News

95 F355 Valve Guides.....Fact vs. Fiction !!!

Discussion in '348/355' started by FLATOUTRACING, Jan 12, 2004.

  1. FLATOUTRACING

    FLATOUTRACING F1 Rookie

    Aug 20, 2001
    2,684
    East Coast
    Full Name:
    Jon K.
    1995 Valve Guides…….Fact vs. Fiction

    For the most part Ferrarichat has been an immense benefit to me while owning my two Ferraris. However, in the past year or so, I have seen a propensity for people to make claims simply restating what someone else has said but not actually checking to see if the information is correct.

    What is particularly alarming to me is the amount of technical information that gets posted on this site that upon further review is totally inaccurate. Even more alarming is that it keeps getting recycled by more and more people and then becomes gospel.

    Most of you have probable noticed that I rarely get into technical debates. I am kind of like Tom Cruise in “Days of Thunder”….I just drive the damn thing. I barely know a spark plug from a drain plug and when some of you start talking about volumetric efficiency I am pretty much lost. But some of the posts are so inaccurate that it’s clear to anyone that some of you haven’t a clue what you are talking about.

    It’s ok to have an opinion that 360’s are ugly, or that a true Ferrari has 12 cylinders in the front of the car, or that the F50 looks too soft or so on and so on. However some of you, many who don’t even own a Ferrari or the particular car in question, seem to have a propensity to re-inforce totally inaccurate information you have heard from others without even checking to see if it’s valid info.

    What am I referring to…………………1995 F355’s and the issue of valve guides.

    For the past three years I have seen many posts from people on the issue of valve guides on 1995 355’s. As most of you know I just recently sold my 1995 Challenge, which at one time was a streetcar.

    The valve guide issue became a serious issue in selling my car. Some people flat out refused to even consider my car, despite the fact that it had no valve guide problem at all, while others discounted their offers by anything ranging from $2000-$7000 because of this issue.

    I had one interested buyer tell me that he was given advice on Ferrarichat not to ever consider a 1995 model year 355 even if records showed the valve guides had been replaced because some dealers have lied about the work being done.

    In the end I was able to show several interested parties that my car in fact had no such problem at all. The car had nearly perfect leakdown results (6-8% on cylinders 1-7 and 10% on cylinder 8). I also provided service records from day one (12/94) that showed no excessive oil consumption. A car exhibiting valve guide wear would burn oil and show excessively bad leakdown numbers.

    I am absolutely amazed at the overblown hype on this issue and the amount of misinformation some of you spread on the Internet, some who don’t even own a Ferrari. I thought in order to clear some things up I would present my findings on the subject as over the past month I have spent close to 20-30 hours researching the issue speaking to people both within FNA, the factory in Italy and other outside sources. I spoke with everyone, ranging from FNA’s technical director, 4 different crew chiefs on 2 different dealer Challenge teams who ran 355 C’s, to the head of engine design for the 355 at Ferrari SPA in Italy (through an interpreter), as well as the 355 production manager there as well (he spoke English). In addition, a very highly respected Ferrarichat member on this board who worked on several Challenge teams for over 9 years and personally oversaw a few 95 Challenge cars, also confirmed what my findings were.

    Myth #1:

    All 1995 F355 have valve guide issues and need their original valve guides replaced

    Fact:

    Completely false. According to FNA technical director Adam Williams, only about 20% of all 95-model year 355’s experienced excessive valve guide wear and needed them replaced. And in fact, about half way through the 1995 model year the factory changed over to a different type of valve guide (the ones that they replaced the old ones with on the early cars).

    Myth #2:

    Some have stated that since the valve guides were not sintered (formed and hardened by heat and pressure) then accelerated wear will also be seen later.

    Fact:

    FNA confirmed that this has never ever been an issue. The problem stemmed from improper seating of the guides and if no problem occurred early on then it will not be a problem in the future other than normal wear associated with running the car. PERIOD, END OF STORY!

    Myth #3:

    Valve guide issues can occur at any time during the life of the car and are more prone to experience these issue in higher mileage cars.

    Fact:

    According to the Ferrari factory in Italy and re-affirmed by Adam Williams, 90% of the valve guide issue occurred almost immediately or within the first two years of ownership. The few that have occurred in higher mileage cars cannot be confirmed to have happened at a specific point in time and likely could have been present for quite some time. Certainly the older valve guides may wear out faster but they don’t go from being in good shape to wearing out overnight.

