Today I learned a lot about my Maserati. Some of it was good, like how fun servicing the transmission is — and the shifter assembly is very easy to remove. Unfortunately, I learned some bad things too, like how the shifter won’t fix my transmission problems — and how one of the six previous owners of my Quattroporte let a complete imbecile work on it.
When my newly purchased 2007 Maserati Quattroporte arrived from Florida, I was actually delighted by how nicely it drove. For only $8,800, I was expecting some serious issues, which it didn’t have. But I was surprised to see a transmission fault message glowing in the instrument cluster. 2007 was the first year the Quattroporte was offered with the German 6-speed ZF automatic, which was a massive improvement from the terrible automatic manual that plagued the early years of this generation. The faults code pointed toward an error in the electronic shifter — and since the part wasn’t expensive, my mechanic, the Car Wizard, thought it would be a good place to start.
The Car Wizard also recommended a transmission service, even though there’s a sticker on these Mercedes-based ZF gearboxes saying they are "sealed for life." Not servicing a transmission would certainly shorten its life — and at 10 years old and 80,000 miles, this Quattroporte was long overdue. Lucky for us, the transmission pan at least had a drain plug, as a lot of them don’t, but like other ZF gearboxes, the Maserati doesn’t have a dipstick. In most other automatic transmission cars, the dipstick tube is also a means to refill the transmission fluid. With the ZF, mechanics are forced to pump fluid through an inlet in the bottom of the transmission until it overflows, similarly to the procedure in a manual transmission. The Car Wizard uses a giant syringe for this attached to a long hose.
The shifter replacement would have been just as easy, but upon removing the center console, it was obvious someone had been there before. Various tabs were broken, others forced wrongly into position — and even worse, a few wires had been cut. Instead of properly splicing them together, this "mechanic" crudely twisted the wires back together, then wrapped it lazily in electrical tape. The work resembled that of a teenager wiring up his first car stereo — and it didn’t last, as the wires had come loose again. Unfortunately, even after the Car Wizard properly spliced the wires back together, the fault code remained.
So we didn’t make much progress on the Maserati today, and the Wizard found even more of this shoddy wiring repairs in other places. The electrical systems on these Italian cars is finicky enough on their own — so this moronic MacGyver never should have laid hands on this car. Thankfully, wiring and electrical is the Car Wizard’s specialty, so I know it will all get fixed — eventually. Find a Maserati Quattroporte for sale