Ownership Verified: Alpiner Flitzer: 2001 Porsche Boxster S

Dino

aka Dins
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Easter weekend has come and gone and fiddling has been done.

First was to replace the wheel center caps. 3 of 4 had lost their crest, normal as the glue ages. Originals are around €100 a piece (lol), so I bought 4 fake ones for €30 total on Ebay. Right is the original, left is the replacement. Works just as well.
IMG_3320 Kopie.JPG

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With that big ticket item done, it was time to do the 600km drive up north to the families and many delivered parcels.
Next up were replacement wind deflectors in the rollover hoops. Again, new ones are 160 a piece, these were 100 for both. With the windows up and the complete deflector set, the wind buffeting is very low with the top down.
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Then came the big weekend project, replacing the terrible 2000s era radio with a double DIN unit that supports Carplay/Auto.
I went with the Pioneer SPH-DA160DAB. It's an entry level unit with capacitive screen, Bluetooth audio and wired Carplay/Auto. Wireless would have been nicer, of course, but being a budget build I want to keep costs down. The total bill was just over €400 including all the brackets, radio splitter cable and little things.
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All the cables.
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There were two things I was worried about: 1. Moving the climate control cables, which can be a gigantic pain. 2. Getting the aftermarket speakers and cables (again yeay 2000s) to plug in. Both were rather minor issues, so we felt really good about it. Turns out the double DIN radio cage and facia didn't want to work at all, which made the whole job last 3 hours longer than intended. However, the end result isn't half bad:
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All that is left is to grind down the radio facia so it fits flush. The screen is a big upgrade in terms of looks and usability and makes the whole car a lot more modern. Also, having never used Carplay before, it's really good. I'm quite impressed. The wife is also a big fan, it's made her like the car now, not just tolerate it. Excellent.

With all that and a few not noteworthy things done, my wife's 4 nieces and nephews wanted to have a go, so many loops on the autobahn were had. That's what toys are for.
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On Monday, back down to Switzerland we went, another 600kms of surprisingly comfortable driving. That also means that I've now done almost 3000kms already, which is quite surprising, given the season hasn't even really begun. With some mileage, I can also get a decent impression of fuel usage.
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Was expecting to be somewhere around 10l/100km in combined driving, and that's what I'm getting. To my surprise, highway driving at around 160km/h yields pretty decent economy. It's possible to go below 8l/100km with careful driving, not that you'd want to. Spirited driving will net around 12l. If only she didn't take premium fuel.
 
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Matt2000

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You're encouraging me to upgrade the head unit in my MX5, a proper screen really modernises the car. Impressive fuel economy too, the 4-banger Mazda doesn't do much better despite being newer and smaller capacity.
 

WDWBen

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You're encouraging me to upgrade the head unit in my MX5, a proper screen really modernises the car. Impressive fuel economy too, the 4-banger Mazda doesn't do much better despite being newer and smaller capacity.
If you do, get the Metra faceplate and save yourself hours of frustration. Seriously, the head-unit upgrade on an older car will have you keeping that car for years longer than you expected because it just modernizes everything. That was one of the best upgrades I did to my Miata, to my buddy's Miata, to my mom's Subaru, to my Dad's A4... I keep telling Allie we can put it in her Camry for cheap and throw in a backup camera while we're at it.

That head unit is perfect, too. I used it a few times. Installation on the Porsche looks great. Enjoy CarPlay... it's something I can't live without anymore!
 

Dino

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You're encouraging me to upgrade the head unit in my MX5, a proper screen really modernises the car. Impressive fuel economy too, the 4-banger Mazda doesn't do much better despite being newer and smaller capacity.
If the car didn't have that terribly ugly aftermarket stereo in, i'm not 100% convinced I would have done the install. Usability wise, it's not far off just having your phone in a holder on the dash. But now that it's in, it has modernized the cabin by 10 years and has definitely added value to the car.

I am quite surprised by the highway mileage as well. The gearing of that generation is a bit odd. 2. and 3. are long, while 5. and 6. are comparatively short and so close you might just as well skip 5. Highway speeds net almost 3k rpm, so it's not lazily turning. But the numbers don't lie.
 

Dino

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On a separate note, I've been having a think about how I will continue with the upkeep and upgrade of the Boxster. Posting will help structure the thoughts. It's a bit ranty. Maybe you guys/girls can offer some opinions here.

