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Son-in-law just went to get gas for a PCA event tomorrow. On the way back home, car started running rough, no power, CEL, low oil level message came on. No oil on the ground. Waiting on tow truck to flatbed it to their mechanic.

Any ideas? He does not have a code reader. I would think bad gas but can't explain low oil level light. Does the 987 have a limp mode it goes into when oil level low? I read somewhere that it measures ol level withing 15 minutes of refilling fuel.

Thanks,

Al
From the owner's manual:

Oil level measurement during refueling
The oil level is automatically measured during refueling.
Preconditions
1. Ignition is switched off.
2. If the engine is at operating temperature, at
least 5 minutes must elapse between parking
the vehicle and starting the engine.
3. Refueling completed within 15 minutes.
When the ignition is switched on, the engine oil level
is shown on the segment display.
Measurement will be stopped if the above requirements
are not met.
Start oil level measurement in the “OIL“ menu
or
Start oil level measurement by switching on
the ignition.
Thanks. I saw that and it made me wonder if the car would go into limp mode if the oil level was too low.

Al
electrical power rather than something seriously wrong within the engine. Before suspecting something internal in the engine ensure the battery is good and the car's electrical system, alternator, can supply enough power to not only run the engine/rest of the car, but can also recharge the battery.

An engine start -- probably with the car sitting a while since last being used -- followed by a short drive to gas station followed by another engine start probably took a marginal battery over the edge.
Thanks Mark,

They had it towed to a local shop they use for their other German cars. They couldn't see how they could tow it Pedro's at 10 PM.

Tech called today and said (quoting my SIL) "codes indicate major engine damage on one side". He said the plan was to do compression test tomorrow. I called SIL and told him while I didn't want to throw any shade on his mechanic he should have a pretty good idea of what is wrong before turning the engine over. They are going to do a conference call with me tomorrow and I'll get the codes. If, as they say, it is major engine damage, it might be advisable to arrange for Pedro to take a look at it, assuming he will work in a 987 :-). They only live a few miles from his place in Weston.

SIL said there were no other indications, flashing lights, etc. My dash on my wife's E350 went bonkers one time when the battery was bad and daughter's VW CC did the same thing.

Al
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Al in Melbourne Beach
Thanks Mark,

They had it towed to a local shop they use for their other German cars. They couldn't see how they could tow it Pedro's at 10 PM.

Tech called today and said (quoting my SIL) "codes indicate major engine damage on one side". He said the plan was to do compression test tomorrow. I called SIL and told him while I didn't want to throw any shade on his mechanic he should have a pretty good idea of what is wrong before turning the engine over. They are going to do a conference call with me tomorrow and I'll get the codes. If, as they say, it is major engine damage, it might be advisable to arrange for Pedro to take a look at it, assuming he will work in a 987 :-). They only live a few miles from his place in Weston.

SIL said there were no other indications, flashing lights, etc. My dash on my wife's E350 went bonkers one time when the battery was bad and daughter's VW CC did the same thing.

Al

Thanks for the update.

Was thinking (hoping a bit too to be honest) it was a battery or even an alternator as I have observed a car/engine can go bonkers if the power level drops too low. One could easily think the engine was seriously sick by the way it was acting.

Look into having Pedro take a look if you are not going to turn the car over to the local shop to handle. Waste of time/money to have the local shop make some diagnosis then pull the car out and take it to Pedro and have Pedro make his own diagnosis. Of course he would almost certainly want to and rightly so as it is his you know what on the line to make an accurate diagnosis and assessment of the engine and its condition.

A compression test seems a bit premature. I'd want to know what the plugs looked like. What the oil filter looked like. And the contents of the oil filter housing. Also a drain of the oil into a clean pan then checking to see what was in the oil. Metal debris. Plastic debris. Coolant.

With the plugs out then the engine can be turned by hand to make sure it spins ok. If it does and the oil filter element, housing oil and oil sump oil look "ok" a compression test makes sense.

If the filter element, filter housing, or sump oil is fouled with debris that's an engine drop followed by at least the heads coming off and almost certainly followed by an engine tear down, splitting the cases.

'course, Pedro I'm sure has his own procedure he follows.
Codes were P0304, 0305, 0306. Quote from shop: "General misfire on cylinders 4, 5, & 6. Compression good on one half of the engine, bad on side corresponding to the failing cylinders. Part of timing system rotating, others not, may be causing chain to skip/fail. Will bring into the shop today to get more comprehensive look. Working hypothesis timing chain failure causing subsequent engine damage - extent unknown."

