AFTER SPEAKING with service managers at several authorized Ferrari dealers and independent shops, I can confirm the 458, like all modern Ferraris, is practically bulletproof by supercar standards. Mechanical problems are few and far between, reliability is excellent, even service costs are low. Thanks to the elimination of Ferrari’s dreaded cam belts and the high labor costs to replace them, an annual service only costs around $2,500—a bargain in the exotic-car world.
As is often the case with modern exotics, electronics are the fly in the ointment. The 458 features dozens of computers talking to one another, and whenever those communications get interrupted or confused, warning codes arise. Tracking down electrical and computer issues can be challenging, and can be done right only by a dealer or a qualified shop with the latest $25,000 Leonardo computer (the older SD2 and SD3 are now outdated).
The longterm question, of course, is how problematic will an exotic with interconnected computer systems be when the car is out of warranty and parts are no longer available from Ferrari? Unless someone figures out a way to manufacture or repair all of those computers, it’s unlikely to be good news.
In the meantime, the 458 remains a fantastic exotic to own and drive. Just make sure you keep it in warranty for as long as possible. —Michael Sheehan
FAILING INSTRUMENT PANELS
The 458’s electronic instrument-panel display has had issues with its power supplies and motherboard. Ferrari’s fix is to install a brand-new instrument panel, which costs $12,000. I did find one shop, F.A.I. in Costa Mesa, California, that will rebuild the original panel or supply a re-made board for $2,000.
The 458’s Getrag dual-clutch gearbox has proven mostly bulletproof; most transmission issues are caused by electronics. The most common problem is a faulty speedometer sensor, a minor part that is not sold separately. If it fails while the car is still under warranty, Ferrari will install an all-new transaxle. For those cars out of warranty, most independent shops have found a source to buy a replacement sensor, turning a $20,000 transmission replacement into a $5,000 repair.
Some 458s have suffered clutch issues, almost all of which relate to various electronics. The most common fixes are resetting the clutch-positioning sensors and updating the TCU software. Happily, these repairs have proven pretty inexpensive, generally falling in the $1,000 range.
The 458 has a healthy appetite for tires. Expect to replace the rubber every 10,000 miles or so, with the rear rubber wearing faster than the front. Also, these cars’ 20-inch aluminum front wheels are only modestly protected from impacts by their low-profile tires, and thus can be dented or bent by potholes.
Replacing carbon-ceramic brake discs is painfully expensive, at around $25,000 for all four (including new pads). Happily, the discs have proven to have a very long life in street use; none of the roughly 100 cars in my survey had needed replacements.
Time will tell if Ferrari ever resolves the dreaded, long-running sticky switches problem (the coating on some interior plastic pieces becomes gooey and starts to rub off on hands, clothing, etc.), especially on cars that are stored without being used for long periods.
The leather that covers the dashboard can shrink if the car is regularly left in the sun, exposing the underlying foam and metal. It often costs around $5,000-6,000 to remove the dash, recover it with new leather, and reinstall it.
The very earliest 458s suffered from a faulty adhesive in the wheel arches that could overheat and catch fire. Only one car in the U.S. was affected, and all 458s should have had their wheel-arch liners repaired under warranty.