Welcome! Log In Create A New Profile
Celebrating 10 years of PedrosBoard!

Expect the best, and accept no substitute.

Products for your Boxster, Cayman and Carrera.
Please bear with me. A bit of history might explain my dilemma:

In August 2006, before paying $14,500 for a 2000 Boxster with 21,000 miles on it, I visited this board for advice. It seemed like an almost "too good to be true" price for the car, which was in a bank's possession. We received lots of great "yes" and "no way" feedback from this board, for which I am eternally grateful. At the time, the car's issues were mostly cosmetic except for a PPI inspection showing a weeping head gasket--rated a '2' on a scale of 5 by the mechanic. The car's initial owner (from Pembroke Pines, Florida) had driven it 18,000 miles in a little over a year. It was then sold at auction and the second owner (Iowa) put only 3,000 miles on it over the next few years. It literally sat for much of that time thanks to its owner, an Iowa City book publisher whose alcohol addition led to to dementia and loss of the car to the aforementioned bank. Factoring in all the pros and cons, we decided to go ahead with the purchase, vaguely dismissing the head gasket weep and--thanks to this board of course--knowing about the potential for a dreaded IMS issue. Over seven years hence we've been intoxicated by the Boxster--athletic art on wheels!--but now reality bites. It would appear the car has been sipping coolant since the day we bought it. I have had the "low coolant" light come on only one time (this year, in fact) but coolant refills have been necessary two or three times over our period of ownership. Still, there were no major problems until three days ago when the CEL began flashing and the car began misfiring. Ironically, it happened at a body shop where I had just had the hood resprayed. So I had the car flat bedded to a local mechanic, where it now sits. Turns out the car is missing on cylinders 2, 4, 6, and possibly 5. Surmising that it would be rare for four coil packs to fail at once, the mechanic suggested we start by replacing the spark plugs (which were due anyway, the car now having 62,000 miles). This, of course, did not solve the misfire crisis. This same mechanic--an Audi-VW specialist who knows what he doesn't know--thinks he'd be in over his head trying to fix the thing so he suggests I take it to a pricey Porsche dealer or a reputable place called European Motors to have compression and leak down tests done. Not sure what that would cost yet but my head is spinning about what to do next. To me, the likelihood of a blown head gasket (or worse) seems pretty high. Would you agree? Knowing what we know, are the tests worth the investment? Even if texts prove this car is fixable, is it worth hanging on to? At what point should I be happy for the glorious seven years we've had with a budget-priced but flawed Boxster and cut my losses?
They'll at least be able to tell you what you're up against. I've found that using the dealer for diagnosis isn't an overly costly experience. Yes, their labor rates are higher. But, the specialized knowledge and access to all the right tools make them pretty efficient. Once you know what the cause is, you can make a decision as to your next step.

Jay
More common it seems is a head is cracked.

I wonder upon what basis the gasket diagnosis was made?

Anyhow, an engine sipping coolant does not have to be anything more sinister than a bad coolant cap.

The car does not have enough miles really to suspect the plugs, though if they are original they may be due to be replaced on time rather than mileage. Also, the misfiring is too spread out to likely be from a head gasket problem.

However, when replacing the plugs the tech can probably confirm one way or the other the head gasket theory, from the appearance of the plugs. A cylinder with coolant will produce a rather clean plug.

Absent clear signs there is a head gasket leak, with the history of the car, its lack of use, I'd be more likely to suspect mice damage to the wiring, hoses, maybe even a coolant hose. I've seen a hole chewed into a gasoline vapor line -- the creature probably stopped when it got a snoot full of gas vapor -- so there's no reason to believe the same couldn't happen to a coolant hose.

Before you decide what to do you need to know exactly what is wrong. Then you can make a better decision.

Let's say the head gasket is bad. You need to price a fix. Now you have to be careful. A long term coolant leak can compromise the head (or block) surfaces and a new gasket might not hold. The "fix" is to take a skim cut across the block and head to restore these surfaces to the flatness/surface finish that a head gasket requires to do its job. The skim cut may not be doable as the damage to the head or block is too severe. If the block needs doing the engine comes out of the car -- it may have to come out anyhow to get at the head -- and would need to be disassembled so the block could be machined, cleaned up, then put back together again. You want to be sure you have the right shop tackle this job. You can spend a lot of money having the block and head machined if they do not need it. But you can spend a lot of money doing the head gasket repair again on top of then having the block or head machined to ensure this time the head gasket holds.

