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Re: Electrical issues...Immobilizer?


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Greetings! I'm new here but I've owned my 02 automatic Boxster about 5 years. Just love it but I have to admit it has issues and I also admit I'm a terrible mechanic. I need help! Last March, it overheated and because my dash lights kept blinking out (like a loose ground), I didn't see the temp rising or the warning light right away. I tapped the dash to get the gauges back when I smelled antifreeze and of course, pulled over right away. I had it towed home but I did not necessary locate the issue even with the help of a retired mechanic. I haven't driven it much since (one trip,15 miles) and I've had to recharge the battery several times. I had my hardtop off for several months and this may have started a new problem. I went to start it and hieroglyphics showed up on the instruments. Some warning lights came off and on. No starter sound at all but the windows or doors were clicking. I put it on the charger again and when my mechanic friend arrived the next day, we tried it again and no joy but the instruments panel illuminated. I had the battery checked because that was free and easy. My Bentley is in the truck which won't open. I left the frunk ajar after having these issues. The frunk light does not come on. Now a week later, I tried the ignition again, no dash lights but I hear the clicking again. Could it be the immobilizer? I'm 2-3 hours away from a dealer.
... sorry to hear about your Boxster troubles.
Most of what you've explained can be attributed to a bad battery.
The clicking sound you hear when starting is a solenoid. This happens because of low voltage from the battery.
If the immobilized was the issue you should not even hear the solenoid.
Why don't you try installing a new battery and see what happens.
Happy Boxstering,
Pedro



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/17/2017 09:59AM by Pedro (Weston, FL). (view changes)

Pedro Bonilla 1998 Boxster 986 - 284,000+ miles: http://www.PedrosGarage.com
PCA National Club Racing Scrutineer - PCA National HPDE Instructor - PCA Technical Committee (Boxster/Cayman)

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I'll add my welcome. I hope to hear more about your Boxster once you get it up and running.

I'll second what Pedro suggested regarding the battery. Once it's replaced, I'd suggest you get a battery maintainer (NOT trickle charger) and leave it hooked up to the battery if you're not driving the car very much. Modern car put a constant drain on the batteries.
Thank you for your response and welcome. I will have the battery tested again tomorrow but the clicking I hear is in the window/door, possibly both doors. If only the problem was just a solenoid! I like cheap and easy! I've replaced the water pump twice in 4 years, and the cracked coolant reservoir once (boo, hiss). Changed the rad cap at least twice and that pressure valve thing next to the rad cap twice. Changed one front fan. I do the coolant burp by the book but you can see I've had coolant issues. I did not mention before that the carpet was wet at least once this summer while it set with the soft top only. When the car overheated last March...on the interstate in 5 o'clock traffic...I carefully removed the rad cap because I thought a coolant leak would be the issue again. It was NOT very hot and not even low on coolant until the following morning when I also noticed my oil filter assembly had loosen and leak all over my driveway. A weird cluster of issues.

I don't have a lot of faith in dealerships (not trying to offend anyone) so that will be the last resort. Besides a DIY'er, I'm also stubborn. There is a great independent Porsche repair shop an hour away. Been here a lot. I'm not sure that's the place to go if the problem is the immobilizer this time. And if I can get her running and reliable again, the Boxster will be my daily driver. Life is too short to drive an ugly underpowered car.
You have received some good replies regarding the electrical symptoms.

There are at least two problems. A low battery low due to lack of use, well, proper use. Starting the engine is just half of proper use a battery gets. After each start ideally the engine should be run long enough, the car driven long enough the battery gets recharged. If the car has sat a while since last used the battery not only needs to have the power it gave up when it started the engine but the power it has lost over time.

Even with a car that is used several times a week and driven for 30 miles at a time I have observed it can take a good portion of that 30 minutes (15 minutes or more depneding upon temperature, electrical loads like lights, A/C) before the running engine and alternator have recharged the battery.

When parked the lowest power state is to of course leave nothing plugged in like a cell phone charger even if a phone is not attached and lock the car. This puts the car's electrical system in it lowest power start sooner.

The other problem is the smell of antifreeze. There's a coolant leak. This needs to be found and fixed. In the meantime you should avoid running the engine any. It doesn't read like your mechanic friend even bothered about the possibilty of a coolant leak.

The leak can be from a number of places. Water pump. Hose. Radiator. Radiator cap. Coolant tank

With the car on a lift the source of the leak should not be hard to spot. If it is with the coolant level topped up -- distiled water can be used -- and with the engine running at idle and hot with the car on a lift the leak should then show up.

Unless you have a shop nearby that is higly regarded as a place to take a Boxster and other Porsches you will probably have to make arrangements to get the car flat bedded to the dealer for a professional tech's diagnosis.
I suggest you not attempt to start the car. The most important thing is to determine the cause of the over heating that you experienced and to check for any possible damage. The cost of the flatbed tow to the Porsche dealer is small compared to that of possible damage to the car.
I finally got this fixed so I'm posting this update. The immobilizer had obvious water residue from stopped up drains when I took it out of the box. I washed circuit board in alcohol and reinstalled. I wished I hadn't closed the frunk with the battery cable off but in winter weather, what can you do? I used a charger thru the cigarette lighter port to charge up battery again and had to insert the key into ignition to open the frunk. Oddly the car showed no life with a full battery so I decided to clean the terminals. As I was cleaning the positive cable, I realized the other end was no longer attached to the car! The copper had corroded/rotted completely through and right there I found yet another stopped up drain. A quick trip the friendly local auto parts store and yes, the car started right up and everything works. Except for the short/loose ground in the instrument panel that predated the immobilizer issue.
Great result! Keeping those drains clear is very important, as the immobilzer is located in the lowest point of the interior and must be kept dry or all kinds of weird behaviors may result if they get wet. Most people know about the ones under the clamshell (where the foam drip tray is), and many install small screen protectors there to keep out debris. As you point out there are more drains up front near the battery, and these are a little harder to see and reach. There is also a drain on each side of the car (just behind each door in the rail where the clamshell slides). Took me forever to find those!

Gary 2003 Boxster Base - Midnight Blue Metallic, Savanna Beige, Metropol Blue
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