Why Should I Pay for a Pre-Purchase Inspection for My Exotic? (And what to watch for)

 

Why Should I Pay for a Pre-Purchase Inspection for My Exotic?

So let’s break this down a little bit. Many might not be new to this concept; alternatively, many might be purchasing their very first exotic.  I am going to use my very own experiences, not what someone told me, but my experience both as a Mechanic, and many times over, as an Exotic car Purchaser. I feel it would help you, to hear from me, and see that if dealers attempted to do it to me, actually knowing who I am, they will also do it to you.

First,  what is a Pre-Purchase Inspection (PPI for short and what most call it), and what’s involved? A PPI is a preliminary inspection on the vehicle that you are about to purchase. To be honest it’s not limited to the Exotic car world, I just feel it’s that much more important when purchasing this type of vehicle.  What a mechanic does in a PPI is go through the entire vehicle top to bottom and identify pre-existing issues with it.  It is NOT a way for a Mechanic or Shop just to swindle money out of you, and I feel if you actually read this article, by the end of it, you will be thanking me that you read it.

If the car you are purchasing is an F1, E Gear, or Sportshift car, this PPI should also detail the clutch wear life, solenoid leakage rates, and the health of the F1/E Gear/Sportshift Actuator.  This is of vital importance. The Shop that you take or send the vehicle to should have a scan tool that can access all of the functions of the vehicle’s gear box that you are purchasing. Do you want to come out of pocket by literally thousands of dollars right after you purchase the car? If the PPI is performed by someone who doesn’t have a scan tool to access these car’s sub-systems, this could happen to you because it’s a gamble. You cannot accept an answer from a car dealership about any of these vehicles because they are in the business to sell cars not service them. If they have documented proof of the clutch being at a certain read out that’s one thing. It’s an entirely different thing however to time pump cycles, or solenoid leakage rates. Simply replacing the solenoids in these cars will cost a few thousand dollars.

Now I’ve just mentioned details about the gearbox but let’s also talk about paint/body work, as this one of the most important areas to be concerned with and is often completely overlooked during a PPI. When you are performing a PPI did you know that most regular mechanics don’t specialize in paint and body work? There are so many different areas in working on cars that to be honest only really talented mechanics have knowledge in all of them. It is really akin to having a Juris-doctor, or being an attorney practicing Real Estate law. He might have no knowledge in criminal law whatsoever, although technically in many state criminal courts he can step in and represent someone.

This is why there are ASE certifications for various parts of a vehicle’s systems. Even with a Master Mechanic Certification having many ASE certs, this doesn’t mean he will know paint and body work.

Clean Car Fax!

I feel obligated to place this under it’s own sub-title.  I separated this from what I just spoke about above because, dear God, this will be a big slap in the face to most people.

My friend, the fact you have a clean car fax means absolutely nothing.  Are you ready to hear some of my personal experiences in this field? How about one right from my shop, from a guy hired to work there?

Felipe is an honest, good hard worker. He owns a 2011 Hyundai Sonata. One day someone drove down the street hit the back of the vehicle and smashed it really badly. So badly in fact, the car was Salvaged out. They paid him out on the claim, and he liked the vehicle so much he purchase it back from them pennies on the dollar.  It was in a few accidents afterwards as well, but run the VIN number on the car, and there’s nothing. Not one single accident shows up linked to this VIN.

What am I saying here? I am telling you if you honestly think the advertisement of an unblemished or clean Car Fax means anything at all you have been believing a lie. Sorry trying to confirm this with mileage? I’ve seen cars totaled, or wrecked, with 75 miles or 800 miles. I know you want to believe the car Salesman. I do as well. They are dressed nice, talk in a well mannered professional way. They even remind you of your brother, sister, mother or father.  But you are seriously mistaken if you think they don’t make a living selling cars. Now I am going to digress here, and also state, there are some very honest Sales people out there. No, seriously, there are, but they also aren’t mechanics.

Personal Experience with Ferrari 360

What do you think of this beautiful F360 above? Well obviously you know it’s rhetorical, right? Couldn’t use it as one of my examples if there really wasn’t anything wrong with it right?  So this specific F360 was purchased out of Missouri by a Client of mine months ago. It was finally brought to me after another Client of mine pretty much demanded or convinced the Gentleman to do so.  It had already been to a really well known Exotic Mechanic on the Southshore, and to be honest when I met him, he was just exhausted. He was exhausted of getting taken advantage of by mechanics, he was tired of the car, and tired of the constant problems with it. So lets use this as one of my foundations for the discussion on why it’s so important to get a PPI.

First, and foremost, the car was brought to me on the basis of F1 shift issues, which is one of my specialties. Next he complained of a gear box whine as well. These by themselves aren’t necessarily uncommon for F1 or E gear cars. Something as small as using the wrong gear box differential oil could cause it to whine a slight bit more than normal.

The very first time I saw the car, however was a different story. I had already spoken to the Client on the phone as I always try to understand the history of the car I am about to Service. Clean car fax, and he a PPI was performed before it was shipped to Boston from Missouri. On the phone, so far so good. Seemed like just normal stuff.

Within about 5 mins of the car being at the shop however, I noticed a serious issue. There was Clear coat blending above the door pillar.  (Please note most Industry professionals will know where to look for blend, over-spray, or tape marks).  This is indicative of rear quarter panel work being done, whether it be from a bad scratch or a bad crash. Please also know that not every car that has been painted has been involved in a crash; there will be other indicators not just blend marks as there were in this Ferrari’s case.

I want to add a small digression here as well. Just because a vehicle had an accident doesn’t mean it’s unsafe. I would not hesitate to purchase an Exotic vehicle that had a small crash if all new OEM parts had been installed and the repair was done with a high quality of workmanship. Unequivocally, I am certain there are Industry Professionals that would not sleep good at night if a repair was not done right regardless of what they are paid. They may be few and far between, but they do exist.

I am not sure if this video will show up, but I am going to Hyperlink it here so you can access it through my Facebook page if it doesn’t appear below. I want to show you the blend job on this Ferrari.

Now, in the video you will hear me state there is a line that goes all the way across the back pillar that leads me to believe the rear driver’s side quarter panel had been replaced.

What led me to believe that? There were a few things that led me to this conclusion.  First, when you order parts for these vehicles, such as the F360, they are constructed in a way in order for you to patch them back into the vehicle you are working on. You couldn’t see it clearly in the video but right where I put my finger, it was slightly raised, and went across in an “S” or “Z” pattern common for where a body person would remove and re-weld the quarter in. I also weld, not only regular mig but also aluminum. These cars, like for instance the Gallardo, are designed with crush points in the aluminum sub-frame, with impact points to fold. They WANT it to crush on impact to save your life. A person in the field will know where these are, what to look for, and where the tie in points will be.

Let me state again, I don’t mind that the work was done, I do mind that it wasn’t all done correctly, and in this case, the investigation led me to believe all of this Client’s problems in this car were from the accident that went undisclosed to him in the PPI.  In fact, it all made perfect sense to me in retrospect, the differential whine, the actuator shift issues and rear quarter tie in, all pointed to an accident that damaged the car in a serious way because as a whole F360s don’t exhibit all of these issues at once.

So what about the previous PPI? Glad you asked?! Listen don’t get a PPI from a person who does all the dealership’s maintenance work. There is just too much conflict of interest. They could have a stellar reputation. But who feeds them? It’s akin to hiring the Prosecutor’s wife to represent you in court, not saying you’d ever be in that situation. She could be absolutely the most honest person in the world. But it’s the appearance of impropriety that’s the issue.  The people who did the PPI was right there in the same place as the dealership selling the vehicle. They convinced him they had used a paint meter and checked all the various depths of the paint and it all matched.  It’s possible, but depending on where I put that meter I can get a false positive as well.

Own Personal Buying Experience

So I will give my own personal experience as a Buyer hoping it will guide you on your way.

Many years ago, I flew out to the Sunshine state of California.  My wife liked the Italian curves of the Maserati, and after all it was the only woman the Mrs, would allow me to fornicate with. A win, win for us both. It was a Maserati Coupe and it was a nice deep blue color. The guy on the phone sounded like an absolute gentleman, as they always do with this much money involved. He promised the car was in excellent running condition, and…insert all the other promises that you have heard as well.  However, as the PPI went on, I noticed various things wrong with it, including getting passed on the Freeway on-ramp, by an F-150 when I floored it! In retrospect, it was kind of humorous. He was trying to sell a vehicle for as much as he could get, and I was trying to get it for the lowest price possible. But, alas it was a lemon. Most of what he’d told me was a lie, and though I spent money on airfare, a rental, and hotel, I wasn’t completely discouraged. I had jet lag, and I was upset with the guy, but I knew it was money well spent. I flew back the next morning, and left the junk pile there.

See I factor all of this in with the Cost Analysis of purchasing an Exotic. You honestly should as well; if you want to be a smart consumer. See this is all friendly advice, you’re not paying me for it. You came here free of charge, even if you decide to donate, you don’t have to. So honestly, you are free to determine if what I wrote is wisdom in your mind, or just another Mechanic trying to take your money.  But briefly, bear with me for just for a minute. Let’s take a $100,000 exotic. For arguments sake, I charge you $500, plus expenses to fly out to perform a PPI. We will say $1000 total as an example to fly half way across the U.S. What percentage is $1000 on a $100,000 car? See, this is exactly my point. Most of the time, I can save that in the price off the top anyway. So why do you still want to substitute your wisdom for mine or another trained professional? You’re a doctor, lawyer, or finance guy, how would you feel if I came in your office, and substituted my wisdom for your education and life experience? Hey I’m all for it, there’s one way to make a fool listen, give them a life experience they will never forget! It will happen.

One Last Experience to Share

There is a reason I am sharing my own personal experiences with you. See I can not get sued for defamation of character when the stories I share can be proven to be fact, and true. I am only liable should I tell a story that injures the character of another, affecting their business and it’s a false hood.

This last example is fresh on my mind because it literally happened about two days ago.  Today it’s Christmas Eve, and I felt this article was important enough to encourage people in this area now. This Christmas story is going to be significantly different than the feel good stories you are used to. Much rather, it’s more than likely going to make you very angry, at least it should. Because as you’ll see if they attempted to do it to me, they definitely would do it to you.

So the story goes something like this. I ended up selling my Maserati GS to a Client of mine. He Car faxed it and my service history looks similar to a short story in a novel. From stainless steel braided brake lines, to an all brass, heater core from Brass works, it’s all on the Car Fax. Any Exotic I touch will be shown on the Car Fax, doesn’t matter if it’s a clutch (which also is on there) to a detail/wash (lol..not on there for my car, would have a whole bunch of entries for that).  He was set that he wanted it, so I sold it to him. I was left in a quagmire though, my wife wasn’t happy, and now I needed to find a new vehicle representative of what I do for a living. Did I already state the wife wasn’t happy?

Let me also say she has great taste in vehicles, is highly educated, and I am not ashamed to say, pretty sure she rivals me on income, if, probably not more so. Heck, I don’t mind bragging on her, she has two Masters, and a Doctorate. She’s been to Brandeis, Yale, Stanford, and finished at Harvard. So doesn’t she deserve something nice, and not to be ripped off after spending most of her life in school? Yes of course she does, don’t you as well? But many look at this as an opportunity as well.

