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Old 01-16-2013, 08:25 AM   #1
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A bit worried about long term costs and reliability - should I be?

I have a newer 335i and 12' Prius, and recently I got a nice condition 2001 Boxster with 54k miles as a fun car to drive that's manual, as my BMW is steptronic.

It's a low mileage 986, and in good shape for the age. I do have a concern, and this stems from a 2001 Mercedes s55 I owned prior which was a money pit with repairs.


I noticed that even thought the Boxster is in good shape, when a car gets older. A lot of little things start to add up.

1. Cracked plastic: $1k for new top with glass

2. Preventive ims/clutch: $2k

3. Brakes and tires worn, plus alignment: $1500-2000

4. I cracked my windshield by accident when putting on wiper blades: $500

5. I just noticed a squeak over bumps and when pushing the front end down, which I believe may be the ball joints/control arm: $800

6. 60k service: I already did filters and belt, but will need plugs and oil done: $400

So I've had the car 1 month, and practically to get it "like new" is $6-7k. I got it for 13k.

All of these are fairly normal - but I thought about perhaps getting a newer boxster, or even a more reliable car like an s2000...but I love the boxster.


I don't mind maintaining it, but I would like to keep a budget in mind because its my 3rd and fun car, so I don't want a money pit.


What would you guys do?

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Old 01-16-2013, 08:45 AM   #2
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If you are not afraid of a little mechanical wor, several of those are things you can do with a little reading in the DIY section of this forum. For example oil change and plugs you can do for about $125 in parts. Brakes you can do for about $650 if you replace rotors and all. Less than $200 just for pads. A set of Hankook V12's will run you between $450 and $650 depending on size and they are great tires. As I see it, you are looking to find a good independent porsche mechanic to do the clutch and IMS and a good top shop to replace the back window and let your insurance company replace the windshield and you should be able to do the rest. I think you can get out for about half your estimate.
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Old 01-16-2013, 08:50 AM   #3
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The one thing that always rings out is I was told by my brother, prior owner of the Boxster.

"There's nothing miore expensive then an old Porsche".

The question is what are you willing to take on for your driving pleasure? I've been frustrated at times, with the Boxster but the minute I'm driving it I feel great.

I would suggest finding a reasonablt priced Boxster with good records and maintenance and relegate it to weekend duties. This is a pill I recently swallowed when I realized the maintenance costs and down time were interfering with work. NO regrets on the Boxster though.
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Old 01-16-2013, 08:57 AM   #4
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here's a list of things i've done (some personally, some at an indy) since purchasing my car in May 2009 with ~65k miles. currently at 103k miles (37k miles, 3.5 years). i don't drive the car in the winter time, and tend to take long road trips.

total cost so far ~$7500. add another ~$600 for 8 oil changes. when it comes out in the spring, it'll be time for new belt, air / cabin filters and tires.

Regular Maintenance / Wear Items / Preventative:
  • Annual Maintenance (when first purchased, at dealer)
  • Replace Air Filter
  • Replace Polyrib Belt
  • Replace Cabin Filter
  • Replace Sparkplugs
  • Replace Coolant Cap
  • Replace Fuel Filter
  • CV Boots (@76k)
  • Replace 4 Tires
  • New Pads
  • Flush Cooling System
  • Replace Air Oil Separator (@96k)
  • New Battery

Items that failed / were failing:
  • Strut Mount (Front) (@66k)
  • Replace Engine Mount (@75k)
  • Replace Alternator (@83k)
  • Lower Control Arm (R) (@87k)
  • Replace Waterpump (@92k)
  • Replace Reservoir Tank (@96k)

Other:
  • GAHH Top
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Old 01-16-2013, 08:59 AM   #5
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Yeah - trust me, I am far from the inexperienced guy who buys a cheap Porsche and then regrets it. I went through this already with the Mercedes when I was younger - and learned from it.

This car has motivated me to do a lot more "DIY" stuff. The manual transmission and everything just makes me feel it is more of a hands on car, and when I accomplish a little task, even as simple as putting in the air filter - I feel pretty good. Surely enough my Prius does not give me that same satisfaction. ha.

