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Should I bail? PPI on '95 355 suggests valve job in 5-10k

Discussion in '348/355' started by AML355, Dec 23, 2004.

  1. tbakowsky

    tbakowsky F1 World Champ
    Professional Ferrari Technician Consultant

    Sep 18, 2002
    15,890
    The Cold North
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    Tom
    Agree 100%..But I'm just trying to set the record straight regarding the leakdown test to detect a valve guide issue. Many people on this site have stated that this is they way to find out if you have a guide problem.
    I don't want to come across as a know it all..but I feel too much focus has been put on the leakdown test when anything comes up regarding valves guides.
     
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  3. 348SStb

    348SStb F1 Rookie
    Owner

    I am not even remotely as qualified to speak technically as you guys, Rifledriver and tbakowsky.

    But maybe I can take what I've learned from you guys and put it into simple terms :)

    A leakdown test showing "good" results does not necessarily mean that the valve guides are in good shape. If the valve guides are "bad," the results of a leakdown test will be "bad"--that is, "bad" valve guides will show up on a leakdown test. BUT, a leakdown test showing "bad" results does not necessarily mean that the valve guides are bad. Other things can cause bad leakdown results.
     
  4. Rifledriver

    Rifledriver Two Time F1 World Champ

    Apr 29, 2004
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    I am sorry that this has gotten so confusing. Compression and leak down tests may not show worn out valve guides. Signs of oil burning may in the earlier stages be the only symptom. As the guides get worse the valves will begin to leak progressively worse and valve burning will eventually happen as the valves will not be properly seating and transfering heat to the head. There is no magic way to determine many types of engine wear in the earlier stages, you have to look for many small signs and make an educated judgement.
     
  5. bpu699

    bpu699 F1 World Champ
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    Dec 9, 2003
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  6. bpu699

    bpu699 F1 World Champ
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    Quick follow up question. Why do you need to replace ALL of the valves? Why not just the valve guides?

    Rifledriver, you stated you can't grind the valves. Educate me on this? I know several mechanics who work mostly on hotrods/dragsters/porsches/etc, who are quite accomplished, and they believe most any valve can have some lapping/grinding done to it....

    Are the ferrari valves really that different from a competition race car or dragster??? Can't they just be lapped or polished???

    It seems like ferarri motors cost a fortune to fix, primarily because parts are so expensive, and nothing really gets reconditioned - everything just gets replaced!
     
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  8. Steve R

    Steve R F1 Rookie
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    This is what it all comes down to:

    If your leak-down numbers come in weak....YOUR FAITH WASN'T STRONG ENOUGH!!!!! ;) ;) ;)
     
  9. BrianDrought

    BrianDrought Rookie

    Nov 1, 2003
    47
    Milton Keynes
    I don't see how a bad guide will leak air.... the valve may still be perfectly shut against the seat.

    I'd say bad valve guides will be more indicated by oil usage.
     
  10. Rifledriver

    Rifledriver Two Time F1 World Champ

    Apr 29, 2004
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    See my answer in your thread in general about rebuilding Ferrari components.
     
  11. Rifledriver

    Rifledriver Two Time F1 World Champ

    Apr 29, 2004
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    See post 28. Also when a guide gets very bad the valve will not consistantly seat correctly on the seat allowing gasses to pass. As this process advances it will start burning the valve as the valve needs good contact with the seat to cool. It also beats up the properly machined angles on the seat and valve so that they do not match each other preventing a good seal.
     
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  13. AML355

    AML355 Karting

    Dec 11, 2004
    52
    All:

    As the originator of this thread I want to thank everyone for the replies. But, let me reiterate the original question to the more technically minded: With three valves at 10%, one at 14% and one at 17% would you buy this car? I talked to my local Ferrari dealer (Algar in Philadelphia) and they said the same thing the dealer did who ran the test (Ferrari of Beverly Hills): over 5% is trouble and that a valve job was imminent. I then spoke with an independent specialist in Florida who works on a major collector's cars and he was rather blase about it...."not that big of a deal, not worried, let me know if you are 20%-40%".... I also spoke to a local racing specialist and he brought up the reliability quote: "run the car for a couple of hundred miles and you'll probably get a completely different result. It is probably carbon build-up given its otherwise great treatment." So, how the hell do you decide????? The car is the only one I have found with complete records, extremely well serviced, replaced manifolds and a nice tubi to boot. And I will probably pass because I don't want to face a $15k service bill out of the gate. Someone want to talk some sense in to me?
     
  14. Exoticbro

    Exoticbro Karting

    Nov 1, 2003
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    Chuck Ligon

    AML355,

    There is alot of good points brought up in this thread.

    First of all this sounds like what EVERYONE looks for, a Ferrari with all records from day one serviced at a dealer with low miles and in great shape.
    So you really do have a decision to make.

    I would think the problem is probably carbon build-up.
    My advice is real simple, have the owner run the car hard for a couple hundred miles, maybe even run some techron through it and retest.
    Good Luck!!
     
  15. Rifledriver

    Rifledriver Two Time F1 World Champ

    Apr 29, 2004
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    It is a problem that is confined to some degree to the 355 and for that reason only people that have a great deal of experience or knowledge with 355's can make an informed judgement. The 355's are known to have compression go away fast once symptoms show. Yes, driving the pee out of it for a few miles may clear it up temporarily by burning the carbon off. If there is enough carbon there to do that it is almost certainly coming from oil getting around iffy valve guides. 14 and 17%, put on your track shoes and run. With these cars it always pays to be patient, take your time and find a good one.
     