We basically settled on a Maserati MC Stradale (U.S. version), it’s more a package than the true Stradale. We set out on the narrow road as we all do looking for that spectacular Italian beauty.  I usually, like everyone else look at the Car Fax history paying particular attention to how many times a car went through an  auto auction. Most of the time, if an exotic goes through an auto auction there is a reason for it. Think of this, if the Industry Sales Professionals push it through at auction, and they are scratching for every dollar and dime they can get, why did they send it there?

We passed on one in Florida, decent price, but it went through auction four times. Just know this with negotiating, there’s nothing new under the sun. If I told you the amount of times, “we only make hundreds not thousands” on a deal. Another popular one is, “we just put tires”, “did service”, “did etc., etc.” “That’s why you need to pay what we are asking”. Look we all know how trade-ins work, we know what they give. Most people almost have a heart attack the first time they trade in a vehicle. Do us both a favor, lets pretend I know what you do. We both will get along better this way.

If the car has been through auction, like the one above I mentioned, most people in the field have access to that data. They were quite surprised when they gave me the speech above and I told them you paid $57,600 for the car you are asking over $62k for it.  See, I try to keep it all upfront. Most of the time they are used to telling stories. I would rather tell them who I am, being upfront about what I do for a living, and give them this website address. I’m not pretending, I am going to be honest about it, that way you have the rope, you can hang yourself with it or pull me in with it.  If you lie to me, I will burn you. I will give you an example in a minute of that.

So, after the above negotiations stalled out, I found a Stradale on the Indiana/Ohio line, actually I found two places in that area, one was only about an hour from the other. It was a Silver color, something neither my wife nor I was keen on, but nevertheless he was willing to negotiate.  The gentleman’s name was Gerry, or however he spells it, the name of the business was Whitewater motors. He stated he owned the business. He told me all of the right things I wanted to hear. I again, told him what I do for a living, how I was looking for a personal vehicle, and asked he pleased checked me out on this website or Instagram (Trident456).

I put a $2000 deposit on this car, it’s actually the one at the very top of this page. Here it is again so there is no confusion about who I am talking about:

I had my wife book a ticket out to the Cincinnati airport closest to him. He arranged for me to be picked up at the time I arrived. I met a really decent guy, named Jimmy, who went on about how Gerry was this great guy and the vehicle was remarkable. I reiterated to Jimmy what I told Gerry on the phone, I know what the car is, I do this for a living.  I even told them both about the F360 above. See I am building a picture, a background, a foundation for you in this story if you will. I need you to understand. Gerry told me personally he had looked me up on this website, and found everything very interesting. I want you to see that some of these guys have been in business for “decades”. They know all the right words to say, they are even willing to try their luck, to gamble if you will, with a person who knows more about these cars then even they do. They have convinced themselves they can truly sell people anything they want with the right story.

As Jimmy, drives me through the “new side” of town, I noticed it really looked like an unremarkable place. The “other side of the hill” where they were located looked even worse. But I try to always give the benefit of the doubt, never judge by appearance. As we passed the “detail shop”, Jimmy mentioned the car was there and the boss would take me to it. Seems like they “owned” a few places.  We arrived at Whitewater motors, seemed like a nice enough lot, and had a nice building with decent vehicles there.  I met Gerry, older gentleman, white hair combed back, decently dressed. Mentioned to me that he was “off” today (Friday, 22nd of Dec.) but made an “exception” for me. I guess I was supposed to think that the $60k certified bank check I had with me didn’t mean anything to him, that’s not counting the deposit.

Gerry asked if I needed anything, coffee, bathroom break, etc. I mentioned the bathroom would be great. Jimmy said, “Hi” to the boss, and then went to the back of the lot where there were a few buildings, and I never saw him again. I received a few stares from the few people he had there, not that it was weird. I have Exotic logos on my work shirts so that people know that’s what I do. Just seemed like they were watching my interactions more than anything, but hey whatever, I’m here to purchase a vehicle right? As you can tell I pay close attention to my environment.

As I walked to go to the bathroom, my OCD again got the best of me. I looked down at a Porsche sitting on the showroom. The front bumper was slightly off in color from the rest of the front of the car. Anyway, coming back out, I asked Gerry if we could go get the car. As we drove to the detail shop, Gerry disclosed that he viewed my website, and shared other details about the car. Now remember this car only had just over 13k miles on it, so it “had” to be perfect. He told me, the car was at the Detailer still because he didn’t want to get it wet, he wanted to let me do that. I will give him that, it had been slightly raining in the area, I noticed the ground as I was driven in from the airport.

Upon arrival I could see the beautiful front end of the MC Stradale sitting off in the dark of this detail shop. It was weird all the lights were off, just the front was illuminated, but hey whatever. Gerry asked if I wanted to drive it back. I stated absolutely. It seemed to drive well enough for the roughly less than a mile back to Whitewater. Gerry seemed to pull to the front of the dealership by the street but I was by no means done with the car.  I pulled right in beside the building, and I began my own PPI on the car.

First thing I noticed, the rims had been repainted, paint was flaking off the rear driver’s rim. The calipers were all red, but a chalky colored red; they should have been powder coated, with a hard shine. To be honest, that was a first for me on Calipers. I don’t know if someone attempted a repaint or some other experiment went wrong. They were the worst I’ve seen. If my “Spidey” senses weren’t tingling before, they definitely were now.

As I walked to the back of the vehicle it was very obvious, the body lines on the rear were off, and the passenger rear light did not match up.  Here see for yourself, pay attention to every detail:

Look at the gap where the trunk meets the bumper, also notice the slightly variant shade, and marks on the trim piece in that little space between the trunk, and bumper. That trim piece covers the holes of the bolts that hold the bumper in place there. Next, do you see how the bottom of the tail light from the quarter panel meets the light of the trunk lid, and that they don’t meet up? The trunk lid rear light is slightly higher? Look at the rear back up sensor holes……see the black speckled marks on it? Wait………..

Now do you see it……..looks like primer over-spray to me. See picture below:

 

Moving on from this, and I am not even sure you can see this with a Camera. In the picture below I attempted to photo the paint mottling, basically light and dark spots in how the Silver Metallic base coat was laid down. You need to focus on where the light hits the top of fender to see it.  Don’t look at the shine of the Clear Coat, look through the Clear Coat to the Base Silver Metallic.

 

If you can’t see through the Clear Coat to catch the mottling there, let’s see if you can look through the Clear Coat here to where the Painter actually left tack rag marks in the Base Coat, and then Clear Coated over them. This is actually a common mistake with metallic paint and tack ragging. You have to be careful in how you tack rag between Base coats or else it will look identical to this:

Basically what you are looking at is what appears like lines in the Basecoat under the Clear. They run across right about the middle part of the picture.

These are just the photos I took. There were also tape marks inside the passenger side wheel well with over-spray where the tape was taken off. There was rough over-spray line when you opened the passenger door. The Passenger door didn’t shut correctly. The front bumper had also been painted. The paint mottling I mentioned earlier, well that went all the way to the Passenger door. So it’s obvious this car wasn’t something I was even remotely interested in any longer. I’m in a Lemon situation again.

 

Let’s get back to Gerry though- as I opened the trunk to get a better view of what was going on right there with the trunk, and rear bumper body line, Gerry attempted to draw my attention away from that and ask me about the OEM car cover in the trunk, and tire inflator. Now these vehicles, when kept correctly, would have the original paperwork and all the accessories like the OEM car cover included. It was obvious this one did. Look again here is the original listing with the mileage that I took a screen shot of. Here is the VIN number as well: ZAM45MLA6C0061853

See in some of these situations the Salesman will attempt to draw your attention from the fact there might be fundamental flaws in the vehicle. You need to understand there is a psychology to all of this. I try to be a Gentleman in these situations. This was my personal situation, and it honestly would have been easy to get angry and start hollering at Gerry.

After I pointed out all the contradictions in the vehicle to Gerry, he asked “what could we do”?  He still wanted to sell the Lemon even though now he knew that I knew what it was. I respectfully told him I’m not interested, not even remotely. I believed there was enough damage to the vehicle to know it had been in a bad accident, if not a total loss. It most certainly didn’t meet Industry standards for a vehicle of this caliber and how it should have been fixed. Some body shop made a lot of money on this car, I assure you. I decided to step out of the situation to make a phone call. Basically I  called my wife and began to explain the situation, and all the flaws in the car as well. I asked her to get me a flight home ASAP.

Between the phone call, I overheard Gerry telling his workers “he’s “hemming and hawing” over the vehicle. I could also see his workers watching me intently as I looked over the car as I previously mentioned.  So when I got off the phone, Gerry started explaining how it was unfortunate that I would now have to drive back across country in a rental car. I told him, “oh I have no intention of driving across country, my wife already booked a return flight”. He then asked if there was anything he could do. I stated sure, and asked if he could he take me back to the Airport where he picked me up from.

People’s true colors always come out in the midst of these situations. His response wasn’t one of regret or feeling sorry for me flying all the way out, and him not knowing the damage of the car. He was genuinely angry he didn’t make a quick sale and unload a problem car. He stated, “I’m not going that way I am going in the opposite direction”.  It was how he stated it, not just what he stated. He somehow honestly thought by me flying out, I had to take this Lemon car and drive back across the country to Boston.

He stated I can drop you off at the rental car place. I told him that would work for me. Not one time did he attempt to make any of this situation right. As a matter of fact, when he dropped me off at Enterprise rentals, they were closed, and I could see him pause as he was leaving to see me try the door and not be able to get in. He turned left and drove down the street anyway. Honestly it didn’t matter to me, I called Uber, got on the first flight out, and was home before 10 pm.  I was in no way stranded, and he probably didn’t know he would become the standard in what not to do in online sales for this post. Do you honestly think he became this way over night? Do you think this is uncommon?

You need a champion in your corner. You need someone who’s going to fight on the ground in these situations, with knowledge and experience. This stuff happens all the time. Remember I told you there were two Dealerships in this area?

Thomas Classics is located on South Main St. in Akron, Ohio and since I was in the area, I called them as well. They had a White color Stradale at their location. Vin # ZAM45MLA4C0063469 . I called them and spoke with a gentleman named Mike. I attempted to talk to him about their vehicle. His response was interesting, it’s not that I cared they didn’t want to work with me on the price of their car. It was more that after I explained to him I work on these cars for a living, and also told him that Whitewater had one identical to their’s with less mileage, that he responded the way that he did. Again I always give people the website so they can see I not only say I do this for a living, I have a web presence proving it. I don’t want to trick them in anyway, I want to be upfront about any negotiations and who they are dealing with. Anyway, his response was that Whitewater’s wasn’t a “true” Stradale. He tried to convince me he was looking at the car as we spoke on the phone and it didn’t have “hood vents”, which it absolutely did. Also he ran the VIN in this special data base he had access to, it absolutely wasn’t a Stradale. He was just looking out for my best interest in buying something  that was a fake. But I could do whatever I wanted.

Of course then I couldn’t resist in all this Salesman’s madness. I had to let him know exactly how much I knew about this Exotic he didn’t know. In the U.S. we do not have the true Stradale version of that car. The real Stradale has the F1 transmission like the F599gto. To the right of the Media screen the top button actually states RACE to change the F1 systems parameters, not SPORT which is what the ZF transmission car has. It also doesn’t have rear seats. It doesn’t have a stick up from the floor like the ZF automatic transmission. It has buttons akin to the 2009 GTS with the F1 system. There were only 300 GTS’s of that year with the F1 transmission in that car. There are a few other details but you get the gist.  Even still this Salesman, thought he could say whatever to whoever, and it was Gospel. Finally, he closed that if I could get a better deal than the $69,999 I should do it, there was no way they were letting it go for that price.  I of course gave them the benefit of the doubt and called again while I was still there to attempt to work out a deal.