I just need to up my skills in certain tasks. I am still a novice when it comes to DIY stuff - even spark plugs scare me a bit!

And tony: That lists seems awfully familiar and in line with most of the things I'd like to do with my car. I guess it's all fairly normal. (The only thing that could reduce the cost was if those suspension parts lasted until at least 100k)

Last edited by rondocap; 01-16-2013 at 09:02 AM.
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Old 01-16-2013, 09:13 AM   #6
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I think the best way to own a Porsche is to simply buy a used low mileage one, and hold onto it for no more than 3 years. Two years is probably best.
If you hold onto it for too long eventually the money invested in both the purchase and upkeep will mean selling for a steep loss.
Which means no point in selling then -- just keep it. But just hope you don't get in an accident and the car is totaled. The check the insurance company writes will not come close to covering your loss.

As a primary car, holding onto any Porsche for the long term (four years or more) will mean paying for it twice. So the question becomes do you want to sink $40K into a Boxster or $60K into Carrera or $80K into a high end Carrera. Or you could buy new or nearly new and have a $1,000 monthly check to write. Pick your pain.
Or go air-cooled and probably break even or see small profit, but that certainly won't be a primary vehicle.
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Old 01-16-2013, 10:31 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by rondocap View Post
I I don't mind maintaining it, but I would like to keep a budget in mind because its my 3rd and fun car, so I don't want a money pit.
Take it one step at a time. No need to refurbish the entire car to "like new" condition in the first year of ownership.

Set a budget of about $2K/year and see how far it goes each year remembering to keep some $$$ in reserve for unplanned problems.

For example, start with safety related items first (brakes and tires), then longer term maintanence (plugs, oil), then long term upgrades last (IMS only when clutch fails, top replacement, etc).
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Old 01-16-2013, 11:01 AM   #8
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Sounds like you have done a lot of maintenance and any replacement car might need some of the things you cited too at the same mileage or age.

There is absolutely no way of predicting the future of your car even if we had a history to include maintenance and prior driver's habits, there are just too many variables.

And my experience might be one end of the bell curve of probability and you may land on the other end.

I owned 2 986s, taken in total they were, over a period of 6+ years, the most reliable and cheap to maintain cars I owned during the same period (and the others were renowned for their reliability). Never left me stranded. I even include in their costs the maintenance I overdid and overpaid for (best tires, not cheapest. more frequent oil changes. etc) things I didn't do for the other cars. Yes as cars age, things age too especially plastic parts. So I see an AOS in your future and maybe rear axle rubber boots. But you bought a $55k car for $13k and sure it will take some money to maintain it but you have already done some big things.

I divided maintenance into three groups: things I could do, things that didn't need a Porsche specialist but which needed a lift or tool I didn't have and the rare problem that needed a Porsche specialist (there was only one of those once I got the cars into shape).

Will an S2000 give you the same pleasure? Drive one for a while, I did and it wasn't for me.
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Old 01-16-2013, 11:59 AM   #9
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Thanks for helping me put things into perspective guys, the experience here really shows. That's a good idea - just take one thing at a time. I am having fun as well fixing little issues as they come up myself, and I am sure after some time of doing it my mechanical skills will increase a bit.

So basically, I just have to get "lucky" and hope to avoid a huge problem with the car, like the IMS failing before I can upgrade it. If that doesn't happen, I'll fix the little things one by one. It seems like the IMS problems are only a small percentage of the total cars out there anyway, I guess they are magnified on the forums and we tend to think every Boxster will fail.


Bottom line: I really, really like the car. I love driving it, it's so raw and connected to the driver that it makes it a pleasure. I like cleaning it, washing it, and staring at it, too.
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Old 01-16-2013, 01:47 PM   #10
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personally, if you intend to keep the car for more than 2 years, and being that you probably have a single row IMS bearing, you should do the IMS sooner than later.
Folks with dual row bearing are probably in a better position to wait for the clutch to go.

