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Old 09-14-2014, 05:03 PM   #1
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Slow Coolant Loss and Tank Coffee

Hi All. First post and first Porsche.

Bought a dark blue '99 986 Boxster 2.5 with 87k on the clock for 4k in mid-June this year. Had to get A/C condensers replaced once I realised there was no air-con (don't ask - top down after picking it up).

It's the best car I've ever driven, MX5, S2000, 200SX, MGB-GT et al. Holds the road like on rails and the wonderful turbine whine when it comes on cam and surges at 4.5k is a real grinner. Happy bunny!

Except ... I don't think it's delivering full power. The best I could get out of it on a quick trot down the M1 (England's arterial motorway) was 165 mph (on the speedo); acceleration was under par at 0-60 in 3.2 secs and 0-100 in 9 secs. Is this usual for a 15 year-old Porsche car?

Joking aside, the car is nimble quick and responsive but - and this is the point to the post - I have a problem with intermix, and I would very much appreciate some of the techs on this forum to give me a hand.

And yes, I have trawled this forum for many days but as I am not a 'petrol head' and as this is the first Porsche that I have owned I would appreciate a little tolerance to the 'newbie'.

Okay, some symptoms:

1. Slow coolant loss -1/2 pint 200 miles
2. Creamy brown scum in coolant tank
3. Start-up small puff of smoke (no oil smell as far as I can sense)
4. Occasional stutter at low revs when accelerating (1.5 - 2k)

and facts:
1. Slight vacuum when idling through oil filler cap which is easily removed and sealed
2. Temp gauge never above 80+a bit (English gauges), even when hammering it
3. Dipstick shows clean oil, no discolouring, almost clean.
4. After purchasing and bringing it back home from the dealer after a 40 miles trot at no more than 80 mph on motorways, I slowed into my local 30 mph suburbia and the
EMS light showed solid and then blinked. When I parked it stopped and has never been seen since.

I think that about does it. I believe it's not an IMS because that was replaced with an upgrade 8 years ago (service history).

So...

I am concerned about the junk in the reservoir tank and, as I said, would appreciate it if I can get into dialogue with some of you guys with experience of my issue.

My wife and I bought this car after a lot of thought (and collapsing a pension policy) because she wanted something to enjoy and be proud of. She has cancer and time is limited - which is why we were quick to purchase - and without an inspection check. I offer this personal information to illustrate we are not quick wannabuys but have found a car we love which needs a little TLC. And I have to do it on an extremely limited budget.

In anticipation, thank you guys.

/Mike
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Old 09-14-2014, 05:33 PM   #2
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Mike,
Creamy brown scum in coolant reservoir is intermix of coolant & oil; also known as milk shake, typically something to be seriously concerned about.
It could be as simple as a failed oil cooler gasket to something as serious as a cracked cylinder head. Continued coolant loss and start-up smoke are mechanical warning signs.
Get it checked out at a mechanic you can trust. This isn't the type of problem that will go away on its own. You need mechanical intervention.
Intermix can destroy your oil's ability to lubricate and protect metal surfaces in your engine.
Get 'er fixed right so you and your wife can enjoy the car.
Cheers,
Steve
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Old 09-14-2014, 06:26 PM   #3
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Thanks, Steve,

I appreciate you taking the time.

I know I have to get this sorted. I was hoping to try to pinpoint the issue so I can approach my local indie dealer (who did the A/C refit intercooler and recharge at 380 - a fair price) with some knowledge of the problem and then negotiate a deal on analysis and repair.
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Old 09-14-2014, 06:39 PM   #4
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I was hoping to try to pinpoint the issue...
Coolant/oil intermix;

Top three suspects:

1. Failed oil cooler - the oil cooler is actually a coolant/oil heat exchanger. When it fails, oil and coolant can mix.

2. Failed internal freeze plug: one on each head. The engine needs to be removed to replace the freeze plugs.

3. Failed head/head gasket: Cracked head or head gasket is allowing coolant and oil to mix. Often coolant gets into the combustion chambers. Check the spark plugs for discoloring.

Good luck mate.
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Old 09-14-2014, 06:49 PM   #5
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...and the EMS light showed solid and then blinked.
I remember my mechanic that I use for "heavy lifting" mentioning that the check engine light can come on either solid, or it could blink. If you see a blinking CEL, than you should pull over immediately and turn the engine off.

