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Old 03-18-2008, 01:54 PM   #1
Jen
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Shopping for an 03 or 04 -- many questions...

Hi all,

Post #1 for me... I'm thinking about buying a used Boxster. I test-drove a 2003 S with 60,000 miles (at a non-Porsche used car lot, asking $25k), and am scheduled to test a 2004 base model with 19,000 miles (Porsche dealer-associated used car lot, asking $30k). I absolutely loved the S. The driving was amazing and the Bose stereo and heated seats a plus. Don't know that I really need the more powerful motor (and higher insurance?), but perhaps I'll have an opinion once I drive the base model.

If those were my only two options (which probably isn't the case), what would you recommend? How low of an offer could I reasonably make now in early spring? And if I decide on the 04, should I find a different Porsche dealership for the pre-purchase inspection? Would either car still be under a warranty? Should I push for "certified"?

One concern -- the latest Consumer Reports car issue lists 03 as a particularly bad year for Boxster reliability, with 04 looking better. Are there other studies that contradict this info?

I noticed that upon starting the engine, the 03 S put out a LOT of white smoke from the tailpipes. Is this normal?

Also, how many miles do Boxsters usually last? I worry a bit about maintenance and assorted problems. I previously got 200k miles out of a 1990 miata (my first car), and am hoping for that unreasonable level of luck again. I could always buy a new miata (still an option occupying the practical part of my mind), but the Boxster really calls to me on a visceral level.

Thanks! This is a great forum, and I'm learning a lot...

-- Jennifer (in Michigan, where Spring will eventually appear)
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Old 03-18-2008, 03:52 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jen
Hi all,

Post #1 for me... I'm thinking about buying a used Boxster. I test-drove a 2003 S with 60,000 miles (at a non-Porsche used car lot, asking $25k), and am scheduled to test a 2004 base model with 19,000 miles (Porsche dealer-associated used car lot, asking $30k). I absolutely loved the S. The driving was amazing and the Bose stereo and heated seats a plus. Don't know that I really need the more powerful motor (and higher insurance?), but perhaps I'll have an opinion once I drive the base model.
While 03 are worth more than an 02 I still think the 25K might be a tad high for the mileage. I'd have to look at my price guide (Porsche world Mag?) back home. As a note Boxster prices are very soft. Low miles aren't always a good thing especially when it comes to Boxsters. It takes miles for issues to show up so a higher mileage car usually means the bugs have been sorted out by the previous owner. Check for books and records on both. I'd say go with the S model as what you pay out in insurance may be offset a bit by a higher resale in the end.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jen

If those were my only two options (which probably isn't the case), what would you recommend? How low of an offer could I reasonably make now in early spring? And if I decide on the 04, should I find a different Porsche dealership for the pre-purchase inspection? Would either car still be under a warranty? Should I push for "certified"?
I'd go for the S. Have an independent Porsche specialist check either out.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jen

One concern -- the latest Consumer Reports car issue lists 03 as a particularly bad year for Boxster reliability, with 04 looking better. Are there other studies that contradict this info?
The 03 cars had the new vario-cam and there were some issues with some cam control modules. I suspect that's why CR gave that year a lower rating. Regardless of the lower rating the Boxsters don't get the kind of rating your old MX-5 got. Once again, books and records.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jen

I noticed that upon starting the engine, the 03 S put out a LOT of white smoke from the tailpipes. Is this normal?
That tells me the car has been sitting for a bit since it'd been driven. Ask the owner. Because the Boxster uses a flat six oil will gather at the bottom of the cylinders and when started after a period of sitting (where more oil has a chance to settle) the car will burn off said oil. It's normal but, I'd check it out again. If it smokes as much as the first time ask the owner when he/she drove it last. If it was an hour ago... walk away. If it was four or five days it's probably fine.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jen
Also, how many miles do Boxsters usually last? I worry a bit about maintenance and assorted problems. I previously got 200k miles out of a 1990 miata (my first car), and am hoping for that unreasonable level of luck again. I could always buy a new miata (still an option occupying the practical part of my mind), but the Boxster really calls to me on a visceral level.

Thanks! This is a great forum, and I'm learning a lot...

-- Jennifer (in Michigan, where Spring will eventually appear)
I know of one owner that's got well over 150,000 on his Boxster. That being said there are many that have had engine failures and have had their engines replaced as the Boxsters engine really can't be rebuilt. Although Autofarm in the UK does it no one here in the US can. I've got a 91 MR2 Turbo with 172,XXX miles and am in the same boat as you. I've been looking but I haven't been able to part with my reliability. Good luck! I'd love to have one as well.

Last edited by senna21; 03-18-2008 at 03:57 PM.
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Old 03-18-2008, 04:39 PM   #3
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Hey Jennifer,

Welcome to the forum, personally, I would only consider an "S" no matter the year ('00 and on), just a personal choice and not a knock against a base. The 03 S has some nice improvements over the 00-02 S including body updates, tail, and of course a glass top.