    Myth #4.

    This is only a US problem due to the high sulpha content in our fuel and that Euro cars had different valve guides.

    Fact:

    Sorry but totally false. It was a small problem on Euro cars as well and the gas issue is inaccurate.

    Myth #5:

    Valve guide issues were only present on 95 models.

    Fact:

    Also false. Even with the newer valve guides post 95 production 355’s problems arose. A bad batch of valve guides found it’s way into several 97’s and at least two 98 355’s. Ferrari of Washington alone had two 97’s and one 98 355 that had valve guide issues discovered when each of those cars had higher than normal oil consumption.

    Myth #6:

    If the valve guides were changed on a 355 by the dealer then there must have been a problem. In other words why would the dealers change them free of cost if there wasn’t a problem.

    Fact:

    The amount of disinformation being spread in the past few years made it impossible for dealers to move 95 model year 355’s, even ones that had later production dates and didn’t even contain the old style valve guides. FNA finally decided to have all early production 95’s changed over even if there were no problems.

    Myth 7:

    Only 95 model year cars had any engine problems.

    Fact:

    I have already mentioned a bad batch of guides in other production year models but in addition some 96 and early 97’s cars had connecting rod failures (issues with the connecting rod bolts). There are also a few 98 specific engine related problems.

    It amazes me how much inaccurate information on this issue is repeated by people many of whom, neither own a 355, have any experience with them, or don’t even own a Ferrari or have never worked on them. Because half a dozen people claim something is valid doesn’t make it so. Remember 99.9% of the population at one time believed the earth was flat.

    Regards,

    Jon P. Kofod
    www.flatoutracing.net
     
  2. To remove this ad click here.

  3. ferrari355gtb

    ferrari355gtb Formula 3

    Nov 3, 2003
    1,600
    UK
    Full Name:
    R
  4. wax

    wax Four Time F1 World Champ
    Advising Moderator

    Jul 20, 2003
    44,482
    SFPD
    Full Name:
    Dirty Harry
    Excellent post, Jon.

    1 error, though: "disinformation" is actually "misinformation" - as in "misinformed." (Myth #6: Fact - 1st sentence.)

    Your efforts will (no pun intended) stem the tide of misinformation.
     
  5. tonyh

    tonyh F1 World Champ
    Lifetime Rossa Owner

    Dec 23, 2002
    14,372
    S W London
    Full Name:
    Tony H
    Jon,
    many thanks for your informative piece. I own an early '96['95 model] 355 UK Spider and am most reassured by your findings.
    Regards
    Tony
     
  6. Prugna 328

    Prugna 328 Formula 3

    Sep 10, 2003
    1,233
    L.I.N.Y.
    Full Name:
    Gregory
    Thats alot of research. Thank you.
     
  7. To remove this ad click here.

  8. Gregg Willhoit

    Nov 1, 2003
    42
    Houston, Texas
    Full Name:
    Gregg Willhoit
    Jon, very informative, thanks. I've a 95 355 that hasn't had the valve
    guides replaced. Are you implying that I should be able to take it to
    FOH where I bought it, and have the valve guides replaced free of charge if the problem arises, because of an FNA policy?

    Regards,
    Gregg
     
  9. riverflyer

    riverflyer F1 Rookie

    Nov 26, 2003
    3,560
    Mendocino, Ca
    Full Name:
    John
    Jon, very informative post. Its not just Ferrari chat where this problem arises. It may just be human nature to want to sound wiser about a particular subject than we really are!!
    Did they tell you the build date in 95 where the "improved" guides began to show up?
     
  10. tifosi

    tifosi F1 Veteran
    Lifetime Rossa

    Sep 5, 2001
    5,382
    texas
    Full Name:
    Tom D
    first off let me say I think your post is great and helps set the record straight and I agree with some of what you said but take exception to a few things,

    first this is the internet - a place to get info and evaluate for yourself - I don't think anyone should take what is written here as gospel as anyone can post anything, just as in taking to friends you can get bad info you can also get it here. This is no different than a stock market chat board, reader be ware.

    second - the reposting of info learned on this site is a major benefit since people tend not to use the search function and because many times members have left or will not post information twice. You are correct that bad info can be reiterated. That's why members who may not have the technical knowledge but monitored the orginal debate are valuable because they can repost the info

    Third I think on 99% of your myths, the correct info as you stated has also been posted here. I have very little tech knowledge nor a 355 but none of the answers to myths you posted were different from my understanding which was formed on this site ( maybe I am here to much :) . Though I agree misinfo has also been posted and reposted.

