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Old 08-18-2015, 04:21 PM   #1
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A Boxster Test Drive - An Adventure in Idiocy

I found a two owner 2001 5 speed, with 46K miles last week via AutoTrader. It was 3 hours from me, so I called the owner and inquired. He had owned it since 2004 and rarely drove it. He had the clutch replaced and I asked why and he indicated he was trying to teach his daughter to drive a stick - and it didn't go so well. I asked for detailed pictures and it looked really well kept. It was Zanzibar Red with a black leather interior with Liltronic headlights and full leather package. Got all the option codes and he sent me the latest car fax. I asked about the tires and he said they were new.

After looking at the pictures, I felt good enough to make the 3 hour drive to check it out. I had called ahead and located a German auto shop that could do a PPI should I find this is the one I wanted. I was all set..

Or so I thought...

It was a horrible drive. The rain was pounding and intense this morning and it didn't quit until maybe 20 minutes before I arrived at my destination. I was worn out by the time I got there.

The car was sitting in the garage with a cover over it. He pulled the cover off and I was standing there looking at what I perceived was a tomato - at least that is the color it looked like to me. I took my time and scanned the body carefully. It was really good. I found a couple of small dings that were almost imperceptible and would be easily remedied. The front bumper had maybe two small chips in it.

Interior is near perfect. Has the leather dash. Everything looks good. Visor doors are broken. No big deal. Convertible top opens and closes. Top is in great shape. Time to start it up. Starts up okay, but on initial start I hear a momentary lower end noise until oil pressure comes up. I put it in reverse and pull out of the garage. Clutch is not as smooth as I envisioned. Nevertheless, I back out into the sun. The car is now an orange instead of a tomato. I silently ask myself if I can live with this color.

I inspect the tires. Owner said they were new. Fronts look great, back - not so much. They're down to the wear bars in the middle of both tires. I ask about them being overinflated, but he assures me he checked it and it is within spec.

Okay, we go for a drive. Of course the sky opens up and it starts raining. Got a little wet before I get the top completely up. So, I'm driving the car and the front windshield is fogging up. I don't know the HVAC controls so I ask the owner to get the AC off defrost and direct it to the vents. He starts pushing button after button, changing temp and fan speed, pressing more buttons and can't seem to redirect the air. I'm thinking a blend door issue, so I reach over and try. I find the correct button and all is well - but I'm thinking to myself why doesn't this guy know how to operate his own car?

A few minutes later we arrive back at his place and I ask about the clutch, specifically when was it changed. It was done in 2011, about 10K miles ago. Okay, not a lot of miles in that time… I ask when did you do the last oil change. He replied… 2011. The same time the clutch was changed. He is quick to note that Porsche recommends changing oil every 15K miles. I mention to him I believe it is also recommended to change it every year, regardless of whether you hit 15K or not. He is silent.

I ask when he changed the brakes. He indicates he has never had to change the brakes. Ever (Not in the 11 years he has owned it).

I get out the car and I smell burnt oil. I pull the oil cap and the coolant cap. Nothing out of the ordinary. I pull the dipstick, wipe it off and check the oil level. It was way, way below where it needs to be. Not by a little, but by alot. I show this to him. Again he is silent.

I turn to him and tell him this car is not for me. He is quick to tell me this is a 14 year old car and I'm not buying a $60K car. I explain my reasons, that P cars need to be maintained on a regular basis, you can't just let it sit and not take care of it.

I get back in my car and come home with many lessons learned. I allowed myself to be taken in by the pretty pictures and the low mileage (the asking price was $11.9K). I failed to ask detailed questions about the maintenance history via phone and email. I don't know why I didn't do that, I've always done it in the past. In retrospect, I burned a day of leave and wasted a whole day driving. I failed miserably and it was nobody's fault except my own.

I came home and ate some cookies. I feel better now...

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Old 08-18-2015, 04:29 PM   #2
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I actually love that orange/red color. I doubt the wife would love it though. I get enough looks in a silver car. Don't worry about the wasted day. You will find the right car soon enough. At least now you know more questions to ask the seller. Chalk it up as a learning experience.
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Old 08-18-2015, 04:36 PM   #3
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be prepared to go through that a few times . so many poor quality boxsters out there. Pictures and owners can be very misleading . take your time you will find the right one .
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Old 08-18-2015, 04:37 PM   #4
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Just a note: it's not unusual to see low oil on a dipstick after the car has been driven. That's why you check it cold.

