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Old 04-19-2012, 09:18 AM   #1
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[NEED YOUR HELP PLEASE!] Question about repairs!

Hey guys,

I bought my 02 boxster with 50k miles on it about half a year ago. I bought it when I was 18 years old and I'm still largely ignorant about the technical aspects of ownership.

I have spent about $3,600 already replacing the headlight assemblies (one was cracked and they both looked terribly yellowed/foggy), replacing the convertible top, replacing the brake pads, replacing the rear tires, and touching up paint.

Recently the temperature gauge started blinking. Someone incorrectly told me it was tire pressure monitor :/

The temperature light would flash intermittently, slowly. I ran it slightly hot for probably two months, and one day white smoke randomly spewed out of my exhaust while I was driving. The temperature light blinked like crazy for the first time. I drove less than 20 minutes this way before I parked at home and left it there to be towed the next morning.

I brought it to a non dealership mechanic who said the thermostat FAILED, which caused the engine to overheat. The headgasket got blown/cracked and needs to be replaced. I guess I just got unlucky that the thermostat failed in the first place?

Upon inspection he is also telling me that I need to replace my water pump which intermittently leaks a little bit (or so he says) and my serpentine belt. My question is, if I actually need to do that, why did the dealership not tell me when they initially inspected it less than 10k miles ago?

So does this all make sense to you all? The car only has 60,000 miles at this point but it is over a decade old.

I am getting the following done:
  • Thermostat replaced/fixed
  • Head gasket replaced/fixed
  • Serpentine belt replaced
  • Water pump fixed
  • Brakes have been squeaking, he says if he does the work he'll fix that for free with a simple application of some kind of lubricant to the brake pads
  • Front right headlight has been loose and actually FELL OUT once, he is going to do a quick fix to make sure it doesn't fall out. Again, this is free instead of the Porsche dealership's alternative of fixing it by replacing the holster/chassis of the headlight compartment for about $400ish

This is going to cost me $2,100. Does that sound like a good deal? Are all the repairs necessary? The repair costs so far have been kind of overwhelming, considering that I've spent close to $6,000 in less than half a year of ownership!

Cheers!

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Old 04-19-2012, 09:37 AM   #2
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The little light on the water temp gauge blinking means the engine coolant level is low. Water pumps do go from OK to bad without much warning. OEM water pumps have plastic impellers that often break apart when the pump goes bad so when the old pump comes off it needs to be inspected & all those pieces need to be found & removed, otherwise they circulate in the cooling system & engine until they get stuck somewhere & cause HOT spots. Often they get stuck inside the heads & cause the head to crack. Since you drove the car a while like this it may have already happened.
Headgaskets NEVER fail on these engines. So if I were you & your car is at this shop I would be sure & examine the water pump when it comes off & find any missing peices that broke off. Be sure the new W/P is OEM manufactuer & replace thermostat & PORSCHE coolant. You need to find a mechanic that knows Boxster engines to address any other problems with the heads, engine etc. Tell us where you are located & someone can recommend a good shop.
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Old 04-19-2012, 09:41 AM   #3
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i am located in richardson texas 75081 and it's currently at A1 Dallas Auto Care

They do seem to work on european cars a lot

Also my question is....

How did all of this happen??? It seems like I shouldn't have to have random repairs like this done every couple of months. Are Porsche vehicles just this prone to random breakdowns?

Last edited by FirstPorscheAt18; 04-19-2012 at 09:49 AM.
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Old 04-19-2012, 10:03 AM   #4
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$2100 is actually a good price considering it includes the Head gasket. But you did overspend on other parts from the old $3600 you paid. You can get used head lights for $300 online. Or clean the yellowish foggyness off with a $6 headlight cleaner to make it look like new. Also, the top rear window can be replaced separately for a low price of $300-500 at different shops. And there are $10 sprays that make the waterproofness stronger.

Replace the belts yourself. It is an easy 5 minute job anyone can do with the right tools. Belts are $30-50.

Leaking Water Pump could be easy to miss. Porsche could have thought you used the A/C which caused water to leak on the ground. Completely normal for water to leak when you use A/C.

It is a good idea to replace the water pump with the thermostat anyways. The water pumps typically last 60,000-75,000 miles from what I hear.

Make sure the mechanic fills it up with coolant and closes the cap Extremely tight, or else air will get into the system and it will overheat again.

Think of it this way, after this repair bill, nothing major should happen for a long time.

I bought the Boxster as my first car almost 2 years ago when I was 21. So far, I have spent $1200 on repairs, maintenance, and modifications all together in 2 years. That is pretty good. and I am at 87,000 miles.
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Old 04-19-2012, 10:11 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by FirstPorscheAt18 View Post
i am located in richardson texas 75081 and it's currently at A1 Dallas Auto Care

They do seem to work on european cars a lot

Also my question is....

