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Old 12-27-2012, 01:16 AM   #1
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Safe to buy pre 2000 model year?

Hi everyone, first time poster here. I have been reading and thinking about getting a boxster. I plan to use it as a daily driver, to/from work, grocery, weekend get-away, etc., not a racing machine. As such, I think a base model (2.5 or 2.7) will be suitable for me.

Having read a lot about the M96 engine problems, in particular IMS, RMS, cracked cylinders heads, water pump, oil system issues, etc, I'm a bit scared about buying a used boxster and then have the engine suddenly die on me. See the following:
Pelican Technical Article: Common Boxster Engine Problems and Failures - 986 / 987
https://sites.google.com/site/mikefocke2/problemareas
Pre-failure Directives

So, my thinking currently is to get a boxster, assume the worst (which is probably a logical choice no matter how nice the car is) and head directly to flatsix in Georgia to get their IMS retrofit package (which is based on LN engineering IMS parts). In addition to IMS, that service package includes a new clutch assembly, RMS and an oil change for $3.5k.

Then, I plan to get the water pump and thermostat ($450) and possibly the cooler tank ($350) replaced. Ditto the AOS ($110), replacing the belts and variocam wear pads and solenoids and chain tensioners ($100-$2500), and engine ($185) and transmission $300) mounts. I'm a bit hands on myself, so I can do the easy ones (belts $30, spark plugs and coils $20, filters $40, even oil change $80) to save some dough, but I know my limits and have to leave the hard ones to pros. My guesstimate is that replacing these will cost around $2k-$3k, with the main uncertainty coming from the variocam/chain-tensioner part.

My budget is below $15K, which allows a pre-2003 base model or a 2000 S if lucky. But since I'll be blowing $5k-$7k on all these preventive replacement/repairs, it pushes me down to pre 2000 models territory.

Note that there is no guarantee that even a 2005-2008 model won't need all of these repairs to not blow the engine. And my current thinking is that once I spend this much on replacing components, it wouldn't matter whether I started from a 1998 or a 2005, the end product is the same. So I might as well start with a much cheaper pre-2000 model.

I can see two unknowns about this plan:

1. the "porous engine problem" which supposedly was present in pre-2000 models. All I can find about this is "Porsche fixed these under warranty, and if the car had this issue it should have showed itself by now". Do you agree with this?

2. What about the cylinder liner or head cracks, otherwise known as the D-chunk problem? I can't seem to find any reliable information about this, other than "If your engine experiences this failure, it can be rebuilt using LN Engineering's Nickasil liners installed". But is there any preventive maintenace for these?

Any word of advise? What do you think about this plan?

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Old 12-27-2012, 01:58 PM   #2
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First let me say welcome and I hope you find the right Boxster for you that will leave you worry free. In Nov 2010 I bought a 2000 'S' with ~52k miles on it. It had been a completely trouble free car for the previous owner. I replaced 80% of what you are thinking of doing and only because I wanted to and it was fun (and a many others you didn't mention). I could send you the LONG list of things I did and the ONLY part out of all of it that actually was in the very early stages of failure was the motor mount and that still had another 20k miles on it.

Some of these cars are as good as any Toyota some are far from it. You could find one that was well maintained and had good repair history and not worry about repairing all this stuff. I would recommend you buy one of the cars sold by a forum member who has already done most of this work. That will save you the time and money.

It sounds also like you are thinking of spending upward of $20 to $22k, you can pick up some fine 987 Base models for that!
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Old 12-27-2012, 03:19 PM   #3
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Welcome, welcome!

The porous engine and D-chunk problems are not much of a concern anymore, even in pre-2000 models, simply due to mileage. Avoid a super low mileage car and there shouldn't much to worry about.

My 1999 2.5L has 120,000 miles on the original IMS bearing. Car runs perfect and I run it hard at the track at least 25 days a year. Am I tempting fate? I don't think so, I think that the odds are actually stacked well in my favor.

And I'd say that if you can afford $7K in upgrades to try to avoid an engine failure, then you can afford a $7K replacement engine. Of course, you will have to decide your comfort level so you can sleep well at night. Just don't let all of this worry ruin the ownership experience. Live the dream.
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Old 12-27-2012, 03:27 PM   #4
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The original post gave me a headache. I bought a base 98 with 15,000 miles and have not had one bit of trouble with her. Routine maintenance only and I've driven her over 30,000 miles. If you're that worried, buy a Toyota.
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Old 12-27-2012, 03:44 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thstone View Post
Welcome, welcome!

