Long term test: 35’000 km in a Ferrari 550 Maranello
I first mounted a set of Bridgestone Expedia S02, but their round profile did do well on a few rare track days. I switched then to two consecutive sets of Bridgestone RE050, an excellent choice for the car. They are durable (18’000km !) and perform well on the road.
Maintenance costs have been reasonable thus far. Yearly maintenance has been limited to a service/oil change at less than 1000 CHF, and every 4 year the big service with timing belts for 2500 CHF. These indications of course only apply for an independent specialist, not for the official dealer network. Amounts would otherwise be doubled or worse, owing to a far higher hourly rate. Brake rotors are still the original items and the front brake pads were replaced at 43’000 km.
The Ferrari 550 Maranello is a dependable and reliable car. Unlike other Ferrari models – V8 in particular, it does not suffer from particular weaknesses. Leather has to be maintained with care and protected from the sun, making a tailor designed Covercraft sun shield a worthy investment. Regular cleaning and car are necessary to avoid a disaster.
Damper actuator. The 550 Maranello utilizes the same rotating actuators as the 355 to change the damping rate between Normal and Sport mode. The motor shafts tend to break, requiring a replacement of the part. European prices exceed 1000 CHF per unit (there are four in the car), and substantial savings can be achieved if ordering from a US distributor of original parts.
Lambda sensor. A weak point on Ferraris (the part is common to numerous models), one of the 4 lambda sensors started to drift, creating Check Engine Light warnings. The part is not particularly expensive (349 CHF), but the time needed to isolate and replace the faulty sensor more significant.
Clutch pedal hydraulic circuit. In April 2012, the clutch pedal suddenly gains a lot of dead travel, but recovers it after a purge. Same episode again in November 2012, with a clutch pedal that vanishes all the way to the floor, making gear changes problematic, but again recovers after a purge. With no sign of hydraulic fluid leakage, decision will be made to replace the master cylinder first, but the same problem came right back. The last resort was to change the throw-out bearing and seals. The clutch itself is still the original part and shows no sign of wear at 55’000 km.
AC switch. The push button allowing to disengage the air conditioning compressor started gradually to refuse to hook in the pressed OFF position. The only way to stop the AC compressor is then to turn the fan off.
Headlights relay. Progressively, the switch to road lights became erratic. I feared at first a glitch in the command stick, and then the car started to refuse to flash or switch to headlights. A deeper investigation revealed that not one but two cheep Bosch relays had failed (they are common to some Audi and VW cars). An easy DIY fix once you know what you are looking for.
550 or 575 ?
The question comes frequently from amateurs in the market for a Maranello. The 575 brought a long list of changes, starting with 200 cm3 in displacement and 30 hp. The dashboard was completely redesigned, and the suspension settings considerably softened. The 575 was also the first V12 Ferrari to over the robotized manual F1 gearbox with paddle shiftting. Esthetically, styling remains largely unchanged. The front facia design has been simplified, the design of the headlight clusters has been revised and the rims have a more modern, sharper design. The air intake on the hood is slightly different, but this is harder to spot. In standard form, the 575 is more comfortable but suspension settings are too soft. Owing to the novelty of F1 paddle shifters at the time, manual gearbox cars are rare, and the first generation F1 system can be clumsy. Specialists also say that electronic problems are more frequent on the 575 in comparison with the 550.