25K for an '03 S is a fair deal, not great, you may be able to knock a few bucks off IF you show up with some basic knowledge. The rule of thumb around hear is buy the best you can afford. I like mid mileage Boxsters, if they make it into the 60+K range, chances are, many of the common issues were already taken care of. With that said, having service history for the car that shows maintenance performed by a Porsche dealership is worth it's weight in gold. Service history is key!

Normal to have a bit of smoke during startup, not so normal if it's heavy and persists. Common smoking issues is normally related to the air oil separator (AOS)

If the car comes with a CPO (you'll pay for it up front, they always get you) or independent warranty, great, if not, have a PPI inspection. Save your money on the extended warranty, put those funds in a high-interest savings account like ones provided by ING. However, you need to have some reserves ready to dish out for the common issues that WILL creep up sooner or later. You should expect to spend 2 - 3K over the first few months of ownership, pretty normal to get your lot-sitting 986 back in business. Common sense is important, do not ignore what your eyes, ears, and gut are telling you, I think I read an article in Car and Driver regarding older Boxster purchases turning in PPB (Personal Porsche Bankruptcy) if you're not careful.

With that said, nothing better than dropping the top on a Boxster and just going for a drive for absolutly no reason whatsoever! Good Luck and keep us up to date!
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Old 03-19-2008, 05:59 AM   #4
Jen
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Thank you both for your helpful replies. I'm going to look for that Car&Driver article and also for the Nov Road&Track article as I continue to ponder this...

When I tested the 03 S, I didn't see any service records in the glovebox. No manual, either -- just a sound system brochure in a plastic case.

The car was the only Porsche on the used car lot of a large Chevy dealer with a moderate number of used import cars. The guy who took me on the test drive knew ZERO about the car (didn't know what S meant), and had not been in it yet. There is no CPO or private warranty on the car, just a 30 day 3000 mile guarantee from the dealer (need to go back and read the fine print on that).

According to the CarFax report, it was a one-owner privately leased (4yrs 4mo) vehicle in Ohio. Is regular Porsche service a requirement (or included) under a typical lease? If I called the initial dealership that held the car in Ohio, do you think I could track down the service info? And would they be willing to send me maintenance/service record info by fax? Of course, I have the VIN.

And if I decide to make an offer on the S, do I negotiate the deal, put down a deposit, then do PPI, and void the deal if problems surface? Or do PPI before negotiating? How does this work in practice?

Thanks,
Jennifer
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Old 03-19-2008, 10:06 AM   #5
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Hi Jen,

Good luck on your find!

Definitely, +1 on a PPI. Also, don't get stuck on only looking at one car.... there are so many out there for sale. So, take your time.

You can certainly negotiate a deal further after a PPI, if that's the car that you really want. Since there's a lot of good folks on this board that will help you, IMHO, you should post the PPI info to get some feedback.

BTW, here's a good thread that has useful links in it, if you haven't read them already:

Thinking of buying a Boxster ? - MUST READ !

Keep us posted!

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Old 03-20-2008, 12:56 PM   #6
Jen
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Smile Progress!

Hi again,

Progress! I was able to track down the Ohio dealer that originally leased out the 03 Boxster S, and spoke to their service manager. They won't give out paperwork (State law?), but I was able to get some verbal info on the car. The only problem they saw was a non-functioning radio that was replaced in 2004. The car was serviced at 31,473 miles and again at 43,037 miles. According to their records, the oil was last changed in 06. It is due for a major 60,000 mile service which he said should cost approx $1100. This is certainly good information that (if I choose that car) will help me to negotiate.

My local Porsche dealer does Pre-purchase inspections for $150 -- that's where I would take it if I get that far...

..............

I'm off to test-drive the low-mileage 04 base this evening. Based on the original sales date from CarFax, the 4yr manufacturer's warranty on the 04 should last through July of this year.

--Jennifer
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Old 03-20-2008, 01:23 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jen

Progress! I was able to track down the Ohio dealer that originally leased out the 03 Boxster S, and spoke to their service manager. They won't give out paperwork (State law?), but I was able to get some verbal info on the car....

My local Porsche dealer does Pre-purchase inspections for $150

I'm off to test-drive the low-mileage 04 base this evening....
Interesting, maybe the dealership you're looking to buy the '03 from would have better luck getting the records....

Have a PPI done BEFORE you purchase, use the report as leverage and of course as a guide to buy

....off to DRIVE my already purchased 01 S Have Fun!
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Old 03-20-2008, 02:52 PM   #8
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Hi Jen:

Welcome to the Forum!