You'll have to work the numbers to see what the damage is if you decide to fix the car vs. unload the car. As it sits with a suspected ( and "diagnosed" ) head gasket problem, combined with misfiring, and what have you the car is not worth much. Thus you take a bit hit in depreciation. Of course you also know what you have lost. You are done with the car and can move on.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/17/2014 02:06PM by MarcW. (view changes)
Thank you Jay and Marc! Sounds like solid advice. This board is a treasure.

For the record, European Motors would charge about $250 to $350 for compression and leak down tests, then go from there at their hourly rates ($98 an hour labor).

Lujack Porsche would start with a one-hour diagnosis ($160 per hour labor), then proceed from there. If necessary, compression and leak down tests would cost $625. Can you say "ridiculous!?" However, upon hearing my description of CEL and ignition misfire plus coolant sipping, their tech immediately told the service advisor that he suspects coil failures (yes, the service advisor says, they have seen multiple coils failure at once). But then I'm wondering why would multiple coils go bad and if that could be related to the coolant sipping issue? Anyway, I'm planning to have the car towed to Lujack's tomorrow. Fingers will be crossed.
a dealer charges, and that a compression/leak down test is essentially a plug change without the plugs. It is rather labor intensive.

'course, it is up to you where you take the car.

If there is no other reason/explanation found for the misfires and if there is some clear evidence a head gasket is leaking -- as I mentioned before a gradual loss of coolant over time is more often a coolant cap leaking rather than anything as serious as a head gasket leak -- then one is facing a compression test and if a compression finds there is a real compression problem then a leak down test to try to determine the reason for the compression problem is called for.

You really have to trust the results of the compression test. What you do going forward from this test is based on the results of this test.

But before you go with the compression test you really need to be sure that any other explanation for the misfires is eliminated. I've come across misfires arising from bad coils, or coils that were otherwise OK but subjected to water (from rain: my 996 twice) or just dampness (my 996 once and my Boxster once), a bad MAF, and last but not least good old mice damage. Head gasket caused misfires, while possible, just aren't that common primarily as I mentioned before head gasket problems just aren't that common. And for a head gasket problem to manifest misfires in cylinders in two different banks...be very sure there are no other explanations for the misfires.
If I read correctly, the CEL and misfire happened while at the body shop?

How many miles did the car travel between the time you dropped the car off and picked it up?
... you're dealing with several issues.
The fact that it's consuming coolant and the fact that it's misfiring.
I don't think they're related.
The coolant can be escaping through a bad coolant cap, a cracked coolant reservoir, a weeping water pump seal, a leak in a radiator or it's associated plumbing and last on the list and least likely by a bad head gasket or a crack in the block.
A quick coolant-system pressure test can determine where it's going.

The misfires can be bad coils, bad spark plugs, bad or damaged wiring, clogged fuel filter, clogged fuel injectors or a multiple other causes.
It would be helpful to know which specific codes the car is throwing to give an idea of where to start looking.

Happy Boxstering,
Pedro

Pedro Bonilla
1998 Boxster 986 - 299,000+ miles: [www.PedrosGarage.com]

PCA National Club Racing Scrutineer - PCA National HPDE Instructor - PCA Technical Committee (Boxster/Cayman)



Racecar spelled backwards is Racecar

"Racing is life. Anything before or after is just waiting" ... Steve McQueen as Michael Delaney in "LeMans"

"If you wait, all that happens is that you get older"... Mario Andretti

"Being second is to be the first of the ones who lose" ... Ayrton Senna

The Porsche computer can see deeply way beyond a simple code reader. They will most likely nail it fast. Don't waste your time. Really, just pay up.

