In the shop

So very early Monday morning the car made the trip across town to the Racing Red workshop. Even at such an early hour it is amazing how much traffic there is. The car travelled without incident but was beginning to complain about having to wait in traffic queues towards the end of the journey.

The diagnosis was there were no major issues and that the exhaust bypass valve can be repaired quite easily. Even better than that, Sal had been able to reattached the hose to the pipe on the frame that had been previously broken off. This meant the arrangement in the engine bay was back to being standard which was a real bonus. The problem with the bypass valve turned out to be secondary air valves (part number 148494) highlighted above. These valves allow vacuum to pass from the manifold to the vacuum tank which is then used to operate the exhaust bypass valve at the right time. They are supposed to be one way valves but as it turns out they were allowing the air to return to the manifold which decreased the vacuum pressure and thus prevented the exhaust bypass valve from opening, as it relies on a vacuum to operate. These secondary air valves were the next components that I had on my list to replace while troubleshooting the issue but it is easier to get an expert to fix it. Apart from the exhaust valve repair the other major request I had was to remount the thermocouple ECU’s back in their correct location under the Motronic controllers on either side of the car rather than remaining cable tied and flopping around. This was also completed as part of the service.

The other thing that the car needed was new tyres. Sal provided a few options but I settled on Bridgestone RE050A’s all round. The Pirelli’s were too expensive at this point in time. I was concerned that perhaps I was scrimping when it came to tyres but when I did some research on the 355 forums I found that plenty of people were happy with this tyre on their car. The only downside seems to be that it makes a bit more road noise than the Pirelli but it also has longer wear, which at this point in time is more important. A set of 4 Bridgestone RE050A’s including a wheel alignment was worth about $1,900, which is quite reasonable.

Two days later I picked the car up in the middle to the day. Immediately upon starting the car I could feel that it idled smoother. I was really keen to see whether the repair to the exhaust bypass valve had made any difference to the noise the car made at high revs on the drive back. Unfortunately, in traffic there was little chance to open it up, even a little. Again, it is utterly amazing at how much traffic there is on the roads, even during the middle of the day. Maybe it is more noticeable in a car like this but progress felt painfully slow. This annual service cost about $900 which was far less than was expected and considerably less than the last major service for my day to day vehicle. A very happy chappy with the ROI for the service I must say!

The trip back was also uneventful but while sitting in traffic or travelling along at very low speeds (on what is supposed to be a motorway) I noticed the oil temperature start to  creep up. It immediately fell back down again once the car was travelling along at normal speeds but it is yet another indication that it doesn’t like stop start traffic and operating a low speed. I’m confident that it would be fine if it had to do this but the car really gives you the feeling that it would rather be somewhere else than sitting in traffic. With that I must also sympathize.

With the car finally tucked away after the service the next item on the agenda was the third party insurance (i.e. green slip). After some research the choice was the NRMA because of other policies with them but also they ended being the cheapest by a significant amount.You obviously get more benefit from an insurer if you are already a policy holder, have other vehicle insurance with them and have been a member for over twenty years! It was interesting to compare the third party insurance of the 355 with that of my normal car (which is used for business rather than private and that does affect premiums). However, the comparison is that the 355 is about $100 cheaper (or 16% less) when it comes to third party insurance when compared to a normal hatch back. Interesting.

If you take that one step further and look at the registration cost you find that the 355 is about $145 cheaper (or 31% less) to register than a normal hatch back (again admittedly done for business). It therefore turns out that a car like the 355 is actually cheaper to register than a normal business vehicle, which is a nice surprise!

Next trip will be to hit the road to try the new rubber and repaired exhaust by pass valve. Can’t wait.

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