The next thing on my list of items to address with the F355 was the broken ashtray. It had been broken since I had purchased the vehicle.
Basically, the top mould that runs at the base of the ashtray (closest to the rear of the car) had snapped in two locations, as you can see above, basically leaving it detached and floating free which is never good.
The problem is that the moulding at that location is pretty flimsy. The issues is that if you want to work on the centre console you firstly need to remove the ashtray, which provides an opportunity for it to snap. The other way that it gets snapped (as I found out after trying to installed replacement ashtray) is if you tighten the screw holding it in place too tight. Doing that pulls the body of the ashtray down while the top moulding remains seated on the surrounding console. Thus, if the fastened screw is too tight the moulding is being stressed and sooner (in my case) or later it snaps.
The other way that the moulding can snap is when you insert or remove the ashtray cover as this takes a little bit of pushing and shoving to align it correctly and if you are not careful – snap – goes the moulding.
Once the screw at the bottom of the tub is removed the ashtray and the small console to its right will come loose.
To free the ashtray totally you will need to remove the connection (green wire above) at the bottom of the lighter as well as the lamp that runs in the chamber on the side of the lighter (yellow wire above).
With the ashtray totally remove you will see that the lighter is held in place by a metal end cap that houses a spring.
The spring pushed against the underside of the ashtray at one end and against the metal cap at the other keeping the lighter assembly in place.
To disassemble this you need to push the metal housing towards the bottom of the ashtray to compress the spring. While the spring is compressed you should be able to turn the metal housing like a screw.
You will notice that the base of the metal housing is keyed with a number of metal prongs on the lighter assembly that push against the metal housing to keep things in place. Once the metal housing can be rotated, you can turn the housing so these key prongs line up with larger slots in the housing which allow the prong to pass through and thereby release the metal housing from the lighter assembly.
There where some slight differences between the lighter assembly prongs that were part of my car (previous image) and
the replacement I obtained above. Not much difference but my original prongs have a slight indent which seemed to make them sit in their locations better.
Once the metal housing is free from the lighter assembly, you can remove the spring, the lighter assembly and the perspex illumination ring from the ashtray.
The ashtray lid is removed by manoeuvring the arms of the lid free from the guide holes in the tub.
(the arms of the lid have a knob at the end)
(which locates in each of these holes and allows the lid to slide open and closed).
Now you should be left with all the parts separate and nothing attached to the ashtray tub.
If you are going to buy a new ashtray then the part number you’ll need is 64234600, which will include the ashtray lid. Now, interestingly, the ashtray lid is metal while the ashtray tub is plastic. Would have been nice if the ashtray was metal as well because they would have probably prevented the repeated snapping of of the moulding. I’ll have to look into whether I can get a metal duplicate of the tub.
The replacement ashtray I obtained as second hard so the first thing I did was give it a good scrub using dishwashing liquid to get any dirt and dust off it. I then sprayed the tube with silicon spray to rejuvenate the patristic and make it less attractive to dust. I removed my existing ashtray cover, touched up a few scratches with matt paint and then also coated it with silicon spray.
I reassembled the lighter assembly, spring and metal housing. I left the ashtray lid off which have been a mistake in hindsight. I then re-attached the wires and then inserted the ashtray lid. I then screwed the ashtray tub back into place in the car. It was only then that I noticed that the right hand side of the moulding on this replacement ashtray was also now snapped through and the left side was looking like it wasn’t far away from doing the same.
I therefore loosened off the mounting screw, thereby hopefully relieving the pressure on the, as yet, unbroken left hand side. So the replacement ashtray is in but I’m also back to square one thanks to not being careful enough. Annoying.
If you look closely at where it has snapped you will see that it is not very sturdy at all. In reality, it isn’t a case of if it will snap, it is a case of when looking at the construction.
So I now have my original snapped ashtray out of the car and I’ll try and work out how best to mend it and apply that learning to the unit that is in the car now. Simply gluing the pieces together will only allow the situation to re-occur. I need to come up with some simple and small reinforcing arrangement that I can easily implement with the unit already installed in the F355.
Annoying, but these are the things you learn with cars like this. I’ll post back when I have a solution that works.