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Old 03-25-2010, 04:22 AM   #1
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Day one owner (and a plea for help)

hi guys, new to group and porsche. here's my story.
was browsing ebay for unrelated stuff when on a whim i decided to check what an "old" boxster was going for these days since i remembered absolutely drooling for one back in the first years. long story short i was the winning bidder on a 98 w/70k for 8500. just like that, a 100% sight unseen no ppi no nothin' impulse buy. was lucky that my credit is good and was approved for $10k loan post facto.

took a flight literally just a few hours later and when i got to the location the guy selling it was genuinely nice and helpful. i'm a good judge of character and could tell this much. so on that very day he says the brake wear lit up and, indeed, by the time i met him he had it in the shop where the diagnosis was new front rotors and pads for $625. i decided to close the deal w/o any further haggling and just leave and take care of it back home. other than that the car looks, feels and drives fantastic and all the meanwhile i just couldn't get over the fact you could own this kind of car for four digits.

the previous owner clearly cared deeply for the car. he handed over an inch-thick folder with all the repair work done over the years. he had done some light and tasteful modding like new stereo, a new top w/ glass, shifter, etc. and the cincher? not sure if i've ever seen or heard of this before but when i shook hands and said good-bye he was tearing up. the parting was both awkward and poignant. this guy *really* was going to miss his old ride.

anyway, drove a thousand miles back home in one 18-hour marathon. took it straight away to the local shop here in town that works only on german cars and got a call that all four rotors needed to be replaced for a total est. of $1,310 plus i told him to go ahead and change the oil too for another $100. hopefully, dear jesus *hopefully*, this will be my last major expense for at least the next few months. now i have no money to title it [the visa card is shivering in fear].

i would like to know some candid but not needlessly alarmist answers - any substantial advice is helpful:

1- really, since i'm broke and nearly unemployed (quite possibly the poorest porsche owner ever) if past this bill anything comes up >$1,000 within, say, the next six months should i just drive it into the ground, chalk this up to an early mid-life crisis and sell it for parts? seriously, consider the question.

2- after my full-day drive with this car i'm beginning to reconsider some long-held assumptions. like that a) the S trim would be the only worthwhile boxster and that b) tiptronic is basically an abomination made for the benefit of posers and talentless showboaters but no real sports car enthusiast would be caught dead driving an automatic.

on the first account i wonder if those modest 200 ponies are (i'm a bit embarrassed to admit) almost more bite than i can chew because, boy, maybe it's just an auditory illusion from hearing jet engine noises coming from a foot away but it *feels* like the wolfman got stuck in there - just wow! which leads me to the tranny point: i've owned a half dozen manual cars from utter ****************boxes to an audi tt and have always felt if not masterful then at least competent enough in getting going. i'm not the redline type. 99% of the time i shift into the tall gear by the time i'm coming off the ramp. when feeling "sporty" i take first up to 3 or 4 grand and go into second and repeat. that's enough thrill. but with this car i feel like a legion of ghost german engineers are staring from above in disgust at how i handle their art. a couple times in stop and go traffic my car died. talk about embarrassing eh. i'm so self-conscious now that i drag the needle to the 2k mark and sloooowly, very gingerly let go of the clutch in a move that takes a couple too long *just to get moving*. today i think i even unintentionally burned rubber because i smelled something funky when doing this. can all y'all give this loser some tips on how to properly upshift a fine-ass car like this?

3-is it possible to get an aftermarket warranty for a car this age & miles? while i would naturally prefer bumper to bumper it's the powertrain horror stories i'm reading about that really freak me out. one IMS and i'm stiffing the bank for the loan and starting a new life in thailand. i know that likely the greater portion of you here are stock market millionaires and so on to whom ten large may not be chump change but not a big deal either. for ME though i can't properly express the sense of dread that overcomes me from the thought of blowing this amount of money.