Look to be honest, I’ve already done better than that. I put a deposit down on a Stradale a year newer, with about 5000 less miles for thousands cheaper, than theirs. Who really hurts for this type of conduct, me or them? I fly to Florida Wednesday to see if this Stradale is what I am looking for. I’m pretty sure I won’t be disappointed and I will attempt to update this post with who I purchased it from afterwards with photos.

Look friends, I hope this helped you out in some way. It’s 6:00 on Christmas eve, I wanted to relay my experiences while it was fresh on my mind. My desire is that you do not get taken advantage of, any more than they attempted to do with me.

 

Why Do I Need A Scan Tool After F1/E Gear Clutch Replacement

IMAG1882

So every once in a while I will get this question about replacing an F1 Clutch by an owner who’s looking to have someone install it that doesn’t have the scan tool to re-set all the clutch parameters on an F1/E-gear car.  Some come up with these ideas about what’s happening in the car’s TCU or NCR obviously unfounded by any true understanding of the system. But yet and still they are willing to take parts that cost anywhere from $2000-$4000 and mess them up instead of paying to tow the car to someone that can do exactly what I am going to write about here.

Let me start off by saying this first. There is a ton of data now available on-line that did not used to be available to change one’s own clutch or have an independent shop do so. I wrote one such article years ago, documenting the process on Maseratilife.com before anyone else had in order to help facilitate people to do so. I’ve since moved all of those photos here to this web-site. However, even before I owned my own scan tool, I knew enough to know, to tow the car to Aston Martin of New England to have all the parameters re-set so as not to mess up a new clutch. So let’s talk about this, let’s discuss why you should just pay the $300 or so dollars to have the clutch parameters reset after such a costly repair.

Another misconception going into this is that the clutch wear algorithm is somehow inaccurate in these cars’ computer systems. So that when it states it’s 50% worn, that number in all actuality could be incorrect, and the clutch really could go at anytime. This ignores the fact, that the friction disc build thickness can vary in thickness size, and whether the flywheel has hot spots or the friction disc material itself has developed any sub-par issues like glazing from an incorrectly set up clutch. This is most evident in early model F360 cars that had auto-calibrated Kiss points. The build thickness isn’t taken into account when there is a build tolerance from one new friction disc to the next. In the algorithm the number is set to 5.56mm (depending on the clutch and tolerance build). A person literally could be running at 100% worn and the clutch be somewhat fine when that variance is in their favor. The car can “sense” hot spots, glazing,  (or basically slippage) but it doesn’t tell you which one it is. Under the scan tool parameters it will be called Clutch Wear Index, Clutch Degradation Index or something similar.  You could only be 50% worn and need to replace a clutch for this issue or a number of other ones.

Let’s talk about just four important parameters the TCU of F1/Egear cars store. We aren’t going to go into all of the sensory data because this would be very long and drawn out.

New Closed Clutch Position (NCCP)

Closed Clutch Position (CCP)

Clutch Wear Index

PIS/KISS point.

New Closed Clutch Position/Closed Clutch Position:

The NCCP is basically the closed clutch position from when the clutch was brand new. This figure is in millimeters written into the car’s computer from the Tech that usually installs the brand new clutch. This is the figure that all of the rest of the above parameters are built on.

So for instance, the car’s clutch wear percentage is an algorithm built from this number as it’s foundation. When this isn’t written in correctly a few things can go wrong, which is why it needs to be re-written immediately after installing the clutch and before bedding in or driving it.

One can learn quickly that writing in a measurement to far from the actual foundation point  into the computer that’s not accurate can severely mess with how the clutch engages.

Additionally, the reason why this has to be re-written for every clutch change is because every new clutch doesn’t sit it the same location as it’s predecessor. So in sum, using the previous written data could either cause the clutch to engage or not engage correctly.

Closed Clutch Position:

This is a number automatically calculated by the TCU of the car, that CANNOT be changed by a Tech, in millimeters, telling the system the exact location of the clutch’s position. This is based off of the vehicle’s clutch position sensor, and the sensory data provided by it. This measurement is also why no matter how worn a clutch is the KISS or PIS is still accurate. (Although as the car’s clutch beds/wears in, periodic resetting could be beneficial to the life of the clutch to help it better engage).

Clutch Wear Index:

This is a figure given between 0-10,000 in the data log of information explaining whether the clutch is biting aggressively 0-3000, or slipping and not biting correctly at all 5,000-10,000. The target number is usually between 3,000-4000 in a new clutch. This torque transmissiblity  curb is very important data as it tells you exactly whether slippage is occurring and at what rate.

This data is also reset with a scan tool after installing a new clutch, and adjusting the Kiss point. You want it specifically reset so that you can tell how the new clutch engagement is graduating. It helps to catch or identify an issue early on should something in the install have went wrong.

 

Kiss Point/ PIS

Now this is the one of the most discussed topics usually addressed in changing a clutch. Ironically, you can get away with just throwing a new clutch in a car and not changing it because this is always based off of the current closed closed position which we already have discussed cannot be played with. Now is it wise to do so, I think not.

Let me give you a working definition of KISS point or PIS. Essentially it’s this. Imagine you were in a three pedal car stopped at a light. The light turns green, you raise your foot to engage the clutch. The moment it begins to bite is the KISS or PIS point. That is what is being written into the TCU of these cars. The lower the point in MM written the faster, and less slippage that occurs. The higher point that is written, the more slippage that occurs. A previous PIS point can work on a newer clutch, but isn’t advisable because it could be too hard or too soft for a brand new clutch. Additionally, I always reset the PIS after the clutch has been properly bed in solely for engagement reasons.

Here is an example, I have a Gentleman named Joe that used the website in order to change his clutch. I drove down to him set the clutch up in a way to help bed it in. However, as soon as he followed the steps I asked him to follow to bed the clutch in, it began to stall out. This was normal, and I reset the KISS point again for a post bed in clutch. I might add he had one of the best engaging F1 systems I had tested in a while when I reset it.

Closing

In closing, let me offer my advice. Maybe we should again think of this, and understand the circumstances correctly. You just paid $2000 in parts, and you are concerned about protecting that with a $300 bill? Penny wise, pound foolish much? After all that work, you need someone with the proper education and back ground to protect it. It’s what’s best for the vehicle and the investment that you just put into it. Sure I am certain you will hear glory stories of people who have beat the odds, and  come out on top. But you will also hear stories tomorrow of who won the lottery, yet you did not. This advice is free, do whatever you feel is in your best interest. The article was merely mean’t to inform you. Chances are we’ll probably never meet, and  whether you used it or not is truly inconsequential to me.

 

 

Maserati 4.2l Valve Cover Gasket Replacement

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Sitting, idling at a light, or just cruising slowly around town, and you get this pungent odor through your windows or vents of burnt oil. A common issue with the 4.2l wet sump and dry sump motors, whether a GS, GT,  4200, or Quat is the valve cover gaskets. Basically they begin to seep, then leak down on top of the exhaust manifolds. Then you always have this oil smell when hot idling or cruising around at slow speeds. Sometimes when you start it up there will be smoke coming from the front of the car from the oil burning off on start-up.

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The pictures above gives you an under the car perspective of what’s happening with the valve covers. This particular Maserati had 58,xxx miles on it when I performed the service.  Pretty sure it was done before I did it as well. Again a common occurrence with the 4.2ls.

Here are a few more pictures, but these are the spark plug holes. You need to make sure when you perform this service you order the correct gaskets for the spark plug holes as well. The valve cover has a gasket and each of the spark plug  holes underneath have separate tube style gaskets. As you can see below with the oil sitting inside the spark plug cavity it’s very important this is addressed and doesn’t ruin your coils in the process.

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Where to Start?

So first things first, you should order the parts and get them ready. You will need the valve cover gaskets, the spark plug hole gaskets, and the secondary air injection gaskets for both sides. You can go to Ricambi, or Maserati Parts USA to obtain them.  Secondary Air Gaskets is Part # 186781 (x4), Valve cover gaskets #198927, and 198928; Spark plug hole gaskets # 187706 (x8). Also, this is just my personal opinion, instead of replacing the press clips, purchase the worm drive clamps instead. Throughout you will notice I am using them, it will make any subsequent service easier on all parties involved.

You will need to remove all of the plastic trim around the engine bay.

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Next Steps

After removing all the Trim, we will start with some of the easier components.

The intake tube, throttle body, and MAF.

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Now you might notice I have worm drive clamps already on my intake. You will need to use a straight screw driver, and pliers to initially remove the stock clamps as they are crimped on there.  Also if you are doing this on a wet sump motor, like the Gran Turismo, of course all of this set up will be slightly different. I will add photos of the Gran Turismo/ later Quats set up (when I can later) to make it easier for those replacing valve cover gaskets on those.

You will notice that there are actually clasps you need to unclamp to remove the MAF housing from the air box housing. You will then remove the MAF wiring harness.  After removing all of the press clips you’ll see all of this comes right out including the Throttle body below. You can either clean the throttle body now, or when you get ready to re-install it.

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Spark Plug Coils and Cam Variator Plug

After you have removed all of the intake hoses and connectors, etc.

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Above you will see I removed the “Maserati” logoed wiring harness cover plate.  This is necessary to access a few things, first you are going to want to remove the spark plug coils. With the plate removed above you can see all of the harnesses that run underneath it, including the numbered fuel injector harnesses, the cam variator C clip holding the wiring harness plug to the valve cover and of course the coil harnesses.  There are three small hex bolts holding the two cover plates on.

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Now you’ll notice I just placed the coils on the fender cover out of the way. But if you prefer, you can also unplug all of the coils by the wiring harnesses that run right next to the fender.

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Next, disconnect the fuel injector wiring harnesses. Just push up on the clip underneath each fuel injector plug.  If you’ll notice I never said anything about numbering the coils of the fuel injector harnesses. Mainly because common sense dictates you’ll see that’s a nice factory added benefit: they are already numbered.

Just pull the harnesses back out-of-the-way so they don’t snag when lifting the valve cover, or worse, get caught underneath when you put them back on.

Next up Cam Variator plug.

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It seems simple enough, but wait until you get to the connector, because it’s a bit untraditional and you will need to pull the catches outward with either two pics or small screw drivers.

Above just pull the C clip off, and you can push the plug seal slightly inside. Then below, unplug the connector.

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Now inevitably, I’m going to forget to tell you this later on, so remember this, clean every plug connector and put dielectric grease on them before re-installation.

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Next, up towards the back of each valve cover toward the fire wall you’ll see the Cam Phase sensor like above. These on either side also need to be removed. Again, I’m going to forget to tell you replace those O rings on both the sensors and Variator Solenoid hole plugs.

Just slightly above each Cam phase sensor, you’ll see a metal elbow with the hose on it. Pressed clips like all the rest. This is your PVC system.

Take those clamps hoses off and replace them upon re-installation with worm drives.

