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Old 02-08-2006, 06:36 AM   #1
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Feedback on how the car should feel

I have had my car now for a few weeks (which translates into a few days of driving since I only use it on nice weekend days). This is my first Porsche, and I had only test driven a couple of boxsters before I bought this one. Even though this car was owned by a forum member who gave it a clean bill of health (I bought it from the dealer he traded it into), and I had a PPI done I still have "worries". I guess its my nature.

The car handles fantastically around curves and the engine just purrrs. Its beautiful. HOWEVER I the performance on straight roads and rough (i.e. not perfect pavement) roads concerns me. I am hoping that what I am feeling is "normal", but I would like your input.

I guess the best way to describe the issue, is that on straight roads there is a very minor vibration in the wheel/car and the steering feels "skittish". You feel it, but you can't see the steering wheel vibrate, its that minor. Also its not the same feeling as tires needing balancing. The steering is totally responsive. the tinyist input in either direction and the car goes that way (which is what i would expect). Many years ago I had a similar feeling on another car, and the dealer realigned (it was in spec already) it with at a different setting to have the front wheels "fight each other" and thus get rid of that straight line jitter. I'm not sure I'm describing it right. Also any uneveness in the road tends to reverberate through the car a fraction of a second too long, and worse you feel it through the steering a second longer than I would expect. Interestingly enough, none of these things occur in a curve. The car handles perfectly then: perfect handling, no vibration, no problems with rough roads.

So is this normal or something that needs to be adjusted? What are your thoughts?

Rob
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Old 02-08-2006, 06:49 AM   #2
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Hi,

It's somewhat difficult to diagnose something which can be so subjective.

That said, it's a '99 (mileage?). This means that there can be some normal wear to any number of the suspension components such as Bushings, Shocks, Springs, etc. None of these things will last forever, and any one of these could be your culprit.

When was the last alignment done? Tires Balanced? Was it a Full 4-wheel Dynamic Balance? (on a Hunter 9XXX Machine?) What size Wheels? It is not at all beyond the realm of possibility that it could be a Rear Wheel alignment issue. How old are the Tires?

From what you describe, it doesn't sound too serious or expensive to correct. Have a Quality Alignment Shop, (not the Tires Plus or Firestone), preferably a Race Shop have a look. They'll probably correct it in no time.

The resonance of the Car you mention can simply be due to the fact that it is a convertible, not as rigid as a coupe. Strut Tower Braces go a long way to improving this. Good Luck!...

Happy Motoring!... Jim'99

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Old 02-08-2006, 06:50 AM   #3
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rteichman, I am sure you will get some other good advice from forum members, but my only imput would be to get a really good digital tire gauge, and frequently check your tire pressures. This time of the year you can get huge temp swings and this can greatly effect your tire pressures...and possibly handling.
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Old 02-08-2006, 07:40 AM   #4
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It has 43,000 miles on it with 18" wheels and brand new tires. I believe the car had an alignment recently (don't have the paperwork handy) but I have no idea of the quality. I should also mention that the wheels/tires were put on after the alignment. Thanks for the advise I will try to find a good shop and schedule an alignment.

Any suggestions on finding a good alignment shop in my area (Lehigh Valley, PA)?
Rob
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Old 02-08-2006, 07:52 AM   #5
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new wheels and tires won't affect the handling after an alignment.
At what speed do you feel the vibration?
I get the same thing around 65mph but I put it down to some flat spotting on my tires.
You do have to keep in mind tha a more responsive car is also a more sensitive car and you'll feel imperfections in the road in a much loud and clear way then you would driving along in a 4 ton sedan.
I suspect there is some suspension maintenance needed in your car if new tires have been mounted and your alignment was recently done. I doubt its the springs and shocks, when those go the symptoms don't really seem like what you've described. could be a bad wheel bearing some where.
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Old 02-08-2006, 09:04 AM   #6
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Hi,

I hate to disagree with Perfectlap, but handling can be adversely affected by the Tires. The alignment won't be affected, but the handling, especially vibration issues at Speed can well come from a set of Tires, New or otherwise

No Tire is perfectly round, nor is any wheel, they each have a High and Low side to them, an eccentricity. The inherent eccentricity is called Runout. A proper Tire Shop will mount the Tire so that it's Low Spot matches the Wheels High Spot, this reduces, but may not entirely eliminate the Runout problem, leaving some vibration in the Tire at some speeds.