4-with my nuvi gps on i noticed a curious error in that the speedometer was consistenly 4 miles behind the satellite. though i have no way to know for sure i suspect that it's the car giving the false number. i remembered the seller mentioning at one point he had a set of nice wheels that he sold years before and i got to thinking, is it possible that if you put on larger/smaller than spec tires the car miscalculates how much ground it's covering per second since a larger wheel, of course, carries the car further on each rpm. since this car has stock wheels this would mean that if my theory is correct he had the speedometer logic algorithm modified to compensate and this not reverted when the stocks came back on. ideas?

all for now - pics and followup by this weekend!
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Old 03-25-2010, 05:15 AM   #2
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Welcome to the forum Dystopius, and welcome to boxster ownership. Sounds like you might be new to online forums as well.

I'll let others dissect your inquiries and respond, I will give some advise, I suggest you get try to use the search function for the forum, there is a wealth of knowledge here on many common attributes associated with our boxsters. For example the speed discrepancy you experienced is very common among the Porsche cars.

Happy motoring.
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Old 03-25-2010, 05:22 AM   #3
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Welcome to the forum and Porsche ownership.

Sounds to me like you are now hoping that karma does not kick your ass for a snap decision that deep down inside you are not that sure about yourself. This mentality will invite one disaster after another because in life you must be perfectly prepared for both the good and the bad possible outcomes of a given situation. You bought it now own it proudly.

The economic impact can be minimized if you arm yourself with knowledge and buy a workshop manual and do the work yourself. It is a piece of mechanical machinery and things wear out and stop working. Knowing how to properly service your car and replacing wear parts before they break will minimized costs and give you a better driving experience.

Aftermarket warranties are available but the cheap ones have many exclusions and in my experience for an older boxster you are better off putting that money toward parts than betting that your car will have a catastrophic failure that fits neatly within the confines of the policy.

As for the revs, my Boxster is happier above 3k rpms than below it. I don't push it to the red line regularly but 3-5k is the normal range for me and I do not abuse the car in any way.

Work on feathering the rpms with the clutch if you are smelling the clutch because if you do not master the basics then your repair bills will escalate very quickly. Porsche is a bit harder to master but by no means is it as high on the difficulty scale as an old British non synchro gearbox that requires double clutching. Those can be a bear, the Boxster is a swiss watch by comparison.

As a word of advice I would not start off by throwing stones at the Tip/PDK fans here in your first few posts. Many really like the Tip and guess what, they don't stall out in traffic and they don't have clutches to replace. I have a six speed and love a manual gearbox but the Tip is a fine piece of kit and the PDK is faster at shifting than Alonso, oh yeah Alonso uses a double clutch gearbox as well. Bad choice of examples sort of but you get the point.

You will find that this forum is an excellent source of information, deals on spares and a good way to get together with other like minded folks that really love the 986.

Congrats, have fun and drive it with a smile.
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Old 03-25-2010, 05:39 AM   #4
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ahh. where to begin? first i guess welcome to the club.

1. i would do neither. if something major happens maybe it's something you can fix yourself, short of that perhaps hold on to it and see if your personal economic situation improves. but that's just me. if you're in dire straits, sell it for parts.

2. yes, i have a tip - there i said it. i'm not ashamed, for the most part i enjoy it and spend 99% of my time in manual mode. is it as fun as pushing the clutch and slamming the lever into 2nd? no. but when traffic comes to a crawl for 20 miles my left foot isn't ready to walk. when i bought the car i was looking for a manual, however this one was there, pretty good deal and i don't regret it. for me ( when in manual mode ) i find i'm in 5th less and less at highway speeds. these cars prefer over 3k rpm, as LR said.

3. you probably can find an aftermarket warranty, but good luck getting it to cover the IMS or anything major. a lot of shops probably won't deal with the warranty requiring you to pay for the repairs and get reimbursed from the warranty company - good luck with that.