Secondary Air Injection System

Okay, so now you should pretty much have everything out of the way before we pull the bolts and the valve covers off. I really saved the worst for last because it’s going to require careful attention to detail to prevent frustration with this process. If you removed everything else and thought that wasn’t too bad, this next part will make up for it, not to mention you’ll love reinstalling it as well.

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So I’ve included a few photos above. First what you will notice is that you cannot detach, even if you wanted to, the valve cover bolts on the lower part of the cover until you remove these valves out of the way.  The second thing you will notice is you have bolts that attach the above elbow going down, and also coming up. So you will have to use an allen wrench key or something similar for the limited space, to especially detach the allen bolts that are facing up.

Small tip: if you are prone to drop your tools, tie it to your wrist or something similar.

Next tip: detach the clamp fit hose clips and hoses from around the valve to give you easier access. Remember to replace the gaskets on both sides of the elbow or you will get secondary air injection codes in the CEL on the dash.

I use swivel sockets and such, as you have seen above, for the hex head bolts facing down, with long extensions. If the car is on a lift you might be able to get them for the ones coming up as well. I just do this from the top.

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Just want to include these photos above as well. The secondary injection piping runs around the front of the motor. The hold downs should be loosened so you have movement, again the clamps like the above photo for the driver side also need to be taken off so you have movement.

Once you get all of this stuff taken care of you can pop the valve covers off. Now, be very careful,  as I usually just push the air injection system out of the way, turning the valve cover to bring it up. On the Passenger side it can be tight and tricky, you should use duct tape or painter’s tape on the cover so the secondary air injection doesn’t accidentally dig up the valve cover. Take your time, don’t get frustrated. If you see any potential contact, put painters tape underneath it on the cover. Make sure you make it thick if you are concerned you will scratch it.

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Seen above is a plastic trim removal tool, no metal to metal contact to pry up the valve cover. No metal to metal anywhere. Don’t have one? Wrap black electrical tape a few times around the tip of a screw driver.  Before you pull these off, I’m assuming you’ve already cleaned all around the top to make sure you aren’t dropping loose nuts or anything else a previous Tech left up there. This includes dirt/debris.

20160612_191428 20160613_123544 20160613_123558There you have it, you removed the valve covers!

Cleaning

Okay before we go any further, we want to clean the valve covers properly, they have dirt/grime, etc. all over them. You don’t want to pressure wash them or use any harsh chemicals. You’ll want a soft bristle brush or you’ll mess up your finish.

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The cleaner above works good, but also Simple Green which is basically what this is. I’ve included a side by side to also show how vibrant the color is after it’s been cleaned. You can air dry it, or blow it off with a compressor.

Re-installation

It’s the reverse of what I just walked you through…..lol. I love that in service manuals.

Now you are going to clearly see how the gaskets are removed from under the valve covers, both gaskets have different part numbers and align differently so you cannot get them mixed up. I also use a product like Permatex Red High Temp RTV gasket maker to make sure I don’t have to do this again. Do not use any quick-setting Gasket maker (like products that come in a can), it will not give you the time you need to place the covers back on.

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The replaced valve cover above, nice vibrant red and ready to run without the smell of oil.

Upgrading Sway Bar Bushings on Maserati GranSport

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I guess not every post is going to be long but I did want to do this for the sway bar bushings I’ve been running in the Maserati GranSport.  There really isn’t any aftermarket alternatives so I was working on these. To date I’ve been running them without any issues but I’ve really not been able to put as much R&D into them as I should because I’m working on rebuilding F1 actuators. However let my show you how they do look in the car so these photos are available for people.

Here’s the rear set up. You have to drop the sub chassis a bit to get into this really tight space so I did this when I replaced the clutch in the car.  I didn’t really bother with snapping photos of the front because it’s really easy to get to, and change them out. The front sway bar bushing comparison however is above at the beginning of this thread with a side by side of how small and how worn out they were at 28,000 miles, with the new ones. 20160404_11542020160404_115357 20160404_115418

 

F1 and E Gear Accumulators

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What Are They?

First let me say, there’s nothing new about accumulators. Many pieces of equipment/machinery use them. So in that regard to, let me just use a Wikipedia definition. I’m not re-inventing something here when these have been used for years. Their definition is perfect already:

“A hydraulic accumulator is a pressure storage reservoir in which a non-compressible hydraulic fluid is held under pressure by an external source. The external source can be a spring, a raised weight, or a compressed gas.”

In sum, an accumulator is similar to a battery. If you didn’t have a battery in your vehicle, outside of it not starting, if it was running, the alternator would be constantly working to keep all of the electrical loads satisfied. As soon as the alternator failed in this situation, the car would die as well. (We are not using old mechanical combustion ignition vehicles in this scenario).

It could also be compared to an air compressor. You have a motor electrically powered that’s usually belt driven, that turns the air compressor pump. That pump fills the air compressor tank (or air accumulator in this instance). There are many different sized air compressor tanks, shops have upwards of 90 gallon units. It holds all of that stored air under pressure so that multiple pieces of pneumatic equipment can be run at one time. If you tried to do the same thing without a storage reservoir or accumulator it would be impossible to do.

This is what the accumulator is for on an F1 or E gear system.  Again very similar to a battery or air compressor. You have a voltage regulator in a vehicle system so as not to over charge a battery, you have an air pressure switch that turns off the pump motor on the air compressor when it reaches its set limit, for example 150 psi. Once 150 psi is reached, this is sensed by the pressure switch, and turns it off.

Likewise in a F1 system, the F1 pump cycles, this fills either the bladder or piston type accumulator (explain in a minute), once the pressure is up to where it’s supposed to be, sensed by the pressure switch that’s on the valve body, it is mandated off.  This is all a hydraulic accumulator is. It stores hydraulic fluid under pressure for the system to use.

Various Types of Accumulators?

Let’s deal solely with Ferrari, Lamborghini and Maserati accumulators. The two types usually used in these cars are either bladder type accumulators or piston type. You usually see bladder type accumulators used in F cars, and piston type in Maserati.

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F1 2

These photos above show you both types in these cars.

First, the bladder type accumulators you will see in F cars or Lambos, they are normally mounted vertically or straight up and down from the valve body.

Second the piston type accumulators in the second picture above, mainly in Maserati you see them mounted on top of the gear box horizontally.

Now I cannot say exactly why one was used in the Ferrari/Lambo and the other in Maserati.  I can speculate if you’d like. I would postulate that bladder types are used in one car because of their mounting location allowed for the space, and for them to be vertical. When you mount a bladder type accumulator horizontally it has a slightly loss of efficiency, additionally, they seem to be away from heat zones.

If you notice in the Maserati the piston accumulators are laid flat on the gear box, they are thinner, and required less diameter space to be placed there. Additionally, because it’s exactly where all the heat from the gear box would rise to the piston type accumulators are known to work better with higher heat ratings.

A few of the down sides to each though are: The bladder type accumulators when they fail usually fail immediately injecting whatever pre-charged gas the bladder uses right into the F1/E gear system.  Air injected into a closed hydraulic system is never good.

The piston type accumulator on the other hand fails more slowly as the seals deteriorate, it doesn’t release the gas the same way.

The flip side to this is bladder type accumulators can handle more particulate or dirtier fluids than piston types. Piston types have to make sure the fluid is clean or it could damage the seals.

I am going to hyper-link some videos here by Parker, a leader in the hydraulic industry to show you how these accumulator actually work:

Piston type accumulator

Bladder type accumulator

Signs of Failure

I suppose the most important part of this article as it pertains to these cars is what are the obvious signs of failure.

As we have previously discussed, the different type of accumulators do fail differently.

In a Ferrari, you will have the air injected into the system, so this could cause the car not to shift, or have problems with the actuator/clutch. This will be accompanied by a constant priming of the F1 pump. This could be confused with a stuck relay, diagnostic checks should be performed to nullify this. If the pump is constantly cycling it’s because you have lost your storage cell. You will need to both replace the accumulator, and completely bleed the system.

The consistent sign with either accumulator that it has failed or is failing is the F1 pump constantly priming.

With a piston type accumulator like the Maserati you don’t have to worry about an immediate failure. You need to time your pump cycles. Sitting in neutral car running, the pump should not cycle more than once a minute. Once you get under this you know you are starting on the last legs of the accumulator. I’ve personally had clients where the pump cycled every 8 seconds. Another client a Maserati Dealership installed a brand new pump, without proper diagnostics, and 5 miles later the pump burned up again.

Accumulators don’t have a forever shelf life and are considered maintenance items.  Checks should be performed to maintain the health of the system. If not you could ended up burning up your F1 pump or worse damaging parts inside the actuator, or thrust bearing getting stuck mid-shift.

Additionally, I might add, the fix to this is not to install a more powerful pump. That’s not how this works. You need to address the hydraulic cell responsible for storing the energy it needs. That pressure is between 40-50 bar for example with Maserati. So, the minimum pressure is 580 psi, the switch triggers the F1 pump it pumps it to psi. It takes all of about three shifts to deplete the system back down to 580 psi of hydraulic pressure again. As far as I know, there isn’t a hydraulic pump that you can retrofit in any of these cars that automatically pump at the bare minimum of 580 psi.

I am all for making things better but the way to do that is to make sure you are in “good hands” mechanically with whatever shop/dealership you are using. These cars are way too expensive to try to band-aid a F1 system with a more powerful pump. Obviously, I’m not talking about the F430 with the E-Diff system. I’m more referencing making sure the health of the system is good before putting an aftermarket pump on the system that’s really not necessary.

Maserati GranSport, Coupe, and Spyder Gear Box Oil Change.

Tools you’ll need:

  1. 22mm for side fill plug.
  2. I think 14mm hex for drain plug.
  3. 13mm for exhaust hanger bracket.
  4. Finally, 8mm for the filter screen retaining bolt.

First the drain plug is center mass of the gear box like so:

Second to this is your gearbox oil filtering screen that you should remove and clean. If you are standing directly behind the car it will be on the right side or U.S. Passenger side of the gear box. It’s actually right beside the exhaust hanger than you’ll have to remove.

Here’s a photo of it (yellow) with the draining gear box hole n the background:

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Here is the exhaust hanger that you must entirely detach from the gear box in order to pull the screen out of the gear box, the picture below shows the clearance issues you’ll have if not:

Here it is with the exhaust hanger removed:

Tricks and tips for these steps:

There are two 13mm nuts on the gearbox holding the exhaust bracket on. Take those off and just rotate the exhaust bracket around out of the way.

The filtering screen is plastic. Don’t try to pry it out of the gear box. Use a big flat head or small pry bar and pry it down to rotate it to free it first. Rotate it back and forth in a circle before you start prying it out. Italians and plastic don’t go together you don’t want to snap it off in the gear box.

As you can see above the screen has indeed caught some debris. Carb cleaner/Brake cleaner or the like to clean it up and then put it back in.

Make sure you put oil on the O-ring before sticking it back in the gear box to facilitate seating it. Alternatively if you damage it or it looks worn……replace it.

Finally the fill plug is located just behind the screen.

The later models do have the rubber damper all over them but there is a hole cut out on the Passenger side gear box cover for the fill plug location (driver’s side non-U.S. spec cars). The photo below is showing you it hidden above the cross member of the gear box sitting back in. This photo was taken in the exact location of the gear box screen and exhaust bracket area looking up towards the rear of the vehicle.

