General Ferrari Question: Why do Ferrari's burn through clutches prematurely?

Discussion in 'Technical Q&A' started by andrew911, Sep 29, 2004.

  1. andrew911

    andrew911 F1 Rookie
    Silver Subscribed

    Sep 8, 2003
    Northern NJ
    In looking around at various Ferraris, I notice so many cars get new clutches in 10K miles and less- what gives? In general (and again, this is a generalization), I've always heard that Ferrari electrical was suspect over time, but the engine/transmissions were top notch once warmed up, and are top notch in the long run. I'd expect a high performance and/or "heavy duty" clutch to be installed in this type of car.

    Maybe I'm spoiled from the "durability" of the cars I have owned, but even allowing for some quirks from an awesome looking/sounding/performing limited production italian sports car, clutches going this fast seem to be unreasonable. Don't get me wrong- when the time is right I want a Ferrari, but it would be nice to know I didn't have to put a new clutch in every other year, and it seems to be quite crazy (as if the timing belt debacle weren't enough...) Why do I love these cars so much :)
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  3. MS250

    MS250 Two Time F1 World Champ
    Lifetime Rossa

    Dec 10, 2003
    Full Name:
    3 rd owner, have my TR for 5 years now with 50,000km, second clutch was out in in 97 with 34k on. I guess it depends on who, and how you drive them. I have heard of similar stories and a car with 30k with orginal clutch is not as common. I guess its part of owning an fcar, just like the belts.
  4. andrew911

    andrew911 F1 Rookie
    Silver Subscribed

    Sep 8, 2003
    Northern NJ
    The whole maintenance thing is quite unfortunate. I would like to set a goal of, lets round to say 18 months to get an f-car, but being a realist on the maint. front, I'll push that goal to say 24-30 months.

    It's just frustrating because while the frequency of changing timing belts is an argument that goes back and forth on this site and elsewhere (for example belts on the 355 are much thicker than a 308, but who wants to chance the belt breaking on a 355? So they are changed religiously), but the average clutch life adjusting for very good and very bad drivers should be 70K,80K, maybe even 100K miles!

    It's just another thing to budget for in addition to belt/oil maint, and fixing things like the shrinking dash/climate control stickers on the 355. Oh well.
  5. damcgee

    damcgee Formula 3

    Feb 23, 2003
    Mobile, AL
    Another reason clutches are changed so often is that (correct me if it I'm wrong) they require the engine to be pulled to change. Therefore, since the labor on pulling the engine might be $1500 to $2000 (dealerships charge $150/hr), people just change the clutch as "preventative maintenence" when they get another engine-out service. You will often see, "New clutch" around the time the 30k service was done, which for some cars may be at 10000 miles (if they are driven only 2000 miles/year).
  6. matteo

    matteo F1 World Champ

    Aug 1, 2002
    On a plane somewhere
    Full Name:
    Heir Butt
    You do not need to pull the motor to change clutches.
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  8. parkerfe

    parkerfe F1 World Champ

    Sep 4, 2001
    Cumming, Georgia
    Full Name:
    Franklin E. Parker
    Except for the new problematic F1 paddle-shift cars, Ferrari clutches are almost always burned out by the driver's poor skills, not by poor clutch design. I put over 50k miles on a TR clutch, 25k miles on a 328 clutch, 20k miles on a 330GTC clutch, 15k miles on a 400GT clutch, 10k miles on a 348 clutch and now have 7k miles on my current BB512i clutch with no clutch problems whatsoever. Ferrari clutches like to be treated like an on/off switch, not like a dimmer switch. If you don't slip the clutch and perform juvenile tire burnouts, there is no reason a Ferrari clutch can't last 100k mile or more.
  9. Verell

    Verell F1 Veteran
    Consultant Owner

    May 5, 2001
    Groton, MA
    Full Name:
    Verell Boaen
    On 3x8s, especially the earlier ones, it's critical to adjust the clutch every few thousand miles. Otherwise wear will result in reduced pressure plate force, clutch slippage & early demise. The adjustment is very straightforward, only takes 15 -20 minuites. A great time to do it is every oil change.

    My car has over 35K miles on the original clutch. It seems to be on the verge of slipping, but that may be because it was pretty far out of adjustment when I got the car at 22.5K miles.

    308 clutches are actually very easy to change, much easier than any conventional setup with the engine-clutch-transmission in-line.
  10. hardtop

    hardtop F1 World Champ

    Jan 31, 2002
    Full Name:
    A Ferrari tech once told me that the clutches are purposely made undersize so that it would be hard for poor drivers to destroy their tranny or motor. Also, I'm sure the lighter weight helps with engine response. Nevertheless, someone who shifts properly and doesn't ride the clutch can expect reasonable life (30-50K) out of one even if driven on the track. It's also a good idea to leave it in neutral with the pedal out at lights to save the throwout bearing (true for all cars). BTW 308/328 clutches are pretty inexpensive to change, even compared to "normal" cars. 348's have a grease filled flywheel which can go bad adding expense (they can be rebuilt).

