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Old 02-01-2015, 09:57 AM   #1
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New owner with sudden remorse

Greetings all. I'm a brand owner of a 1999 Boxster with 98,000 miles. Base model with 5-speed, appears well cared for.Although I've alway admired the Boxster, I'll admit this was an impulse purchase. I was looking at jeeps and got this instead. I did very little research beforehand. Ending up getting in the car for $7500.

So I raced home and started scanning the forums and looking to upgrade wheels, audio, etc, and am immediately hit with the engine failure stories. I've read enough to see there is somewhat of a debate on the actual failure rates of the vehicles. Still, it is a punch to the gut.

Needless to say, my excitement has now turned to trepidation. At age 45, I should know better than making such a purchase on a whim. (Although my dad has a 2006ish 911 that has been largely maintenance free). But I wanted a fun second car and the boxster fit the bill.

What's the first thing I should do? I should add that the car was purchased from a Cadillac dealer in central Missouri. Do I need to make an immediate appointment with a porsche mechanic to have it services and checked for potential failures? Sell it? Just quit worrying and enjoy it? I just bought it Saturday and the dealer won't inspect it til Monday (I'm driving on dealer tags). I even considered asking for the deal to be voided.

Ifeel like I'm driving a ticking time bomb. Ugh

Last edited by jeepdad; 02-01-2015 at 10:05 AM. Reason: Typos
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Old 02-01-2015, 10:27 AM   #2
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Typically a dealership does a "PPI" or pre purchase inspection and gives you the low down.

Then the oil can be sent to a lab for analysis.

Get under it. Any signs of oil? Sounds perfectly smooth? Have any service records?
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Old 02-01-2015, 10:40 AM   #3
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Hah! Don't freak out. If the engine made it to 98,000 miles and is running well, then its likely to make it another 50,000+ miles.

The first thing to do is to get the PPI that you should have got before you bought the car. This can be done at a independent Porsche shop or a Porsche dealer - but you need someone who knows Porsche's (not a Cadillac dealer).

The PPI report will tell you where actual or potential problems might be. Use that to guide your path forward.

In regards to engine failures, yes, some engines do fail early but the vast majority are out there on the road running fine. There is one particular bearing (search on "intermediate shaft bearing (IMS)") that can fail but again, if it made it to 98K miles, you're probably ok. But if it really worries you, then you can have it replaced with a more durable bearing when you get a chance.

My personal experience is that all three of my M96 engines have lasted to 140,000 or more with the original IMS bearings (I won't count the engines that I've used for racing as the use they get is not necessarily indicative of normal street driving). And when two of the engines did fail (one at 148,000 miles and the other at 204,000 miles), the cause was not the IMS bearing. The third is still running strong in my 996 with 148,000 miles.

Furthermore, the engine in my Boxster race car right now is a 90,000 mile donor engine from a Boxster that was totaled in a front end collision and it runs great!
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Last edited by thstone; 02-01-2015 at 10:49 AM.
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Old 02-01-2015, 10:47 AM   #4
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Jeepdad,

Don't fear! I bought a 1998 Boxster with 73k miles back in 2009. I had the same thoughts after purchase. However, if there was going to be a problem with the IMS, don't you think it would have failed by now. The IMS is only a maintenance item at this point. The early cars had double row bearings (like my 1998) and they are not know for there failures. Check to see when they changed to the single row bearing. Maybe you also have the double row.

I've enjoyed every minute with my car! Do the same.
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Old 02-01-2015, 11:17 AM   #5
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jeepdad, try not to worry. Drive it like you stole it, and put aside a 5 or 6 hundred bucks a month if the engine goes. Once it does, hopefully you'll have the 4-5 thousand saved up to do your first Boxster engine swap. I vote a DIY swap, because the dealer quoted me 16k to replace my engine.

