It’s unlikely that you will be looking at a car that has not been appropriately serviced by an authorised Lamborghini dealer, but if you are looking at a left-hand-drive car, examine the paperwork closely. UK Gallardos get a three-year warranty, but privately imported cars are only covered for two years. However, customers who have made claims have reported that their issues have been rectified with the minimum of fuss.
Loosely based on the architecture of Audi’s 4.2 V8, the Gallardo’s V10 unit features bespoke conrods and pistons, and cylinder heads designed by Lamborghini and Cosworth Engineering. The result is a well engineered, strong engine, and failures are a real rarity.
The biggest issue is the oil level, or rather the correct checking of the oil level. Oil consumption should be minimal, and although the handbook quotes the possibility of a litre being consumed every 600 miles, a litre every 4000 miles is more usual. However, several owners (presumably unfamiliar with the intricacies of dry-sump lubrication) have ignored the instructions in the owner’s handbook when checking it and have overfilled it, which inevitably leads to an unscheduled dealer visit.
On the subject of lubricant, it’s absolutely vital that Agip oil is used. There have been several dealer-reported failures where engines (both for the Gallardo and Murciélago) have suffered catastrophic failures as a result of using cheaper alternatives. A new Gallardo engine costs around 60,000 Euros…
The only other thing to look out for is ‘hunting’ from the engine, usually signifying that the throttle bodies are sticking slightly. This can affect cars that have been regularly used in slow traffic, and although it is easily remedied with a simple clean-up, it’s a job best left to a dealer technician.
The same exhaust system is fitted to ’03-’05 cars and incorporates ‘noise reduction valves’. These two valves keep the engine relatively quiet at noise-test speeds, but allow for a louder note above 4000rpm. As the valve is active, a permanently quiet exhaust note may suggest a problem with the solenoid, although thus far no failures have been heard of.
Some cars may have been fitted with aftermarket sports exhausts, with Tubi and Larini the preferred choices. The fitment of these can sometimes lead to loose, rattling heat-shields, but it’s an easily resolved problem. The limited-edition SE Gallardo had a much less restrictive exhaust and is loud at all times.
The gearbox is immensely strong irrespective of whether you want the cable-operated manual or the e-gear paddle-shift. At high mileages the cable on the manual ’box may start to stretch slightly, but this is unlikely to affect even the earliest Gallardos just yet. Otherwise the manual has no known vices.
The e-gear system has three modes of operation: a normal mode, a faster and harder-hitting sport mode, and a fully automatic mode. There is also a setting for low-friction surfaces such as snow and ice.
One particular advantage of the e-gear system is that it can be easily examined by a main-dealer technician before you make your purchase. By connecting a laptop he can determine whether the clutch has had a hard life and let you know how much wear is left. This is a strongly advised course of action and may save an awful lot of worry when purchasing. Several different software upgrades were available for e-gear, as the system has benefited from continuous development. A jerky gearchange may simply indicate an early program is still in use.
As with many supercars past and present, the clutch is a potential weak point. Anyone considering a pre-owned supercar should be thinking about clutches, and the Gallardo is no exception. Early Gallardos were fitted with what is now known as the ‘A’ clutch, and some of these – though by no means all of them – proved to be extremely fragile. The ‘B’ clutch came and went rapidly, then for ’05 the ‘C’ iteration arrived, proving to be very durable. Tales of lifespans in excess of 20,000 miles are not uncommon, but don’t forget that this is a 500bhp, four-wheel-drive supercar, and clutches can be destroyed almost instantly with abuse. The latest and best clutch design is designated ‘E’ and is fitted in place of worn ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’ clutches. MY06 manual cars have a sintered type of clutch.
Despite the fact that the Gallardo can be used as a daily driver, many cars will still have low mileages and may still be on the original clutch. As driving style varies dramatically between owners, this can be a critical issue.
Gallardo transmissions are sited behind the engine, so clutch replacement does not require removal of the engine.
