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Old 09-25-2016, 03:37 PM   #1
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How The Weekend Finished Up



After 13 months and +/-7,000 miles of flawless operation, we made it home on the hook. 3 day weekend in the local mountains. The Riverside PCA chapter had their 14th Porsche Timeline at Lake Arrowhead. 70+ cars from 1960 - 2017. Thank-you Rancho Mirage Porsche for being the title sponsor. Great cars, weather and crowd. Special thanks to AAA for the quick response. The truck showed up in less than 30 minutes. I just renewed our membership on Friday.

So I had just driven 25 miles down the mountain at a reasonable pace with the wife in the car. She hates mountain roads. I am just about to get on the freeway and the ABS light comes on, 30 seconds later the airbag light comes on. I start to slow down and turn into the next parking lot. The Tip trans is now flashing in Emergency mode and I am now in permanent 4th. I pulled into a parking spot and shut it down. I read through the manual and looked under the car. No leaks, no CEL, temp normal. I waited about 10 minutes and tried to turn it over and the battery didn't have enough to do more than tick. Cue the hook.

If the belt, battery or alternator had gone bad, I would have expected an alt light, high temps and a CEL.

It is almost cool enough to go outside and start pulling the covers off. Wish me luck. Any guesses? I'll update after I figure it out.

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Old 09-25-2016, 03:49 PM   #2
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My WAG is the regulator in the alternator went kaput.
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Old 09-25-2016, 04:14 PM   #3
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Too many unrelated systems affected at the same time. Common item. electricity!

Bet this will be an easy fix.
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Old 09-25-2016, 04:38 PM   #4
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Update #1

Both covers off and everything seems to be tight and in the right place. Battery was at 11.5 V. I have it on the charger and will try to get it running to check what the charging system is putting out. Then I will pull the battery out and have Autozone do a load test on it. It is a nicer Inter-State battery that looks to be in good shape. But I do not know how old it is. Thanks for the input.
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Old 09-25-2016, 06:19 PM   #5
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Update #2

Fired right up and no power coming into the battery. I watched as the battery started to drain back down. Must be the alternator/voltage regulator. I will pull that tomorrow night.
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Old 09-25-2016, 07:30 PM   #6
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Sorry to hear about this!

Hopefully its just the alternator. While you're in there, check the idler and tensioner pulley's for smooth operation. If you feel any roughness in the bearings or noise, might as well replace them too.
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Old 09-25-2016, 08:05 PM   #7
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1. Pull alternator.
2. Take assembly to store of choice for testing...they will be able to isolate problem to alternator or bad diode(s) regulator.
3. Replace regulator ($50) or replace/rebuild alternator ($80-$150).

My bet is on a bad regulator.

+1 on checking idler and tensioner pullies.
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Old 09-26-2016, 07:55 PM   #8
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Update #3

Alternator is out and the battery is on the charger. All the spinning bits appear to be tight and free wheeling. Autozone on the way home from work tomorrow.

Thanks again for the suggestions.
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Old 09-30-2016, 03:35 PM   #9
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Update #4

WTH, the battery and the alternator both tested good at Autozone. So I put it back in and fired it up. Magic, charging system mysteriously fixed its self? System is putting out +/-14.4 volts.

I plugged my OBDII reader in and zero codes stored or pending. Long shot; I am tempted to pull the 'high amp' fuse cover off and look for corrosion. Any suggestions from my esteemed colleagues?

I have to fix/replace something or my wife will never get back in the car.
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Old 09-30-2016, 05:52 PM   #10
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As you know, electricals don't fix themselves...they just hide for a while.

You'll find it. In my case, the bad VR resulted in over voltages that created weird symptoms such as radio not playing and weird, random warning lights.

Just keep an eye out and you'll see it again....
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Old 10-01-2016, 05:09 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rexcramer View Post
WTH, the battery and the alternator both tested good at Autozone. So I put it back in and fired it up. Magic, charging system mysteriously fixed its self? System is putting out +/-14.4 volts.

I plugged my OBDII reader in and zero codes stored or pending. Long shot; I am tempted to pull the 'high amp' fuse cover off and look for corrosion. Any suggestions from my esteemed colleagues?

I have to fix/replace something or my wife will never get back in the car.
For what it's worth, and you may already know, but simply putting a Fluke on a battery does indicate its status.
I assume Autozone put a load tester on the battery, and gave you the OK on it.

I had a similar problem on an old Ford van a while back.
The battery terminals were not making good contact.
No visual signs of corrosion on the battery posts or lead clamps.
Just enough dirt/oil/time had seeped between the post and clamps to make the system shut down.

Hit it with electrical cleaner, wire brush, and placed the red & green chemically infused battery felt pads and never had a problem again.

I put those impregnated donuts on all of my batteries.

https://www.amazon.com/989-Anti-Corrosion-Washers-2-Pack-12-Volt/dp/B000CQFS0O/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_3?s=automotive&ie=UTF8&qid=1475327305&sr=1-3-fkmr0&keywords=battery+corrosion+preventative+donut

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Old 10-01-2016, 07:32 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rexcramer View Post
WTH, the battery and the alternator both tested good at Autozone. So I put it back in and fired it up. Magic, charging system mysteriously fixed its self? System is putting out +/-14.4 volts.