In addition, a Tire is a Dynamic thing. It changes due to Forces exerted on it. A Tire may have a minimal Runout when not under load, but, due to variations in construction, may actually become more out-of-round once it is loaded.

This is why I recommend a Dynamic Balance of the Wheels/Tires. This differs significantly from a standard Spin Balancing. A Dynamic Balance puts the Wheel/Tire under Force by spinning it against a Loaded Road Wheel. This allows the Tire to be observed as it would actually run on the Street. Typically, Wheels/Tires are observed and corrected for 50MPH, but any speed can be selected and checked.

A Company named Hunter Engineering manufactures this type of equipment, the latest generation being the GSP9700. I would not have my Wheels/Tires mounted and Balanced by a shop which does not use this equipment. You can see a detailed explanation of all this here: http://www.gsp9700.com/pub/technical/5098T/5098T.pdf

One problem is that not every Wheel/Tire combination can be made to work. There are limits to the eccentricities which can be adjusted for. I once bought a set of Dunlop SP Sport 8000 Tires for my Esprit from Tire Rack and two of them were out of Spec when checked on the GSP9700 (which gives you a Graphic Printout of the Tire, it's Specs and it's Footprint). The Shop refused to mount the Tires as they have high Quality Control on their work.

I had a heck of a time getting Tire Rack to exchange them. They don't check the Tires for this and so did not consider it to be faulty. It took two more pairs from them to get it right.

Interestingly, the Manager said that they see much more of these problems with Tires bought from Discount Houses such as Discount Tire, Tire Rack, Costco and the like, over those sold by the Tire Manufacturers' Outlets and Franchises, by a factor of about 5:1, a significant amount. He speculated that the Tire Manufacturers keep the best Tires for their own Outlets and Franchises...

Happy Motoring!... Jim'99

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Old 02-08-2006, 09:43 AM   #7
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yes you are right I mispoke, I meant to say that the alignment numbers should not change because you are changing tires.
But yes one set of tires will affect the handling vs. another set entirely. Going from Conti Touring tires to streetable R-compounds was a great example.

and yes the manufacturers aren't stupid. They know every batch of tires of the same exact tire aren't always the same. Even motorsports teams fail to catch a bad batch until the driver is out on the track so I wouldn't doubt that a discount broker like Tire Rack would even bother checking. But if you have the time they will get it right eventually. To some their time is less valuable then the money they may save which can be a whole lot with $250 tires (EACH!) now the norm on high end sports cars.
BTW, my preferred bicycle tires are now $50 each. Our dependence on oill...
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Old 02-08-2006, 10:47 AM   #8
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@ Perfectlap,

I did not mean to infer that one shouldn't use these Tire Discounters. I have, and I still do. It's just that one must watch out for the out-of-spec Tires that seem to come from them with greater frequency.

And this is where the Dynamic Balancing and the Hunter GPS9700 Machine come in - they allow you to identify these defficiencies before you drive away on the Tires. With the Graphic Printout available, you can Prove your claim with the Discounter.

If you have to bear the shipping costs in exchanging the Tires (especially multiple times as I did), you'll quickly use up any savings you hoped to realize.

Tire Rack didn't want to eat the Freight Charges, but I had irrefutable proof that they sold me a faulty product - they couldn't claim it was a fault of the Car's alignment or suspension, which was their initial reply. I wonder if they didn't just re-inventory the Tires I returned and sold them to some other unsuspecting buyer?...

Happy Motoring!... Jim'99
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Old 02-08-2006, 11:50 AM   #9
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The question remains, WHERE do I find a place that has this Hunter equipment? Is there a web site or service centers that us it? Does anyone know of any in the Eastern PA area (Lehigh Valley)?

Rob
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Old 02-08-2006, 12:02 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rteichman
The question remains, WHERE do I find a place that has this Hunter equipment? Is there a web site or service centers that us it? Does anyone know of any in the Eastern PA area (Lehigh Valley)?

