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I have a 2002 Boxster S with ~160k miles that has been my daily driver for more than 12 years. The other day I had a flashing CEL and my engine shut down. Towed it to the dealer. They checked the "easy" things but couldn't diagnose a problem. Now they say it will take at least another $1300 to pull it apart and check the camshaft and such (8+ hours of labor, they said). They suggested that I may not want to go any further because of the age and mileage of the car. I'm not sure what my options are now. The dealer is going to have an appraiser give me a price, but it cant be much in this situation.

Any reactions to what's happening? Does a flashing CEL really mean the car is dead? Do I have any alternatives to getting value out of my car besides the dealer?

What would you guys do?

Thanks for any thoughts you might have.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 09/28/2016 04:05PM by jeff in VA. (view changes)
Quote
jeff in VA
I have a 2002 Boxster S with ~160k miles that has been my daily driver for more than 12 years. The other day I had a flashing CEL and my engine shut down. Towed it to the dealer. They checked the "easy" things but couldn't diagnose a problem. Now they say it will take at least another $1300 to pull it apart and check the camshaft and such (8+ hours of labor, they said). They suggested that I may not want to go any further because of the age and mileage of the car. I'm not sure what my options are now. The dealer is going to have an appraiser give me a price, but it cant be much in this situation.

Any reactions to what's happening? Does a flashing CEL really mean the car is dead? Do I have any alternatives to getting value out of my car besides the dealer?

What would you guys do?

Thanks for any thoughts you might have.

Do you have another dealer handy? The one you took the car too reads like a real gem. Not!

It would be nice to know what the error codes are, active and pending.

Flashing CEL signals a fueling problem that is harmful to the converters. Usually a flashing CEL is triggered by rich misfires. There are a number of possible explanations for rich misfires. Only a few -- if that many -- can mean the engine is dead.

Without knowing the codes I can't offer much additional help. In any event the source of the problem is not something you can fix on your driveway.

I think you need a better diagnosis that the one you got from the dealer.
Thanks Marc, I really appreciate your advice. I'll ask the dealer for the codes and post them tomorrow.
In the meantime do not try to start the engine.

At this time patience is a good thing to have.
... the engine did not seize and that there are no oil leaks and there were no strange sounds when it happened.
If that is the case it could be an electronic issue.
If the communication between sensors and DME is severed, the DME will shut down the engine in order to protect it.
I would check the crank and cam position sensors to make sure they have a good connection.
As Marc pointed out the codes would be helpful in order to start determining what could have happened.
Good luck.
Let us know.
Happy Boxstering,
Pedro

Pedro Bonilla 1998 Boxster 986 - 293,000+ miles: http://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


Grant gee-lenahan-at-vee-eff-email-dot-net
multiple misfires are detected. I get dozens on the track, coast, wait for it to clear, pedal to metal. Not ideal, but I do.

The next question is "why did ti shut down". Several things could cause both misfires and shutdown - and that's where I would start.

First, as marc says, get all the codes. Next, get it to someone who does diagnostics, i don't trust your dealer based on what you have told me.

It could be as simple as a failing ignition system - a wire perhaps (or much more admittedly). Now, could it be cam timing (e.g. IMS)?, yea, maybe. And maybe not.

But a flashing CEL is in no way a death sentence.

Grant

Grant gee-lenahan-at-vee-eff-email-dot-net
Next is to find a local garage that other Porsche owners trust and get a less ridiculous answer.
.. that the places with arguably the most data, equipment and expertise are often compromised by money-making policies.

I know my local dealer has absolutely first rate techs.

Grant gee-lenahan-at-vee-eff-email-dot-net
Here're the fault codes:

P0300 Misfire detection
P0343 Phase sensor 1 camshaft half-effect sensor 1
the misfire is known - the light was flashing :-)

the hall effect sensor triggers the spark. It does the job of points and a distributor of old.

so one of two things is going on:

1. the hall effect sensor is kaput, resulted in misfires, QED or
2. something else is causing a phase shift that the computer doesn't like (stretched chain...etc.)

I'm betting on a bad sensor causing either no spark, or spark at wrong time and therefore misfires nd then shutdown before bad things happen.

Might also be the CPS that Pedro speculated on.

Grant

Grant gee-lenahan-at-vee-eff-email-dot-net
Quote
jeff in VA
Here're the fault codes:

P0300 Misfire detection
P0343 Phase sensor 1 camshaft half-effect sensor 1

P0300 is general/numerous misfires.

The error code that deserves attention is P0343.

P0343: Camshaft Position Sensor 1 – Above Limit

Potential causes:

Short circuit to B+: Check the connector/wiring. Check signal wire from DME control module, pin III/20, to CMP sensor for short circuit to B+.