    As I said I think your post is great because it can serve as a well researched conclusion to the issue but wanted to clarify a few things.

    And Greg there is no FNA policy to replace these - its done on individual basis if at all.

    Best
     
  11. Jerrari

    Jerrari F1 Veteran

    Jul 24, 2001
    5,458
    Michigan
    Full Name:
    Jerry Wiersma
    I didn't know the grammar police were members of this board.
     
  12. To remove this ad click here.

  13. dwhite

    dwhite F1 Rookie

    Great information. However, in keeping with this thread, people believed the earth was flat is total BS and has been disproved over and over again.
     
  14. sherpa23

    sherpa23 F1 Veteran
    Silver Subscribed Owner

    May 28, 2003
    9,501
    Colorado
    Full Name:
    Bastuna
    Actually, if there's going to be policing then let's do it right ;) "misinformation" is actually not a word. It's all information, whether right or wrong, good or bad. "Misinformed" is a word but "misinformation" is not.

    Jon's post is absolutely right for the most part. I have a 1997 355 that had the valve guides replaced in 2003, 5 years after production. The other thing that he didn't say is that the 1995 cars are considerd the best of the lot in that they have a little more hp than the other cars and no alarm. If you are looking for the a 355, don't discount the 1995 cars. I looked hard for a 1995 car but I couldn't find one that worked for me as well as the one I bought. Either they were lacking in service, the price was too high, the mileage was too low, or there was paint damage, etc. Ultimately, it came down to the fact that I never found another 355 that I could trust like this 1997 car, and that's what made the decision for me.

    It's a hard decision made even harder with a Challenge car. If I were in the market for a Challenge, though, I would not have hesitated to pull the trigger on Jon's car.
     
  15. fly

    fly Karting

    Nov 20, 2003
    124
    Sydney, Australia
    Full Name:
    Steve
    Jon, Great post and well written, (except for your small grammatical error, pointed out by wax) Thanks for sharing your research.
     
  16. fly

    fly Karting

    Nov 20, 2003
    124
    Sydney, Australia
    Full Name:
    Steve
    ….and then corrected again by Sherpa23
     
  17. speedemon

    speedemon Formula Junior

    Jan 6, 2004
    611
    Bay Area, CA
    Full Name:
    Chris
     
  18. Mitch Alsup

    Mitch Alsup F1 Veteran

    Nov 4, 2003
    7,083
    My car is having a major service done right now. This car is one of the last 95s to arrive, it has 40,000 miles (second major service*), and I have had it on the race track 32 times. It has near perfect leakdown, in another thread I have a picture of the top of the throttle bodies where you can see the back sides of the intake valves. No wear is visible, nor is there any indication of oiling of the valves. So, the data indicates that the whole issue is obverblown.

    The only real issue with my F355 is theat the exhaust headers are so close to the axel boots that tracking the cars burns the boots up.

    *first one was done before I bought the car around 22,000 miles. This one was performed due to tensioner (eminent) failure.
     
  19. FLATOUTRACING

    FLATOUTRACING F1 Rookie

    Aug 20, 2001
    2,684
    East Coast
    Full Name:
    Jon K.
    Gregg,

    I am not sure what the policy is anymore. The valve guide replacement issue was indeed a case by case situation and Adam Williams at FNA told me there was never any official recall or specific service bulletin.

    It was very much the same as the cracked exhaust header issue which also was a case by case deal.

    I think someone in this board recently (last summer) bought a 95 and had them replaced (Ricky ???).

    First off if you didn't buy the car from a Ferrari dealer I kow they won't replace them and I am not sure if they are still doing so at this point.

    As for the 5% of overall cars, I am not sure which number is correct and if the 20% includes other markets. I do know that the lead technician at FOW stated that they only did one 95 valve replacement and saw many more on 97's and a 98 model year.

    In regards to the conventional wisdom on 95 355's read the old archives. I have seen a dozen or so posts that say "STAY AWAY FROM 95's" they all had valve guide issues.

    Some of you are also well aware of the perceived myth that early 348's (mainly 90 models) have wicked handling because of the shorter track on the rear wheels and the higher center of gravity for the engine.