The porous engine and D-chunk problems are not much of a concern anymore, even in pre-2000 models, simply due to mileage. Avoid a super low mileage car and there shouldn't much to worry about.

My 1999 2.5L has 120,000 miles on the original IMS bearing. Car runs perfect and I run it hard at the track at least 25 days a year. Am I tempting fate? I don't think so, I think that the odds are actually stacked well in my favor.

And I'd say that if you can afford $7K in upgrades to try to avoid an engine failure, then you can afford a $7K replacement engine. Of course, you will have to decide your comfort level so you can sleep well at night. Just don't let all of this worry ruin the ownership experience. Live the dream.
Agreed. All the D-chunk/slipped sleeve cars died 10 yrs ago. Buy a car with clutch and IMS already done and go drive the car. By spending $7k on preventative it will likely be more reliable as a DD but you assume all the monetary risk up front.
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Old 12-28-2012, 05:23 AM   #6
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I have a 2000S which have the 3.2 liter engine. Also the S model has more factory options and a upgraded suspension compared to the base. Just more for the money and most likely it will cost about the same as a base. Mine has a TIP and I love it. I couldn't think of owning a Porsche with an auto until I drove one. It was so much sweeter, plus I don't have to spend 2-3 grand for a whole new clutch system at 80K miles. I now have about 72K miles on her with no engine problems at all. I do the normal oil changes, filters, etc. The only failure I had was with the AOS which just about everybody has had too with higher mileage on their Boxsters. As for the IMS problem, yes it does exist, but, there has to be at least a half a million units built from 1998-2000 and I would bet over 80% of them have no issues. Everybody builds a lemon now and them and they also have some engineering problems...even today there are recalls for some kind of issue. Look for a one or two owner with maintenance history with about 45 to 65k miles on it.

Final thought on Boxster or Carrera's with stick. I am 67 yo and if I had a stick you would most likely feel comfortable in buying from me. Now, I am in my 20's I start telling how this baby fly's and hugs the road at 100mph. Plus the mods that I have added...betch you gonna have second thoughts.
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Old 12-28-2012, 06:35 AM   #7
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People should really get away from the notion that buying the 3.2 is somehow for racing or more aggresive driving. It's simply more advanced engine development. The cost difference, in the broader picture of overall ownership, is negligble between 2.5 and 3.2
And maintaining a S model is not really any more costly than maintaining the 2.5 -- in other words the labor rates and parts will be virtually the same for most routine maintenance. Also, we're talking about cars that are over 10-12 years old now. Even the 250 HP of the S model is hardly cutting edge power nowadays. A top end Honda Accord will have more power. Ditto for all those SUVs and pickups that get in your way on the highway. If anything the extra power of the 3.2 is better suited for practical driving than anything you might do on the track or autocross. It doesn't take a Z06 to beat me to the punch when merging on the highway or hogging up the fast lane.
And the average driver today is simply more obnoxious and less inclined to cut you any slack these days. Some seeing your Porsche will actually get more aggresive about getting in your way.
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Old 12-28-2012, 06:43 AM   #8
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My .02 cents....
Buy an inexpensive older Box, make sure all regular mantenance is up to date (either by PO or by you) and enjoy!

You mentioned that this will be your is your DD...What if you sink $7K into your car replacing scary things that may not be needed....and you get rear ended...Ouch.

I understand your concern with the IMS etc but, again, you may want to consider keeping your powder dry, so to speak. You are looking at 12-14 year old cars. There may be suspension, brakes, tires or many other items that will need to be replaced. What about if your AC goes out, given this will be your DD.

I currently have two Boxsters...a 2000S (105K miles) that I've had for 4 years and a 98 (117K miles) that I picked up a few months ago due to being a deal too good to pass up. Both cars are fun to drive and nethter car has required major surgery.

From the economics of it..the 98 cost me $5400. I will put a grand into the car bringing the maintenace up and doing taking care of couple of cosmetic items. If the car crapped out tomorrow, I'll have a $2500 roller. I'd be much less money out of pocket than spending a bunch of money on things that could fail.

If replacing the IMS is a show stopper for you, I second the option of finding a car that has already had the work done. It a will be much cheaper option than getting it done right after purchase.

