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Old 10-01-2016, 08:02 AM   #1
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Smile Idiots guide to buying a 986!

Jeez this is harder than I thought ! I'm searching the usual places and finding some possibilities .. but they are not always local.
So if I'm willing to travel 30-50 miles to look at these I'd like to be better armed with info & what to look for .

Locally I can depend on a few places to do a complete PPI . It would be wise to do a precursory screening / viewing of my own . I'm sure I can rule out some candidates with additional basic knowledge.

A good example is a local car that I'm still waiting to have a ppi on [ I think seller is stalling in hopes of a faster sale this weekend ] His car looked nice at first glance but looking a pictures I realized the headlights were clear- could have been changed for cosmetic reasons . but the missing trunk sticker + clear headlights leads me to believe front end boom- boom

oil fill cap - "mayonnaise" - and these type of things are what I need to know
any suggestions are welcome

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Old 10-01-2016, 08:38 AM   #2
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You are correct in your observation that clear headlights are typically a cosmetic change and don't by themselves throw up a red flag.
A missing trunk badge by itself doesn't necessarily indicate body or paint work being done. Many owners damage them while drying the car and just pull'em off rather than replacing. It was even possible to order these cars from new with a badge delete, so that could also be the case.
Bring a buddy along with you who is a body man, and he will be able to spot telltale signs of paint and body repairs.
The easiest tell is if the paper options label is missing from the underside of the front trunk lid or the emissions diagram is missing from the underside of the rear trunk lid.

As far as mechanical stuff, odd smells and sounds tell a big story, as do a car that accelerates and tracks poorly while driving. And do check the dipstick and coolant tank for intermix and look at the oil fill location for excess vacuum and inspect the top of the engine to check for leaks too.
Best of luck in your search, looking is part of the fun!
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Last edited by BoxsterSteve; 10-01-2016 at 08:42 AM. Reason: More stuff added...
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Old 10-01-2016, 08:45 AM   #3
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Here is a different perspective on searching for a 986.Think of it being a Ferrari not a 'poor mans porsche'. You need a little fear and apprehension first!Also , add a zero to your hunting radius!
"They are all $20K cars - just depends on if you pay up front or later". The implication is that they can be very expensive to fix defects it is unlikely you will detect.
The PPI is only as good as the person who does it. The most reliable way round this is to first find some local Indies and if you (or your fellow Forum members) consider them to be honest and competent tell them you are a buyer. Ask here for referrals.
Try to buy one of their customers cars with a long service history .Seek the customers who spent generously on their cars - not the cheapskates and poverty-stricken students.
You may pay a bit more up front but it is less likely to be a disaster. If you plan to keep the car long time , consider "Salvage Title" if it was just cosmetic damage/theft but avoid big floods !
You could fly out & drive this one home?

Last edited by Gelbster; 10-01-2016 at 08:59 AM.
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Old 10-01-2016, 09:21 AM   #4
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Lots of good pointers in this thread which I was a integral part of.

$14k Cayman with nothing wrong? - Page 6 - Rennlist Discussion Forums

Due to time constraints I was unable to follow my own advise, after a acceptable test drive the PPI should begin with removing & inspecting the oil filter! Fortunetly the prospective buyer took my advice on that.
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Old 10-01-2016, 10:04 AM   #5
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The Idiots Guide to Buying a 986
Step 1: Get a PPI from a reputable Porsche shop
The End.

That's it. All you need to know.

