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Old 03-19-2015, 01:50 PM   #1
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The Ying and Yang of Boxster Reliability

I was recently contemplating (stand back, I'm thinking!) my three engine failures last year and contrasting that situation with how utterly reliable my car has been in 2015.

This got me to thinking that there seems to be a certain ying and yang to Boxster reliability and ownership - for awhile they can be incredibly reliable but then the car will hit a stretch where the car will need two or three repairs in a row and you start to wonder WTF is going on? Then things calm down and you're back to needing nothing but gas and oil for a year.

Anyone else experience this?

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Old 03-19-2015, 02:08 PM   #2
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It's not a good thing when you're happy with the solid reliability of your car for a 2 1/2 month period
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Old 03-19-2015, 02:23 PM   #3
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Preventative maintance goes a long way
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Old 03-19-2015, 02:25 PM   #4
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Think I'm hitting that car needing attention stretch. First couple of years no problems. Then the CEL came on.

One for a bad bank 1 knock sensor, which actually wasn't bad, the AOS lower tube runs right over the engine at the bank 1 knock sensor and it actually sawed through the knock sensor wiring. Soldered new wires in, that problem is fixed.

I also got cat conv. efficiency faults for both sides along with bad O2 sensors.

During my intake upgrade I noticed a slight bit of oil in the AOS tube, car doesn't smoke though. I figure this mucked up my cats. Also the top and lower AOS tubes where very brittle and I actually snapped both. Temp fix on that is working fine.

So I need to replace the AOS and it's upper and lower tubing.

The cat issue, well I'm changing to headers with 100 cel cats and getting secondary cat delete pipes. This has been a plan I wanted to do anyways so the cats could have been fine, but they were going bye bye anyways.

O2 sensors, with 116k miles on the car, can't complain.

I'll be doing all the work myself and the cost will be $1,892 for all the parts and I get a performance upgrade.

I had the turn signal switch break too. I put in a 4 stalk and enabled the OBC, so now I get all those cool features that I always wished I had.

During a plug change, noticed I needed to replace the coils.

So in retrospect, the AOS and coil issues are the only things that were not a planned expenditure.

EDIT: I forgot about the starter. Although it was working fine I would get that embarrassing squeal every now and then, but always with people around lol. I bought and installed a new starter for it.


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Old 03-19-2015, 02:46 PM   #5
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These cars are aging....most of us on here have 12+ years on them. Stands to reason things will break down in cycles. If one part of the suspension is going, probably more will soon follow and so on and so on. Parts don't last forever.

Preventive maintenance can help of course - the downside to that is you are spending money you might not have to spend for a few more years. Money well spent? Maybe......
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Old 03-19-2015, 02:53 PM   #6
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These cars are aging....most of us on here have 12+ years on them. Stands to reason things will break down in cycles. If one part of the suspension is going, probably more will soon follow and so on and so on. Parts don't last forever.

Preventive maintenance can help of course - the downside to that is you are spending money you might not have to spend for a few more years. Money well spent? Maybe......
When you by a new car, everything is new. Then it starts to age. I always, *almost* always drive old cars. I'll replace an alternator with 120k miles on it for just that reason. Same thing for anything that sees wear. when I've had new cars off the lot, there's a sense of invulnerability that comes with all the parts being brand new. I get some of that back by striking at wearing parts by replacing them before they can strike at me. That's just me.
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Old 03-19-2015, 03:07 PM   #7
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The engineers at Porsche designed these cars to hold up as unit. One that doesn't come off duty until the warranty is over. It stands to reason that that once the car's hours/miles are over the wrong side of the curve, the modeling takes over.

I remember an interview with an F1 driver at Williams saying that Patrick Head could look at a part and say "that new part from the factory will fail after x number of laps". And sure enough the part would fail after x number of laps.

My first 70K miles (or say 10 years), zero repairs really. The first 20 miles thereafter things started going very close to each other. At the time I though it more like disrupting the machine's rythm by taking out a critical component for that system. In my mind it throws off the efficiency of the system and the new part causes older ones to fail as they have to work harder.
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Old 03-20-2015, 09:13 AM   #8
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I can say that my Boxsters have required no more frequent repairs/maintenance than any other of my vehicles that have approached that same age and milage. I think it is just part of the law of averages in the automotive kingdom.
And yes, it does seem to go in cycles, but so does my luck in general it seems.
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Old 03-20-2015, 09:23 AM   #9
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wait a minute...you had three 2.5 engine failures??
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Old 03-20-2015, 10:17 AM   #10
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It is an eye opener to me how less stout these cars are compared to my 928. The early Porsches were designed under a different paradigm, and had a lot less big corporate (and bean counting) influence. for sure the 928s have their issues, as do all older cars, but they do not fail at the rates I see consistently on the Boxster boards, and they are much easier to work on in my view. And three engine failures? That would have been it for me after the fisrt one.
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Old 03-20-2015, 11:05 AM   #11
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I don't think these cars are less reliable, sure they do have some design issues but for the most part things start to fail after a certain amount of time. I 've had my car for 4 years now and this year I started having all the common problem AOS, Expansiontank, O2 senor ect. The car is also 14 years old so I take it all with a grain of salt.