Best of luck on your search and I know you'll enjoy the car.
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Old 12-28-2012, 07:02 AM   #9
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Rezaf you are just scratching the surface. This is just a start. This is a buyers' market. Do not be in a hurry to buy. Do not buy without a ppi. Look at several cars first. I bought a '99 Miata after going down to see a Boxster but was not available because it needed a window fixed. Four years later I bought a 2001 Boxster base two years ago. No regrets. Am putting in about $2k a year into it. Have ims Guardian installed.

Good luck with your search. Try different cars. Perhaps the Box is not for u. Perhaps it is . Nothing worse than driving a Box if you cannot afford to fix it.
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Old 12-28-2012, 07:41 AM   #10
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I understand your apprehension. But remember the large majority of Boxster owners don't post on this or any other Boxster board, because the never have any problems. People with problems come here. The IMS problem is real, but still involves only a small percentage of Boxster engines. I had the same worries before I bought my 2001. But the worries decrease as each day goes by and the car hasn't exploded.

It's a buyer's market. Keep looking until you find the car you want. The previous owner of my car had just replaced many of the things you mention in your post. Only thing I had to do was replace the front brake pads and sensors. Did it myself in a couple of hours.
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Old 12-28-2012, 09:16 AM   #11
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Quote:
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The IMS problem is real, but still involves only a small percentage of Boxster engines. I had the same worries before I bought my 2001. But the worries decrease as each day goes by and the car hasn't exploded.
According to the engine experts familiar with these design flawe, failure of the IMS is not dependent on mileage. It can happen with low mileage, intermediate or high mileage.
My sense is that the decision to address the IMS issue has, in part, more to do with the quality of the mileage leading up to your purchase of that vehicle than the actual mileage itself -- frequent oil changes (more than once a year or no more than x miles), the quality of the oil (heated topic), the frequency of driving (weekly vs daily vs monthly) and then there are engines that are just going to grenade for reasons beyond control.
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Old 12-28-2012, 10:50 AM   #12
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For what its worth, Excellence magazine's Porsche Buyers Guide, (published in 2012) says the following about the Boxster IMS bearing issue:

"For the best chance of avoiding the common engine problems, which can affect any 986, look for Boxsters with at least 50,000 miles. RMS and IMS bearing problems usually (but not always) happen sooner if they are going to happen." (pg 26)

There seems to be a lot of disagreement on the IMS bearing issue, even among experts. I am just posting Excellence magazine's printed statement on the issue, not my own opinion. As I said, take it for what it might be worth.

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Old 12-28-2012, 10:57 AM   #13
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Reference buying an early model Boxster...
I bought my 1999 Boxster three years ago with 104,000 miles. I paid just over $8,000.00 for it. I now have over 177,000 miles on it. It is my daily driver. I do my own oil/filter changes, sparkplugs and brake jobs. It does not leak oil and I've had no IMS issues.
You must realize it isn't a small-block chevy (bullet proof, easily & cheap to maintain, and that anyone can easily rebuild). For example, instead of a PCV valve it has a stupid AOS (air oil separator) that goes bad more often than it should...who comes up with an AOS when a PCV could do the job. Then there is the water pump that EXCELLENCE Magazine says should be replaced every 60,000 miles (why can't they make a water pump that lasts 150,000 miles like the one on my Vette?).
Those things upset me more than a possible IMS failure.
Get a PPI before buying and take your time, Boxsters are a dime a dozen there is no need to buy one that needs alot of work for $15K.
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Old 12-28-2012, 02:26 PM   #14
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101 Projects for Your Porsche Boxster

If you do buy a Boxster, I suggest geting this book through Amazon, "101 Projects for Your Porsche Boxster."

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Old 12-28-2012, 03:42 PM   #15
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For my two cents worth, stopp worrying about the IMS issue. If you want a Porsche Boxster. Reason being, from my research on the web - no guarentee it is thge only answer - the failure rate is about 2~3%. My BMW motorsycles had a 5% failure rate of the final drive. If it happens, it happens. But it is not likely to happen at all when you consider the precentages. As an FYI, I just bought a 1999 Boxster. It was made in 9/98. So far, it is doing well and I'm happy with it.

As for the 101 book, I bought a copy for my own, but all of the artivles are online at Pelican parts. You can read it for basic research and I'd recommend that before buying a personal copy (just in case you don't buy the Boxster).

FWIW, I'm having a blast driving it. It too is my DD. One of the reasons I did buy it is because it is so easy for the home mechanic to work on.