Peace
Bruce in Philly
Good info. autodealers.com
I would top off the coolant to the proper level, bleed out any air, then put in liquid "head gasket fix" (e.g. from "Bar's Leaks" ) and see if it solves the problem.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/18/2014 08:41AM by Boxsterra. (view changes)
Really appreciate everyone's comments. As a follow-up, we now have a diagnosis from Lujack Porsche--and it's nothing catastrophic. Bad coils causing the flashing CEL and the coolant tank is leaking (thus, six new coils and a new coolant tank plus 60,000 mile maintenance with brake fluid exchange, fuel injection service, serpentine belt replacement, filter replacements (air and cabin), and fix inoperative license plate light. If I authorize everything we're talking $3,700 on 14-year-old Boxster worth $10,000, tops. For one thing, I have to wonder if this totally rules my concern that coolant might be leaking into the engine (given the fact I have not seen coolant on the garage floor, at least not this year). Then there's always the potential IMS risk but that would seem minor based on mileage and Pedro's research for year 2000 cars (2.5 percent failure, as I recall). Which leaves me asking if it is time to move on -- sell the car and find a newer generation model or see what I can get on trade for a new one? Hmmm.
Quote
Kinnick4Ever
Really appreciate everyone's comments. As a follow-up, we now have a diagnosis from Lujack Porsche--and it's nothing catastrophic. Bad coils causing the flashing CEL and the coolant tank is leaking (thus, six new coils and a new coolant tank plus 60,000 mile maintenance with brake fluid exchange, fuel injection service, serpentine belt replacement, filter replacements (air and cabin), and fix inoperative license plate light. If I authorize everything we're talking $3,700 on 14-year-old Boxster worth $10,000, tops. For one thing, I have to wonder if this totally rules my concern that coolant might be leaking into the engine (given the fact I have not seen coolant on the garage floor, at least not this year). Then there's always the potential IMS risk but that would seem minor based on mileage and Pedro's research for year 2000 cars (2.5 percent failure, as I recall). Which leaves me asking if it is time to move on -- sell the car and find a newer generation model or see what I can get on trade for a new one? Hmmm.

could give this a miss and save some money. Not sure what all is included in that 60K mile maintenance but you should know and you can possibly pare that down and save considerable money.

If you are worried about coolant in the engine have the oil analyzed. Among other things this will look for anti-freeze compounds in the oil and if they are present this might be the straw that broke the camel's back.

If there is no anti-freeze compounds in the oil then there's just a leak and the tank certainly has to be high on the list of suspects. Based on my experience the cooling system can lose a considerable amount of coolant, enough to cause the low coolant level warning light to come on (the level is down approx. 1 gallon) from just a leaking cap and in about a month's time. 'course, I drove the car almost every day over this month's time. The cap won't let coolant leak out if the engine's not used, doesn't get hot.

So the fact there is no puddles of coolant about is not a sign the missing coolant is going into the engine.

I put $3K into my 02 Boxster with far more miles on it than 60K miles. The VarioCam solenoid/actuator went bad. While $3K is a lot of money to spend on the car I couldn't replace it with anything else for $3K. While there are a number of used Boxsters about they all bring with them the unknown. I could dispose of my 02 needing $3K worth of work only to pay double or triple that for a used one that could then need that much work, or more, after I bought it. Since my Boxster is basically a sound car still I decided far cheaper to just fix it than dispose of it and try to replace it with something else.

Plus I take a big hit in depreciation when I sell the Boxster. With the bad VarioCam solenoid/actuator the car would have brought in maybe (and I think this optimistic) $3K so a car I paid $43K for (stickered at over $47K) back in 2002 I would maybe get $3K for now. $40K depreciation. Ouch.

Of course, it is your call. You realize with your engine needing some attention that the car is not going to just fly off your driveway into the hands of a used car buyer, well, unless you price the thing real low, under whatever market price the car would or should have.
Your car is at the point where there is a strong likelihood that you will be putting money into it on a regular basis. I personally wouldn't want to take a long cross country trip far from Porsche dealer service with your car after it has been fixed, but that's your call. As for a new Boxster, there is a lot to be said in favor of that before they change over from the 9A1 engine with a proven reliability history to a turbo 4. It will be very hard to find a new Boxster equipped with a six speed manual. You would have to order a car, which would take some time.
Though I don't know what "fuel injection service" is or how it's justified in this case.
using roughly $100+/hr labor and farmer's math.

The single biggest job is the coolant expansion tank. next coils.

The rest is easy and cheap.

Grant

Grant

gee-lenahan-at-gee-mail-dot-com
A quick google shows that Lujack Porsche is in Davenport Iowa, and proudly advertises that they are the only Porsche dealer in Iowa. I would guess that's a big part of the problem.
For the two years that I was in Iowa, I found the Porsche resources pretty scarce. Luckily, I didn't have any major issues while there.
Blah, blah, blah. It's very unlikely you have a head gasket leak. You likely hav e a cracked head. Is there any oil in the coolant or coolant in the oil. If so, there's the problem .
Before authorizing the recommended service, I spoke with a sales rep. just to see what he had to say. Predictably, if unfixed, they would only offer $4,000 on trade-in, or $8,000 if fixed. Even the sales rep. agreed that would be a lousy deal. However, just to keep my options open, I told him to look for a 2010 or newer Boxster or slightly older Carrera cabriolet ('06 or newer) within a certain price range. He will continue searching dealer auction sites and let me know if anything shows up. Meanwhile, to my great relief, a tech re-confirmed that there is no sign whatsoever of a head gasket leak. How that became part of the PPI is still a mystery but at least the news is good.