    I know many people that believe such cars are practically undriveable. The truth of the matter is that the early 348's did have some handling problems but these would only be encountered at the track driving the car at 10/10's. Yet magazine reviews led you to believe that these cars were as wicked as a 70's 911 Turbo. I have driven two stock early 348's at Summit a few years back and they didn't seem to be all that bad in the handling department.

    As for my bad use of grammar, please excuse. While English is my primary language, German was my first language. Spelling and grammar is not a strong point of mine as I am sure most of you noticed. Wish we had a spell checker on this forum.


    Regards,

    Jon P. Kofod
     
  20. sherpa23

    sherpa23 F1 Veteran
    Silver Subscribed Owner

    May 28, 2003
    9,501
    Colorado
    Full Name:
    Bastuna

    Jon, no worries on the grammar. I don't like to correct others' poor grammar but as a person with two english degrees, I feel the need to chime in when the correction is incorrect. I would hate for people to be intimidated to post simply because their grammar is not perfect. Your posts are great. Please keep posting and let us know how the new car works for you in '04.
     
  21. Gregg Willhoit

    Nov 1, 2003
    42
    Houston, Texas
    Full Name:
    Gregg Willhoit
    Mitch, here are the results of my leakdown test on 6/27/02, wth 13k miles. I now have 27k miles on my 95 F355.
    8 190 4 185
    7 190 3 185
    6 190 2 190
    5 190 1 190
    FOH told me these numbers are fine, and I've no reason to argure.
    What is a "near perfect" leakdown. I'm thinking of having another
    one done for peace of mind.

    Regards,
    Gregg
     
  22. Tom Larkins

    Tom Larkins Formula Junior

    Thanks for your work, as one that has been reading and learning as much as I can about the 355, you have cleared issues up. I for one had completely discounted looking at any 95 models. I remember several posts weeks ago from an individual that dealers were running from service issues w/355's. To paraphrase "They wish they would go away" It would appear that the valve guide concerns have infected more than potential buyers/sellers, but service departments as well if certain dealers hadn't done homework like you have.
     
  23. FLATOUTRACING

    FLATOUTRACING F1 Rookie

    Aug 20, 2001
    2,684
    East Coast
    Full Name:
    Jon K.
    Ryan,

    Sadly I am a product of the US public school system from 5th grade on. We have a lot of young people on this forum and I know it sets a bad example sometimes to use bad grammar.


    Rob: can we get a spell checker???

    Tifosi,

    While there are many posts on the perceived power advantage of the 95 engines, there are just as many posts on the issue of bad valve guides and the perceived concensus is to stay away from these cars.

    And I have never seen any mention of the other model year having any valve guide issues nor the connecting rod problems on 96 and 97's. Ferrari of Washington alone has had numerous connecting rod issues yet I have never seen anyone here claim that this is a concern or to steer clear of 96 or 97.

    Obviously you shouldn't ever take anything on the internet as gospel whether it be financial, legal, medical or auto advice but when the majority of people make statements like "stay away from ........." and enough of them do it, people start making assumptions and not doing their homework.

    I am just trying to share the over 30 hours of info I was able to attain. Ironicially I believed much of the stuff posted as well and sweated about selling my 95 because I knew it had never had the valve guide replacement.

    But after getting almost perfect leakdown and compression results on my car I found it odd that the some potential buyer still were not convinced that it might not have a valve guide problem.

    And the most alarming one was when a potential buyer said he read on F Chat that some dealers were fudging the service records on having them replaced, which I have never head of. Why would the dealer even care since FNA eats the cost.

    Regards,

    Jon
     
  24. I've got a 1995 and the valve guides were replaced. A leakdown test showed worn cylinders and the engine was rebuilt by the dealership at 19,000 miles. My car has a September 1994 build date. The car has been reliable since then, and now has 23,000 miles.
     
  25. kenny

    kenny Formula Junior

    Nov 9, 2003
    376
    Greenwich , CT
    Full Name:
    Kenny
    Jon-

    Ya got me, I'm one of the viscious F-chatters logging on various different log on names spreading horrific rumors about valve guide issues, reliability problems on EVERY Ferrari I desire, so when it's time for me to buy one, I'll have the pick of the litter which model I want and be able to buy one at an artificially low selling price :)
     
  26. tbakowsky

    tbakowsky F1 World Champ
    Professional Ferrari Technician Consultant

    Sep 18, 2002
    15,168
    The Cold North
    Full Name:
    Tom
    Great post...