Intermix in any flavor would serious thoughts for concerns.

Hope that your situation is not bad, and that you and your wife can enjoy the car soon.
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Old 09-14-2014, 06:50 PM   #6
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Quote:
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Except ... I don't think it's delivering full power. The best I could get out of it on a quick trot down the M1 (England's arterial motorway) was 165 mph (on the speedo); acceleration was under par at 0-60 in 3.2 secs and 0-100 in 9 secs. Is this usual for a 15 year-old Porsche car?
No, it is not usual, considering that in 1999, when the car was produced, the top speed was 150 mph, and it took over 6 secs to achieve 60 mph, and over 15 secs to reach 100 mph.

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Creamy brown scum in coolant tank.
HUGE problem.

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..... I have to do it on an extremely limited budget.
Sorry, ain't gonna happen.

Just sayin'...........

TO
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Old 09-14-2014, 06:57 PM   #7
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Thanks for the 3 points. thstone; I think I will go with #1, the cheaper option )

Bugger.

Truth is, I have a service history but it is not always official Porsche, and the car was clearly idle for at least 18 months whilst somebody had a problem with it about 5 years ago. The curious thing about it is she feels 'okay'. I know that sound dumb but I've just returned from a late night refuel and she wants to pull - almost as if I'm holding her back. I drive sensibly in urban traffic but I let her go on business runs on motorways and she feels 'right' when I enjoy it and shift at 4-5k, hitting the hot spot and suddenly we're topping a 120 and wanting more ... when I slow down.

It doesn't 'feel' like a serious issue so I'm hoping you're right with the cooler!

As I said, I'm not a 'petrol head' but I'm enjoying a car really for the first time (I was a motorcyclist).
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Old 09-14-2014, 07:00 PM   #8
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THX ATX, Oxford. Just posted a reply earlier to thstone but moderator intervention for some reason so do not think I'm not responding.
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Old 09-14-2014, 07:10 PM   #9
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I'll try rephrasing a post that caused an auto-mod intervention.

The car 'feels' right. She wants to go. Just did a late night cool refuel and she was eager to trot. On urbans roads I am a gentle driver but on business runs when I hit the highway I change up at 4-5k and she pulls like a train and wants more. She feels 'right'.

I know this sounds dumb but you get a feel for a motor and this one doesn't feel like she's about to crap out on me.
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Old 09-14-2014, 08:24 PM   #10
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The thing that stands out from your symptoms is that you have oil in your coolant but NOT coolant in your oil.

To me this indicates that where the leak is taking place is where the oil pressure is greater than coolant pressure.

Its a tough guess but head gasket perhaps, although there are the other locations that thstone mentioned as well.

Does not sound like the D-Chunk cylinder failure but it does unfortunately sound like something you need to address before continuing to drive it.

Flashing Engine light means the engine needs to be shutdown ASAP to avoid serious damage.

Having air pockets in your coolant system could also cause strange temperature readings and perhaps the engine light is triggering from that.

Sorry to hear about your wife, been there with close family and relatives far too often, my compassion goes out to you.
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Old 09-14-2014, 09:20 PM   #11
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Thanks, JB...

The engine light came on only after a brief 50 miles run back from the dealer when I first picked it up. The following morning I went to a local guy who had an engine management tester (the thing you plug in and reports diagnostics - not clued on this) and he said there was work done on the car but the EMU was not reset. He did so, and thereafter no warning light. BTW, it was the emission control light that came on. Sorry, was not specific in the earlier post. Still learning.

Can you all please have a little patience with me whilst I try to assimilate what is happening. I am trying to gather sufficient knowledge to understand what is going on and how much it will cost me to be able to take a decision and roll it in to my local workshop.

And thank you JB.... for your kind last remarks.

/Mike
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Old 09-15-2014, 06:56 AM   #12
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I'll try rephrasing a post that caused an auto-mod intervention.

The car 'feels' right. She wants to go. Just did a late night cool refuel and she was eager to trot. On urbans roads I am a gentle driver but on business runs when I hit the highway I change up at 4-5k and she pulls like a train and wants more. She feels 'right'.

I know this sounds dumb but you get a feel for a motor and this one doesn't feel like she's about to crap out on me.
Your car can certainly be running just fine whilst bad things can be happening inside the engine. In your case, do not mis-interpret a well running engine for an engine that has nothing wrong because you have clear evidence of intermix. How the engine drives or feels is somewhat irrelevant - all it tells you is that whatever problem exists either isn't serious or hasn't had time to affect the overall performance.