I plugged my OBDII reader in and zero codes stored or pending. Long shot; I am tempted to pull the 'high amp' fuse cover off and look for corrosion. Any suggestions from my esteemed colleagues?

I have to fix/replace something or my wife will never get back in the car.
Hello Rex, try wiggling the cable that connects the positive side of the battery to a male fitting on the firewall, this fitting is the connector of the 'high amp fuse box' that sits behind the firebox.

I went nuts trying to determine an electrical issue on my CS, and found out that the battery cable connects into the male connector 'by friction"…! After I removed the cable and clean the surface rust with electric contact cleaner, and pushing the cable back into the male prong with some dielectric grease and so far have not had the same issue.

Also noticed that the male connector has some kind of coating on it, so I avoid sanding it too much, I don't understand why Porsche didn't install a standard 'bolt/nut connector' instead of a spiral spring that allows the power from the battery to power distribution box…

Good luck with your search!
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Old 10-01-2016, 11:34 AM   #13
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The following is general, non-boxster specific knowledge, but maybe helpful for you:
When automotive alternator brushes wear down so far that they stop making contact with the commutator, this will cause charging failure and voltage drop, potentially leaving you unable to start the car, or stranded on the side of the road, and various other accompanying symptoms. In this scenario, I've experienced the alternator charging "come back to life" (measured by > 14v) after letting the motor cool down completely, but it won't be a stable fix - as the brushes are just barely making contact and will continue to arc & wear, the alternator will have another charging failure soon and it will get progressively more common.

To avoid this sort of failure, when the alternator has very high miles e.g. around 200k or so, just preventively replacing the brushes is not a bad idea. If you are experiencing a charging issue and miles are > 100k, consider at least pulling the brushes and inspecting for adequate length (if not a hassle), or if it is a hassle to get to the brushes, just replace them with new (and if the problem end up being something else in the process, this will at least you ahead on preventive maintenance in the process.). I believe in the 986 alternator design, the brushes are part of the voltage regulator assembly.

You can also replace the alternator with a "rebuilt" one, or have yours rebuilt, which will include getting new sealed bearings, and lathed down commutator segments, in addition to new brushes.
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Old 10-02-2016, 09:13 AM   #14
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I had my '03 (33k miles) up in Rocky Mountain National Park earlier this summer. As traffic was moving slowly or stopping to see wildlife, I noticed a fuel smell, like it was running very rich, a raw fuel smell. I stopped at an overlook and when I went to restart the car, the battery was dead. No check engine lights or indication of what the problem was.

Luckily I was on a hill and was able to roll start the car. I was able to drive it the 100 miles home without shutting it off or using any extra electrical accessories and when I got home, the voltage at the battery read 10 volts with the car running - so no or very little charge coming from the alternator. When I put the top up, it ran very slowly, but made it closed before I shut the car off.

I put it on a battery charger and the battery came right back to 12.5 volts and seemed to hold a good charge. The next day drove it to my mechanic. He checked out the electrical system with his Porsche diagnostic system and everything came back ok at that time. I had him replace the alternator and put in a new battery (the old one was about 10 years old anyway) even though they both checked out ok. He told me that the fuel smell was probably from the fuel injection system, which doesn't like low voltage situations and was surprised that it even ran good enough for me to make it home. I'm shocked it made it, as I was just trying to get closer so the tow would be less. It's back to being completely reliable now, and I have no idea what really happened to it. I never got a check engine light or any lights to indicate it had a problem. First issue this car has ever had.
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Old 10-02-2016, 06:53 PM   #15
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Update #5

Thank-you again for your suggestions. I have taken it out 3 times for +/-100 miles and no problems/CEL's. I hooked a multi-meter up to the battery and ran a wire into the cab so I can watch the voltage. Normal so far.

Autozone did use a load test on the battery and their alternator test machine is very cool. Both are within spec.

The cables and connections are pristine. There are zero signs of corrosion anywhere I can see. I haven't checked every ground strap yet.

I have used the battery donuts for years. They are cheap insurance.

The firewall positive cable connection has a stud and bolt with a plastic cover on it. (97 Tip) It is tight and clean. I haven't pulled the high amp fuse cover off yet.

I did pull the voltage reg off and inspected it while I had the Alt out. It looks to be in good shape. No discoloration and the length appears to be okay.

The car has 24K on it. 8K are mine in the last 13 months. Needless to say, I am reluctant ($$$) to just X/O the alternator on a maybe. I am going to start driving it to work (50 Rnd Trip) and see how it goes. I am getting close to an oil change and will probably let my indy do it and give it a complete physical while it's in the shop.

Safe travels, rx
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Old 10-02-2016, 07:15 PM   #16
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Looks like I picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue......

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Old 10-02-2016, 07:40 PM   #17
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Surely you can't be serious?
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Old 10-02-2016, 07:45 PM   #18
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Don't call me Shirley
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Old 10-03-2016, 12:10 PM   #19
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And what's your vector, Victor?
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Old 10-04-2016, 03:47 AM   #20
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