When I bought my 2004 Lamborghini Gallardo, it wasn’t for YouTube clicks. If anything, Lamborghini ownership is so played out on YouTube that it might have adversely affected my channel — but I didn’t care. A perfect Gallardo with the coveted gated manual transmission is what I wanted, and unlike my usual strategy of buying junk, I set out to buy the nicest example I could find. My hope was for a drama-free ownership experience and to maybe show that I’m not an idiot when it comes to car-buying all the time — but it seems that this perfect Lamborghini got cooties from the other hoopties in the garage.
It’s been almost six months since I bought my 3,800-mile, showroom-quality example of Lamborghini perfection, and I was thrilled to trade away my 2012 McLaren MP4-12C toward it. I didn’t care that the Lamborghini was dramatically slower and way behind in technology. Ditching the twin turbos and infotainment systems to row my own gears and ignore the cassette deck stereo was exactly what I wanted — but I also wanted a car that was more serviceable. In my first video, I boasted that nearly anyone can work on a Lamborghini of this era because it’s full of Volkswagen and Audi parts, and diagnostics are made easy, as it operates on a similarly generic diagnostic software. So far into my ownership, though, this Gallardo is trying to prove me wrong.
It started early into my ownership, when I let my friend Freddy “Tavarish” Hernandez drive the car so that he could experience what an unmolested, pristine Gallardo felt like. He kept remarking at how slow it was compared to the modified, twin-turbo Gallardo that he rebuilt himself, paying little attention to the fact that, unlike his race car, my Gallardo was actually pleasant to drive. After his spirited joyride, we stopped for gas. Back in the driver’s seat, I was immediately greeted with the warm, familiar glow of the check engine light. This caused Freddy to laugh uncontrollably.
No big deal, I thought, as pretty much any scan tool could pull codes, and I could pick up parts from the Volkswagen dealer if need be. Turns out, though, that this older Gallardo runs on older, Lamborghini-based software, and none of my mechanic’s scan tools could pull any codes. If I had bought a Gallardo that was a few years newer, this wouldn’t have been a problem. Freddy offered to send me his laptop with a bootlegged version of Lamborghini’s diagnostic software, but once he got home, he couldn’t get it to work. The cheapest proper Lamborghini diagnostic computer I could find online was $10,000 used — so I was really out of luck.
One of the main reasons I had gotten rid of my McLaren was the annoyance of not having a dealer who could repair the car within 300 miles. This meant that despite having a factory authorized extended warranty, I was stuck without the car for weeks at a time, as it needed to be sent away, and I had to deal with the expense of shipping. I now faced a similar prospect with my Lamborghini, which I bought specifically to avoid drama like this. So I ended up doing what the average 2004 Hyundai Elantra owner does when the check engine light comes on: I ignored it. For months, warnings from both engine banks popped on and off, depending on the car’s mood, and I put more than 1,000 miles on it without any problems. I figured that I would wait until something serious broke or it was due for its annual service to ship it off to a Lamborghini dealer — but then I finally caught a bit of luck.
After my main mechanic, the Car Wizard, refused to work on the BMW 760Li I had recently purchased, rather than heed his advice of not dumping money into another lost cause, I sought out a different mechanic. My new enabler, Johnny, had just opened up a German specialty shop just a few miles from my house and was eager for work. I happened to be driving my Gallardo when I stopped by to check on his progress last week, and after telling him of my troubles, he mentioned that his expensive new scan tool could probably pull the fault codes. I was skeptical, but I let him try anyway — and sure enough, it worked. He was seeing stored codes for tank ventilation and an exhaust temperature sensor, and with a few minutes of Googling, we were able to determine the parts needed to make the repair.
Unfortunately, this Lamborghini still wanted to prove me wrong, as neither of the broken parts is shared with any Audi or Volkswagen. The tank vent valve, which is triggering one of the codes, is a Lamborghini-specific part that only interchanges with later Lamborghini Diablo and early Murcielago models. The other code was due to a faulty exhaust temperature sensor, a part that’s made exclusively for the Gallardo and costs $250. Combined with the $150 vent valves, I’m looking at $400 in parts — which isn’t awful.
Still, in order to prove that I’m somewhat right and that literally anyone can work on these cars, I decided to install these parts myself, even though I’m the worst mechanic in the world. Johnny was kind enough to let me use his facilities — and made sure that the nearby hospital was on standby. Other than the valves being a little difficult to reach, it really wasn’t that hard, though. Now I just need to build an entirely separate garage for the Gallardo so it doesn’t catch anything else from the Hooptie Fleet.