It was bought as a "budget" fun car to drive around the Alps and Europe. I expect to average about 10k kms / year, it currently sits at just over 185k kms. Also expect to keep the car for many years.

As of right now, these are the expenses incurred:
Boxster Costs.png


The service costs are a bit above expectations, replacing the shifter cables and engine mount was expensive, but otherwise it's in range.
I could probably sell it right now for what I have in it, so no worries there. Now is where the thinking starts:

The car is in overall okay condition. It runs and drives fine, reliability is not a concern, but it has many things that should / can be fixed:

Must haves:
- Springs & shocks ∼ 2k
Worn out, need to be replaced, one of the shocks has already started leaking, looking to replace it with a KW V1. Will help with the crashyness.
- Body and paint ∼ 1k
The body has a few small bumps and bruises, the paint has a few rough spots and needs a good detailing / correction.
- Dashboard ∼ 500-2k
The leather on the dashboard has warped and tightened. While not terrible, it looks pretty bad. Few different fix options.

Would be good to haves:
- Suspension & steering items, alignment ∼ 2k
Can do with replacements to tighten things up again.
- Tires ∼ 600
The current tires are barely worn and only 3 years old, but have storage flat spots that aren't going away.
- Shifter ∼ 400
The shifter and shift mechanism can do with a replacement, both are worn. The mechanism can be replaced with a 987 box, which is tighter and 15% shorter.

Nice to have:
- Wheels ∼ 1500
Condition is okay, can be better, but low priority.
- Exhaust & Headers ∼ 2k
There is a rattle from the exhaust somewhere that's quite noisy at low rpm, sounds like a simple heat shield rattle, but may be in the exhaust. Since the exhaust maker is unknown and the boxer engines really like equal length headers, a replacement in on the cards.
- Gearbox ∼ 2k
2. & 3. gear synchros are tired, shifting is slower and crunchier than necessary. Very common on these cars. Would also provide an opportunity to replace with better gearing ratios.
- Convertible top ∼ 2k-3k
The top does not leak and the rear plastic window is still good. However, the fabric has a few wear spots and replacing the rear plastic window with a glas one would be a really nice upgrade (Boxster chop is so quirky).

Having never had a project car like this, I'm a bit torn. My current inclination is to do it step by step, like suspension this winter, cosmetics the next etc. But then again, I'm not entirely convinced it's worth spending a not inconsiderable amount of money on a "budget" car. While I can afford to do it, there are always other things to spend money on. The car fulfills its purpose just fine as is. Dunno.
 

Dino

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And the fun begins.

Car threw a Check Engine light while poodling around. Didn't notice any changes, no real loss of power, no smoke or weirdness.
After driving the 150kms home, ordered a bluetooth OBD2 thingy to check what the matter is.

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After asking the internet, seems these point to a classic 986 failure, the MAF sensor. After 21 years of probably not the ultimate servicing, no big surprise. More interwebs consultation showed that changing the MAF is about the easiest thing to fix on the engine, so ordered a new OEM one and will give it a shot. Fingers crossed.

At least I'm sticking to the idea of not having a professional fix everything.
 

Dino

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Status update:

Tried to replace the MAF myself, but was foiled by majorly corroded screws. So had to give it to my local garage, who did the replacement by hacking the old MAF apart and also refilled the Aircon. After some testing miles, fault didn't reappear, all looked well.

I take the Boxster on a drive, and of course the Check Engine light reappears. Scanning the codes reveals the same ones as before. P1128 and P1130. Since the MAF is the obvious answer to those, now the real fun begins. I'll be driving the car to my Porsche specialist in Konstanz for smoke testing etc. hoping they can get to the problem.

The fault can be a number of things, none of them tricky to fix, just tricky to diagnose. Hopefully just have to push through this wall of frustration, before I can start to enjoy the car again. But sad face for now.
 

Dino

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The Portsch is back, now with 100% more working O2 sensors. After 200kms, still no faults, so looks like it did the trick.
And only cost a grand to replace them all... :cry:

Interestingly, all the forums say that the O2 sensors are never the problem, shows you what people on forums know.