But the reality is that the failure has already occurred.

At this point, your goal needs to be to find out the root cause. It could be something as simple and easily repaired as a failed oil cooler (which tends to fail with oil in the coolant but not coolant in the oil, which is a good sign). But it could also be something as bad as a cracked head for which the engine will need to be rebuilt or replaced. Only a thorough inspection and testing from your mechanic can determine which it is.

Thus, you need to get the car into the shop and have your mechanic start to determine where the problem is.

I would not drive it any more than absolutely needed to get it into the shop.

Quote:
I know this sounds dumb but you get a feel for a motor and this one doesn't feel like she's about to crap out on me.
My engine felt 100% normal until the moment that it blew up. They don't always fail gracefully with several indicators that something is wrong. But in your case, you have had two clear indicators that there is a problem (blinking CEL and oil in the coolant).

Let us know how it goes.
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Old 09-15-2014, 10:48 AM   #13
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Fair enough, th... , I know you're talking sense to me - as are other contributors - I didn't want to listen to bad news last night.

However, best foot forward: I'm going to purge the coolant system and start from scratch because I have no idea when the problem started and therefore it may already have been evident when I purchased the car. (No admonishing me for being a pleb and not checking oil and water before I drove away, please.)

I hadn't driven the car for 2 days so the puff of smoke may have been due to inactivity pooling.

Nevertheless, I will heed comments and do local journeys only - like today, 2 miles for Tesco food hunt.

I'm going to get to the bottom of this but slowly and as funds permit. I don't want to junk her as a roller.
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Old 09-15-2014, 11:09 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by everwax View Post
Hi All. First post and first Porsche.

Bought a dark blue '99 986 Boxster 2.5 with 87k on the clock for 4k in mid-June this year. Had to get A/C condensers replaced once I realised there was no air-con (don't ask - top down after picking it up).


I think that about does it. I believe it's not an IMS because that was replaced with an upgrade 8 years ago (service history).

So...

I am concerned about the junk in the reservoir tank and, as I said, would appreciate it if I can get into dialogue with some of you guys with experience of my issue.


In anticipation, thank you guys.

/Mike

The oil is not harming the coolant tank but it is eating away all the rubber hoses in the coolant system that run up to the radiators.

I don't think the IMSB was replaceable 8 years ago in the UK.
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Old 09-15-2014, 12:23 PM   #15
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Thanks BY...

I know I have an invoice for the IMS in the service wallet. I'll check it out and get back. And thanks for further input. I'm slolwly assimilating this stuff )
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Old 09-15-2014, 03:28 PM   #16
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If there was any IMS servicing done that far back, especially at a dealership, it was likely just replacing a weeping IMS flange.
IIRC, the entire IMSR procedure didn't really go mainstream until about 2009 or so. I could be wrong... Just ask my wife.
Best of luck!
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Old 09-16-2014, 07:35 AM   #17
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If there was any IMS servicing done that far back, especially at a dealership, it was likely just replacing a weeping IMS flange.
IIRC, the entire IMSR procedure didn't really go mainstream until about 2009 or so. I could be wrong... Just ask my wife.
Best of luck!
I bet you are right as usual Steve! I had forgotten about that leak prevention procedure.
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Old 09-17-2014, 06:51 AM   #18
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Just been through the service history and among other parts like the clutch, the IMS was replaced with a modified shaft seal in November, 2005.
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Old 09-17-2014, 07:12 PM   #19
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You are talking about the ims cover and not the bearing then. The early cars had issues with the flange cover leaking and the gasket design was changed. This is the service that is shown, not the bearing itself.
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Old 09-18-2014, 05:49 AM   #20
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I think that about does it. I believe it's not an IMS because that was replaced with an upgrade 8 years ago (service history).
Nope, that was the IMS flange being upgraded to a triple lipped seal from the original O ring design. This is a common misperception of service records.

8 years ago we had yet to release the IMS Retrofit, and not other product existed prior to our release. Porsche has NEVER offered an IMS retrofit, remember, they are the guys that said the bearing wasn't possible to replace.

Brown gunk is generally linked to intermix, BUT it can occur if the coolant is nasty. Do a coolant change and clean the tank, then watch to see if the gunk reappears.
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