Voiding the deal because you did research after the fact doesn't strike me a fair, but that's between you and your conscience. Maybe ask the dealer to trade it for something else you like?
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Old 02-01-2015, 11:57 AM   #6
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I bought my '99 five years ago with 74K miles in a similar fashion as you except it was a Ford dealer. I knew nothing about Porsches except I wanted to own one (I was 62) and the test drive sold me.
The first mechanic I took it to, after driving it for a couple of months, started ranting about how terrible the Boxsters are and advised me to take the car back and void the deal.
Happily I ignored his warning and drove the piss out of it in DE's, AX's and spirited back road forays for another 10K miles. At that point I decided to invest in the LN ceramic IMS because I decided I wanted to keep it for a long while, so at 84K I had one installed and a new updated RMS. My Box is a Tip so more labor was involved but Alden at Flintworks in Campbell did the job for $1,800 four years ago.
My Box now has 116K fun filled miles and I'm expecting to go to 250K before anything major needs to be done.
Get an inspection done, have the 60K service done if there is no record of it, have the oil checked and consider having the bearing replaced when it's time for a new clutch.
Drive it and have fun it is what the car was made for.
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Old 02-01-2015, 12:04 PM   #7
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A Boxster is a lifestyle car, sometimes your lifestyle does and, when it doesn't, you sell it. The dual row your '99 probably has (I say probably because all '99s were built with a dual but it could have a replacement engine) have a low failure rate. We know lots of cars that have double your miles. Assuming you paid a reasonable price for it (and this season, it should be a low one) just assume it is like any other 100k mile car that is 15 years old. A risk to be sure and a bit more expensive if it does fail but no more likely to fail than many other brands. Do be fanatic about doing the services and oil changes at 5k and 1 year whichever is less with the proper oil.

Loved my '99. Replaced when I totaled it with an '01S. Sold only because at 70 I wasn't using it enough. Both cheap to maintain and dead on reliable.
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Old 02-01-2015, 12:17 PM   #8
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You just bought a special car for about 12% of what it cost new. The chassis is almost completely made of aluminum and great lengths were taken in order to keep the center of gravity as low as possible. The engine is a marvel of complexity compared to those in more mundane vehicles. It's a 2- seater sports car with a convertible roof. It's an icon and the mfg has a long history rich in motorsport victories. The running costs will probably be higher than a camry or focus but the car offers much that 'rational' vehicles don't. You have the weekend to decide if you want to give it a shot or not. The people at this forum said 'ye'. Is there any history with the car?
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Old 02-01-2015, 12:28 PM   #9
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Thank you, all of you. I am breathing much easier now.

I'll get the 60,000 mile service done (there are no records with the car) and just enjoy it. And I'll do as suggested and set aside a "maintenance" fund for my silver buddy.

Pics to come soon.

-Barry
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Old 02-01-2015, 12:29 PM   #10
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Ask this one question here and the route to P-Car happiness may be clear:
"who are the best M96 Indies in my area?"
Note I did not say dealer/air-cooled Porsche/Cayenne etc. -M96.
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Old 02-01-2015, 01:04 PM   #11
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All the advice given in these posts is dead on. I would only emphasize enjoy it for what it is..anything bad could happen in life not just to a car. I stopped worrying about my 99 with 125k miles. Original IMS. There are people starving and don't have a home to live in, maybe even in your community... Enjoy the fact that you even have a Porsche!
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Old 02-01-2015, 01:48 PM   #12
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If you DO decide to go the route of fixing the IMS, here is a quote I recieved from and indepent shop up here in Maine.

"Here are some ball park figures on IMS repairs.
$3500 IMS Solution Home
$2250 IMS Retrofit Gen 2 Gen 2 Single Row Pro IMS Retrofit
+$840 if clutch is needed
+$1035 if flywheel is needed

The above repairs include replacement of the rear main seal, crankcase bolts and upgrading to a spin on oil filter
There are also some other repairs we would recommend at the same time depending on mileage and service history of the vehicle."

End quote.
Does that seem right to people? It seemed way high to me but it IS a direct quote frm a non-dealer Porsche shop.
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Old 02-01-2015, 01:49 PM   #13
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Does your sales agreement have a right to cancel clause in it. If it does, and you dont feel 100% comfortable with it then I would return it. The Boxster is a very fun car to drive but it doesn't give me that Warm Fuzzy that a Camaro RS or Mustang Does. The only thing that grinds my gears about Porsche is the Cost of Parts. I bought mine as a project car and once I got through the cheap stuff the price of other projects stated to annoy me to the point that I started considering trading it for a 05-06 mustang GT. But its still a fun car to drive.
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Old 02-01-2015, 02:26 PM   #14
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If you enjoy the Porsche image drive it and enjoy, as others have stated you're likely ok on the IMS due to age / mileage of the car.

If you are going to pine over what is in your mind as the inevitable and fret over costly repairs (they are costly compared to most makes), pass on the Boxster and buy a Miata.