You have gotten some great advice by the other posters here. All I would add is don't feel rushed. Keep trying to find the perfect car for you. For example, there are 387 Boxsters Listed on www.autotrader.com for 2003-2004!!

www.porsche.com also has a great search function for pre-owner cars.

Lasly, it is very difficult to obtain maintenance records from a dealership for the prior owner's car. They all claim Privacy Issues.
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Old 03-21-2008, 02:44 PM   #9
Jen
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It's snowing...

Thank you again, everyone.

I tested out the 04 base yesterday. I could definitely tell the difference between the base and the S that I drove a week ago (in acceleration, braking, and in the quality of the stereo system -- however the base was still a fun drive that I could certainly live with).

The major pluses of the base car were the low 18k mileage, the apparent good condition, and the fact that it is certified with a 60,000 bumper-to-bumper warranty expiring in July 2010. Not bad for $30k, but I have to decide if I want/need to spend that much. The S has the additional oomph and fun factor and $5k less in the asking price, but no warranty...

I think the advice to take my time with this and not feel rushed is key... It's snowing here (ugh), so I'm unlikely to do more test drives this weekend. Perhaps I'll schedule a PPI sometime next week.

Jen
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Old 03-24-2008, 12:17 PM   #10
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a few answers

Jen,

I saw that same Consumer Reports car issue - of course, that was right after I'd purchased my '03 "S" model! The funny thing is, I could have sworn that in last year's car buying issue, it said the '04 was the 'trouble' year to avoid, so I am not sure just how much faith I would put in that. (for what its worth, my '03 S has been perfect so far).

As for the manuals - those don't seem to fit well in the glove compartment - look behind the passenger seat and/or driver's seat - that's where I found mine.

As for the particular cars you are looking at - while many here do not agree, I still prefer low mileage, and much prefer "S" to non-S, not just for the extra torque, but for all of the other 'options' on the S, not the least of which are the phenominal brakes - I'm guessing the best you will have ever experienced (they were/are for me).

There are many to choose from, so don't rush in to a purchase on one you are less than thrilled with. Check my 'joined' date - it took me almost two years to find what I wanted, and even then I got one w/o an important option I wanted (PSM) because the car is in perfect condition.

Good luck, and keep us up-to-date on your search.
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Old 03-24-2008, 06:41 PM   #11
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Price for Comparison

Hi Jen,

Welcome to the forum.

I am relatively new to the forum as well. However, I have had a similar dilemma last year about the same time shopping for my first Boxster. I was looking for a well maintained used Boxster 2003-2004, preferably an S.

You have several advantages that I did not have.... you have already found this forum before your purchase and I do believe the current state of our economy is in your favor. I would take dcporsche99's advice and read the various links to MikeFocke and RandallNeighbor. They are a wealth of information.

I searched for about 4 months before I found my 2004 SE (Silver Anniversary Edition). The Dealership that I bought the car from did not know much about Porsches. It had 28,000 miles with all the maintenance records from a local Porsche dealership. In addition to the standard package of an SE (6 more HP, 05 S sized ventilated brakes, lowered suspension, wider stance with wheel spacers, short shifter, Litronic headlights with cleaner, Heated seats, PSM, GT silver metallic color with cocoa brown leather) it had as options... cruise control and Bose sound package.

I was not really looking for a 2004 SE in particular but this car was well maintained and the dealership knew very little about Porsches. They were asking 37,900 for it. I paid for a PPI and the car was sound. I haggled for about 2 days and knocked off 4K from the asking price and paid 33,500 for it. According to the internet this was very close to trade in price. I think I got a good deal but I still wonder if I should have pushed a little more.

For my haggling.... I maintained that this SE was essentially the same as a standard 2004 S and that this limited edition was not so limited (1,953 copies made in total). I also argued that this car would not hold its value any better than a standard 2004 S. They tried to pressure me and alluded to "other interested buyers". I did not have my heart set on this particular car and let them know I could buy another car by leaving the first day of negotiations.

So.... take your time. Get a PPI and search this forum. Very informative. My car has been trouble free except a broken seat heating element... replaced for free under warranty.
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Old 03-25-2008, 12:39 AM   #12
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P.s.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jen
According to their records, the oil was last changed in 06. It is due for a major 60,000 mile service which he said should cost approx $1100. This is certainly good information that (if I choose that car) will help me to negotiate.
One additional thing, I was able to get a much reduced price on the 30K service for my Boxster from a local shop compared to the local Porsche dealers. I called 3 Porsche dealers who quoted anywhere from $800 to $1200. I emailed some local PCA chapter members who basically told me that I should just realize that Porsche ownership will be costlier. Thankfully, one of my good friends routinely raced his 944 turbo and recommended Eurosport - Porsche specialist. They were able to do the 30K service for $375 or so.

There is a thread that posts the various reputable Porsche shops in many different cities in the USA.... pretty long but helpful.
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