How did all of this happen??? It seems like I shouldn't have to have random repairs like this done every couple of months. Are Porsche vehicles just this prone to random breakdowns?
I would say most german cars require specific maintenance procedures regularly & it is more cost efficient to adhere to those requirements. You must find a mechanic knowledgeable on Boxster engines since they are very different from previous Porsche engines. The RUF dealer in Dallas is the only shop I know of to recommend. Search this forum for more info!
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Old 04-19-2012, 10:13 AM   #6
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Lessons learned I guess.

For the $3000 initial repairs, I completely replaced the top with a new one. That costed around $1100 or so (I bought a brand new top that looks great off ebay)

The headlight assemblies I bought new for $600 each off ebay, and replaced them myself. I guess I overpaid according to what you said. One was cracked and wouldn't pass a safety inspection so I had to replace both to make it look right.

The brake pads costed maybe $400 installed? maybe less. and I had the dealership put them in, they squeak though

All of the above added up to a bit less than $3k

I know nothing about car repairs so I don't think I am going to be able to replace the belts, especially on a boxster.

$600 was spent recently on a cheap bottle of touch up paint and replacing the rear tires. I did this at the dealership, probably a mistake. Probably could have saved $200-300 if I went somewhere else for this.

everyone has told me its almost impossible to blow a head gasket on a porsche. but the mechanic is confident this is the issue... how likely is it? I mean I did drive it hot for months.

Last edited by FirstPorscheAt18; 04-19-2012 at 10:20 AM.
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Old 04-19-2012, 10:13 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FirstPorscheAt18 View Post
Hey guys,

I have spent about $3,600 already replacing the headlight assemblies (one was cracked and they both looked terribly yellowed/foggy), replacing the convertible top, replacing the brake pads, replacing the rear tires, and touching up paint.

Recently the temperature gauge started blinking. Someone incorrectly told me it was tire pressure monitor :/

The temperature light would flash intermittently, slowly. I ran it slightly hot for probably two months, and one day white smoke randomly spewed out of my exhaust while I was driving. The temperature light blinked like crazy for the first time. I drove less than 20 minutes this way before I parked at home and left it there to be towed the next morning.

I brought it to a non dealership mechanic who said the thermostat FAILED, which caused the engine to overheat. The headgasket got blown/cracked and needs to be replaced. I guess I just got unlucky that the thermostat failed in the first place?

Upon inspection he is also telling me that I need to replace my water pump which intermittently leaks a little bit (or so he says) and my serpentine belt. My question is, if I actually need to do that, why did the dealership not tell me when they initially inspected it less than 10k miles ago?

So does this all make sense to you all? The car only has 60,000 miles at this point but it is over a decade old.

I am getting the following done:
  • Thermostat replaced/fixed
  • Head gasket replaced/fixed
  • Serpentine belt replaced
  • Water pump fixed
  • Brakes have been squeaking, he says if he does the work he'll fix that for free with a simple application of some kind of lubricant to the brake pads
  • Front right headlight has been loose and actually FELL OUT once, he is going to do a quick fix to make sure it doesn't fall out. Again, this is free instead of the Porsche dealership's alternative of fixing it by replacing the holster/chassis of the headlight compartment for about $400ish

This is going to cost me $2,100. Does that sound like a good deal? Are all the repairs necessary? The repair costs so far have been kind of overwhelming, considering that I've spent close to $6,000 in less than half a year of ownership!

Cheers!
Aside from tires and brakes, the $3,600 in repairs are basically cosmetic and wasn't required for the vehicle to operate correctly. Brakes can be done cheap and are routine maintainance items, tires you'll have to do every few years so those should be anticipated.

It's sad to say, but had you taken the car to a shop right away when your temp guage started blinking, you'd probably just be out a thermostat, water pump and belt which isn't a terribly expensive bill, relatively speaking. I'm kind of shocked you aren't looking at a $10k+ bill for a new replacement engine.

When a car gets to be 11 years old, stuff will start to go bad, that's just the way it is and really can't be avoided just because it's a Porsche. I'd imagine after these repairs are completed, you should be good to go for a while though. If I were you, I'd have them replace all the seals and gaskets in the motor while they're in there as I'm sure, if they're not going bad and leaking already, they will soon. Thats the first thing i did when I bought mine, in addition to a full inspection inside and out at the dealer.
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Old 04-19-2012, 10:18 AM   #8
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Thanks for your input. The headlights needed to be replaced because one was cracked and it would not pass a safety inspection. If I just replaced one, one would be new looking and the other would be yellowed out (beyond what you can fix with abrasive restorers)

The brakes shouldn't have costed that much, I agree.