I don't know how they know "Part of timing system rotating, others not, may be causing chain to skip/fail." If tensioner problem, could be rotating, just out of time.

Sounds like they already did the compression test. Are #4,#5,#6 driven by the IMS? I just realized this morning that this set of symptoms was nearly identical to daughter's VW CC which turned out to be timing chain tensioner failure. Her car slipped a tooth or two but kept running (rough) she drove to shop. When they tried to restart it it wouldn't start. Very lucky no interference damage. Turned out to be about a $1300 problem. Hoping for best for SIL and daughter's Boxster.

Al
Picture I found shows that 4,5,6 driven by front side of IMS, 1,2,3 driven by back side. Looks like IMS bearing fail could cause problem with 4,5,6 but could also be tensioner problem or chain failure. Don't think there will be any more conclusive results until engine is dropped and opened.
4-5-6 are an interesting indication of potentially (or not) serious problems. Have the 6th cyl looked at via a bore scope. Pull the pan and look for pieces. Do not do a compression test or anything that requires rotation of the engine. Look at PM
Saw the PM, thanks. This was a sudden and catastrophic failure. One minute he was driving home from getting fuel for a trip the next day and about 4 blocks from his house engine started running rough, check engine light came on (solid), low oil level warning (he thinks) came up (no apparent oil loss) and the engine died. Based on no previous or incident noises, and the catastrophic stop I think the problem is much worse than some piston slap and cylinder scoring. Personally I'm betting on a timing chain tensioner failure or a timing slip due to tensioner or IMS bearing failure. I'm hoping for a tensioner failure as that would hopefully not result in metal bits in the engine. Also, the videos say that 987.1 engines 2007 and up had the problem and seemed to say previous engines had cast pistons which were not subject to the problem. Although I initially said his car was a 2007, I corrected that to indicate it is a 2006.

After discussion with my daughter (who is the techie in that family, the only girl in her high school class with her own pair of mechanics gloves) it's not clear they did a compression test as the first information I got seemed to indicate. Does OBDII give any indication of low compression?

Al
Re: Oh shoot
MarcW - 3 weeks ago
Quote
Al in Melbourne Beach
Saw the PM, thanks. This was a sudden and catastrophic failure. One minute he was driving home from getting fuel for a trip the next day and about 4 blocks from his house engine started running rough, check engine light came on (solid), low oil level warning (he thinks) came up (no apparent oil loss) and the engine died. Based on no previous or incident noises, and the catastrophic stop I think the problem is much worse than some piston slap and cylinder scoring. Personally I'm betting on a timing chain tensioner failure or a timing slip due to tensioner or IMS bearing failure. I'm hoping for a tensioner failure as that would hopefully not result in metal bits in the engine. Also, the videos say that 987.1 engines 2007 and up had the problem and seemed to say previous engines had cast pistons which were not subject to the problem. Although I initially said his car was a 2007, I corrected that to indicate it is a 2006.

After discussion with my daughter (who is the techie in that family, the only girl in her high school class with her own pair of mechanics gloves) it's not clear they did a compression test as the first information I got seemed to indicate. Does OBDII give any indication of low compression?

Al

Misfire codes are a sign of diminished (or excessive) cylinder output. The diminished output can be due to low compression, "plugs/coils", O2 sensors, or some other problem. To nail it down more investigation is necessary and a compression test is in the investigator's tool box which he can use if he believes it is appropriate.

Except for the engine dying (and the CEL) the behavior reminds me of when my 2002 Boxster "lost" its passenger bank VarioCam solenoid/actuator.

Because the RPMs were going up and down when down the low pressure oil light would flash. It would not have taken the RPMs to fall much more and the engine I think would have died.

There was no CEL but there as a pending code that pointed to the VariCam solenoid/actuator. I observed the short term fuel trims were swinging rail to rail so to speak. The next day at the dealer talking with the tech and mentioned this and he said it was normal in these situations. The engine controller was adjusting the fueling to try to find a setting that would generate the expected #2 O2 sensor voltage reading. But because the problem was due to a VarioCam solenoid/actuator it would not succeed. The tech said had I let the engine run longer the fueling might have gotten far enough out to generate misfire error codes.

As it was I shut the engine off but restarted it after just a moment or two and all the symptoms were gone. They stayed gone the 30 miles to home. But the next day on the way to the dealer -- not quite 2 miles away -- the symptoms returned.

In the case of my car the tech replaced the solenoid and actuator and the symptoms were gone and the engine ran just fine from then on. I can't recall the mileage but around 250K and the replacement solenoid/actuator and the original ones in other bank were just fine at 317K miles.