1. Connect special tool 9637 to wiring harness (DME control module connector).

2. Remove connector of CMP sensor.

3. Connect voltmeter to special tool 9637, pin III/20, and ground. 9637 is a break out box. One might be able to buy this but any shop that claims to work on these -- and this certainly includes the dealer -- should have this on hand. I'm not sure each tech has his own but there has to be at least one in the service department.

Switch on the ignition.

Display: 0 V

If battery voltage is displayed, check wiring harness for chafing and pinching damage.
.. this part is known to fail due to age, vibration and heat. Well, the cause is speculation, but it IS known to fail.

Very likely your problem.
Grant

Grant gee-lenahan-at-vee-eff-email-dot-net
That's my guess. But then again, if the dealer is any good I would expect them to have included that in the "easy to check" list.
i'm really impressed with the technical knowledge of the group and appreciative of the willingness to help. not surprised. just impressed. nice job all. thank you.

good luck with your car Jeff.
I am also very grateful to everyone that has responded or sent a PM. Thank you.

I asked the dealer to tell me specifically what they've checked so far, and suggested they check the sensors. I have not heard back from them yet. The last I heard from the rep yesterday was: "my technician is in the middle of removing the oil pump to see from there how the timing jumped he's going to let me know tomorrow morning. From there I might have a better diagnostic. I'm not going to charge any extra diagnostic time for that."

I have no idea if that makes sense, but I am grateful to you guys for the information you've shared. It has allowed me to have a conversation with the rep and I hope that might lead somewhere positive.

Jeff
either there's more info they have not told you, or they don't know what they are doing... or they simply want to increase the bill.

Tell them to stop.

Get it elsewhere

Grant gee-lenahan-at-vee-eff-email-dot-net
So, I just talked to the dealer. He sent me a schematic of the chain gear that shows the different drive wheels, chains and valves and pointed out where the chains have timing marks. He said the technician has verified visually by observing the marks as the chains move that the timing is off, so it is definitely not a problem with the sensors. He said sometimes the oil pump, which is driven by one of the gears, can seize and cause the chain to "skip" or can break a tooth on the gear. But, he said the oil pump looks fine. He also said the chains look fine -- they move with the engine smoothly as you would expect.

He is still not sure what it might be, but he thinks the next step is to drop the engine to see if a gear is broken or lost a tooth or something. He also said the variocam, which he explained adjusted the timing with load, might also be broken.

I should add that the dealer has taken these extra steps for me at no cost. So it's hard for me to complain that they are running up the diagnostic bill.

But they are not going to drop the engine for free. So I seem to be at a decision point.

What do you guys think?



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 09/30/2016 08:27AM by jeff in VA. (view changes)
Quote
jeff in VA
So, I just talked to the dealer. He sent me a schematic of the chain gear that shows the different drive wheels, chains and valves and pointed out where the chains have timing marks. He said the technician has verified visually by observing the marks as the chains move that the timing is off, so it is definitely not a problem with the sensors. He said sometimes the oil pump, which is driven by one of the gears, can seize and cause the chain to "skip" or can break a tooth on the gear. But, he said the oil pump looks fine. He also said the chains look fine -- they move with the engine smoothly as you would expect.

He is still not sure what it might be, but he thinks the next step is to drop the engine to see if a gear is broken or lost a tooth or something. He also said the variocam, which he explained adjusted the timing with load, might also be broken.

I should add that the dealer has taken these extra steps for me at no cost. So it's hard for me to complain that they are running up the diagnostic bill.

But they are not going to drop the engine for free. So I seem to be at a decision point.

What do you guys think?

Well, I have to repeat that I am always reluctant to disagree with a tech's diagnosis. He is the pro not me.

However, I would be very reluctant to drop the engine without first checking the oil filter housing oil and filter element for any metal debris. If metal debris is found then dropping the engine and even some disassembly could be called for.

Also, I have to refer you to the post in which I listed the error codes and some details on the P0343 error. There was no mention of any timing chain issues. The error appears to be electrically in nature, that is due to a bad wiring connection or a bad wiring harness, something like that.

My inclination would be pull the car from that dealer where it is now -- while the engine is still intact and not in pieces all over the service bay floor and work bench -- and arrange to get the car to another dealer.


Pedro Bonilla 1998 Boxster 986 - 293,000+ miles: http://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
Well, I appreciate your advice. I am pretty clueless about this stuff myself. I didn't really understand Marc's earlier post with the details of the error, for example. Anyway, I will be talking to them again tomorrow.
Quote
jeff in VA
Well, I appreciate your advice. I am pretty clueless about this stuff myself. I didn't really understand Marc's earlier post with the details of the error, for example. Anyway, I will be talking to them again tomorrow.

Based on my info on the error code and what it might mean my inclination would be to ask why a partial engine tear down is being pushed when the P0343 error points to an electrical problem.