Also, first time both cars have been together, as the Porsch was getting worked on since before we bought the Audi. Seems we have a certain color preference.
IMG_3519.jpg
 

Dino

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Was going to write a simple "NVM" post, but it turns out not to be so simple.
Long story short, CEL returned at the end of yesterday's drive home. I was sad/pissed. I needed the car to get to a meeting in Liechtenstein today, 200km round trip, and the unreliable sob wasn't going to make it easy.
Rather than accepting fate, I just deleted the codes and reset the light. If the light returns during the drive, fine, it's not something terminal that kills the engine on the spot.
But the light didn't return. Very interesting.
All 3 times the CEL light lit up, I was driving slowly / very slowly. Since the fault codes read "running lean", it didn't make much sense. However, if I remember correctly, I was hooning it prior to that. And every time the car came back from being fixed, it got driven normally on the highway, with no faults showing.
So my guess is that the faults were registered with open throttle, but showed some time afterwards. Maybe it is fuel related after all, like injectors or pump not being able to deliver enough. All of it related to the car sitting for 1,5 years. Further testing to follow.
 

Dino

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Already did prior to this whole saga beginning.
 

Dino

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Maybe the additive has dislodged something. Or it needs MORE.
 

Matt2000

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You know it sounds like what I've been reading about gearbox oil changes on the Freelander (long story I'll tell at some point), Jatco procedure is to only partially change the oil because if you change it all the detergents could release too much crud and the system won't be able to cope with it.
 

public

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You know it sounds like what I've been reading about gearbox oil changes on the Freelander (long story I'll tell at some point), Jatco procedure is to only partially change the oil because if you change it all the detergents could release too much crud and the system won't be able to cope with it.
Yeah I've read this about auto trans oil changes as well.

Check if there are any eBay "performance" parts on the 986. I fought with some boost issues on the TT for quite a long time til it was traced to a dinky bypass valve with degraded o-rings. Obvs, your car is NA...
 

Dino

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Thanks for all of youses comments. No faults to report right now, but haven't had much opportunity to hoon about.
Just a small visual update, exchanged the used and broken shifter with a new aftermarket one. Looks pretty decent, but will be painting the silver surround in black.
IMG_3561.jpg


Then a quick opportunity to photograph 2 dirty cars. And we're out.
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Dino

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Despite all hopes, the CEL light has returned. Twice. Codes remain unchanged, P1128 and P1130.

As previously noted, I've been keeping watch, looking to replicate scenarios and narrow down the faults.
Despite my suspicion, the CEL was always triggered during low-load situations, the second time while idling at a stoplight. Distance travelled between was around 400kms. Prior behavior was irrelevant, WOT driving had no effect. Still find that odd, since the faults name lean fueling and injectors at limit. Engine codes don't have to make sense, I guess.

As the MAF and O2 sensors are already replaced, the next step is vacuum. First step is the Air-Oil-Separator (AOS). The rubber membrane in those deteriorates after a while, normal 986 wear item. Testing for this is simple, 2 things can be done:

1. Try to remove the oil filler cap while engine is running. If the AOS is broken, a vacuum will be created in the engine block, making removal hard/impossible. I tried and couldn't lift the cap to save my life. Especially weird, since the cap has a spring supported filler extension, meaning it basically lift off on its own when unlocked. Which is does just fine with the engine off.
2. This generation of boxer engine (and older ones in general) are known to cough a small oil cloud upon startup - once in a while. Affectionately known as the "Boxer Fart". This is due to the cylinders being horizontal, rather than vertical - oil remains in the cylinder in some cases and gets burnt off during startup. A failed AOS creates a strong vacuum in the engine, causing more oil to be pulled into the cylinders, resulting in more and bigger farts.
I recorded the most recent startups:

Kinda disappointing, I've had much bigger plumes before, think Subi Driver Vape Cloud. Show effect I guess.
Nonetheless, I've had farts 100% of the time the last 10 startups, so the indicator is pretty clear.
Startup is also a little rough, used to be much crisper. The smoke clears after the initial expulsion and the engine runs just fine with no noticeable reduction of power or other signs of trouble.

With both indicators being confirmed, the car is back at the shops, the AOS hopefully being replaced as this is being written.
It's again something I could do myself, but the process, while simple, is such a PITA that I'd rather pay someone two hours labor than spend a weekend swearing and hating everything.

Will report back.

TLDR: CEL returned, looks like AOS failure, is being replaced and we'll continue hoping.
 
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