The top was mostly cosmetic but the rear window was splitting off at the edges. It was going to cost $400-600+ anyways so I decided getting it brand new with a glass window would be worth it for around $1000

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Aside from tires and brakes, the $3,600 in repairs are basically cosmetic and wasn't required for the vehicle to operate correctly. Brakes can be done cheap and are routine maintainance items, tires you'll have to do every few years so those should be anticipated.

It's sad to say, but had you taken the car to a shop right away when your temp guage started blinking, you'd probably just be out a thermostat, water pump and belt which isn't a terribly expensive bill, relatively speaking. I'm kind of shocked you aren't looking at a $10k+ bill for a new replacement engine.

When a car gets to be 11 years old, stuff will start to go bad, that's just the way it is and really can't be avoided just because it's a Porsche. I'd imagine after these repairs are completed, you should be good to go for a while though. If I were you, I'd have them replace all the seals and gaskets in the motor while they're in there as I'm sure, if they're not going bad and leaking already, they will soon. Thats the first thing i did when I bought mine, in addition to a full inspection inside and out at the dealer.
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Old 04-19-2012, 10:23 AM   #9
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Hi,

My tempearature guage started to flash - indicating low coolant level. I was having to top up my coolant by half a litre every fortnight. Anyway, advice on Boxa.Net was to update the coolant cap. I did this - using part number 99610644704 (cost me about GBP15) - and it solved the problem.
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Old 04-19-2012, 10:34 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by FirstPorscheAt18 View Post
Lessons learned I guess.

For the $3000 initial repairs, I completely replaced the top with a new one. That costed around $1100 or so (I bought a brand new top that looks great off ebay)

The headlight assemblies I bought new for $600 each off ebay, and replaced them myself. I guess I overpaid according to what you said. One was cracked and wouldn't pass a safety inspection so I had to replace both to make it look right.

The brake pads costed maybe $400 installed? maybe less. and I had the dealership put them in, they squeak though

All of the above added up to a bit less than $3k

I know nothing about car repairs so I don't think I am going to be able to replace the belts, especially on a boxster.

$600 was spent recently on a cheap bottle of touch up paint and replacing the rear tires. I did this at the dealership, probably a mistake. Probably could have saved $200-300 if I went somewhere else for this.

everyone has told me its almost impossible to blow a head gasket on a porsche. but the mechanic is confident this is the issue... how likely is it? I mean I did drive it hot for months.


Do yourself a favor & search this forum for threads by Jake Raby, he knows Boxster engines better than anyone else in the country & you can learn what you need to do for your car.
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Old 04-19-2012, 10:57 AM   #11
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I know nothing about car repairs so I don't think I am going to be able to replace the belts, especially on a boxster.
i was in the same position. prior to buying my boxster the only thing i ever did to my cars myself was add gas and washer fluid.

after buying my boxster, i've done more than i thought i would.
- changed the serpentine belt
- changed spark plugs
- installed new alternator
- changed brakes and pads
- changed my own oil.

for the most part, those are all really easy things to do on this car. start with the belt, it'll give you confidence that you can in fact do a lot more yourself. for most of the maintenance items, porsche made it quite easy to do. check out pedro's garage ( http://www.pedrosgarage.com/Site/DIY_Projects.html ) and build up your confidence. and you'll be able to save those $100/hr labor rates for the big things when you take it in.
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Old 04-19-2012, 04:47 PM   #12
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hmm

i dont want to risk damaging my vehicle by doing things myself. I lack the tools as well, so i'd have to invest in those.

is it really reasonable to expect that catastrophic things are just going to happen to my boxster? should i sell it?

i can't afford to be paying $2000 maintenance fees every few months.

how long do you think the car will last before it completely dies? it only has 60k miles but it is over a decade old.

Last edited by FirstPorscheAt18; 04-19-2012 at 05:18 PM.
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Old 04-19-2012, 07:23 PM   #13
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i dont want to risk damaging my vehicle by doing things myself. I lack the tools as well, so i'd have to invest in those.

is it really reasonable to expect that catastrophic things are just going to happen to my boxster? should i sell it?

i can't afford to be paying $2000 maintenance fees every few months.

how long do you think the car will last before it completely dies? it only has 60k miles but it is over a decade old.
I hate to break it to you but it is not at all uncommon to spend half the value of the car on repairs and replacements. It all depends on luck I'd have to say. Some people have over 200k+ miles on this forum with very minor problems, while others have had engine failures at just 20,000 miles! A little research goes a long way when it comes to these cars. Since you're based in Richardson, I sent you a message regarding your situation.
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Old 04-19-2012, 08:08 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by FirstPorscheAt18 View Post
is it really reasonable to expect that catastrophic things are just going to happen to my boxster? should i sell it?

i can't afford to be paying $2000 maintenance fees every few months.

how long do you think the car will last before it completely dies? it only has 60k miles but it is over a decade old.
If you are going to drive it hot for 2 months, then yes, you can expect catastrophic things to happen.