As for the fuel injector cleaning, their inspector found the throttle body was dirty. They will either perform a a high-pressure “on the car” cleaning (where equipment is hooked up to the fuel intake and a solvent is injected under high pressure through the fuel injectors), or an off-the-car throttle body cleaning. I need to confirm which on Monday but I'm leaning towards having it done, either way.

Overall, it's probably too much money (my local mechanic friend caustically refers to Lujack's as "Screwjacks") and perhaps I should skip the injector cleaning and make it a money-saving ($185) DIY project. But most of the stuff was 60,000-mile maintenance anyway and it's easier just to be done with it. Furthermore, once the maintenance/repairs are done, this car will be in tip-top shape for its vintage, with dealership records to prove it. I will likely continue piling up the miles while keeping an eye open for an attractive trade or acceptable private party sale--not because I'm trying to unload a "bad" car (it's definitely not) but rather because a newer Boxster or Carrera would be an exciting step up.
Quote
Kinnick4Ever
Before authorizing the recommended service, I spoke with a sales rep. just to see what he had to say. Predictably, if unfixed, they would only offer $4,000 on trade-in, or $8,000 if fixed. Even the sales rep. agreed that would be a lousy deal. However, just to keep my options open, I told him to look for a 2010 or newer Boxster or slightly older Carrera cabriolet ('06 or newer) within a certain price range. He will continue searching dealer auction sites and let me know if anything shows up. Meanwhile, to my great relief, a tech re-confirmed that there is no sign whatsoever of a head gasket leak. How that became part of the PPI is still a mystery but at least the news is good.

As for the fuel injector cleaning, their inspector found the throttle body was dirty. They will either perform a a high-pressure “on the car” cleaning (where equipment is hooked up to the fuel intake and a solvent is injected under high pressure through the fuel injectors), or an off-the-car throttle body cleaning. I need to confirm which on Monday but I'm leaning towards having it done, either way.

Overall, it's probably too much money (my local mechanic friend caustically refers to Lujack's as "Screwjacks") and perhaps I should skip the injector cleaning and make it a money-saving ($185) DIY project. But most of the stuff was 60,000-mile maintenance anyway and it's easier just to be done with it. Furthermore, once the maintenance/repairs are done, this car will be in tip-top shape for its vintage, with dealership records to prove it. I will likely continue piling up the miles while keeping an eye open for an attractive trade or acceptable private party sale--not because I'm trying to unload a "bad" car (it's definitely not) but rather because a newer Boxster or Carrera would be an exciting step up.

In trying to diagnose why Boxster was acting up I removed the TB and I found the TB dirty with a drop of black oil hanging from the butterfly valve. The problem turned out to be a bad AOS. It was allowing too much low pressure in the crankcase and it was pulling oil vapor through the AOS without removing the oil and this was fouling the TB and of course going into the engine.

If the TB is dirty/oily it probably should be removed and cleaned with TB cleaner and the reason for the dirt/oil found. For just dirt a malfunctioning air filter or air filter box could be the explanation.

It is of course up to you, but I would not have any injector cleaning service done with the injectors installed. In those few cases when an injector cleaning is called for the injectors are removed and fitted into a box with transparent walls. The injectors are wired up to operate and fed cleaner solvent which flows through the open injectors. With transparent walls the spray patterns can be compared and verified they are all ok as the cleaning solvent does its work.

To try to clean the injectors installed in the engine means some of this cleaning solvent is bound to get in the oil as the engine is positioned so the cylinder that is being cleaned will have its exhaust valves closed and its intake valves open so the cleaning solvent will flow through the injector into the combustion chamber and I guess will be vacuumed out through the open intake valves. Some of this solvent will have to make it past the piston/rings and into the oil. Thus the oil should be changed along with the filter afterwards.

If I'm right this is probably same the setup that someone has devised to clean DFI engines of the intake valve build up that many fear these engines can accumulate. I wonder if the dealer you are using sells Audi cars? The Audi DFI engines have been rumored to have this problem while so far I have not heard of this problem with Porsche DFI engines.
Yes, Marc, Lujack's is also an Audi dealer. I'll be talking to them tomorrow. And thanks!
For the record, I talked to the service manager this morning. The oil/filter change will be done after the high-pressure injector cleaning.
Sorry, only registered users may post in this forum.

Click here to login