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Tricks and tips:

So if it’s stuck way up there, how in the world are you going to get a quart gear box oil container in there? Well friend your definitely not. Instead you’ll use one of these:

hand fluid pump

Additionally, this small $5 hand pump will also make it tons easier for filling up your F1 reservoir, or alternatively siphoning all the fluid out of it, reverse directions to fill it back up again.

Okay hope this helps……before I forget the gear box I think takes almost 3 quarts, or what I do is just fill it right to the fill plug hole, which is the equivalent but don’t quote me on the 3 quart thing. I usually fill it like described and move on to the next project.

Maserati 4200/GranSport Window Micro-Switch and Regulator Fix

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So recently you’ve noticed you pull the door handle from the inside or outside of your car, and the window goes all the way down. Alternatively, it goes about half way down.  Then you get in and have to keep pushing the buttons in order to get the stupid thing up, right?

Maybe you haven’t a window issue like above instead you’ve heard a loud clunk, and now the window doesn’t roll up at all. You can just hear the motor turning inside the door but it’s not going anywhere.

Well, this article is hopefully going to help you out, and get you up and running again. If the welding, and or the micro-switch fix might be more than you feel comforable handling, but you don’t mind disassembling the door to get it out, or maybe have someone remove it for you. Please feel free to contact me, and I can send you a shipping label in order to fix it for you. The alternative to this fix is part number 387700050, or 387700051, you will see the part for each side is about $700.00 USD. The micro-switch is part number 980001800, this part costs about $140.00 USD

Causes

So what are the causes of these issues. There is a reason why I put these two issues together. It’s because if you are going to address one, I want you to address the other as well. If you don’t, you are looking for more headache down the road. I will address the micro-switch first then the structure of the window mechanism itself.

Now there are actually three micro-switches for the doors of these cars. One for the outside handle, one for the inside, and one on the frame of the window regulator that acts as a limiting switch for how far the window rolls down when you get in/out of the vehicle.

This last micro-switch is where the issue is caused, the window limiting switch. It’s very simple, the switch is intermittently failing so no longer cuts the power to the regulator as it should in order for it to stop the movement of the window:

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Once you get the door panel off, I will show you how in a minute, you’ll see the water shield material. You’ll pull it off and you will have this little site window that’s above the yellow wire. In there you will see the micro switch that fails for the window.

The second cause of catastrophic window failure is the pivoting/rotating  frame the window regulator sits on. If you are in there because of the limiting switch, you might as well address the more serious issue of the frame itself. When this breaks you will either hire a fabricator to address it or be purchasing another unit. Both will dig into your wallet.

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So you get a full picture of this issue, and again, I will get into disassembly later on, here is the full pivot/rotating assembly (above) that the window regulator sits on.  Additionally, you can see the micro switch sitting to the left of the tension spring, held in by rivets.

Here’s a photo with it flipped over (below). You will notice the new welds, literally within seconds of welding it, I snapped this photo.

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Here are the welds with the bracket flipped over on the inside:

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Here is a photo (below) of the three small tack welds that hold that geared part of the frame the regulator uses to rotate the rest of the assembly. This is why you need to weld it better, it’s the three round dots in the bracket. As you can see it’s just common machine tack welds:

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So what happens to make the window not come back up is the regulator torque forces the toothed metal bracket away from the gears of the regulator so it no longer makes contact with the teeth. The spot welds are not enough to continue to keep the toothed part of the bracket secure like it’s supposed to be, in turn it rocks back and forth on the welds. In addition to this you could also have the spring hinge like this break:

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The above photos are used by permission of a Client of mine. They show the eventual force busting the retainer where the spring hinge sits. I believe this is because as those tack welds loosen, the window regulator actually pushes the bracket in a way it was not designed, putting more stress here, eventually braking the bracket further down.

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Above is a better look of where it broke. You can see the small bracket to the left of the photo (two small nuts) This is the bracket the limiting switch uses to toggle the power off. To the right you see the geared section where the regulator would sit.

Okay, so let’s cover some ground in order to fix these issues. First, obviously we need to disassemble the door panel, I am using GranSport door below. The 4200 will be similar.

Disassembly

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Let’s start with the main metal molding piece above. After removing the above trim piece four brass colored screws need to be removed. Sorry I didn’t have a photo at this time. Before I forget DO NOT  use a metal screw driver to remove that trim piece and mar the finish or damage it. If you don’t have anything plastic, wrap black electrical tape around the small screw driver you are using.

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There’s a tiny piece of plastic in the center of your door handle. Pop that out, and remove this screw (above). Next pull the door handle out, and pop the insert off.  After you do so, there will be a small screw holding a shiny metal bracket in, that’s attached to the door handle. Remove that one, it looks like the one above.

20160717_192522Okay so this screw should be obvious, just remove it.

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Tweeter removed, look into the center, remove that screw.

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Remove the speaker grill, then the speaker itself. You will see two screws on the top and bottom that must be removed like the above photo. The screws might be a different color but the location is the same. Additionally, if you have different speakers do not worry, I put these Alpines in a while ago, they are not OEM.

Pop out the reflector, remove the screw behind it.

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Last, but not least, you will have screws on the very bottom of the panel, four or five that go all the way across like this one by the light. Remove all of them. Then you can pop the panel loose pulling out but then pushing up. There are metal catches to hang the panel on at the top by the window. Hold the panel there though. You still have to disconnect the bottom door light or you will mess it up.

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Push the light out from the door panel and push the clasp to release the light from the harness. Then re-install the light into the panel so you do not lose it. Then set the panel to the side.

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Next you’ll be blessed to remove the water shield material from the door. Best tip for you on this, use a heat gun on very low setting or a blow dryer on higher setting. Work it slowly to keep it together. Chances are you’ll rip it, but it’s the thought that counts!

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Two 8mm bolts hold the window in. Loosen these, pull the window up to the top, you don’t need to remove the window.

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 I didn’t have a plastic trim tool nearby when I took this. Plastic is preferable. I instead had a screw driver with black electrical tape wrapped over the bottom. Remember, glass and metal never mix well. But you’ll see the access hole (above) I stuck the screw driver through to hold the window at the top of the door.  The plastic you use must be long enough to insert all the way to the other side. It is sitting under the window edge. If you don’t trust yourself with just one, there is another access hole (below) you can also stick another object through:

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Don’t worry if the plastic window retainers drop down, like above. It would be better if you just removed them and sat them out-of-the-way anyway. Note their orientation when you do so, or come back and look at these photos.

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Okay, so first you will be removing these two 10mm nuts from the center support bracket. Please mark one of the studs and it’s location. When you remove the entire bracket from the window it can rotate around, and you can get confused of its correct orientation when putting it back in. It actually was already done for me here. The black adhesive puddy was already wrapped around the stud.

Additionally, the puddy is also covering a slotted mounting hole. This is important because, if you mark right were the nut sits, you will know how it aligns when you put it back in. Mine sat all the way on the bottom of the mounting slot. If you don’t mark it you’ll see the window will jam as you try it out once re-installed. You will then have to keep playing with it to get it where it needs to be.

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Finally, the last four 10 mm bolts of the window regulator assembly above, however before you do this you need to also reach into the speaker hole and detach the micro-switch harness like so:

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Also detach the harness from the regulator itself, you can detach the frame now as it will be easier to feel for this harness. As a picture was hard to obtain inside the door, this is where it would be located (below), sorry for the alligator clips, that’s for another trick later on. This was the only photo I had to orientate you where the harness will be located:

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Finally, collapse the assembly like below or you’ll never rotate it out of the window,  here are step by step photos:

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Now, all you have to do is remember the reverse of what I just showed you to get it in! Good luck…lol. BTW, don’t dig up your door. It will come out, just be patient.

Micro-Switch Fix

I’m going to detail the easier fix first but I recommend that you weld the geared bracket before completing this. If you don’t, or can’t do this, again I don’t mind you sending it to me.

Now micro-switches are nothing new for automobiles. You don’t need the one Maserati sells for $140.00. Actually just the opposite, I would recommend any brand other than OEM because the ones they used were quite cheap.

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Before I get into the rest of the micro-switch let me tell you how to remove the old one.  You’ll need a 5/64″ drill bit, and you will drill out the old rivets which I show above. Do it from the front side where the old micro-switch is. Then remove the plastic hold downs that hold the wire harness in place. That’s pretty much it, it is a simple process here.

Next the photo above also shows how I laid the new switch over the old one to ensure it was the right mounting point, and alignment.

There was a gentleman, that fairly recently, covered just the micro-switch fix on Maseratilife.com. My fix, I would suggest a few things a bit different. First, he covered just the switch fix, and not the bigger problems which I’ve detailed here. I don’t think you should only fix the switch and not fix the assembly itself because you will have bigger issues later on. Additionally, it’s a whole lot easier to take the assembly out and fix it correctly. But again, it’s your car, your prerogative. I’m here to give you the information not make you accept it. That being stated, I suggest a pronged micro-switch like below. Use speaker connectors or the appropriate wire connector to splice into the harness. This way, should you damage it by accident, or alternatively need to again replace it, it is an easier disconnect, instead of making multiple splices into the wire harness and shrink wrapping the wires. Before I forget, you should also shrink-wrap the connectors below, or wrap them in black electrical tape, just to be sure nothing metal bounces off of them.  They do have plastic covered connectors that will work on these as well.

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Once you are done you can install this back on the rotating assembly. I just used the same size long rivets. I used stainless steel but you can really use just about any rivet long enough that goes through. Additionally, if you’d like to use long small bolts you can do that.

Here are some photos side by side with the micro-switch I used with OEM. Don’t worry about it being smaller, just check for the diagonal mounting configuration/spacing.

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I almost forgot a pretty important detail, when you wire these. You will notice there’s three prongs and I used the two outside prongs. That’s because of the multi-uses of micro-switches in general. Because our car windows’ are using it as a limiting switch, you will need to make sure you use the “com” prong, and the “NC” (Normally Closed) prong on these type of switches. You don’t have to use the switch I have, though you can buy them for like $10 for a pack of 5 on eBay. Use whatever micro-switch you want, now that you know how to wire it. Just make sure you use those prongs.  If you wire it on the wrong prongs,  power will only go to the regulator when the switch is depressed. So the window won’t work at all wire this way. Wired correctly, it will cut power with it depressed, thus limiting the movement of the window down to an inch from the top. Additionally, it’s not pole sensitive so you don’t need to worry about which wire is on which of the “com”, “NC” prongs.

Now if you remember I showed you a picture above of plastic covered alligator clips sitting in the harness part of the window regulator. Well that’s so you can operate the regulator out of the car. Just attach the alligator clips to a 12 volt source, I used a battery, then reverse the leads to make it go the other way. I just attached one lead, and touched the other when I needed to rotate it, then reversed them. If you want to get technical you can build a switch for it as well. It’s not necessary but it’s your project so do as you’d like. You will need to rotate this back and forth to align the bracket before you will weld it as well. Here’s that photo again.

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Fixing the Regulator Bracket

Buttressing the spot welds on the regulator bracket is extremely important if you don’t want your window sitting inside the door. I’m going to cover two parts here that may need to be attended to. The second one you will only fix if it fails, the first you should do as preventative maintenance.

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20160719_151902Again from above this is the spot welds that loosen up and fail. Basically what happens is the torque of the motor, and weight of the window pushes the entire bracket down away from the regulator teeth until it no longer contacts them. With no grip from the teeth it can no longer roll up or down, therefore falls.