The pleasure of driving a Boxster makes up for all those little hiccups.
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Old 03-20-2015, 11:31 AM   #12
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It is an eye opener to me how less stout these cars are compared to my 928. The early Porsches were designed under a different paradigm, and had a lot less big corporate (and bean counting) influence. for sure the 928s have their issues, as do all older cars, but they do not fail at the rates I see consistently on the Boxster boards, and they are much easier to work on in my view. And three engine failures? That would have been it for me after the fisrt one.
The downside to these boards is they can give you false impressions. Boards like this are more prone to complaint and concerns. Rarely do we see someone post "No problems today!" but there are 1000's of Porsche drivers out there who experience this daily. No problems. For every engine failure, how many clean beautiful P-Cars are out there with little to no problems?

No doubt there was some "bean counting" done when the car was produced (as the majority of all mass-produced items are) but I still fail to see how that has dramatically reduced the overall reliability of this car vs. other manufactures of similar age. Sure, there are lots of people out there who say their 12 year old pickup is in better shape than the Porsche - but there are just as many saying the opposite.
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Old 03-20-2015, 12:17 PM   #13
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I've owned a lot of Japanese vehicles and my first German one has been a real eye opener: half the life-cycle! I think that the Porsche that built our cars was almost broke and learning new ways of operating just to survive much as many low-volume builders of the day were. Another problem is that Porsche seems to want to re-invent every single part with a new design which decreases overall reliability in place of building on past successes.
At the end of the day Porsche (and other luxury German marques) cares most about the buyer's perceived value of their product and their relatively short-term experience of it (2-5 yrs?) versus the overall economy of a longer term of ownership for the more mundane stuff.
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Old 03-20-2015, 12:51 PM   #14
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I've owned a lot of Japanese vehicles and my first German one has been a real eye opener: half the life-cycle! I think that the Porsche that built our cars was almost broke and learning new ways of operating just to survive much as many low-volume builders of the day were. Another problem is that Porsche seems to want to re-invent every single part with a new design which decreases overall reliability in place of building on past successes.
At the end of the day Porsche (and other luxury German marques) cares most about the buyer's perceived value of their product and their relatively short-term experience of it (2-5 yrs?) versus the overall economy of a longer term of ownership for the more mundane stuff.
I think there is something to be said about the 'perceived value'. Porsche is a high end car - and they are marketed as such. These older cars don't make Porsche any money and most of us (not all) who own them own them because we can't afford a brand spanking new one. So yeah, Porshe's target audience is not us. It's the people who flip into a new one every few years.
That being said - if you cruise forums devoted to mature sportscars, you will hear a lot of the same thing. I know people who have old corvettes and they can experience some of the same pain we do. Cars age and sportscars are driven far more aggressively than say your Toyota Camry so will show their age earlier on.
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Old 03-20-2015, 01:24 PM   #15
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Interesting thread. As the owner of a 1999 2.5 approaching 100,000 miles, I understand it's only a matter of time before things fail. I'm not handy at all with a wrench, so I'm having to psych myself up for the inevitable repair expsenses. (There's also a big mystery at work with my Boxster, as I know next to nothing about the history of the car -- other than it was driven about 9,000 miles over a 7-year stretch by the previous owner).

In general, though, I've had very good luck with cars over the years. The only exceptions was a 1979 model Audi 5000s that had a tendency to overheat and required an engine rebuild, and a 1993 Nissan Sentra that seized because I (stupidly) let it run out of oil. My daily driver is a 2010 Maxima with 125,000 miles on the odometer. My only maintenance to date has been the scheduled oil changes and swapping out the transmission fluid at 100,000 miles.
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Old 03-20-2015, 03:09 PM   #16
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wait a minute...you had three 2.5 engine failures??
Yes, three.

