Porsche Boxster Porsche's smallest and least expensive sports car model,the Boxster is a convertible sports car released in late 1996.

99 Boxster engine issues - need some recommendations

Old 01-19-2009, 09:43 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2009
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Default 99 Boxster engine issues - need some recommendations

I'm hoping someone can help me here. My wife purchased a '99 Boxster with a Tiptronic in 2003 with about 11,500 miles on it. The car is immaculate. She drives it about 5000 miles per year with the odometer now showing about 36,400 miles. It is garaged daily – stored in the winter – very well taken care of - maintained well - washed weekly and is in like-new condition. About 2 1/2 years ago I had a problem with the engine running rough - check engine light coming on etc. - It turned out to be one of the engine coils and I had it replaced at my local Porsche dealer in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The experience at my dealer was good, service was quick and the shop charge was fair @ $95.00 an hour. The car was finally paid off this past August and my wife was happy to get rid of a car payment after 5 years.

Around the end of October she was driving the vehicle and noticed that the check engine light came on - flashed a few times and then it began running rough. I had her drive the car home and I drove it around to see how it was running - I had a feeling that it was experiencing the same problem as before with the coil, so I scheduled an appointment and took it to the dealer for service. I received a call late in the morning from the dealer that the remaining 5 engine coils should be replaced as they all had cracks in them and one had failed completely. After doing some research and speaking to a few people regarding this, I found out that this is a fairly common issue with this engine. I thought it was a little extreme and even though there are only 36,400 miles on it, I figured the car was about 10 years old, maybe it was time. I authorized the work to be done for the replacement of the 5 coils. Cost - $734.00.

I received another call later in the day with some rather disturbing news. While the coils were being replaced, a compression test was done on each cylinder and the following was noted: 5 of the 6 cylinders registered a healthy 170 PSI; however 1 cylinder (#2) only registered a poor 25 PSI. Knowing that this is a fairly significant problem, I agreed with the service manager that this issue should be addressed. We both figured it would take about 1 hour to pull the valve cover and check to see if there was a stuck valve or some other problem. I authorized the service to proceed. About an hour after my conversation with the service manager I received another disturbing call. According to him, the only way to remove the valve cover was to completely remove the engine and transmission from the car, and put it on a bench for service. Huh?????? He also informed me that the shop time for this service is about 12 hours. That’s 12 hours just to remove the engine and reinstall it. 12 hours. That equates to about $1200.00. This doesn’t even count the time involved in determining what the actual problem with the engine is. I figured I could potentially be looking at another $400.00-$500.00 in shop time and parts on top of the $1200.00 before the problem is fixed. After verifying from some other dealers that this information is correct, I authorized the work to proceed. I was curious as to why a company as world renowned as Porsche have such a major design flaw as to need to completely remove an engine just to get a valve cover off? It certainly lessens my confidence in Porsche overall. I’ve always been treated right by my dealer, but I found it rather strange that the engine coils, compression issue and engine removal all seemed to happen at the same time. The dealer was rather busy with some other projects and since it's winter time, there was no rush and they would start on it when time permitted.

Today I received the most disturbing call of all - according to the service manager, the engine is in pretty bad shape - apparently a small piece of the intake valve in cylinder number 2 had broken off and did a hell of a job inside the cylinder - scoring the walls, damaging the top of the piston but not putting a hole in it, damaging the rings and the inside of the cylinder head. I was told that there is no way to repair the engine because of the nature of the damage and design of the block, and the only option is to replace the engine. ARE YOU SERIOUS????? Replace the engine??? I asked him what could have caused the damage and he told me there is no definitive answer. He said maybe it could have been from over lubrication or something else - he wasn't really sure. After asking him the cost to replace the engine I had to get up off of the floor because I fell out of my chair. Cost of a new engine from Porsche.....$10,000.00. Yes that's correct - ten thousand dollars. So now I have a car worth maybe $18,000-$20,000 with an engine that's gonna cost $10K to fix - now you see my situation. He said a used engine or a new short block may come in around $6000.00 but that's still a lot of money to drop on this.

I'm wondering if the valve was faulty all of these years. Maybe it had a hairline crack in it and finally let loose. Who knows? Does anyone have any suggestions? - is there any chance that Porsche would back this up if it was a faulty valve? I know the car is well out of warranty, but again, only 36,400 miles and very well taken care of. Could the cylinder be bored out and fitted with a new piston and rings? If anyone can shed some light on this it would be much appreciated as we have some difficult decisions to make.

Old 01-20-2009, 12:03 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Overland Park, KS
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Default RE: 99 Boxster engine issues - need some recommendations

There isn't much you can do but put a new engine in. They haven't lied to you anywhere along the lines, although, I would have done the compression test before selling you brand new coils. IMHO, they can eat that cost. My guess is they replaced all the coils trying to track the running issue down, and when that didn't solve the problem, they went back in and did a compression test. You can remove the cam cover without dropping the motor, but going any further into the head to check the valves would require a full engine drop.

Porsche will not do anything for you, as far as they are concerned, the car is 10 years old and not their problem anymore.

The other option is to look at a used motor.

Remember, it was a 70k car new, just because the supply and demand has made the boxsters not worth much, doesn't mean the cost of parts or labor have gone down. That is the downside of owning a boxster. The 996's have suffered the same fate, and the 996TT's are head down as well. 10k for a new porsche motor is actually fairly reasonable. A short block for a mid 80's 944 turbo is well over $6500, and that doesn't include the head, exhaust, intake, accessories, etc. With a new boxster motor, everything will be new....it is a plug and play install. Drop the junk motor out, plug the new motor in, and you are done. What you pay extra for the engine assembly, you save by not having to pay the labor of swapping things like AC compressors, and alternators, intakes, wiring harnesses, etc.
Old 01-24-2009, 07:24 PM
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Default RE: 99 Boxster engine issues - need some recommendations

Wow, I'm looking at a 2002 Boxster w 68K, new clutch, new rear main seal. Is this the norm or maybe just bad luck. I'm a little concern that the response was just drop another 10K
Old 01-25-2009, 12:54 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Overland Park, KS
Posts: 3,532
Default RE: 99 Boxster engine issues - need some recommendations


Wow, I'm looking at a 2002 Boxster w 68K, new clutch, new rear main seal. Is this the norm or maybe just bad luck. I'm a little concern that the response was just drop another 10K
Most people when they buy a used car buy the car that they can just squeak by the payments on. They forget to factor in a possible catastrophic failure, then if it has the poor luck of happening, they don't know what to do. Does this happen with boxsters and 996s? Yes. Is it common? Considering the number of boxsters and 996's on the road, no I would say it is a low failure rate.

I would love to give a different response, I guess you could part the car out and cut your losses, sell the car as is and take a hit, or spend the money. You aren't going to fix it for $1500. I would love to say you could, but I would be lying.
Old 03-21-2015, 10:36 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2015
Posts: 1

I know that this occurred a few years ago, but reading the sequence of events, I just knew what happened. When the first engine coil was replaced, it was done quickly and the mechanic likely inadvertently introduced a foreign particle into the cylinder when removing the spark plug. It took a few months, but eventually that foreign particle damaged the cylinder early at 36,000 miles. It's also likely that they might have suspected it afterwards, and recommended the full set of coils being replaced, so that it would not be so obvious to notice that the one newer coil was also at the same cylinder that was damaged.

Impossible to prove now, but something for others to look out for.
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