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Old 05-15-2014, 08:27 PM   #1
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I just bought a beautiful mess... care to express an opinion?

Hey everyone! Long time Porsche fan, used to own a beautiful 1969 912 years ago. Been doing the BMW thing for a while but had an opportunity to pick up a 1998 Boxster 2.5 Tiptronic today with 80k miles and what the owner described as having a "blown engine" per the dealer. I'm fairly mechanical but have never done a complete engine swap. I've been lurking on this site for a couple of weeks now and reading everything I can get my hands on including all of the 101Projects on Pelican parts. The car is in incredible condition, extremely clean and well taken care of. Original owner, never in the rain or snow and it shows! So here is the down-low:

Per the previous owner: he left his house one morning and a block up the street the check engine light comes on and it starts running really rough. He drives it back home and calls the dealer (Plaza Porsche in St. Louis) they come pick it up and diagnose it as internal engine damage and the owner says no thanks, just bring in back. They delivered it back to his house. He claims after they unloaded it off the flatbed they actually drove it into his garage, still running rough of course, but it started and ran. This was roughly August of 2011. It has been sitting in his garage every since.


So almost 3 years later I pick it up today and put a new battery in, everything electronically works and for fun I tried starting. It cranked fine and fired up but only runs for a second or two (roughly) then dies. Granted the gas is very old and so is everything else that has been sitting for 3 years. I checked the oil on the dipstick and it looked very clean with no signs of metal or coolant. I am hopeful that someone can point me in a direction. I was planning on doing my own compression test of the cylinders but wanted to throw this out to you guys as I've read some impressive threads on here where you guys have seen almost everything. So any thoughts you might have or suggestions of things to try (before I start pulling the engine and buying another off of ebay) would be greatly appreciated! Thanks - great site!


Last edited by aneal000; 05-16-2014 at 10:37 AM.
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Old 05-16-2014, 02:27 PM   #2
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Until you diagnose the problem, DO NOT START THE ENGINE. The failure could be for a multitude of reasons, but none of them will improve by running the engine. You can do very expensive damage by running it. Plenty of threads here where owners kept running their engine and it finally damaged itself beyond repair. At that point you have a $10K boat anchor.

My guess is a rod issue, but I'm just a shade tree mechanic. Good luck with your adventure.
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Old 05-16-2014, 02:38 PM   #3
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Anytime engine damage is suspected the oil filter should be removed & inspected for metal etc. It is made from paper so cut the ends off & spread the filter open so you can inspect it for foreign debris. Drag a magnet thru any particles you find to see if they are iron based metal. The filter housing is like a screw-on cup that holds about 3/4quart of oil so be prepared to contain the oil.

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Old 05-16-2014, 04:21 PM   #4
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There just happens to be a 2005 3.2 S engine with 18K miles on it for $8,000 or best offer with free shipping. It is at quality Porsche parts and I have bought several things from them and always been satisfied. Be a good buy if you find out you need one before it is sold.
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Old 05-16-2014, 05:04 PM   #5
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I just pulled these codes: P0300, P0306, P0303, P1319, P1318, P1315

Last edited by aneal000; 05-16-2014 at 06:10 PM.
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Old 05-16-2014, 05:49 PM   #6
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Misfire on cylinders 3 & 6.
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Old 05-16-2014, 05:56 PM   #7
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If it was me:
Remove oil filter as BY suggested, even drop the oil pan for inspection.
remove coils and plugs for inspection.
Check for compression.
If you are lucky, it's only bad coils.
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Old 05-16-2014, 08:52 PM   #8
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Spent the night in the garage getting to know this one. Pulled all the spark plugs and had 170-190 psi per cylinder with the exception of cylinder #3. #3 had 0 psi. Yep, 0. I was able to look in the cylinder and see the piston moving in and out, but obviously no real diagnosis while the whole thing is still in the car. I'm guessing this is a valve problem. Any thoughts on what kind of valve failure is common with these motors?
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Old 05-16-2014, 09:42 PM   #9
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Wonder if it's a slipped cylinder sleeve.
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Old 05-16-2014, 10:38 PM   #10
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I would put a boroscope in there and see what's going on.
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Old 05-16-2014, 10:50 PM   #11
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I want to follow this thread
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Old 05-17-2014, 04:27 AM   #12
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Just start removing that head now....save some time.
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Old 05-17-2014, 05:07 AM   #13
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If it were me.

first is the borescope to see if the #3 piston is holed, if yes, the motor comes out for inspection likely new motor, if no-

Pull the Filter and oil pan - if there are metal chips in there and they are magnetic, look to the IMSB next, and there are plenty of thread on THAT in this forum

If no metal , pull the cam cover and look for a broken valve spring.