    Being a mechanic who works on alot of Ferrari's I have seen a fair number of 355's with the valve guide issue. And being that I live in Canada we obviously don't have the amount of Ferrari's that you guys have in the states. If you take the law of averages into account going by the number of 355's I personaly have seen and repaired with this problem, the number seem to be pretty high for cars with this problem.

    Granted not all cars will have this problem..but it is knowen that the 95 car was particularly bad for this. I did a 97 or 98 355 that burned an exhaust valve because of the valve guide wearing out. It also washed the Nikasil coating off of the cylinder sleave so that also had to be replaced. I sent the heads to the machine shop to have everything check and almost every single valve guide in the heads(both) had excssive giude to stem wear.

    The 95 355's are an excellent car!! I would by one in heart beat if I had the dough. In fact it would probbably be the only 355 I would by because of the lack of OBD2. You do do a whole lot more to the car asfar as upgrades without messing up the computers.

    The bottom line of the entire thing IMHO is the fact that there is a problem with the valve guides on the 355..no matter what year 99 maybe not, but anything earlier you are best to have it checked before buying. As far as people making comments by just saying what others have said...well this is the internet and also people are like parrots we learn by listening and watching what other people do. When we have learned somthing we can then share the info no matter were it came from. Maybe they don't know fisrt hand but they have "heard it" and then it becomes gospel if may other people comfirm the same findings.

    It seems that because you had or have a 355 that had zero problems,you had a hard time selling it becuase some people knew of the problems with the cars(not all cars but some). And because of the fact that some cars have this problem everybody who wants to buy one wants to know if the problem was fixed on YOU'RE car. They don't want to buy somebody elses problems. Is this such a bad thing? Put you're self in the buyer's shoes...if you were him would you not be asking the same questions if you knew about the issue?

    It's the law of averages. Your dealing with a small number of cars built. Some people can't afford to take the chance that they are buying an expensive car with and expensive problem, that could in all likelyhood be there.

    Tom
     
  27. FLATOUTRACING

    FLATOUTRACING F1 Rookie

    Aug 20, 2001
    2,684
    East Coast
    Full Name:
    Jon K.
    Tom,

    If you run across a 95 have FNA check the serial # and they should be able to tell you where in the production run the car falls and also which valve guides the car has.

    Basically I was told that the two main signs of a valve guide issue are poor leakdown and compression results (though this alone cannot compleely verify the problem) and excessive oil consumption. If you can validate that the valves were changed, or get good leakdown numbers AND can review the service records indicating no unusual oil problems you should be ok.

    Again it's a small number of cars that were affected but those three items should clear things up.

    Regards,

    Jon
     
  28. FLATOUTRACING

    FLATOUTRACING F1 Rookie

    Aug 20, 2001
    2,684
    East Coast
    Full Name:
    Jon K.
    Tom,

    Thanks for adding to this post with your experience. It's people like you that have worked on them that we need to ask questions to, not a half dozen people who read it on the "net."

    My biggest gripe was when a potential buyer conceeded that indeed he agreed that my car did not have valve guide problem but that he was concerned it could appear later on and be an issue. I told him there were a hundred other things that could occur later on that are not currently an issue. Am I to discount the price of the car because someone else's gearbox blew up even though mine doesn't have the same problem?

    My response was that this is a race car and you are basically saying you are concerned that there is no warranty against this particular problem occuring. I pointed out that to lower you offering price because some issue has sprung up on other cars but is not occuring on my car is not realistic.

    Case in point, early 355 C's fried all their wiring harnesses, had premature wear of drive shafts, problems with cracking rotors, connecting rod issues, and other issues. All Challegne cars wear through starter motors and alternators like mad.

    Am I supposed to warrant the car or convince buyer that these issue will never be a problem in the future since they are not a problem currently.

    I can understand a concern if there is clear evidence that a perceived problem may be occuring on my car but when all evidence says otherwise you can't expect me to discount the price because other cars have the problem.

    The only disclaimer would be a problem or issue that has a high degree of occuring later on. But as the factory in Italy and FNA stated the probability that a 355 would have a valve guide issue many years later with no problems early on where practically non-existent.

    For instance I am told that late model 3.2 Carrera (88 and 89) had valve guide problems that didn't surface until they hit 40-50,000 miles. So obviously in this case a 30,000 mile car you are considering won't show any problems but is a cause for concern later on.

    Regards,

    Jon
     

Share This Page