4. it's a known "safety feature" of these cars that the speedometer is off. mine is off by 5 @75mph. you get used to it.
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Old 03-25-2010, 05:45 AM   #5
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Welcome to the Boxster club. As for your car with a long list of maintenance records, either that's good or bad. Look over your records and denote repairs from maintenance to give you a good overall view of the mechanical condition. You said it is in extremely good shape, that's a plus. I've seen 08's that needed to be parted out, but they where still on the road. 70,000 miles, to me is just getting broke in. New top, that's a big ticket item that's been taken care of. I assume by your stalling it's a stick shift and you may have heard about the IMS bearing failures destroying and engine. I will note that you see this issue a lot with sticks but not so with TIP's. Has the clutch been replaced, if not, then your issue maybe with the clutch, since you have 70K on it it most likely needs to be replaced.

You paid $1310 for for rotors and pads, OUCH. That's at DIY and it could have been done by you in one day for less than $400. $100 for the oil change, good price.

Now, a 60K maintenance requires serpentine belt to be replaced, oil change with filter, air & cabin filters replaced, fuel filter replaced, new spark plugs. You can do all this yourself. The Boxster is really not hard to maintain. We are here for you and the DIY section can be very helpful. Go to Pedro's Garage on the web, he has a DIY section which is very good. Or, Pelican Parts, you can get parts there, plus they also have a BBS for Boxsters.

Mine below is a TIP...and it's more fun than stick. Also, I felt like you, sports cars need to be shifted. Changed my mine in a heart beat after driving a TIP. Never say never.
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Old 03-25-2010, 06:49 AM   #6
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Welcome,

I'll keep mine short...I have a Tip and I'm always willing to put it up against a manual any day of the week. Do your homework about this transmission, you just might be impressed.
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Old 03-25-2010, 06:52 AM   #7
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thanks for the welcome.

actually i wasn't throwing digs at tip owners, i meant the opposite: that maybe i should have reconsidered now that i have begun experiencing the 5 speed on this car which is unlike all the others. it seems as though it's somehow less forgiving of error in the heel-toe balance. i dunno. guessing will just take time to perfect. i have deep respect for the machine, just not so confident in MY abilities!

unfortunately there is no way i could do brake or clutch work. i'm the type of guy who feels a rush of pride in being able to tell the radiator from the air filter. giving someone a jump without electrocuting myself ranks as a Major Accomplishment. i owned a tt years ago for a couple years and never once looked under the hood. just didn't care. maybe that's just weird of me!

the clutch feels stiff. in my limited experience that means it's got plenty of life, no? at any rate i asked the mechanic to id any possible issues and preventive steps so i'll know later today.

thanks for the heads up on the speedo being what we in the pc industry euphemistically an "undocumented feature". now that i know i'll just ignore it, i can get over that ;-)

if i can ask one last stupid question (and i think the answer is obvious but maybe not) if you're driving in the power band at all times, that 3-5k zone, doesn't your mpg average plummet? filling from empty here in the northwest is now closing in on the $50 tab but yeah, yeah i know. this is the bed i made.
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Old 03-25-2010, 07:10 AM   #8
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Economy? You bought a Porsche; economy is for Diesel VWs.

A check by your local mechanic is a good thing to some extent but you should realize that it is like handing a ticket to a the all you can eat buffet to a man that weighs 400 lbs.

I would take whatever recommendations the shop makes under advisment and not pass out when they hand you a long list. I think I could come up with a long list on ANY car I was asked to look at.

1 in 50 shops will tell you to not spend your hard earned money with them but the other 49 will belly right up to the open bar. The key is to ask them to prioritize the list in terms of what is present right now that will cause the car to cease to function in the next week and then go down from there.

It is always good to know where you are mechanically but be sure and explain to them that you are not looking to restore the car to better than new condition. Get to know it first and then you can decide what you eventually want to do with it.
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Old 04-07-2010, 11:56 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dystopius
if i can ask one last stupid question (and i think the answer is obvious but maybe not) if you're driving in the power band at all times, that 3-5k zone, doesn't your mpg average plummet? filling from empty here in the northwest is now closing in on the $50 tab but yeah, yeah i know. this is the bed i made.
I doubt it. I believe engines are most fuel efficient around their torque peak. That's why CVT equipped cars will rev up to around 4000 and sit there while they vary the gear ratio to produce acceleration.