Life is too short to spend what should be enjoyable moments worrying. My 2 cents.
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Old 02-01-2015, 02:32 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Laflamme02 View Post
If you DO decide to go the route of fixing the IMS, here is a quote I recieved from and indepent shop up here in Maine.

"Here are some ball park figures on IMS repairs.
$3500 IMS Solution Home
$2250 IMS Retrofit Gen 2 Gen 2 Single Row Pro IMS Retrofit
+$840 if clutch is needed
+$1035 if flywheel is needed

The above repairs include replacement of the rear main seal, crankcase bolts and upgrading to a spin on oil filter
There are also some other repairs we would recommend at the same time depending on mileage and service history of the vehicle."

End quote.
Does that seem right to people? It seemed way high to me but it IS a direct quote frm a non-dealer Porsche shop.
Just for perspective:

Cost of good beer.......$varies depending on individual taste
Drop transmission.....$0 and about 3-4 hours labor
Clutch / DMF / RMS kit from Pelican...$1200 isn't it?
IMS.....$650 to buy, about $250 to have Indy come to you while trans is pulled
Reinstall.
Profit.

Do CV boots and other little stuff while in there. It's all nuts & boots.

More than my Ranger, but reasonable for what it is.
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Old 02-01-2015, 03:02 PM   #16
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Wow! the ride on corners and fast speeds in a boxster compared to your jeep on the highway! One was meant for the road and one was meant for the offroad. Enjoy the heck out of your speedster. if it ever gives you any indications of problems don't ignore them. just enjoy the heck out of it. They really ARE a blast to drive.
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Old 02-01-2015, 03:43 PM   #17
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Thank you all so much for the thoughtful replies. I am breathing much easier now.

I'm going to enjoy the car, and set aside the money earmarked for new rims/tires for some of the other issues addressed here.

Questions: there's a shop about 45 minutes down the road operated by a great guy who worked for about 20 years at a Mercedes dealership in St. Louis. Now he is independent and has a good reputation. Worth checking out?

Again, thanks for the feedback.
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Old 02-01-2015, 04:24 PM   #18
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Laflamme, your quote is for a different year and type of IMS and may not apply to the original poster. Labor rates vary by location and the expertise of the mechanic and the competition in the area. Parts come from a distributor so they should be pretty uniform no matter where you go.

You can go broke trying to prevent every type of problem that could occur. You could rebuild the whole engine, suspension, brakes etc. I've over maintained more cars than I under maintained...and generally sold the cars along to the next owner shortly after I finished.

To the OP, if you want to do the IMS, go ahead. You'll be driving a $50k+ car for darn little even after doing that. You'll also be replacing a part that has a failure probability of approximately 1% within the next year. (Before disputing this figure, recall this is a dual row we are talking about here.)

With any used car with lots of miles you are going to have wear issues, a Porsche is not immune. Nor a Toyota. Think of failures as occurring on a bell curve, some will be early, some late. Every wear part, every car. And you don't know where on the curve your part/car will fall.

I spent more over 5 years on a Honda and on my wife's Acura than I ever did on my Porsches over the same period of time. Tires included and I treated my Porsches to better parts!

But every time I drove the Boxster ...
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Old 02-01-2015, 04:29 PM   #19
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Where do you live jeepdad?

Independent Porsche Repair | Repair Shops Specializing in Porsche | PCarShops.com will give you a list of places near you. Check with local owners of Porsches. Most owners are happy to share experiences with you.
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Old 02-01-2015, 05:05 PM   #20
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The '99 is one of the MY's least likely to have an IMS failure (the failure everyone freaks about about these days). It is about as likely to happen to a '99, as any other car on the road, and only became an issue when they redesigned the IMS bearing for MY '01-05, and a few 987's.

The '99 is prone to RMS failure, which can be spotted as an oil leak before a failure occurs. The '99 is also prone to the slipped sleeve issue (cylinder sleeve breaks), however if it has made it to 98k miles that is extremely unlikely to occur.

Please don't ask me to explain the MY's that are affected by what failure. It is very well documented, although many owners like to replace the IMS on unaffected years anyway to feel 'safe.'

Enjoy the car, and realize that there are hundreds of thousands of Boxsters out there, mostly with very happy owners, and a few unhappy owners that had issues writing about it on the internet.

If you still have buyers remorse, go drive down the twistiest road you can find and report back!
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