The tech is the expert. Let him explain this to your satisfaction. The tech should be aware, sensitive to the fact you are facing a potential big repair bill or worse a car that is beyond repair due to the high cost of whatever it needs and its depreciated value. The tech should expect to have spend some time, 10 or 15 minutes I would guess, in talking to you. You will not leave an experienced Porsche tech afterwards but you should leave knowing you have made the right decision, whatever you decide.

In my experience with my cars and for "big" issues the tech will answer my questions and in fact take the lead and explain to me what's going on and how he arrived at the conclusion/diagnosis he did or how he proposes to get to the right diagnosis as efficiently as possible. Often I speak to the SM first and he doesn't waste any time but says "let's go ask so and so" and we do.

My car and its issue is not the tech's first rodeo. I would believe the same is true with your car, its issue, and your tech.

In your case the tech may have info he can share with you that makes it clear that what he is proposing is the right way to go.
Marc said:

Based on my info on the error code and what it might mean my inclination would be to ask why a partial engine tear down is being pushed when the P0343 error points to an electrical problem.

And that's precisely what I asked above, earlier. Now, i hear the words that the timing has physically moved, but i also hear that it turns freely, and, along with the only codes being electrical timing issues, its not adding up for me. So -- as noted, either a) we're not getting the whole story or b) they are confused or c) they are taking you for a ride (a trick in a non running car).

Grant

Grant gee-lenahan-at-vee-eff-email-dot-net
another update
jeff in VA - 2 years ago
So, I went in and talked to the service rep and the technicians that worked on the car. I'm not very knowledgeable about these things, but they were friendly, accommodating, and seemed to say all the right things. They started by saying that this is normally an issue with the sensors, just like you guys here said. But, the sensors seem to be ok, and the right bank had some sort of compression issue. They looked at the timing chain and saw that it had skipped -- they said it was off about three teeth. They checked for a seized oil pump, but that wasn't the source of the problem. They were worried about the compression issue -- said any number of things might be causing that, like the pistons could have knocked the values if the timing was off.

They seemed honest. They did not press the issue, but suggested there was no cheap way to sort this out. They advised me to not do any more work on the car and to donate it to charity. That doesn't seem like something they would advise if they were trying to run up the bill or get my car for cheap or something like that. They were happy for me to look at new Porsches, but didn't push it at all -- very soft sell.

Given that I can't see how they benefit from misleading me on this, I think I am going to trust them. It sucks that this is the end of a 12 year ride, but there it is, apparently.

I want to thank all of you again for your help and suggestions. It really is nice to be able to talk to knowledgeable people when things like this happen. It didn't turn out great, but that's life.

Now, what about the new 718? It looks pretty nice...
Based on what you wrote I can't disagree, I guess. If the chain for some reason jumped teeth and the timing is off then that's an engine out and some tear down of the engine to address. That the compression is off could be due to piston to valve contact which almost certainly requires new valves/head work and possibly piston and even rod work.

Given the engine's age/miles there would be some other things almost certainly that would need attention while you were there.

So, if you accept the diagnosis you are looking at a considerable expense to resurrect engine and get the car back on the road.

If you elect to forego repairing the engine there's the engine swap route.

You -- with the help of a tech -- could find an engine from a salvage vehicle. There are risks associated with this, however. You could get a sick engine or the engine could get sick after you install it.

But you could replace the engine with one from a similar MY Boxster, either a 2.7l or if you are feeling frisky a 3.2l from an S. Or if you are feeling really frisky even from a 2000 to 2002 996, a 3.6l engine.

But this route is not cheap. And as I mentioned above not without risk.

And I seriously doubt you would recoup your cost if you sold the car.

Therefore unfortunately it looks like your car has reached the end of its life. Its function now will be a source/supplier of whatever parts other owners require to help keep their cars on the road.

The new 718 does look nice. Spotted a new one on the freeway today. I've been thinking of a new Cayman myself. Thankfully I'm so busy with work I don't have time to shop for cars.

Talked to the SM about his trip back east a few weeks ago to sample the cars. He's impressed.

If you think you would want another Boxster go arrange a test drive. Test drive both the base and the S. Then make up your mind.

If you end up with one be sure to come back and give us your impression!

Best of luck.
I've tried twice to send you a private message but that doesn't seem to work for me.

They were both links to some articles I thought might help including a list of NOVA independent mechanics (if nothing else, someone else to talk to even if you don't take your car there) and a write up on the options I've read about that you have if your engine is blown. Here.
Re: two things
jeff in VA - 2 years ago
Mike, I did get your messages and tried to respond with my thanks. I think I am the one who cant work the pm thing, not you!

Thank you (and everyone else who responded) again for your advice and help. ;-)
A couple of things. There have been some less than complimentary reviews of the 718 based solely on engine sound. I would not be surprised to find discounts on in stock 718 Boxsters just to get them moving off dealers' lots. You could do a search nationwide to find one with the options you want if you like the car after a test drive.
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