Can't be sure but in the case of a solenoid/actuator the compression may not be affected. I believe the VarioCam is not activated at cold start because while the solenoid of course can be activated -- it is electric -- the actuator which it controls requires oil pressure/flow to work.
It is beginning to look like my first hunch was correct. You know, suspect the last thing you did -- bought gas. The preliminary conclusion is that there was no engine damage except for that caused by bad gas. They drained the tank and it was UGLY! Engine is now running but not well. They plan to change plugs, clean injectors, flush fuel lines, replace filter, etc. I don't know what they are reporting when they say compression is low, but one of the three cylinders that had "low compression" is now good and the other two are "better". I don't know how bad gas can cause low compression. Maybe he is relying on cylinder output or some such from diagnosis tool.

More news on Monday or Tuesday. Thanks to all for input.

Al
Shell station he purchased gas from mysteriously not selling premium now. Sign on pumps.

Al
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Al in Melbourne Beach
Shell station he purchased gas from mysteriously not selling premium now. Sign on pumps.

Al

Actually only selling Regular; mid-grade is a blend of Regular and Premium.
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Al in Melbourne Beach
Shell station he purchased gas from mysteriously not selling premium now. Sign on pumps.

Al







Nice!
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Al in Melbourne Beach
It is beginning to look like my first hunch was correct. You know, suspect the last thing you did -- bought gas. The preliminary conclusion is that there was no engine damage except for that caused by bad gas. They drained the tank and it was UGLY! Engine is now running but not well. They plan to change plugs, clean injectors, flush fuel lines, replace filter, etc. I don't know what they are reporting when they say compression is low, but one of the three cylinders that had "low compression" is now good and the other two are "better". I don't know how bad gas can cause low compression. Maybe he is relying on cylinder output or some such from diagnosis tool.

More news on Monday or Tuesday. Thanks to all for input.

Al

Well, last thing touched and all that, but Damn, if all the behavior is from bad gasoline, that has to be some of the worst gasoline ever. Roughly I have driven just over 1M miles in various cars. Assuming the average fuel consumption of 25mpg that's 40,000 gallons of gasoline. At an average of 10 gallons per fill up I have filled a gas tank 4000 times. That is 4000 chances to get "bad" gas.

So far <touch wood> I have not.

The only exposure to bad gasoline was when I used a family member's vehicle that had sat 6 months. The gasoline proved to be stale but the engine started right up and idled ok. It just proved to be a bit down on power which I only realized after I filled the tank with fresh gasoline after using up the stale gasoline. The transformation of the engine with fresh gasoline was remarkable.

The only way to report true low compression is after the results of the (and this is important) proper execution of a compression test. The test can be flubbed a number of ways which I won't cover here.

Relying upon the presence of one or more misfire codes to call out low compression is wrong. Certainly, the presence of misfire codes can call for a compression test if other possible causes of the misfires have been eliminated and one then has good reason to suspect a compression problem.

I have my fingers crossed it is bad gasoline. While the cost of the work to address this will not be cheap, it is certainly less expensive than (what would prove to be) an unnecessary engine tear down.
The only other time I've had "bad fuel" was also Shell.
It was about 20 years ago and they had added an additive that would damage the fuel level units.
They did reimburse, but since that day I think I've only used Shell once or twice on the highway because I was on fumes.
Happy Boxstering,
Pedro

Pedro Bonilla 1998 Boxster 986 - 287,000+ miles: http://www.PedrosGarage.com
PCA National Club Racing Scrutineer - PCA National HPDE Instructor - PCA Technical Committee (Boxster/Cayman)

Racecar spelled backwards is Racecar
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Quote
Pedro (Weston, FL)
The only other time I've had "bad fuel" was also Shell.
It was about 20 years ago and they had added an additive that would damage the fuel level units.
They did reimburse, but since that day I think I've only used Shell once or twice on the highway because I was on fumes.
Happy Boxstering,
Pedro

I guess "bad gas" could mean too many other things. I would have thought Gary would have chimed in.

Al
Claim filed with station and Shell. Waiting on total cost from mechanic.
Car running OK now. Gas station "prepared to write a check", just need to know for how much. Shop preparing bill.

When it happened, SIL left car on roadside to go to house for a few minutes. When he came back, police were there. Officer said there were a lot of broken down cars that night, four within a half mile of SIL's.

Al



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 03/01/2019 09:30AM by Al in Melbourne Beach. (view changes)
Good to hear that it seems to be working out better all around than what it could have been when the problem first showed up.

Hopefully, the mechanics will get everything back to at least as good as the car was before and that the station carries through with its intention to pay for the damage.
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