The only rub is that the cost of doing a single row bearing is now higher since LN have gone with a permanent fix vs. the previous that had to be replaced after 50K miles.
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Old 01-16-2013, 02:44 PM   #11
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The Porsche life cycle is like this:

Buy used Porsche, feel smug that you didn't pay for all that depreciation.
Drive and enjoy Porsche for a few years, love it.
Fix something for a breath-taking pile of cash.
Drive some more, not so fast this time.
Fix something else. Scratch head at cost.
Get stuck somewhere. Fix it, used to the cost by now.
Drive some more, but not very often.
Fix something else, hardly ever drive it now.
Realize you're not driving it very much, then sell it.
Feel better for about six months.
Start to regret it.
Spend years regretting it, since you are now fixing whatever you bought to replace it.
Start eyeing Porsches.
Find a great deal, buy another one.
Rinse, repeat.
Love every minute of it.
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Old 01-17-2013, 12:19 PM   #12
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I just did the air filter and serpentine belt myself.

Not too hard when following the DIY posts, but getting to the engine on this car is a big job the first time you do it! So many layers of things to do.

Next on my diy journey: learn to do the oil change and spark plugs.

Is the oil change worth it to do myself? Most places labor charge is fair.
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Old 01-17-2013, 12:42 PM   #13
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Oil change is a very easy DIY and you can save $50-$100.

I'm doing my own water pump and thermostat this weekend. Could afford to have someone else do it but I feel like I know the car better when I do my own wrenching. And then I can guiltlessly spend the $550 that I would have spent on the labor on a couple of track days later this month.
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Old 01-17-2013, 02:33 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Porsche Chick View Post
The Porsche life cycle is like this:

Buy used Porsche, feel smug that you didn't pay for all that depreciation.
Drive and enjoy Porsche for a few years, love it.
Fix something for a breath-taking pile of cash.
Drive some more, not so fast this time.
Fix something else. Scratch head at cost.
Get stuck somewhere. Fix it, used to the cost by now.
Drive some more, but not very often.
Fix something else, hardly ever drive it now.
Realize you're not driving it very much, then sell it.
Feel better for about six months.
Start to regret it.
Spend years regretting it, since you are now fixing whatever you bought to replace it.
Start eyeing Porsches.
Find a great deal, buy another one.
Rinse, repeat.
Love every minute of it.
I'm on step 7,
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Old 01-17-2013, 02:42 PM   #15
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I'm doing my own water pump and thermostat this weekend..
are those typically done together? What did you spend on parts?
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Old 01-17-2013, 04:48 PM   #16
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are those typically done together? What did you spend on parts?
it only make sense to do both at the same time since they are right next to each other.
the hoses are disconnected, and the coolant is drained.
i also took the opportunity to replace all water hoses when i did the job.
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Old 01-18-2013, 07:09 AM   #17
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are those typically done together? What did you spend on parts?
Parts were $372.75 from our forum sponsor. I bought the kit at the top of the page which includes the water pump, gasket, and low temp thermostat. You'll also need 2-3 gallons of coolant ($35 per gal from Porsche) and a bit of gasket sealant.
Project 34: Water Pump & Thermostat Replacement - Page 1

The DIY instructions are here. Looks like about a half day job max. My local indy wanted $550 in labor. Over $500 in savings is enough to get my fat lazy butt off the couch. Your motivations may vary.
Pelican Technical Article: Boxster Water Pump & Boxster Thermostat Replacement - 986 / 987
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Old 01-18-2013, 07:32 AM   #18
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hmmm... I probably should have done this when the coolant tank cracked. I already had about 60K miles on the car then.
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Old 01-18-2013, 07:44 AM   #19
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wishing i had done the thermostat when i replaced the water pump. however, i was out of town at a new shop and dropped the car off for the weekend while i went into the mountains. i mentioned that i would like the thermostat done as well as the water pump, but after getting back to the shop, found out only the water pump was replaced. was told "i looked at the thermostat and it was fine."

i know it'll be going out soon...
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Old 01-18-2013, 07:49 AM   #20
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i know it'll be going out soon...
How do you know? I have over 238K miles on my thermostat.

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