleed screws on the hydraulic actuator.  These would allow internal fluid to bypass and use more circuit flow than needed from the pump.  Another suspected internal issue may be a worn F1 accumulator.  An accumulator that does not hold/maintain pressure anymore can overrun the pump and also start polluting the F1 system with metal.  This metal normally gets caught in one of two filters in the system.  I generally pull these screens and inspect as a first step in the diagnostic process for a pump running problem.  A pump that flat-out won’t run can also cause those symptoms and could easily be identified during the slow-down event with an ear.  The relay would be my first stop in this case.  Pumps that run too long generally wear out prematurely and would be replaced in conjunction with another component as a secondary failure.

DB9 Door Check Arm Replacement


DB9 Door Check Arm Replacement


It doesn't matter from what era, brand, or continent you're talking about.  If you're talking coupes, specifically coupe DOORS, we're talking big!  Even on a two-seat car, the doors seem to so long.  A four-seater, even longer!  This makes parking lots a dangerous place along with tight garage quarters, and on sports cars, high curbs.  I'm not sure if Aston Martin started their upward swinging doors to be different, or to solve a problem.  With the introduction of the DB9 Aston Martin took their long coupe doors and started opening them upward at a slight angle.  This is yet another beautiful and unique spin on a rather normal car operation.

 

With this new upward swing, Aston now had to compete with another law.  This being the law of gravity.  Normally, car doors open on a flat plane parallel to the ground.  When open, they usually stay open due to a door check strap.  This is a flat bar that has detents and some sort of spring force against them to hold the door in a few different positions.  This simple design is not enough to hold up against gravity.  This gas strut design is used in many other vehicle applications like on your engine bonnet and to hold up your rear liftgate.  When they wear-out they can be quite a nuisance.  And in some cases, not holding up a liftgate or a strut giving out at the wrong time can be dangerous!

 

We’ll give a brief outline here with pictures of how to replace the Aston Martin DB9 door check-arms (the V8 Vantage is very similar).  The job can be done with some patience, a few basic tools, and the help of a friend.

 

You will need:

  • T30 Torx bit or socket
  • Long narrow screwdriver or long straight pick 5” in length or longer
  • Trip pry tool
  • 22mm lug nut socket
  • Torque wrench
  • Jack with block or wood or hockey puck
  • 2 Jack stands

 

Park your DB9 in a space that can allow both doors to open all the way.  Loosen both front wheel lug nuts by one-half to three-quarters turn.  Yes, I am recommending you loosen your lugs BEFORE lifting your car.  This will use the vehicle’s weight to hold the wheel in place for you while you “break” the lug nuts loose.  This causes no harm to any components at all.  Use your jack and a protection pad like a hockey puck to lift the front of your car up and place jack stands under the chassis channels or the front lower control arms.  Remove the front wheel lug nuts and wheels.  Remove both front fender liners with the T30 socket.  There are a lot of fasteners here.  My picture shows the entire wheel arch liner removed. 



Once you’ve done a set or two of these, you may consider only removing the rear portion of the fender liner and pulling it forward over the brakes to gain access to the door check arms saving you the time of a dozen fasteners.  Locate the check arm in the door jamb area and inside the wheel arch cavity.  The best reference here is your new check arms.  Look at the ball-ends and see a small metal strap that is the shape of a “C” that clamps perpendicular to the gas strut.  Do not remove this from your new arms at any point – it is not necessary.  Locate these clips at each end on your existing check arms and use the screwdriver or pick to pry under these clips and slide them forward or backwards.  Just a few millimeters of movement is all you need.  But since you’ll be throwing these away with the old struts, feel free to pry them all the way off.  They are spring loaded so be careful of flying objects!  Use the trim tool to pop the ball-ends off of the ball heads. 



You will see that there is a channel that the check arm moves within.  Have your friend position and hold the door open to just the right point where the gas strut can come completely off of the ball head and be removed.  While your friend is in the perfect spot, grab your new gas strut and snap it right in place.  The metal “C” clips with naturally expand and then clasp over the ball head and you will be rewarded with an audible “click” when fully seated.  As always, reverse the removal process to assemble your car.  Hand tighten all your lug nuts as much as possible.  Ideally, gently lower your car until the tire kisses the ground and then at that point, torque the lug nuts to 100ftlbs.


 

All done!  Time to get into and out of your car

without a big door giving you an extra nudge.



Spring Newsletter

Spring... Remodeling?

Jenny and I have been at the shop after hours working away!  Some desk moving conversation led to new paint and new artwork for the walls.  We're not done yet...  Don't tell Doug!
Plus a motoring club hosted by Matt!  And a tip for sticky interior.

 

 

 

 

Submit a picture of your car for our wall!

 

We want to feature our clients' beautiful cars on our wall. So far we have a couple from Jason and Andy. Our goal is to have 10 by 2020.

Email us your favorite pic.  If we choose to feature your car, we'll make an extra 12"X16" canvas for you! jwestlake@sfmotorsports.com email for picture instructions.

 

 

 

Testarossa Belt Service

Right now we have an awesome Testarossa in for the full service.  Needless to say, Brian is in heaven! Check out our Google posts to see some Spring specials we have going.

 

 

Welcome to The 415 Club - The ultimate high-end exotic and sports car network. A SF Bay Area focused private club for auto collectors, drivers, and enthusiasts.  The 415 Club offers an unparalleled social and driving opportunities, premier access to exceptional exotic cars for sale before the public market, and a network of service providers in the Bay Area to take care of all your vehicle's needs.  Become a member today for a truly first-class automotive and lifestyle experience.

https://the415club.com/join-the-club/

 

 

Icky... Sticky Interior

Does your Ferrari or Maserati suffer from the unavoidable sticky interior?  We understand that the permanent repair is expensive and your car may not be at that unmanageable stage.  A nice trick that can buy some time is wiping all of the affected surfaces with alcohol wipes.  It takes many wipes or cotton balls, and some time - don't press too hard or you'll wipe off the graphics. Happy motoring!