I weld it in two places. along the ridge between the top of the two metals, which I think would be sufficient, but I also flip it over and put two welds inside.  Like so…….20160725_130533

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If this hasn’t failed, still works perfectly, and you are doing this for preventative maintenance, just weld it up like above. It should already be aligned where it needs to be.

If it has failed, you need to take a small hammer and tap the gear teeth towards the regulator teeth to make sure when you weld it, you don’t weld it wrong. Once it’s welded wrong you will be cutting all of the weld in order to re-align this.  You need to tap it from both ends, run the motor both ways to make sure it’s gripping like it’s supposed to.

I want to caution you again to check to make sure that it’s aligned before you weld it, by bench testing it with the tips I listed above for moving the regulator.

Now, some might try to read this, and say “I don’t need a welder. Let me try bolting it or using rivets”.  Let me help you lay that to rest. First, you don’t have the clearance to try bolting through both brackets because when the regulator moves it comes to a point they rotate within about 1/8″ of each other, like scissors. Secondly, I tried putting stainless steel rivets in one, four rivets to be exact. The torque created from the regulator made short work of them twisting them just enough to push the teeth apart. In my opinion you should weld this area. It’s strong, durable and will never be a problem area again.

Okay so here is the second fix. The regulator snaps the rotating assembly beneath the tension spring like so:

imagejpeg_2IMG_65461Notice the grooves in this above as well. It’s so the spring as the window rolls down gets tighter and helps the window back up on the upwards cycle. So here is how that was addressed:

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Now, of course before all of this happens above you’ll need to be sure you place everything into the correct position. The only suggestion here is, if you get lost, open the other door panel up and look at that one.

Again I will add, if you want help and would like me to weld it, or fix it please contact me. I will arrange for it to be shipped here and to be fixed. You will then re-install it when you get it back.

I hope this helps.

Maserati Rim Refinishing

So among the other things I do. I really enjoy auto-painting. My first Maserati Spyder I purchased GS rims, and front/rear bumpers to add to it. I liked the new design and style. I figured most of these posts are dealing with technical aspects, or mechanics of the car. So let’s give a post about paint, and rim re-finishing. I won’t embed everything I’ve done because this would be long. Just a few for casual reading.

Here are some 19″ GS rims I did for the Spyder. They were seriously scratched up in a collision but weren’t bent or messed up when checking for being out of round. So I basically had them bead blasted to start with a new canvas.

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So after I take the rims down I use a high quality epoxy primer before I lay down the base coat. This will both make sure you have a proper foundation that the base can stick to, but will also ensure it has the proper adhesion to the metal of the rim. Remember many times rims are made with alloys that aren’t conducive to self-etching primers.

After laying it down I usually use a Scotch Bright Pad. I’ve used grey and red pads. It’s basically a way to sand the top layer off from any imperfections that stick on the top of the primer. Scotch Bright Pads are really like using a really fine grit sand paper. I’ve even been known to use adhesion promoter on top of the Primer just to make sure the primer and base does it’s job, and doesn’t have adhesion problems.

I then lay down the base coat 2-3 coats, and clear coat, 1-2 coats. I like PPG 2021 high solids clear. I’ve tried Sherman Williams high solids clear as well but I will have to look up the nomenclature of it and add it later. It worked really well. If you especially have problems laying down the 2021 because it will sag or run like rain if you’re not careful. Try thinning it out a little more and lay down thinner coats. If not contact Sherman Williams ask them for their high solids clear. It’s easier to work with, it’s quality and lays down really nice.

So here are the rims above after full paint, PPG DBC #1 Bright Metallic Silver, 2021 PPG high solids clear.

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Here’s an example of a rim repair job on a client’s low mileage Facelift Maserati. He emailed me probably about 1-2 months after I performed an inspection on the car asking if there was any hope for the new bruised rim. To be honest, I was anxious to get the car back anyway because the dealership he purchased the car from did a terrible job on them. So here’s the rim he banged up:

20160620_101957 20160620_102007 20160621_122923 20160621_122942 You would think this would bother me but, it didn’t. This is normal here in Boston, I expect to see it. Here is what bothered me more than the curb rash:

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The top photos of the caliper is the lazy work of a dealership that decided to paint the rims on the car. This car had less than 14,000 miles on it, that’s apart from the marquis. Secondly, I don’t know if the photos caught it well. Those are cracks in the base coat, UNDER the clear coat. They were very prominent when you stood beside the car. When you leaned over and touched them it was all smooth. It was terrible work, and I had to take care of the front rim. The client was a good client, so he paid me for the rear rim, and I did the front free of charge. Yes it bothered me that much, so you know I cleaned the caliper off to.

So let’s get back to the curb rash. It’s pretty standard 3″ in rough grit sanding wheel to massage the metal all back out like so:

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Of course the rules of sanding apply to rims as well. You need to feather out each layer and have at least 1/4″ between each level or you will see the lines come up through the base coat.

Before I forget here is some good adhesion promoter I like to use.

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Primer is basic stuff so let’s jump over to the base coat:

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(TIP) Here’s what I do when I want to make sure to color match a rim perfectly. Take the rims and the color chips in the sun. If you’re having a hard decision between two chips, paint a mixing container as a spray out card so you can turn it in the sun as well. Manufacturers’ paint chips are really small to make a determination on if you don’t have the color code already. Remember the dealership painted these rims before hand, and no of course no record of a color code.

Above you’ll notice the lug bolts. A small touch but color match them to make the entire look come together. Don’t leave something so small to hang out like a sore thumb. I almost left the most important part out for good painting. ALWAYS follow the flash periods. Let the dry times be. You gain nothing by rushing in, and trying to rush everything.

Since I do have a mess up available. Here’s what happens when you try a clear coat from another manufacture that you think is quality but isn’t. 20160624_105849

Now I actually tried this clear coat from Kemperle before on two different hoods with their base coat. You’d think I would have known better. The hoods had the same issue, with this. I thought it was a chemical reaction or environmental reaction. The problem with that was I actually painted with PPG base/clear and it came out perfect. Nothing had changed. The base coat from them cost me almost $300 a gallon. I will never, ever do this again. It’s why I don’t use cheap paint or a paint I’m not sure of. Every time I do you find out why they paint Ferraris/Maseratis with PPG paints. The only other paint I’ve used that’s really good is Sherwin Williams. You get these type of  issues or the color matches are off by variants when you try paints that are hyped up to be something they are not or are just cheap.

So I guess you know this rim had to be sanded down and repainted, which doesn’t work as a business model of course. So what the client paid covered one rim, I did the other for free, but the one he paid I did twice. No worries we all have these stories. Let’s see the finished product and end this short post:

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 They look good in the shade and pop in the light which will catch people’s eyes driving down the road. The Client was obviously elated, and I could entertain you with a post, surely a  win for everyone!

How to Change a Clutch in a F1 Maserati

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I think one of the longest threads I’ve ever posted on Maseratilife.com or SportsMaseratiuk.com had to do with changing a clutch in a F1 Maserati. It’s another reason why I think a separate website is so much better to host this information. Most of the time it just bleeds into the rest of the other forum topics and isn’t found again until a specific Google search is performed.

So you are either a DIYer and want to try this on your own, or you’re a shop trying to expand your experience with these automobiles.  Before I get into this subject however, I must warn you. This is not for the faint of heart. You will still need to bring the car to someone who can set the PIS on the car, and also re-write the clutch configuration data so the vehicle knows it has a new clutch in it. This can only be done with an SD2/3 tool or an aftermarket tool like the Leonardo system.

Additionally, be warned, you always need to bed a new clutch in. You should not be taking off like you are in a F1 race as soon as you are finished. No, much rather for the first 500-700 miles your shifts and take offs should be nice and smooth. You will not be going over 55 mph. Your driving should be akin to your grandmother driving a car. I assure you, you will not be happy if you glaze over the brand new friction discs in the car or hot spot the newly re-finished flywheel. If you do so you will have terrible engagement, or you will be taking the car apart.

I want to add here as well, there are really two ways to take these cars apart to do a clutch job, and depending on whether you are doing this yourself or in a shop would probably determine which way you should go. If you are in a shop I would more than likely drop the entire sub-frame with tires and all, you will have the lift to raise the vehicle. Keep the sub-frame/torque tube as one unit, take the torque tube from the bell housing.

If you are attempting this by yourself or with a friend I would leave the sub frame. Loosen it for clearance, and remove the torque tube and gear box from the sub frame but leave it in the car. Either way it is totally up to you. If you are removing the sub-frame with the gearbox and all, don’t take the trunk apart unless you are having clearance issues. You shouldn’t. The sub-frame, gearbox, and torque tube can be removed as a unit if you have the correct tools to do so.

I will be showing here, more of a private setting to take it apart though I do have the car on a lift.  My first F1 Maserati I did with cradling, in a small garage years ago, so it is possible. Contrary to what people may think you don’t need a huge garage with a lift to service these cars. If you are a mechanic, or mechanically inclined the tools don’t give you experience or skill you must have that already. If you have that you could do this in a driveway if you wanted to. I once replaced an F1 pump in the driveway of a Client’s car that was a few hours away from me. I laid on cardboard as a make shift creeper. He needed the help, and I didn’t mind doing it.

Take the Trunk Apart

 First things first, lets get the trunk apart so you can have enough clearance to slide the gear box back away from the torque tube.

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As you can see by the photos above,  you simply first need to remove the plastic trim piece around the trunk latch before you can pull the carpeted piece up that sits in the trunk well.  You will need a Philips screw driver or a motorized tool of your choosing. You’ll also need this to remove the well itself. This is assuming if you keep stuff in your trunk you have removed it, including a spare tire if you have one.

Next is the actual trunk well itself, again a Philips but you’ll also need an 8mm because there are some studs that come through with nuts on them.  The studs should come up at the bottom of the well closest to the latch.

In the last photo above you can see exactly four holes (those are the 8mm studs) at the bottom and two on the side. On the sides its philips and sometimes you need to pull the insulation away to get to them like this:

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When you are finished you pull the well out and set it aside. You should see this heat shield next:

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In order to take the heat shield out of the way. You have to get under the car. Now I’m assuming if you are at home or have your own garage you should already have the entire car about 2′-3′ in the air. Whether cradling or jack stands, you’ll want to be able to put a creeper under the car and slide back and forth. You’ll also want to be able to drop the entire exhaust to slide it out. So you need to get the car in a position that makes it easiest on you.

When you get under the car you should remove the rear valance, it’s the one below.  It will be easier after removing the valance, which is basically torx head bolts, to then remove the exhaust before we remove the heat shield.  The 4200 is a bit different how it detaches as there are other bolts inside of the valance on either side. Whereas the pic below just shows torx heads on the outside parameter and sides.

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Front Sway Bar and Exhaust

Next we need to remove the front cross member and sway bar in order to drop the entire exhaust out of the way. 20160323_17210920160323_17210720160323_172138 20160323_172705 20160323_172940

The first two photos above show the support cross member that has to be dropped. It’s two, 13mm bolts, on either side that needs to be removed. After doing so, pry it down and remove it. It should be concave and must be put back the same way.

Next you are looking at detaching the front sway bar. You don’t need to remove it, you can just let it hang out of the way. Both caps are easy to spot in the next photos above. I cannot remember but I think they are 14-15 mm. Remove these and drop the sway bar down.