Also, consider the amount of time you spend accelerating versus cruising at a steady speed. Sucking up a little extra fuel by accelerating a bit quicker probably consumes a tiny fraction of the time you spend driving the car. Once you're at your desired speed, you should be in the highest gear reasonable, usually 4th-6th. You don't need to be cruising (not accelerating much) at 3-5k rpms.

Better yet, see for yourself. Drive a little more aggressive for a tank or two and compare it to the mileage you get at your current pace.
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Old 04-08-2010, 01:04 AM   #10
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the clutch feels stiff. in my limited experience that means it's got plenty of life, no? at any rate i asked the mechanic to id any possible issues and preventive steps so i'll know later today.
Actually, sorry, but the opposite is true. It's heavy when it's old. Mine was old and heavy when I got it. Put in a new one, and it's as easy as changing gears in a Corolla or similar. Nearly put my foot through the floor the first few times after it was changed.


Quote:
if i can ask one last stupid question (and i think the answer is obvious but maybe not) if you're driving in the power band at all times, that 3-5k zone, doesn't your mpg average plummet? filling from empty here in the northwest is now closing in on the $50 tab but yeah, yeah i know. this is the bed i made.
The MPG won't plummet exactly. Perhaps it's 10% less. Given it's not great in the first place (esp in traffic), you won't be THAT much worse off. Besides, when the rear stereo (aka exhaust pipe) comes on at above 3,000rpm, you'll forget all about that. This is a fun car, so have fun. Also, have a look at the HP and torque chart in your manual. Below 2,000rpm, it's not doing a whole lot.

Plus, at the risk of opening a can d'worms, there has been some discussion here that driving the car around at low revs could be unhelpful to the IMS issue.

I've heard there is a saying at Porsche: The fun begins at 3000...
Welcome and enjoy!
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Old 04-08-2010, 07:38 AM   #11
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"I doubt it. I believe engines are most fuel efficient around their torque peak."


A throttled gasoline engine is always most efficient running at wide open throttle at the torque peak engine speed, because the lack of pumping losses and the fact that the torque peak implies highest power output per revolution.

Note that I said efficient; thatís different than economical.

Itís more simple than that; the most economical speed is a slower one.
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Old 04-08-2010, 08:06 AM   #12
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The power band is fun

but think what Porsche designed in as the "normal" when they equipped the Boxster with an automatic (Tiptronic). The TIP car starts in 2nd gear and gets to 5th as fast as it can, keeping normal city driving well in the under 2500RPM range 95% of the time. Sure you can start in 1st if you want to and run the tach up towards the red zone for fun in every gear but you soon run out of road or points on your license that way. Not hardly for me. I make sure the car is warmed up before exceeding 2500RPM. Once it has been to the 180 mark for a good 5 minutes, every trip I try to rev towards the red band at least once. I'm not out to impress anyone at the stoplight.

Having a TIP, I drive in auto mode 95% of the time, putting the manual on for fun or to downshift in a hilly area at medium speeds.

I only cite the TIP as an example of the "you don't have to pretend to be on the race track all the time" thinking even within Porsche. Not suggesting a stick car start in 2nd or even stick to the "shift up for saving gas" regime all the time. Just that you don't have to rev the car up the dial all the time or run around in 3rd gear.

IMHO, YMMV
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Old 04-08-2010, 10:30 AM   #13
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"Men repair Boxsters. I am a man. Therefore, I can repair a Boxster."

These are the words that poor Porsche owners say to themselves so they do not have to sell their Porsche.

I say this to myself every time my car need something, and I am as "unhandy" as they come when it comes to auto repair. This car is frightfully easy to repair aside from fiddling with internal motor or transmission issues.
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