Now if I could obly find a way to pull the carpet form the frront passenger side to route some replacement door speaker wires I'd be feeling much happier! This radio/speaker upgrade is becoming somewhat of a challange, but I shall perserver. Need some good tunes for a really good ride.
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Old 12-28-2012, 05:17 PM   #16
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@AKNOWLES--thanks for the figures/percentages provided...good stuff!
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Old 12-28-2012, 05:42 PM   #17
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and for my 2 worth...

Save up and buy the newest Boxster you can buy, and buy an S. Don't buy an old 986. The build quality sucked compared to the 987s and you will spend just as much on a 1999 or 2000 base model after purchase and repairs in four years as you would waiting four years and buying a much newer model with low miles on it and the larger motor.

... not to mention the hassles of repairs, telling your wife the car is in need of repair AGAIN, etc.

And last, your old 986 is not going to keep its value with all your hard work on repairs. It will depreciate exactly the way it would have if you didn't put a dime into it.

I love my car because I've replaced every friggin' part on it except the sheet metal and the motor (previous owner replaced the motor or I would have been forced to do that too) and now it's a solid daily driver that only needs a grand or so a year to keep on the road (brakes, tires, fluids, and the odd suspension bit or crappy plastic Porsche motor piece that falls apart).

I was a complete idiot to think I could buy a cheap Porsche and drive it long term without sinking a small fortune into it.

"The cheapest Porsche you find and buy will instantly become the most expensive car you've ever owned... until you trade it in on a Ferrari."
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Old 12-30-2012, 05:27 PM   #18
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Updates in the decision process

Hi everyone,

Thanks a lot for all your suggestions and input. For one, your suggestions about thinking about a Boxster S instead of a base model made me dig deeper. You see, my other car is a Honda Accord V6, with a 240 hp engine. So I did some weight to power ratio numbers, and compared it with some other cars (sorted):

Mazda Miata new gen (NC)=15.2 lbs/hp (2590 lbs, 170 hp)
1999 Boxster base=13.8 lbs/hp (2777 lbs, 201 hp)
2003 Honda Accord V6=13.3 lbs/hp (3195 lbs, 240 hp)
2002 Boxster S=11.4 lbs/hp (2854 lbs / 250 hp)
2012 Boxster S=9.35 lbs/hp (2910 lbs, 311 hp)

This tells me that the 2.5 liter base boxster might be about as fast as my Honda Accord in acceleration (yes, of course it'll kill the Honda in turns), and the 2.7 liter not much better. My Honda's acceleration is decent, but I wouldn't want my porsche to be the same. On the other hand the 3.2 liter Boxster S would be a true upgrade, and therefore I've decided to spend the extra money and go for the S model.

As for getting a 987, unfortunately it's out of my price range for now. Well, there's always something better, no?! I bet even the 911 turbo guys think about Ferraris once or twice?
=========================

It seems that the flat 6 innovation IMS retrofit upgrade includes checking and possibly replacing the variocam shaft tensioners and chains. Has anyone done the flat6innovations (Jack Raby) IMS upgrade to verify or deny this? If so, the upgrade costs could be lower than my initial estimate by about $1k, therefore around $4k-$6k?

The Flat 6 IMS Bearing Retrofit- Disassembly - Page 5

How much should I expect to pay for a decent 2000-2002 Boxster S? I see a couple of them for around $16k~$17K. Is that a good price, or should I aim for lower?

=========================

Another question: What color options were available in 2002? In the official list I see a bazillion (around 20) exterior colors and around 10 interior colors. But looking on craigslist / ebay, a few colors are very common: Black, silver, dark blue, red. What gives? Also, most of the listings I see don't have the heated seats. Was that an unpopular option back then?

Thanks everyone for your support!
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Old 01-01-2013, 03:00 PM   #19
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Hmm this is pretty strange, I posted a reply to this thread a few days ago, but it's not showing yet. Anyway, as a result of your suggestions I have started to look into 2001 and 2002 Boxster S cars instead.

The prices seem to be around $15~$18k on craigslist / eBay. Hmm, it doesn't help the porsche's case that a 2011 or 2012 mustang V6 with 305hp isn't too much more than! its weight to power ratio is 11 lbs/hp, about the same as the boxster S 2002.

Anyway, back to the porsche. It seems like the flat 6 IMS procedure might include variocam adjustment and possible replacement. Can anyone verify or deny this?

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