Here is another photo with the cross member and sway bar dropped:

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Next we need to drop the exhaust:

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Unfortunately, this photo is blurred. But you can basically see that each manifold just before the secondary cats have two bolts. They are hex head bolts and need to be removed.

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Here in this photo above on the top right hand side you will see a metal bracket attached by the secondary cat. It’s 13 mm and is holding each cat in the same area. They need to be loosened to drop the exhaust down.

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There’s brackets attaching the rear part of the exhaust manifold to the gear box like above. Those also need to be detached. There’s one on either side.

Lastly, you’ll need to remove the pipes from the rear boxes like so, it’s 15mm on each box. Just rock and twist them out:

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Removed and out of the way it will look like this:

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Okay, now lets get that heat shield out of the way:

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8mm nuts on these studs, the front ones are easy, the ones toward the rear of the car will be a bit more difficult. Use a wobble socket with wobble/swivel extensions it will help out. Then fold up the heat shield a bit to get it out of the way. Remove it from the car being careful not to scratch the paint on the rest of the rear valance.

Torque Tube and Gearbox

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So you are looking at 8 15mm nuts on each side to the torque tube. In order to reach the 15mm nuts on the top part of the torque tube toward the gear box you need an “S” wrench like this one.  However, toward the front you can just use a couple of long extensions with swivel/wobbles like these photos below. Obviously, the impact is optional. You can also get to the top bolts on the other side with an “S” wrench as well:

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What you’ll want to do is detach the torque tube closest to the gear box first.  You’re not dropping it yet. You will just be detaching it in order to get the gear box ready to slide back out of the sub-frame cradling. Additionally, since you are close to the floor already you can get a jack stand to support the torq tube so it doesn’t hit the floor when you remove it from the gearbox.

Next before we separate the gearbox we need to remove the mounting bolts to the Emergency brake. In order to do so, if you are under the car, you should have it in the air anyway. You can not have the emergency brake engaged to loosen the hardware. It will create too much stress on the cable if it’s engaged.

Here are some photos of what you will need to be loosening:

20160324_124835 20160324_124841 20160324_124855If you have a 4200’s series car, the E brake will be attached to the Torque Tube. You’ll have to reach around on top, and you’ll also have it bolted into the slot of the side of the torque tube. The GS you only need to disconnect the hangers and brackets. The last picture is the hanger above the gearbox. You need to make sure and detach it or you’ll have a heck of a time getting the gear box out.  Here’s a photo of the one above the gear box that was bent when it was done not realizing it was still there:

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Next, you’ll go around to reach up into the trunk area. You will see the connecting harness to the gearbox on the left side of the car like so:

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Now, you will also see the rear cross member in this photo. But before you loosen those you’ll need to detach the half shafts on either side of the gear box going out to your rear wheels. Unfortunately I don’t have photos for that specifically, but it’s okay because you’ll clearly see where they attach. You’ll need a 13mm socket or wrench. If your car is in neutral it will make it that much easier. Just spin the rear tires to rotate around to the next bolt.  Once you are finished push the half shafts out of the way. You don’t have to worry about removing them.

Next is the rear cross member, four 13 mm bolts on either side, but also remember to detach the heat shield on the right side that folds around it. You should have a jack under the gear box. Once you complete this you’ll pry apart where the torque tube is in front of the gear box. This will push the gear box rear-ward in order to separate it. The cradling will support the gear box as you continue to pull it rear-ward and pivot it out of the cradling. If you feel you need a little more space you can un-bolt the sub-frame bolts, 3 on either side to give you more. You don’t need to completely remove them. Here’s what you’ll have when done:

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Again you should have already had the jack stand holding the back of the torque tube up. You can just slide the gear box out of the way as a unit.

You will see the hydraulic line running down the torque tube. I don’t think I mentioned disconnecting this from right under the gear box above but it’s a quick disconnect similar to what you’d see on an air compressor. Just push it back and it will detach.  Running down the torque tube is 10mm nuts holding the hydraulic line that need to be unbolted before you can take the torque tube down.

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 Once you’ve done so, you can detach the other bolts on the torque tube. Place a jack to support the front part.  Pry it apart from the bell housing and lower it down. Remember this is heavy!

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 Bell Housing and Clutch Removal

Next up you’ll need to unplug the F1 position sensor wire on the right hand side of the bell housing. I usually just wind the hydraulic line up and wire tie it together to get it out-of-the-way. F1 position sensor wire below.

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Next you’ll need to get that swivel/wobble end ready again for the top bell housing bolts.  Work your way around until you have them all.

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Once you get them all out, just make sure the heat shield is out of the way above the bell housing when you start prying it apart, it will take some persuasion to get it apart. The heat shield begins to sag down a little over time. Just take the end of a hammer and press up.  It bends fairly easy.

When you are done this is what you should have:

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Next you will have the pressure plate and clutch still on the flywheel:

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You should notice nine (9) different hex head bolts around the outside diameter of the pressure plate. DO NOT try and take those out one at a time. You will strip the last couple of bolt holes with the remaining bolts as you take them out. Since you’ll want to resurface the flywheel this would be a terrible situation when you go to reinstall the new pressure plate and flywheel.

What you will do is take your 5mm or 5.5 mm hex head socket, and go clockwise. or counterclockwise. Slowly loosen each bolt about a half a turn. Walk it around just like this to slightly release the tension of the pressure plate to remove it.  When it’s off you will have the flywheel like below.

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No special tricks for this. Take a socket and take the bolts off, and tap the flywheel off. Be careful as well, it has a bit of weight to it like the pressure plate and friction discs do.

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The final step will be your spigot bearing- in the U.S. we usually call it the Pilot bearing. If you don’t have a pilot bearing puller, don’t fret, let me teach you an alternative method.

Basically this method is a way to apply a kind of hydraulic pressure to the back of the Spigot bearing to press it out of the crank shaft. Some guys like to use grease which is going to be really messy. I like to use bread because it’s less messy and you don’t need an air tight seal so the grease doesn’t blow back on you.

So here’s how you’ll do it. Take black electrician’s tape, or a good holding tape like this. Wrap it around your 3/8″ socket extension until it barely fits into the hole in the middle of the spigot bearing.

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Next shove bread into the center of the spigot bearing hole until you cannot get anymore in:

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Next take a hammer and put the extension right into the hole, and hammer the bread into it. Take the extension out, and put more bread in. Repeat over and over again until the Spigot pops out like this:

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Then just clean all of the bread out of the hole. If you’d like, take your new spigot bearing that you have and get a socket that covers the outside edge of the bearing. Now flip the socket around where the rachet would normally go, and hammer the new one into place.  It’s supposed to be really snug, so don’t lubricate this at all, in order to get it into the crank.

F1 Position Sensor and Thrust Bearing Removal

When you flip the bell housing up, the first thing you are going to see is the center shaft coming through the middle, the thrust bearing sitting on the sleeve, and the F1 position sensor with the wiring coming out.

The earlier model 4200’s don’t have the star set up like this where there are 5 hex bolts at each point to release. This one is from a GS so it does have it like this. A Quattroporte should also look like this. If it’s a GranTurismo S F1 car, the F1 position sensor will be off to the side a bit.  Let me show you the difference- this photo is the GS/Facelift/Quat bell housing:

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This one below is the really early model 4200’s assembly:

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 Before loosening up the hex bolts at the five points you will need to detach the hydraulic lines going to the slave cylinder of the thrust bearing. Additionally loosen the bolts holding the F1 position sensor wire in place.

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After you pull the lines out you can remove the 5 bolts that are at each point of the star in the bell housing. Then remove that assembly, it will look like this:

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The photo above is how you will do the later models, however, if you have the earlier model without the star mounting, this is what you’ll need to do:

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Take the two opposing bolts out on either side of the base of the thrust/slave cylinder sleeve.

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Then the thrust bearing mounting bolts:
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Please again note you will not have to go through this with the star mounting in the later models.

After you loosen these, you will be able to slightly clock the slave cylinder sleeve in order to get to the hex head mounting bolt underneath it. This older design was a bit of a hassle as you can see. But when you’re done this is what you’ll have:

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Now that you have this apart, you can remove the F1 position sensor and it’s mounting base from the bottom of the assembly:

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Tips for Installation

The magnet protruding from the bottom of the slave cylinder is a very important piece. This is what the F1 position sensor slides over in order to make the hall effect sensor work. Additionally, do not forget, this is what tells the NCR what position the thrust bearing is in. It transmits the data for clutch wear, PIS, and a host of other functions.

The pin must be pressed out, or you can remove it with a hammer and pin of like size. When you put this back on the new thrust bearing, that screw head ALWAYS faces forward, regardless if it’s a Ferrari or Maserati.

A small digression on this topic. Not long ago I helped a gentleman with his GTS F1 car. The car wasn’t shifting correctly, and throwing F1 position sensor codes. He took it apart and thankfully he sent pictures to me. The clutch had been replaced not long ago. At first, my thoughts centered around the F1 position sensor being faulty. When I received the photos I could tell right away, they had installed this magnet backwards. That, we believe, was the actual culprit though he replaced the sensor anyway. Magnets do have poles, don’t reverse them by placing the magnet backwards. Here are some photos showing what I am explaining:

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I normally do not use the OEM thrust bearing from Maserati. They had various issues to begin with, and I feel Hill Engineering makes a more trustworthy component.

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When you get ready to put this back together, I am kind of hoping you paid attention to how it came apart. If not here are a couple of pics to help out.

This photo is how the springs should sit in the back of the thrust bearing. Because they can fall out if you’re not careful, it’s best to post these:

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Flywheel Resurfacing

Most people think they have to purchase a new flywheel in these cars in order to complete the full service. I know mechanics that merely clean off the old one and re-install. That’s one extreme. The other is to purchase a new flywheel.

You can get away with not doing anything to the flywheel at all. I don’t recommend it.  These flywheels develop hot spots because of the F1 system and how it engages. This is especially true when the PIS point is high and it slips more off the line. Maybe some pictures would be better to show you. Here are two flywheels from two different F1 Maseratis:

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Hot spots in flywheels will cause the friction discs not to engage the full surface of the flywheel face. It’s basically hardened metal in those areas where increased heat was created.

When flywheels are resurfaced minute amounts of metal are taken from the face, and run out is checked. This positively removes any hot spots and additionally removes any micro cracking on the surface as well. This will affect where the PIS of the car will be set but any tech that knows how to set the PIS, will be unconcerned about this. Before I forget most machine shops will already see where the pressure plate mounts around the outside edge and will take the same amount off here to make sure it’s all done uniformly. If you’re concerned, make sure you mention this to them when you bring it in.

Here are those same flywheels after being machined, hot tanked, and checked for run out:

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Please notice the difference in thickness of the top flywheel from the one just below it.  The top flywheel is from an early Spyder. The flywheel weighs about twice as much as the one below it. The one below it is from a later model GS. Flywheel resurfacing will only cost about $100.

Clutch balancing comes up from time to time. Here’s my recommendation. If you have the heavy flywheel get the clutch and flywheel dynamically balanced together at a machine shop. If you have the smaller flywheel don’t worry about it and follow the service manual and clock the factory balancing marks 180 degrees apart from each other.  Below is picture of a dynamically balanced flywheel. I don’t want to draw this out by talking about tolerance stacking and why it would be beneficial for one and not necessarily the other. I can state I’ve had both tested at machine shops. The thicker ones tolerances were a bit more than the thinner one. I was specifically told not to waste money on the thinner flywheels, but the thicker ones benefitted more from being balanced together with the clutch assembly. I bring all this up because they sell kits to balance the flywheel in the car. I can say with certainty they are not necessary, and I’ve seen people charged for them when the dealership knew they would not use them.