Also, Zanzibar Red is awesome.
Keep at it.
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Old 08-18-2015, 04:37 PM   #5
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Unfortunate, but far better than if you didn't find those issues! By description sounded like a reasonable candidate, but mechanical maintenance is a major issues with these cars, especially the who is doing them. Now you will be forewarned and forearmed with questions to ask on next one.
That red would be a great color for car shows, but is a little too "attractive" to drive for me.
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Old 08-18-2015, 04:54 PM   #6
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Just a note: it's not unusual to see low oil on a dipstick after the car has been driven. That's why you check it cold.

Also, Zanzibar Red is awesome.
Keep at it.
Thanks for the tip. I was not aware of the correct procedure.
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Old 08-18-2015, 05:07 PM   #7
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While we are talking brakes, check rotors on potential cars, also. They seem to wear almost as fast as pads.
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Old 08-18-2015, 05:36 PM   #8
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Thanks for the tip. I was not aware of the correct procedure.
Owner probably wasn't either, could be a huge bargaining point to get the price where you want it, if you like the Zanzibar red. It's a rare color. I always try to check the dipstick on any unknown vehicle before starting the engine.
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Old 08-18-2015, 05:48 PM   #9
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I could have lived with the color as I thought it was unique. It was the lack of maintenance that shut the deal down. There is that gut feeling you have when you're sitting in the car that tells you this is not the one. I had that feeling…

There is one out there with my name on it. I just gotta be patient. Problem is, I've never been a patient man. Just ask my wife!
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Old 08-18-2015, 07:21 PM   #10
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Checking out various cars it a good way to get a sense of what is available. Sounds you learned from everything you did. Plus - you saved the cost of a PPI.
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Old 08-18-2015, 08:42 PM   #11
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That's one of my favorite factory colors.

And in defense of the owner, the hvac is not intuitive in the slightest. I leave mine on auto and hit the plus and minus and leave it at that.

Sorry to hear about the bad luck with oil and such though, definitely a good car to get away from.
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Old 08-18-2015, 09:00 PM   #12
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Zanzibar red, litronics and full black leather would make up for a few sins for me. I'm betting it had a few more high dollar options as well.

My mechanic calls Zanzibar Red "tomato soup red" and it does change color depending on the light.

Good luck finding the right car.
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Old 08-18-2015, 09:17 PM   #13
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Just a note: it's not unusual to see low oil on a dipstick after the car has been driven. That's why you check it cold.

Also, Zanzibar Red is awesome.
Keep at it.
oops...
you are supposed to check the oil warmed up.You do need to let it drain back in a few minutes and then check it.
In any case, hot vs cold should not equal really low. If you turn the car off and check it right away, it will be low. You have to wait for the oil to drain back down to the sump

RTFM!
(Couldn't resist Charles)
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Old 08-18-2015, 09:25 PM   #14
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Rule #1 - Never believe anything the owner tells you about the car they are selling.

Rule #2 - Never forget Rule #1. Even if the car or the girl selling it (or both) look very nice.
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Old 08-18-2015, 09:25 PM   #15
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That's one of my favorite factory colors.

And in defense of the owner, the hvac is not intuitive in the slightest. I leave mine on auto and hit the plus and minus and leave it at that.
.
Same, same. Love Zanzibar Red!! And, after 14 years I can turn the heat up and down and the AC on and after that I get lost.
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Old 08-18-2015, 09:51 PM   #16
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Cold, warm, whatever
Just not hot...
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Old 08-19-2015, 04:11 AM   #17
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And in defense of the owner, the hvac is not intuitive in the slightest. I leave mine on auto and hit the plus and minus and leave it at that.
Come on Jake, you're way younger than me. You're supposed to be a whiz at these newfangled technology thingamabobs. To me, the Audi HVAC unit is about the same as my Mk5 GTI's Climatronic, and a touch simpler than the 987's unit.
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Old 08-19-2015, 07:38 AM   #18
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If it's any resolve, I don't know how to work the defroster either.
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Old 08-19-2015, 11:48 AM   #19
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This may be contrary to what others do.
I think of features I would want mostly. They are really hard to add later.
I think of colors I like. I don't want to paint it yet.
If I find an exact match. I may pay more.
If I find something really close. I will pay less.
If I find hardly any match. Pass.

The air is not intuitive at all.
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Old 08-19-2015, 12:55 PM   #20
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Rule #1 - Never believe anything the owner tells you about the car they are selling.

Rule #2 - Never forget Rule #1. Even if the car or the girl selling it (or both) look very nice.
I've kept most receipts and all boxes for all parts and kept most old parts for just this reason. Nothing to hide, I fixed anything that needed attention.

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