If no broken valve spring, dump the head and look for a bent valve indicating a valve timing issue possibly IMS- .

For the head I take the engine out of the car for clearance.

Best of luck! I hope its a valve spring!
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Old 05-17-2014, 06:04 AM   #14
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So forgive me, but I've never dug very deep into a motor before so a lot of questions keep popping up in my head. Today I plan on pulling the oil filter and checking for metal. I don't have a boroscope but don't mind picking one up to see. If those two things check out and I need to dig into the valves (after reading the engine teardown on 101 projects) it looks like this can be done in the car but some special tools are needed (the camshaft holding tool). The part I don't fully understand, is, can you pull the camshaft assembly out (all together) to presumably access a valve spring and then put it back together? Are there "timing" issues I need to be aware of or would have to deal with? I have seen a lot of threads about needing the $800 tool to properly set timing. I need to figure out what point it just makes more sense to buy a $3k ebay motor...

Thanks for the great information!
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Old 05-17-2014, 06:23 AM   #15
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I love harbor freight!

Inspection Camera - Save on this Digital Inspection Camera
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Old 05-17-2014, 06:24 AM   #16
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A compression test will tell you if a cylinder isn't working properly .
An air-leak test will tell you if it's block-side or head-side .
After a quick boroscope to look for obvious piston-top/cylinder damage , that's where I'd head next ....
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Old 05-17-2014, 02:04 PM   #17
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Pulled the oil filter and cut it open, no metal. Pulled the oil pan/cover no metal shavings. Oil was very clean.

The borescope I bought from harbor freight was too large of a diameter to fit in the cylinder. Looks like I need to order one online as I can't find anything local.

Any thoughts on pulling the camshaft cover - regarding timing?
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Old 05-17-2014, 02:14 PM   #18
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sounds like a fun adventure. I have a boroscope and the idea of it sounds better than the reality of what you can actually figure out with the thing, at least for a valve cover removal to see if a spring is broken would be my next step. i dont recall exactly but from other threads ive read im prettysure you can remove the valve cover and even the camshafts without loosing the timing

Last edited by oldboxster; 05-17-2014 at 02:19 PM.
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Old 05-17-2014, 03:03 PM   #19
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I am doing a similar project on a 2001 Boxster S. If you need to drop,inspect & rebuild the engine we'll have many opportunities to compare notes. If you have not done this work on a sophisticated,cramped engine before, I would ask the Forum for advice on tools,skill level and equipment required. Depending on how much of the work you do yourself, a complete engine rebuild would cost much more than you paid for the car. So the careful diagnosis is a wise first step.
Good Luck !
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Old 05-18-2014, 11:57 AM   #20
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Alright guys... run with this: drained the oil - very clean, no antifreeze, no metal, pulled the oil filter and cut it in half - no metal shavings of any sort visible, pulled the oil pan/cover and no metal - little bit of settled dirt, but overall clean.

Got a different borescope today, as the one I linked to from Harbor Freight didn't fit - go figure. The new one can take pics and video, I captured some and can post them if you think it would be helpful, but the top of the piston looks fine, the cylinder walls look good and all the the valves look good. I was able to spin the motor (by hitting the starter for a sec - borescope removed) and see the valves in different positions so they look like they are operating. Can't see anything that looks out of place or wrong - but I'm a novice here. What should I be looking for?

Wouldn't a blown head gasket allow antifreeze into the oil or into the cylinder?

If the rings failed wouldn't there be oil in the cylinder? There was a small amount in the bottom of the cylinder, but only a very small amount.

0 psi confirmed one more time.


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