Trying to become knowledgeable enough through internet forums to buy a Porsche without a PPI is like trying to become your own doctor by reading WedMD. Oh, I know, people can and have done it (both bought Porsche's and became their own doctor), but the risks are high. At the end of the day, its your money and its still (for the moment) a free country, so proceed however you like, but a PPI is the best money you'll ever spend.
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Last edited by thstone; 10-01-2016 at 10:10 AM.
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Old 10-01-2016, 11:57 AM   #6
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wouldn't want to bypass the ppi , just want to eliminate some dogs before the ppi .

it can become costly getting multiple ppi's

Gelbster - that orange county boxster could be a deal a bit too far from NY
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Old 10-01-2016, 04:01 PM   #7
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Do not be stupid like I was when I bought mine in June. Get a PPI. I paid a heavy price for not doing so.
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Old 10-01-2016, 06:49 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by mfm22 View Post
wouldn't want to bypass the ppi , just want to eliminate some dogs before the ppi .

it can become costly getting multiple ppi's

Gelbster - that orange county boxster could be a deal a bit too far from NY

So, a few simple things to screen a car before paying for a PPI? (not to replace the PPI)

I have bought a lot of Boxsters and I have overlooked a lot of things when I bought them. Here's an incomplete list with no attempt at proper grammar.

Initial cosmetic walk around:
  • Proper and even alignment/gap of doors, frunk and trunk.
  • Variations in clear-coat or visible sanding marks near seams or corners.
  • Headlights -burnt inner lens, water intrusion, hidden cracks, rubber body seals intact.
  • Entire windshield for cracks and chips.
  • Wheels -not just curb rash, but fine cracks, wrong lugs or locking lug with no key. Excessive brake wear.
  • Tires -rating, age, size, tread wear, style and brand match.
  • General wheel alignment -extreme wear on one side or cupping -does the camber look even on both sides of the car.
  • Frunk and trunk: Tools and inflated spare tire, Dry (check the board under the carpet near the coolant tank, lift supports hold them open, oil and coolant levels, type and condition.

Getting in and starting up:
  • Open and close the doors. lock them and unlock them.
  • Correct Key fob button operation.
  • Slide the seat forward. pull up the carpet behind the seat at the firewall. Is the padding a wet sponge?
  • Put the seat back and try all the adjustments.
  • Open storage compartments, ash tray. (broken hinges, sticking)
  • Turn the key on and verify that all the correct dash lights come on. You'd be surprised how many car just happen to have a burned out Check Engine Light, or air bag light.
  • Check the windows and top for complete correct operation. *Stop the top in the service position after verifying operation if you want to open the engine compartment to check for leaks/damage/cracks/air filter/PS fluid/and rigged stuff. (takes time and could get messy -maybe do as follow-up if anything else leads to worry)
  • Do all that on battery power before you start the car. Battery weak?
  • Start the car. Look at the puff of smoke and make sure it dissipates quickly. Hear the initial rattle? did it immediately go away? and if the engine was cold, the SAI pump should run for a minute or so (faint sound like a vacuum cleaner).
  • That rattle that keeps going??? may be heat shield on the exhaust, strange whine could be AC compressor, alternator, or PS pump.
  • Honk the horn, its amazing how many don't work.
  • Climate control, all buttons, all digits of the LCD, after you drive to operating temperature, be sure to check for actual heat from the climate control (bad flap door valve).
  • Steady idle.
  • Tiptronic? proper operation of brake and key interlock with the shift lever.

  • Get the seat and telescoping steering comfortable, buckle up, adjust mirrors, drive away.
  • easy driving/warm it up, drive over small bumps that will get the worn suspension to rattle. Find a safe place for a hard brake and acceleration.
  • Drive steady at 25-30 mph, drive at 50+ mph.
  • Smooth shifting, normal clutch operation, Ask someone with an S model about the second gear detent problem, I have not experienced it.
  • Park it in a place where you are not uncomfortable crawling on your belly under the car.
Post-drive check:
Everybody with a car should at least have a simple code reader. An ELM327 BT scanner can connect to a smartphone, read basic codes, and look them up online. After the drive, check the car for any codes or pending codes.
  • Jack the car up, run two wheels up on the curb, or put it on ramps.
  • Look underneath.
  • Front: leaking PS fluid, or coolant. cracked or missing belly panels, torn bumper mounts.
  • Sides: dented/crushed tubing, cracked or missing belly panels, damaged jacking points. Leaks.
  • Rear: driveshaft boots, secure exhaust, leaks in general. Oil leak between engine and transmission, general condition of subframe and suspension components.