My '99 Box has 75k on it now and came with full maintenance records. The most expensive "repairs" were the serpentine belt and tires. If properly maintained, upkeep can be reasonable, from what I've seen.

Last edited by particlewave; 04-19-2012 at 08:12 PM.
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Old 04-20-2012, 03:20 PM   #15
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Thanks. Is your icon a picture of your vehicle's rims? If so how did you get them like that? it looks badass

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I hate to break it to you but it is not at all uncommon to spend half the value of the car on repairs and replacements. It all depends on luck I'd have to say. Some people have over 200k+ miles on this forum with very minor problems, while others have had engine failures at just 20,000 miles! A little research goes a long way when it comes to these cars. Since you're based in Richardson, I sent you a message regarding your situation.
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Old 04-20-2012, 03:35 PM   #16
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If in fact you are truly dealing with a blown head gasket it is likely that there's more damage then simply replacing it. You won't know that until you get it to a qualified mechanic who can do a compression test. Driving it hot for more than a few miles, let alone weeks is terrible for any car.

We can all agree that you've spent more money than needed in the wrong areas but that has little to do with your current situation. right now you need someone to go through he car and make sure there's not further damage as when cars overheat hat happens is that the dis-similar metals now warp at different rates causing warpage (that's when the head gasket blows and no longer seals properly). Once that has happened you're looking at having the head milled back to being flat and probable other things. Rarely have I seen any car post 1995 car recover properly from a blown head gasket and last more than 20K miles. There always seems to be reoccurring stuff that gives you grief.

Don't ever deal with a general mechanic, either they know your Porsche car or they don't, if they don't know your particular car you're only paying them to learn at your expense, hence the issues you're having. Of course they'll have no issue with you paying them to do so but it is not helping you.

Good luck going forward. In the future you may want to post your issues PRIOR to blindly throwing cash at problems to those who have little knowledge of how to resolve them. What you're going through could have just as easily happened on a Honda, Toyota, etc with the very same results so the fact that it is a Porsche has nothing to do with your circumstance.
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Old 04-22-2012, 08:55 PM   #17
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Actually the mechanic does seem pretty qualified because he immediately said he needed to do the compression test. He found what I've already mentioned because during the compression test the coolant system had issues. It seems like they have a confident solution which is replacing what I've already mentioned, but i'll ask about the warping

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If in fact you are truly dealing with a blown head gasket it is likely that there's more damage then simply replacing it. You won't know that until you get it to a qualified mechanic who can do a compression test. Driving it hot for more than a few miles, let alone weeks is terrible for any car.

We can all agree that you've spent more money than needed in the wrong areas but that has little to do with your current situation. right now you need someone to go through he car and make sure there's not further damage as when cars overheat hat happens is that the dis-similar metals now warp at different rates causing warpage (that's when the head gasket blows and no longer seals properly). Once that has happened you're looking at having the head milled back to being flat and probable other things. Rarely have I seen any car post 1995 car recover properly from a blown head gasket and last more than 20K miles. There always seems to be reoccurring stuff that gives you grief.

Don't ever deal with a general mechanic, either they know your Porsche car or they don't, if they don't know your particular car you're only paying them to learn at your expense, hence the issues you're having. Of course they'll have no issue with you paying them to do so but it is not helping you.

Good luck going forward. In the future you may want to post your issues PRIOR to blindly throwing cash at problems to those who have little knowledge of how to resolve them. What you're going through could have just as easily happened on a Honda, Toyota, etc with the very same results so the fact that it is a Porsche has nothing to do with your circumstance.
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Old 04-23-2012, 08:32 AM   #18
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Thanks. Is your icon a picture of your vehicle's rims? If so how did you get them like that? it looks badass
No, I wish. Brake rotors will glow red hot under extreme conditions. I don't think it's possible to get a boxster's rotors that hot unless you are driving on a gt3 circuit or the likes.



In comparison to super cars, the Boxster's rotors and calipers are puny. Have you ever seen a Ferrari's rotors and calipers with your own eyes? Gigantic! Amazing!
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Old 04-23-2012, 09:19 AM   #19
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If you were spewing white smoke out the tail pipe then you will also want to check the condition of your AOS.

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