F355 catch on fire !!!!

Discussion in '348/355' started by yfc, Nov 6, 2008.

  1. yfc

    yfc Karting

    Dec 23, 2003
    Geneva / Switzerland
    Full Name:
    My 1998 F355 catch on fire because of an electrical fire in the engine compartment.

    The disassembly revealed that the electrical fire took place on the main engine injection cable that is coming from the Motronic unit.

    My mechanic told me that the cable got short-cut due to an excessive wearing of the cable isolation at the place it's touching the thermostatic valve. He says that the cable rubbed on that piece of metal. This leads to the short cut between the naked cable's wires and the body of the thermostatic vale.

    I'm very surprise to that the electrical short cut could be due to an excessive rubbing of such important cable that has several sheath mechanical protection around it.

    So … does an excessive friction of the electrical cable really make sense on a 1998 F355 with only 56'000km on the speedometer?!?

    There is also a bracket just at the front of the engine, where the cable enters into the V of the engine. The Part Manual tends to show that the bracket is located just before the cable pass nearby the thermostatic valve. Is this bracket not supposed to avoid such physical contact between the cable and the thermostatic valve??

    Could it not be the heat of the thermostatic valve that melted the cable that then cause the electrical short cut of the naked wires?

    My case seams to be very special, as I could not find such similar fire problem on the forum. The F355 that catch fire had fuel leakage on the pipes going to the fuel divider.

    Any thoughts ??

    Many thanks in advance for your usual helpful guidance.

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  3. cuneo

    cuneo Formula 3
    Silver Subscribed

    Nov 20, 2006
    Sorry bro, that sucks. At least your gas tank didn't explode or something. Good luck with the repairs. Wish I could help you with your questions, but I'm sure everyone will be along shortly.
  4. PAP 348

    PAP 348 Moderator
    Moderator Owner

    Dec 10, 2005
    Mount Isa, Australia
    Full Name:
    Sorry to hear of this Christophe! I hope you were not hurt? :(:(

    Is the car/engine bay totally burnt?? Or just some wiring in the engine bay caught fire?

    I have heard of electrical fires before, but no so much in Ferraris. But wires rubbing through, certainly can start a fire.

    I am sorry I cannot help you out with the bracket that you speak of. Perhaps it is there to support the wires/cables from rubbing on anything. You would think the heat of the thermostatic valve would "cook" the wiring making it hard and brittle, but it could have melted the power wire which started a fire. Power wires shorting on metal usually start electrical fires that I have seen.
  5. 285ferrari

    285ferrari Two Time F1 World Champ

    Sep 11, 2004
    Southern Md
    Full Name:
    That sucks --glad you are ok----Are they totalling it out? Or is the damage reapirable?
  6. davehelms

    davehelms F1 Rookie

    Jan 3, 2004
    Full Name:
    Dave Helms
    I have never seen any indication of a rub through in that area. I have seen numerous examples where the cables were not pulled through the firewall prior to someone dropping the engine. On those cars things got stretched pretty bad with a few broken wires butt spliced together with crimp connectors. The 5.2 Motronic wire bunch is a pretty thick, sturdy bunch, well protected and I find it hard to believe that 5 or 6 inches of unsupported cable can vibrate enough.
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  8. 355 Fixer-uper

    355 Fixer-uper Karting

    Jul 27, 2005
    Full Name:
    Want to sell the tub ;)

    I hope they save it.
  9. cinquevalvole

    cinquevalvole Formula 3

    Feb 6, 2004
    Germany, Bayern
    #7 cinquevalvole, Nov 6, 2008
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2008
    Christophe, sad to read these lines. Can you fix the car with insurance money? Hope so. ;)

    Some thoughts: yes, there is crucial electric cabeling around the V and inside the V.
    From time to time we can find wires in bad shape and insulations damaged.
    I.e. we found bad connections to the alternator and a bad crank sensor cable in the V. (while inspection)
    The assumption was: Unprofessional engine out service, quick and lousy wire routing by the mechanics. (or the factory?)

    humans prone to fail,


    PS: heat of the thermostatic valve, that's just boiled water = 100 celsius. Try to cook a cable in your kitchen. I bet the insulation gets softer but it won't peel of.
  10. yfc

    yfc Karting

    Dec 23, 2003
    Geneva / Switzerland
    Full Name:
    #8 yfc, Nov 6, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2017
    I managed to limit the damage thanks to the main power switch that I rapidly activated. For the time being, it seams that only two cables are affected. The main one going from the Motronic to the engine. And also the one going from the Motronic to the fuses (partially burned). That last one cost a hell of money (3'000$)! ****ttt. I hope that my mechanic can repair it.

    Unfortunately my insurance does not cover electrical fires. Great !!! It would have been a totally different story if the car completely burned ... was it good idea to turn off the main switch ? :-(

    The inspection revealed that the fire affected a section of the cable which is well secured with two bracket (one before and one after). Furthermore, this part of the cable has never been released up to date. My understanding is then that the fire is not due to a bad service of the car.

    Was the cable correctly mounted by the factory ? Is it normal to have this cable touching a piece of unprotected metal ? (bad design) mhhh ...

    I still can't figure-out if it's a well-known F355 bug or not. I'm lacking evidence.

    Here is a picture of the damaged cable:

    Thanks all for your hints and support.
    Image Unavailable, Please Login
  11. cinquevalvole

    cinquevalvole Formula 3

    Feb 6, 2004
    Germany, Bayern
    #9 cinquevalvole, Nov 7, 2008
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2008
    So you get away by replacing just sections of the damaged wire loom? Cross my fingers. ;)

    O.k., if the cable was never released and the factory did well in design, routing and install?

    a) A marten chewing insulation ;)
    b) agressive engine cleaner or other agressive fluids dropped on the cable, weakening the plastic,
    allowing the heat to peel of the insulation over the years
    c) Kärcher impact, someone was going to close with the lance

    If the insulation was drying-out you can imagine the plastic falling apart under permanent vibrations and heat cycles. :(
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  13. Pengster355

    Pengster355 Formula Junior

    Mar 9, 2006

    Sorry to hear this but it sounds quite like what happened to me late last year. My car kept shutting down its right bank and my mechanic traced it by changing all the sensors till it went on fire on the right hand side where the Y pipe connecting to the header. Fortunately I had fire extinguisher ready so the damage was very minimal.
    My mechanic took it back for 3 week, traced all the wiring through out the car, changed some of the burnt parts (some wirings, small sensors etc) and they took care of the expenses (well the car left their workshop for only 5 mins before it turned into BBQ pit)

    so, check all the wirings and I guess having fire extinguisher in your car is a real good idea

  14. conscom

    conscom Formula Junior

    Jan 6, 2008
    Vancouver BC Canada
    Full Name:
    I really sympathize with you, Christopher. Good luck on the repairs. Now, I'm going to check my harnesses to make sure none are anywhere close to anything hot or sharp. I do have a fire extinguisher behind my seat at the ready.
  15. yfc

    yfc Karting

    Dec 23, 2003
    Geneva / Switzerland
    Full Name:
    My two advice would be:

    - Carry an extinguisher with you Fcar. They are prone to "auto-combustion";
    - Check whatever can be check (fuel pipe, visible cable, ...);
    - Do check your insurance policy. Mine is not covering fire due to electrical short-cut !!!!

    I'm really upset by my current problem that just pop-up 2 weeks after the major F355 service (engine-out). I'll let you imagine what this mean ...

    Thanks again for your very kind msg.

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