Some early Gallardos were prone to water ingress to the spark plugs. Lamborghini’s customer care programme installed additional bungs to the camshaft covers to cure this, and all early cars should have had this modification done by now.
The Gallardo has virtually every electronic gizmo and creature comfort you can imagine. No specific problems exist, but all should be working perfectly.
Koni’s Frequency Sensitive Dampers (FSD) are fitted to the Gallardo and should give no cause for concern. UK cars were available with a ‘lifting system’ option (August ’05 cars onwards) to allow the front ground clearance to be raised by 30mm where necessary. If this system is fitted but not used regularly, oil leakage and system failure can occur, although this won’t affect the performance of the suspension, which is on a separate hydraulic circuit. A simple inspection and test should suffice.
Some cars had front and rear anti-roll bar bush problems, but these are part of an ongoing customer care campaign and should have been replaced by a dealer free of charge.
Gallardos came with Pirelli P Zero Rossos as standard (the SE came with P Zero Corsas). Tyre wear varies depending on use; for a car exercised but not abused you should expect between 5000 and 8000 miles from the rears (295/30 ZR19) and double that from the fronts (235/35 ZR19). Budget £550 for a pair of fitted rear tyres, but shop around as prices and availability vary enormously.
Michelin Pilot Sports are an acceptable alternative, and while wear is much better than with the Italian rubber, ultimate grip is slightly lower.
The 19in wheels are extremely easy to damage, as the tyres are very low profile and so do not protrude beyond the rims. Kerbed alloys are therefore a common sight. Budget £100 plus VAT to have a wheel refurbished by a dealer (although a good independent wheel repairer can often do it for less than half that price).
The Gallardo’s brakes are massive: 365mm vented discs gripped by huge eight-piston callipers on the front, 335mm vented discs with four-piston callipers on the back. The rear discs also accommodate separate handbrake callipers. The handbrake is notoriously unreliable and the best advice is to leave a Gallardo in gear – it’s even recommended in the handbook.
Some owners have experienced brake fade in the most extreme of conditions (like track work), but on the road you will not have a problem. Despite the power being reined in, the brake discs and pads are very durable.
Its all-aluminium body means a Gallardo is easily damaged by small knocks that a steel shell would cheerfully shrug off. There have also been a few reports of corrosion at the inner upper and lower seams of the side oil-cooler vents.
Front and rear bumpers are plastic and colour-coded to the bodywork. Panel gaps should be minimal and consistent. No composite materials are used in the Gallardo’s construction.
Film-type protection is popular on these cars to protect the paintwork from stone damage. Common areas of protection include the whole of the front bumper, bottom half of the boot lid, the sills and the door mirrors. If it’s fitted, there should be no signs of the film lifting. Though not standard, most original purchasers will have been offered it as an option. Budget £600 for a fully fitted kit, if necessary.
Other things to check include the first screw, on both sides, securing the under-bonnet trim panel. These have been known to come loose, resulting in the inside paint surfaces of the buttresses becoming scratched.
The quality of the Gallardo’s interior is excellent and certainly a cut above that of Lambos of old. The interior is also the most obvious sign of Audi’s supervision of Sant’Agata’s activities. Most instruments and switchgear are sourced from the Audi parts bin, and this is no bad thing. Audi’s equipment is as well screwed together as that of any premium-brand manufacturer, and equally reliable.
The dual-zone climate control is standard in all cars. It works well and should cause no problem. The area where individual cars may vary is the entertainment system. The Gallardo came with a six-CD changer as standard, but there was also the option of a satnav system with a 7in TFT display and integrated TV, radio and MP3 player. This was a £2500 option and is well worth seeking out.
All interior trim (including the dashboard and instrument binnacles) is covered in high-quality leather. The roof and sun visors are finished in Alcantara. Some cars had optional two-tone interiors, with some trim panels matched to the body colour of the car. All trim should fit perfectly and be flawless.
Thanks to Mike Emerton for his assistance in the compilation of this feature.
Back to Lamborghini Gallardo main page