  16. FL 355

    FL 355 Formula 3

    Nov 3, 2002
    1,665
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    Frank Lipinski
    AML - I have posted many threads on this topic. I'm glad someone chimed in about price. Truth is, you're closer to $20K than $15K to have it done.

    That's the problem with low mileage cars - if there is a valve guide issue it will not be recognized until around 20K miles or so. A low mileage car can be a time bomb waiting to go off.

    Mine was a 97. Not only are the parts a lot of $ it's labor intensive. Ferrari of San Francisco (the only dealer owned by the factory) had to farm out the head work to a machine shop.

    I suggest you do what I did. I bought my car from a dealer. If the PPI shows it needs guides include that in your terms of sale. The dealer can do the work for a discounted rate.

    I negotiated a price and then basically said I'll take the car, but want you to include a fresh 30K service, valve guides and a 1 year extended warranty. They took my offer.

    If you by from a private party and fails PPI due to valve guide - bail.
     
  17. AML355

    AML355 Karting

    Dec 11, 2004
    52
    Brian (Rifledriver) and Frank (FL 355):

    I think it ultimately comes down to your points. I did say I would buy the car at heavier discout or let the owner put it through the service. But, the car is at a dealer on consignment and the seller has allegedly reached his point of pain.... He is already at $75k and I guess would rather take his chances then get what is effectively $60k for the car. Plus, some less diligent person will probably buy the car without the check thinking they are stealing it for $75k. The other interesting point was that the dealer said after the PPI that they would rather I buy the car directly from the owner rather than through them. Hmmm, kind of suggests the dealer wants to distance itself from the transaction because now they are on notice of the valve issue and don't want it to come back and bite them. So, to Frank's point, not sure I can get them to give me that warranty..... Maybe I will offer to buy it if they run it through another leakdown test after a few more miles in the hopes it is carbon build-up and to Exoticbro's point. Andy
     
  18. AML355

    AML355 Karting

    Dec 11, 2004
    52
    Okay, not to beat a dead horse but in the process of killing my deal due to the lousy leak-down numbers (see above) I find out that the car has been sitting idle for close to 7 months - literally on the showroom floor. It has only had one test drive in the last five months! So, perhaps this is indeed a situation where the poor leak-down numbers are due to the car sitting idle and/or carbon build-up etc. At $75k do you roll the dice on the $15k valve job? As I previously noted, everything else is done.... Very frustrating!! Experienced words of wisdom welcome on who thinks you roll the dice on this one. Thanks again.
     
  19. Steve R

    Steve R F1 Rookie
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    I recently spoke to a Ferrari owner who has bought & sold several (about 30) Ferrari's in his time. He told me this:

    Much of buying/selling a Ferrari is about ego: nobody wants to sell it too cheap, nobody wants to pay too much....nobody wants to feel foolish or get stuck in a bad deal. Hence: the ego is involved.

    There is a LOT of speculation & mystery surrounding the valve-guide issue. Perhaps the best way to look at this whole thing is to figure owning a Ferrari means costly maintainance & expense. You may as well just figure & factor-in the cost of a valve-job.

    The '97 I bought had only 3,000 miles and a recent 30k service. It drove great, felt great and I just paid for it. No leak-down. I'm just figuring when the time comes and I go to sell it...the leak-down will look ugly. While the research says it's an uncommon problem...reality speaks otherwise.

    I wouldn't buy a car that HAS bad leak-down numbers, unless it's discounted the entire cost of a valve-job. I say....KEEP LOOKING.
     
  20. f355spider

    f355spider F1 World Champ
    Rossa Subscribed Owner

    May 29, 2001
    17,350
    USA
    My thought is this; have them (or the owner) dump two bottles of Chevron Techron in the tank, and drive the snot out of it over the weekend (put 250 miles or more on it) then redo the leakdown. If things improve,( or now look fine), buy it, it not, expect another $7k discount, or whatever makes you comfortable...

    I just hate taking chances with that much dough. If they (or you) don't wish to go to that much trouble, then move on.....
     
  21. Ade

    Ade Formula 3

    Jan 31, 2004
    2,095
    UK
    I agree with you regarding price. A 355 valve guide replacement + partial rebuild is realistically at least 50 hours. I had my engine rebuilt at a price of approx $12,000 (inc 60 hrs labour). This included new Valve guides, valves were all ground and reseated, 1 new cylinder sleeve, full set of piston rings.

    Also I agree with some of the comments about low-mid mileage 355s (now) . Essentially you are more likely to be buying a timebomb if its done 19,000 hard miles with little TLC (how does anyone really know TLC element - its pot luck). However if you buy a car that has had the valve guides replaced, at least you know someone has gone through the pain already! Thats my advice.

    On big problem with your valve guides wearing, is that your engine is likely to burn more oil - very quickly and you might not notice (I didnt to start with). I didn't check my oil for a couple of weeks, and the damn thing got down from 8 litres to approx 4 litres (probably did 400 miles in this time) and no oil on my driveway. Obviously that kind of reduction in oil is going to have a knock on effect with respect to wearing other components high within the engine.

    Ade
     

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