Sudden Brake Failure! Should I Drive My Ferrari?

No. No you shouldn’t. If Ferrari manufactured your car between 2005 and 2022, if your dealer hasn’t performed the approved recall fix, you run the risk of sudden catastrophic brake failure. And that’s not the whole story . . .

Your brakes could fail after Ferrari replaces the brake fluid reservoir cap and updates the software. As per a previous post, there’s evidence that Ferrari’s “fix” doesn’t address significant defects affecting 23,555 vehicles’ braking system(s). What’s Ferrari’s take on the issue?

Their U.S website’s Recall Information page isn’t very helpful. It doesn’t acknowledge the potentially deadly problem, nor recommend the correct course of action if and when the brake fluid warning message appears.

The logical thing to do when “Brake fluid level low. Go to dealer slowly” flashes on your Ferrari’s dash? Drive slowly to your nearest Ferrari dealer.

Car & Driver advises Ferrari owners to ignore the second part of the electronic heads-up. They advise drivers seeing the message to “pull over and wait for Ferrari Roadside Assistance to tow the vehicle to the nearest dealer.” There’s a reason for that . . .

In the class action lawsuit filed against Ferrari, plaintiff Jeffrey Rose reports that his 488 GTB’s brake fluid warning message appeared ten minutes before the brakes failed (leading to the vehicle’s submersion in his ornamental pond).

Mr. Rose says the same thing happened with his replacement 488. Less than ten minutes after a brake fluid warning his car’s brakes gave up the ghost. His report to the NHTSA referred to an incident where another Ferrari’s brakes failed. It rolled straight through a stop sign.

Think that’s scary? The NHTSA is investigating the brake failure of a Ferrari serviced and “fixed” according the recall protocol. It lost its brakes at around 100 mph without warning. And crashed. No one was seriously hurt, but the vehicle was totalled.

Ferrari F360

Yesterday, I took my 360 out for some exercise. Ferrari manufactured my car six years ahead of the recall parameters. As I came up fast on a line of traffic stopped at a light, I wondered what I’d do if my brakes failed. The word “die” sprang to mind. No run off. No barriers. Just cars and trees. That’s not a situation you want to be in. Ever.

Just ask Deutsche Bank Asia Pacific exec Robert Ebert. According to Mr. Ebert, his Ferrari 458 Spider lost its brakes before it plowed into a security guard at a car park entrance. The guard died of his injuries. A Hong Kong judge sentenced Mr. Ebert to 21 months in prison.

Robert Ebert’s crashed Ferrari 458 (courtesy

Ferrari sent an expert to testify for the prosecution, denying that the 458’s brakes were defective. Seven years later, the manufacturer publicly admitted that a brake defect problem plagues the 458, 488 and every other car Maranello’s made since the year before the Hong Kong crash.

Ferrari claims it has the solution: replace the original non-venting brake fluid reservoir cap with a venting cap and reprogram the software. [See: Ferrari – Unsafe at Any Speed?] Meanwhile, Ferrari is not recommending owners park their car until a technician fits a new brake fluid reservoir cap. Perhaps Ferrari’s legal team considers an advisory “inadvisable.” Common sense suggests a different view.

If you value your life – and the lives of passengers and other road users -sideline your 2005 – 2022 Ferrari until its gets the brake fluid reservoir cap and software fix.

Keep it sidelined until the NHTSA completes its investigation into non-cap-related brake failure. You can follow the latest theories and the feds’ progress here. And that’s the truth.

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