  11. Mule

    Mule F1 Rookie
    Rossa Subscribed Owner

    Jun 25, 2003
    Full Name:
    I have 49,000 miles on my original clutch. Very little wear. It engages near the top and the pedal is level with the brake pedal (as I was told is a visible guess at wear).
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  13. Doc

    Doc Formula Junior

    Sep 13, 2001
    Latham, New York
    Full Name:
    Bill Van Dyne
    My '85 308 has 44k+ miles on it and the original clutch is working just fine. I believe that it's all in how one drives the car. Also, a lot of myths circulate around exotic cars. I was told that I'd absolutely have to change a 308 clutch anywhere between 3 and 30k miles--at the most. So much for that piece of advice.
  14. Jammin'

    Jammin' Rookie

    Jun 27, 2004
    DC Burb
    Full Name:
    Robert Patch
    The question should be: Why do Ferrari OWNER'S burn through clutches prematurely?
  15. Rifledriver

    Rifledriver Two Time F1 World Champ

    Apr 29, 2004
    Austin TX
    Full Name:
    Brian Crall
    Using 308's as an example I used to have a customer that went through a clutch every 10k miles like clockwork, I also had a customer with almost 100k miles on an original clutch. It's all how you use it. The same is true to a lesser extent on the F1's.
  16. tbakowsky

    tbakowsky F1 World Champ
    Professional Ferrari Technician Consultant

    Sep 18, 2002
    The Cold North
    Full Name:
    BINGO!!(F1 not included)
  17. TTG

    TTG Formula 3

    Jun 11, 2002
    East Hanover, NJ
    Full Name:
    Todd Gieger
    Sup Andrew...I said this a long time ago...they make super duty engines yet why not clutches...they are at best very average
  18. Verell

    Verell F1 Veteran
    Consultant Owner

    May 5, 2001
    Groton, MA
    Full Name:
    Verell Boaen
    Uhhh, not quite all cars, 3x8s except for the early ones have a constant contact throwout bearing. It's spinning any time the motor is running.

    On these models, the pedal return spring keeps a constant tension on the throwout bearing! It's a fairly stiff spring. Wear on the clutch causes the pedal to rise up, which stretches the return spring more, thus increasing the force on the throwout bearing, and which in turn reduces the force the pressure plate is exerting on the clutch disc.

    Adjusting the clutch returns the pedal to it's normal position which in turn reduces the force from the pedal return spring.
  19. 0123

    0123 Rookie

    Apr 11, 2004
    I have put 15,000 miles on my '91 348. Still has the original clutch. My Ferrari dealer told me 5,000 miles ago that I needed a new clutch. Looks like they were wrong. I think that dealers are not always honest.
  20. FL 355

    FL 355 Formula 3

    Nov 3, 2002
    Ft Laud
    Full Name:
    Frank Lipinski
    23K and original clutch...good as new.

    Yes, it seems to be the drivers....with an F-Car at every stop light the guy next to you wants to run. "Lead us not into temtation". FCars are top end cars...not 1/4 mile pro stock...

    Andrew - Re: Maint $
    If you going to get a pre-owned car the thing to do is buy one that has already had those things done, ie dash, consol, headers. It is a one time deal, after that you're good to go and the only biggy is the belts every 5 years. Dealer is about 7K and independents about $4500. Granted is more than a P-Car...but these are exotics and they come with a price.
  21. mk e

    mk e F1 World Champ

    Oct 31, 2003
    The twilight zone
    Full Name:
    The Butcher
    I think it has to do with ferraris liking high rpm as more as they do. The temptaion is to leave the red light with the engine at 2-3k instead of 1000-1500. The extra heat that generates can't be good for the clutch. Also, a big heavy clutch is not good for performance as ferrari puts in the smallest clutch they think they can get away with, which of course limits it's life.
  22. TOM B

    TOM B Formula 3

    Jul 24, 2003
    Orange County, NY
    Full Name:
    Thomas Buckley
    I have 88,000 miles on my original clutch and fully expect to get 120,000+ out of it. I like to get my money's worth out of things. :)

    !988 3.2 Mondial Coupe.
  23. fatbillybob

    fatbillybob F1 World Champ
    Consultant Owner

    Aug 10, 2002
    I race my 348 only and it sits on a trailer the rest of the time. I have never had to replace the clutch due to wear. But I have taken it apart many times to do stuff to the grease pack and play other games. I now have a gutted clutch pack with no grease. It is about 6 lbs lighter more responsive and gives me zero problems on the same clutch discs. Dual by the way. They are the ones everyone has problems with. There are no problems with duals it is lazy service people IMO. My 308 never had a problem my Mondial cab still has the same clutch from 1985! Frank is right. Too many F drivers drive their cars like they will break just the sames as they run home to clean the paint from minor road grime. Its a car just drive it and it will be fine. Frank's appraisal "like a light switch not a dimmer switch" is the best answer I have ever heard regarding F clutches.
  24. Steve King

    Steve King F1 Rookie

    Feb 15, 2001
    Well I'm the 4th owner of my 308 and it has 49k on the clock with the orig. 1977 clutch. Can't tell but based on feel I would expect another 50k out of it. I don't smoke the tires nor do I downshift a lot. Use the "switch " approach and only nail it to redline when clutch is fully engaged. I guess I'll look at the adjustment but peddles are ok and feel is good. Years ago during my Corvette days I would do a clutch a year along with a set of tires. So I guess both Corvette and Goodyear don't make products that last. HA
  25. jkuk

    jkuk Formula Junior

    Nov 3, 2003
    Wirral, UK
    Full Name:
    John K
    I concur with its how your drive these cars.

    I admit when I first bought mine (348) I had greatly difficulty in managing the clutch with the resultant smell of burnt clutch material. It didn't help that that the clutch was on its way out anyway

    I have since fitted a new clutch (easy job but expensive parts) and now can handle clutch control - no more burning.

    As mentioned, these clutches are on or off, don't let them slip like normal cars

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