OIL FILTER..... If you can safely get under the car and it is fairly level, the filter cup can be removed with very little oil being lost. Some owners and many situations may make it impractical to do casually on site. Before you ask the seller, ask yourself if you are comfortable doing this. It is easy, but you never know what might go wrong. You will need the correct filter wrench, and if you are doing it on my car, a way to verify torque back to 25 NM.
You are doing this, but without draining and refilling the oil: Porsche Boxster Oil Change - 986 / 987 - Pelican Parts Technical Article
It's a good idea to bring along a replacement filter and quart of the same wt oil as a courtesy if someone lets you do this. So, pull the cup off remove the filter and get a look. Put in a new filter and close it up, torque it, and verify oil level. Actually you are not going to do it on my car, but I'll do it with you watching. I always stock all filters and fluids for my cars.

Ok, that is way more than I meant to write and much more than most people want to read, and yet I'm sure that I left out some important parts of a thorough DIY PPI. A shop should do quite a bit more, add expertise, and special tools.
I am not an attorney, mechanic, or member of the clergy. Following any advice given in my posts is done at your own peril.

Last edited by 78F350; 10-01-2016 at 07:20 PM.
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Old 10-01-2016, 06:57 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by BYprodriver View Post
Lots of good pointers in this thread which I was a integral part of.

$14k Cayman with nothing wrong? - Page 6 - Rennlist Discussion Forums
Wow, there's an hr of my life I won't get back.
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Old 10-01-2016, 07:40 PM   #10
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Thanks 78F350.

That's the type of info I'm looking for.
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Old 10-02-2016, 05:10 AM   #11
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The other side of things is just to take a punt as I did. I committed to buy my 2000 S without seeing it and paid a 1000 non refundable deposit to keep it for me as the seller was going to trade it in the next day. I did not look or consider any others. The pics and advert looked good as did the price (for a LHD) and the seller seemed a decent chap. I then stopped off in England on way home from work in Norway, saw it for the first time and completed the sale. I then drove it home to Southern Spain.
Now 2 years down the line, I think my decision has proved to be a good one as the only running cost has been to change the oil and filter, which I did myself.
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Old 10-02-2016, 02:31 PM   #12
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Mike, I'll answer your pm'ed question here, because it seems relevant to the discussion.

The car you mentioned seems to be cared for and well maintained, with the IMSB and many other issues addressed. Mileage can be a factor in a few ways. These cars generally need attention to a few things around 100K miles: Suspension, top, seals, clutch, and brakes most often need to be replaced by then if not earlier. If you buy a lower mile car that is about to come in to all that maintenance, you are about to get hit with some big bills. It seems that most of that has been paid on this car and it should be good for a while.
On the other hand all machines wear out eventually and the lower mile and younger the car, the more wear *you* can put on it before the end.
Even with a true 'low mile' 986 there are some parts that may just be degraded from age or lack of use. Generally these just need a few items refreshed if they haven't already been tended - old tires, bushings, cooling system, hoses....

I recently bought a Cayenne and my local market was very limited. Two that I looked at were the same year, similarly equipped and priced, but there was a 35,000 mile difference between the two. I chose the higher mile one because it had dealer maintenance records and had clearly had the common problems addressed. The other one potentially had some trouble lurking that could have easily ran into thousands to have addressed. ...and the seller was either unaware or evasive when questioned.
I am not an attorney, mechanic, or member of the clergy. Following any advice given in my posts is done at your own peril.

Last edited by 78F350; 10-02-2016 at 02:54 PM.
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Old 10-03-2016, 03:16 AM   #13
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ELM327 bt Scanner - you can buy off Aliexpress site for $3.93 Canadian (US cheaper) includes shipping. Only negative is the shipping time can be pretty long but if your not in a hurry that's super cheap

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