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I mentioned clocking the factory marks 180 degrees from each other. When you take the flywheel in make sure they score it so it’s not hot tanked off . But here are the marks on both the flywheel and the pressure plate. It’s the yellow and white lines. When you open the new box of the clutch/pp you will see the factory mark right on the front face of the pressure plate.

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As you can imagine, this has been a very long post and I’ve been waiting to say this. The rest of installation, is the reverse of how it was removed. I think I’ve covered everything I could to help out.

Please feel free to contact me if you have a special situation or need consultation on a specific issue.

F1 and E Gear System Actuators

 

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Again I must mention that we are going to address how this references Maseratis, very specifically, Maserati Gran Sports, Quattroportes, 4200’s, and the Gran Turismo S F1. But please also know this is applicable to Ferrari and E Gear as well, their systems are not that different, and many times use the same components. Some are in different positions and look slightly different but perform the same function.

Description

Let’s start off with a basic description of what we have in these cars as a whole. First, it’s known as a robotized gearbox control system. It is not an automatic transmission, it’s not even “Automatic” like, just because it has an “Auto” setting. The gear-box is a standard transmission gear box, it has shift forks, and is identical to a regular 3 pedal (clutch, brake, and fuel pedal) car. There isn’t any difference.   The real difference is you have the highly advanced technology, or a robotized gearbox control system controlling the physical movement of the clutch engagement, and the shifting of this car.  The system is composed of an electro-hydraulic servo system which manages the gearshift and clutch operation.

There are about 6 parts to this system as it relates to the actual gear box, and how it shifts:

  • 1.) Gearbox housing
  • 2.) High Pressure pump, commonly referred to as the F1 pump or E Gear pump. We will pair this with the Hydraulic Reservoir. As the pump receives the fluid from this.
  • 3.)Power unit. This is the 6 solenoid valves, pressure sensor, pressure relief valve, check valve, and bypass screw. (The heart of the system)
  • 4.)Hydraulic Pressure Accumulator (It stores the hydraulic pressure created by the F1 pump similar to the way an air compressor tank stores the air from an air compressor pump.
  • 5.)Hydraulic Gearshift Actuator (This literally changes the shift forks of the gearbox as the solenoids are fired for the different gear selections of the system).
  • 6.)The NCR or the Gearbox control unit, that controls the complete system by using a strategy which is based on driver inputs and various vehicle parameters.

Today we are going to be focusing on the actual Hydraulic Gearshift Actuator itself.

Hydraulic Actuator

The function of the Actuator again is to activate the gearshift forks in order to drive the gear engagement and selection movements. Basically what this does is shift the car like you would if you were in a manual transmission car.

So say for example,  you are at a stop sign sitting in neutral in a normal standard transmission car, you push the clutch in, physically with your right hand (left for UK) you move the gear shift lever over to first gear.   Well the part you cannot see as you do this, are the cables/lines attached to the side of the gear box pushing or pulling the gearshift forks in the direction it needs to go for the gear you are selecting or engaging. Let’s look at some photos as it’s applicable to these cars.

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The top photo is a picture of the gearbox where the hydraulic actuator mounts to it.  As you can clearly see the shift forks through the opening line up with the armature of the hydraulic actuator beneath it. In this example, both the actuator and gearbox are in neutral.

Parts of the Actuator

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 I do not know how clear the picture above is but I think it will be enough for a bit of an overview.  The parts are:

  • Actuator (there is actually two actuators that the diagram above doesn’t show)
  • Cam
  • Hairpin Duct
  • Gearshift Command Shaft
  • Bushing

As the pressurized  fluid is released  by the solenoids it comes through the hydraulic high pressure lines to the top part of the Hydraulic Actuator. What happens here is the least understood about the Actuator itself.  Now first of all I mentioned only one actuator is titled in the diagram above. That diagram wasn’t provided to show all the internal parts of an actuator. I will show more of that below.

Here’s another thing I need to mention. I am referencing the Actuator as a whole, or the Actuators’ housing/encasing and the individual actuators that provide the function of actuating when the pressure is supplied to those chambers. Please don’t be confused.

So let me see if I can show you the two actuators that are actually inside the “Actuator” or actuators’ housing, and explain them.

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A quick look at the photos above. The two brass objects you see in the photos are actually the two actuator end pieces with seals held in with “C” clips.  The colored diagram above only shows the smaller of the two. The smaller of the two operates the turning/rotating action of the gearshift command shaft through the hair pin duct.  This controls the selection or clocking of the Actuator finger. So for instance, if you were in a three pedal car. This would be like you going from where the “1-2” gears are at in the middle of the shift gate to pushing it over one to where “3-4” are, or all the way over to where “5-6” are. You are selecting where you what the shift finger in the shift gate to be before you engage either of those gears.  We will get really indepth with this below.

Now the bigger of the actuators not shown in the diagram, controls the actual engagement, it’s the horizontal movement that engages the gear shift forks in the gear box. Again we will get into this in-depth below but to follow our example above, you selected “1-2” or “3-4”, well this actuator moves the gear command shaft itself horizontally left or right to engage 1st or 2nd gear or into 3rd or 4th gear.

More photos:

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Above is a photo of the actuator piece they don’t show, the bigger of the two, in the diagram. It’s the one that has the hairpin duct attached to it as shown in the lower photo of the two.

The top photo shows two brass type end caps in the middle of the photo. You’ll see the outside seals that keep the pressurized hydraulic fluid in the chamber. This actuator is still attached to the gearshift command shaft, but it actually unbolts from it right at where the inner C clip is sitting in the top photo.

The lower photo above also shows the cam of the upper actuator that turns or clocks the gearshift command shaft through the hairpin duct. Here are some photos of the upper/smaller actuator.

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Basically the seals and internals as they sit inside the Actuator housing is the same for the smaller and larger one. They just provide different functions as the hydraulic fluid is applied in the chamber itself.  Please note in the photo below I took off the other brass type end cap. There are two just like the bigger actuator with seals.

Selection and Engagement

Selection: The gearshift command shaft has 4 possible positions separated by 15 degree angles it can rotate to.  Again see the first of the photo way above of the four shift forks. Selection is the rotary movement up or down to the individual shift forks. The smaller hydraulic actuator converts the fluid pressure supplied by triggering the gear selection solenoids or valves into a rotary movement in order to move the gearshift finger to that end. The gear selection solenoids are EV3, EV4, and EV5.

Engagement: Once the rotation of the hydraulic finger has been obtained to the desired shift fork, the gearshift command shaft must then be push forward or backward to engage the gear for that fork. Again this is done through the stored pressure activated by the solenoids to the larger of the two actuators above.

The finger has three possible positions from this point: Even number gears and reverse gear/Neutral/Odd number gears. The engagement solenoids are EV1 for Odd number gears and EV2 for Even number gears (and reverse), both of them ON together for neutral.

Reading through this you would believe this is somehow accomplished slowly but it really isn’t. It happens very quickly, abruptly, and almost simultaneously. As a matter of fact, there is always at least 580 psi or 40 bar of hydraulic pressure in the system as it operates and goes as high as 725 psi or 50 bar at the beginning of the F1 pump being cycled.

Okay lets get into the brass tacks on how all of this works and functions with some pictures.

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The photo above is the top part of the Actuator where the hydraulic pressure lines are banjo bolted to it.[ Small digression, on Ferrari, and Lamborghini these Actuators are positioned upside down from how you’d see it in a Maserati. Some are slightly different shaped. That’s unimportant to how it functions as an actuator as it’s all sealed and doesn’t matter how it’s positioned. ]

Let me get you oriented for the photo above, because I am going to tell you what each hole is used for.

The black “Selespeed” dust cover is usually covering on the right side of the photo. It looks like this when it’s on:

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You can see the 6mm nut size on the smaller of the actuators hanging out there. The position of the Actuator as a whole above is exactly what it would look like sitting on the side GS/4200/Quat gear box, looking down on it from the top.

You have 5 chamber banjo bolt holes. Starting at the top going left to right, the three holes are:

  • The EV#3 solenoid valve high pressure line hole
  • The EV#4 solenoid valve high pressure line hole
  • The EV#5 solenoid valve high pressure line hole

Left to right on the bottom is

  • The EV#1 solenoid valve high pressure line hole
  • The EV#2 solenoid valve high pressure line hole.

Here’s how it works in the vehicle:

  • In order for Neutral to be selected and engaged:
  • EV#1 #2#3#5 have to be on
  • In order for 1st to be selected and engaged
  • EV#1#3#5 have to be on
  • In order for 2nd to be selected and engaged
  • EV#2#3#5 have to be on
  • In order for 3rd to be selected and engaged
  • EV#1#3#4 #5 have to be on
  • In order for 4th to be selected and engaged
  • EV#2#3#4#5 have to be on
  • In order for 5th to be selected and engaged
  • EV#1#4#5 have to be on
  • In order for 6th to be selected and engaged
  • EV#2#4#5 have to be on
  • Finally in order for Reverse to be selected and engaged
  • EV#2 and #3 have to be on.

As it relates to the photo above the three top holes or EV3-5 banjo bolt holes go directly to the smaller actuator that selects/clocks (up and down movement) the gearshift command shaft actuator finger.

The two holes on the bottom go to the larger actuator that engages  (or gives left to right movement) the gearshift command shaft.

Since the actuator I photographed was messed up I cannot show you how the top or smaller actuator moves out and in to clock the hair pin. I can show you how the lower one moves just as a general reference.

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In the middle would be “N” you can see where the bottom actuator arm is sitting. Both EV#1 and 2 have to be on to achieve this.

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This would be Even gears engaged or EV#2 on pushes the Engagement Actuator all the way to the right.

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This is odd gears engaged, EV#1 solenoid is “on” to achieve all odd gears.

 

Potentiometers

You might be wondering, what tells the NCR or the gear box ecu that the Hydraulic Actuator is actually in the gear it selected and engaged? After all just because you open the valves doesn’t necessarily mean the actuator finger will turn. It can and does at times malfunction correct?

The hydraulic actuator is equipped with two passive type sensors designed to monitor the actual position of the actuator finger.  One sensor monitors the selection stroke while the other checks the engagement stroke. Both are hall effect sensors that convert the output signal of the hall ceramic element into a 0-5V DC signal. A failure of these sensors will disable the engine from starting. If the car’s NCR doesn’t receive the appropriate signal it disables the car as a safety feature. Alternatively, this is also the signal the NCR uses to show the driver the gear the vehicle is in through the indicator window on the dash.

Here are two photos showing those potentiometers when they are removed from the Actuator housing:

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Here is where they sit:

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If you look at how the potentiometers” armatures sit they look quite odd, but that’s for good cause and reason. If you look at the very bottom photo there’s a groove in the gearshift command shaft where both of the armature legs sit. When the gearshift command shaft is clock/rotated this pushes on the  “shift” selection Potentiometer. When the gearshift command shaft is pushed left to right this operates on the “gear” engagement potentiometer.

Maserati Expertise