Rob

At the website, www.gsp9700.com, there is a gsp9700 locator

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Old 02-08-2006, 01:27 PM   #11
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I noticed a local high school's auto shop has a Hunter. I should stop by with my BoxsterS maybe I can get a deal when I mount my new set of RA-1's
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Old 02-08-2006, 01:29 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Perfectlap
I noticed a local high school's auto shop has a Hunter. I should stop by with my BoxsterS maybe I can get a deal when I mount my new set of RA-1's

Yeah, if you want your new wheels scratched and gouged-up!
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Old 02-08-2006, 01:38 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Perfectlap
I noticed a local high school's auto shop has a Hunter. I should stop by with my BoxsterS maybe I can get a deal when I mount my new set of RA-1's
Are you the same Perfectlap that won't use valet parking and would rather park his car several blocks away? Would you really be comfortable with teenagers learning on your immaculately polished Boxster?
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Old 02-08-2006, 02:03 PM   #14
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oh yeahh I have teenagers work on my car all the time.
No I'll be going to a local Porsche CLub sponsor to have the tires mounted. I have a set of harness belts I'll want them to install as well. When it comes to my life at 100mph I leave it to the pros.
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Old 02-08-2006, 02:06 PM   #15
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Refer "Tech & Performance" 01/27/06

I'm not sure if my experience matches yours but I described it in the above reference.
Not much input though, I think most Americans must drive on good quality roads!!
I noted with interest the comments received to date and my first reaction was that any balance or alignment would surely show up on a smoothe road as well.
Cheers, I'll follow this one with interest.
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Old 02-08-2006, 04:24 PM   #16
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I guess I'm struggling a bit rectifying the description of the problem with the fact you've only driven it a few times. Don't get me wrong, if you feel something then by all means get it looked at. This is your baby and you need to be happy with it.

I just know that after I've been out of my Boxster for any length of time (which is rare), I tend to be a little more sensitive to every little perceived sound, vibration, or performance issue. I keep thinking - "was that there before", "did it always make that sound", "why isn't an apple called a RED". You know, standard stuff.
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Old 02-08-2006, 10:15 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rteichman
The question remains, WHERE do I find a place that has this Hunter equipment? Is there a web site or service centers that us it? Does anyone know of any in the Eastern PA area (Lehigh Valley)?

Rob
If you live in a big enough city, chances aer you'll find one. I ended calling tire stores and simply asking if they had one and if they didn't, asking them who did.

In my city I found a GM dealership (gee, GM of all places) had one. I guess they use it on the Corvettes. And they were cheap too!

My 01 Boxster had a vibration that was cured by a combination of:

1) Hunter 9700 road-force balance
2) whieel alignment with a modern laser and mirror based contraption
3) ensuring the tires are warm

Note #3. In the winter after it's been sitting for a few days (I don't drive my Box when it rains), it takes a while for the tires to "unflatspot" themselves.
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Old 02-09-2006, 06:47 AM   #18
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OK thanks to the info here I found a shop (local tire store) that has the hunter balancing and wheel alignment system. I also found a Porsche specialist shop that does not have this equipment but has many years of experience and is highly rated.

So do I choose equipment over technician? There is also a major price difference.

Rob
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Old 02-09-2006, 06:54 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rteichman
OK thanks to the info here I found a shop (local tire store) that has the hunter balancing and wheel alignment system. I also found a Porsche specialist shop that does not have this equipment but has many years of experience and is highly rated.

So do I choose equipment over technician? There is also a major price difference.

Rob
Hi,

Go with the equipment! Experience counts for a lot, but the Mechanic can only speculate what's going on while the Machine will actually show you. Also, the Machine can make the necessary adjustment with a much higher degree of accuracy.

But, realize there may be a variety of things contributing all at once to the issue. It could be Wheel Bearings, Worn Bushings, Alignment, Tire Pressure, a slightly bent suspension member (just hitting a PotHole or Curb can cause this)even a sticky Brake Caliper. But, the highest likelyhood is that it's the Tires/Wheels, so this is the best place to start. Hopefully, that cures it. If not, at least you've eliminated it from the list of possibilities...

Happy Motoring!... Jim'99
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