1. 145K mile original engine failed due to a lifter failure
2. Professionally rebuilt engine failed due to another lifter failure (re-used lifter cradle)
3. Professionally rebuilt engine (with all new lifters and lifter cradle) failed due to spun bearing (ultimate reason for failure is inconclusive)

Right now, I am racing a donor engine with 90K miles from a Boxster that was totaled for front end damage.

So yeah, 3 months of no major failures feels pretty damn good and I'd like to keep the mojo going!
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Old 03-20-2015, 04:50 PM   #17
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The downside to these boards is they can give you false impressions. Boards like this are more prone to complaint and concerns. Rarely do we see someone post "No problems today!" but there are 1000's of Porsche drivers out there who experience this daily. No problems. For every engine failure, how many clean beautiful P-Cars are out there with little to no problems?

No doubt there was some "bean counting" done when the car was produced (as the majority of all mass-produced items are) but I still fail to see how that has dramatically reduced the overall reliability of this car vs. other manufactures of similar age. Sure, there are lots of people out there who say their 12 year old pickup is in better shape than the Porsche - but there are just as many saying the opposite.
I agree with all you said, but I wasn't comparing a fairly modern Boxster to a contemporary car of similar age from another manufacturer. Indeed, I would find the Boxster to be likely far more reliable and with a better build quality than most other cars of a similar vintage. Instead, my comparison was of the Boxster to older Porsches - take your pick - 928s, 944s, 911s (early), and the build quality and ability to work on them is far different (better imho) than the modern Porsches. My 928, for example, was hand built - as were all of the earlier sharks.
I do a lot of work on my cars, and to me the differences in the quality are noticeable. That said, I do think the Boxster is a great car, but it does seem to have more than a fair share of issues - at least the 986 version.
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Old 03-20-2015, 05:04 PM   #18
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I owned a Honda, an Acura and a Boxster. All of the around the same vintage and mileage. The Boxster was by far the most reliable in terms of trips to the mechanic. It was also the cheapest to maintain despite me giving it extra love (Michelin N-spec tires, Optima AGM battery, an extra O2 sensor, etc.). It never left me stranded, not something I can say about either of the Honda products.

Unfortunately, it also depreciated the most.
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Old 03-20-2015, 05:43 PM   #19
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I owned a Honda, an Acura and a Boxster. All of the around the same vintage and mileage. The Boxster was by far the most reliable in terms of trips to the mechanic. It was also the cheapest to maintain despite me giving it extra love (Michelin N-spec tires, Optima AGM battery, an extra O2 sensor, etc.). It never left me stranded, not something I can say about either of the Honda products.

Unfortunately, it also depreciated the most.
My Boxster is a 2003, my daughter learned to drive in it and took her driver's test in it. When it came time to buy her a car she wanted a Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder. So we found one, a 2003 model with 80k miles on it. I have had to make more repairs to that car then my Boxster that has way more miles. I bought the Eclipse for $4,000 and I bet I have put $3,000 or more into it in less then 2 years.

Right front knuckle busted on it while she was doing 65 mph, which folded the wheel under the car and sent her into a median. Luckily the median was snow covered and the car didn't bite into the ground and flip over on her, but the car did at least three 360 spins and slid a football field length before a hill that went up to another highway stopped the car.

Had to rebuild the whole right side suspension. Along with new wheels and tires and a new strut for the left side. There is also damage to the front bumper cover and the inner finder liner. Did a temp bonding fix on those. but I have a new bumper and finder liner bought for it.



Just got done putting new brakes on it. The front rotors were warped. Of course I got a nice set of drilled and slotted rotors and ceramic pads all the way around.

Right now it's leaking oil from both valve covers, needs an O2 sensor, needs a new alternator. The car has developed a squeak when you start up and stop. I have not tracked down where the squeak is coming from. It is clearly coming from the side that was rebuilt. I didn't replace the strut mount, so it could be that and the sway bar bushings need to be replaced, so it could be that.

I have all the parts bought to fix it, just have not had the chance to put them in.

Car looks nice though.

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Old 03-20-2015, 06:49 PM   #20
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Yes, three.

1. 145K mile original engine failed due to a lifter failure
2. Professionally rebuilt engine failed due to another lifter failure (re-used lifter cradle)
3. Professionally rebuilt engine (with all new lifters and lifter cradle) failed due to spun bearing (ultimate reason for failure is inconclusive)

Right now, I am racing a donor engine with 90K miles from a Boxster that was totaled for front end damage.

So yeah, 3 months of no major failures feels pretty damn good and I'd like to keep the mojo going!
You are hooked!
But seriously how common are multiple failures like this in BSR?

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