Boxster Problem Areas


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Porsche Boxster (986) FAQ

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Door Won't Open
Windows Act Erratically
Idle Problem
Airbag Warning Light Lit
Oil Leaks
Water in the Door Jambs Causes Electrical Failure
Condensation Over the Radiator Cap
Speedometer Miscalibrated
Wet Carpet
Static on the AM Radio
Radio Buttons Peel
Whistle While Driving
White Smoke From the Engine
Whine When Starting the Engine
Visor Mirror Flap Won't Stay Up
Rear Tail Light Shows White
"Loose Change" Sound from Behind Driver
Gas Tank Won't Fill

Below are listed some of the more common problems with Boxsters.

An informal poll was conducted on Porsche Pete's Boxster Board. The results of that poll are shown below.

boxpoll.gif (7788 bytes)


Door Won't Open

Diagnostic: Driver's or passenger's side door won't open from the inside.

Cause: A cable inside the door of Model Year 1998 and later Boxsters seems to undergo some stress that causes it to snap. This causes the inside door handle to be disabled.

It appears that it tends to happen after having been driven about 1000 to 2000 miles. This doesn't seem to be effecting 1997 model year Boxster, because they don't have the side airbags. The cable will have to be replaced under warranty

Time in Shop: Several hours.

Repair Instructions: Requires a warranty repair.

Notes: You can still exit the car by rolling down the window and opening it from the outside. If you have the remote key entry make sure that the key works in the driver's door lock after you get the car back. To save the battery, after the car sits for about three days without being started, the remote key entry will no longer work. Several people have reported that a misrepair to the door cable has disabled the exterior door lock, and only discovered this when the remote was disabled, too.


Windows Act Erratically

Diagnostic: Windows lower at odd moments, or refuse to lower at appropriate moments, such as when the cabriolet top release handle is pulled.

Cause: Cabriolet top microswitch broken or defective.

Details: There is a switch in the mechanism for the handle for the soft top that detects whether it has been pulled. Normally when the switch is pulled, the windows lower about an inch. If, however, the switch is defective, the car thinks the handle is still pulled and will cause the windows to act strangely, lowering at odd moments or refusing to go all the way up. The switch itself is connected on two sides. It appears that pressure on the switch causes one side to come free causing an intermittent contact.

Time in Shop: Under half an hour.

Repair Instructions: You can repair it yourself by removing the lenses for the infra-red sensors for the alarm, then using a T25 torx driver to remove that latch assembly cover. Unplug the three cables from it. Find the center of the plastic switch and a little slot where it is held in place. If you place something thin in the gap where the switch is attached, you will fix the problem.

Notes: None.


Idle Problem

Diagnostic: Infrequently, the car will spontaneously drop the engine RPM to almost zero, then seem to catch itself and resume back at the original RPM.

Cause: Unknown.

Details: A number of owners of Boxsters have this problem while the car is idling. Some people have a direct correlation with the air conditioner being on, whereas other people have had the problem with the air conditioner off. Only some Boxsters have this problem. Some people think it might be a bug in the Boxster's computer controlled electronics. Unfortunately, it is not reproducible on demand, so debugging it is difficult. There is currently no fix, and PAG and PCNA have not even admitted the problem exists.

Time in Shop: None.

Repair Instructions: None.

Notes: None.


Airbag Warning Light Lit

Diagnostic: Airbag idiot light on dash lights up.

Cause: Faulty seat belt receptacles.

Details: If the airbag idiot light appears on the dash, the most frequent cause is a fault in the relay in the seat belt. The Boxster has a relay that detects and records whether the seat belt was being worn if the airbag deploys. The solution is to replace the seat belt buckle receptacles. See the Boxster Technical Bulletin labeled Air Bag Warning Lamp On [grp6 9701 6924 9/30/97]. Although this bulletin says that the problem is fixed, it is still occurring on a fair number of Boxsters. Unfortunately, you do not want to mess around with faults in the airbag system, since it could save your life, so you should have this checked reasonably quickly.

Time in Shop: 2.33 hours.

Repair Instructions: Requires warranty repair.

Notes: None.


Oil Leaks

Diagnostic: Leaking oil under car, or oil loss showing on dipstick or electronic dipstick.

Cause: There are several causes from oil leaks:

  • Front and rear oil pump plate gaskets - there was some gunk (glue?) between the gasket and the engine, causing an imperfect seal. Scrape it off and apply a new gasket. Probably rare, and caused during the manufacturing process. The process has been changed to prevent this.
  • Not enough lubricant on the spark plug gasket, causing it to tear during installation. Pretty common. Porsche has changed the process to fix this.
  • There is an oil feed tube which runs from left to right along the rear of the engine. Early '97 models didn't have one of the receptacles drilled deep enough, so a thicker gasket must be used to seal properly. Halfway through '97 the started drilling the holes 1mm deeper, solving the problem. This is common for '97 models.
  • An oil return tube runs over the top of the engine. Through wear it develops a leak; you can see oil on top of the engine in this case. This may be a recurring problem.
  • A couple of people have noted that what they thought was engine oil turned out to be cosmoline that had touched a hot engine part and dripped. So if your car is new and the amount is small, this might be what you are seeing.
  • In some cases, there is a leak through the crank case wall. Porsche has a unique way of casting the crank cases on the Boxster and 996. Porsche subcontracts out the process of pouring the Boxster aluminum crank cases. The process of doing the pouring is problematic if the aluminum doesn't flow or cool smoothly, causing porous crank case walls. The original machine that was producing the crank cases was having a huge number of rejects. The current machine is having about a 35% reject rate. A rejected engine is not put into a car, and is presumably melted down. In the extremely rare case, though, an engine that should have been rejected slips into production. If so, you will detect large amounts oil loss immediately after taking deliver, even though there is none dripping on the ground. Even more infrequently, the expansion and contraction of the engine due to heat can expose the problem later. Porsche's quality control on this problem at this point is very good, and almost no currently shipping vehicles should have this problem. If the problem does occur, though, the entire engine must be replaced. Allow one to four weeks of downtime if this occurs, depending on parts availability.

Details: None.

Time in Shop: Any oil leak problem will require the car to be in the shop for at least a day if the parts are on hand, and longer if not.

Repair Instructions: Requires warranty repair.

Notes: Some of these problems have been resolved in the manufacturing process and should not recur in new engines. The Boxster should not eat much oil (maybe a quart every 7500 miles), and should never drip oil underneath the car. If you have an oil leak repaired, make sure the dealer thoroughly cleans the engine. There are a lot of places that oil can gather on the engine and continue to drip. If the engine isn't clean, you may think you have a leak, when you don't.


Water in the Door Jambs Causes Electrical Failure

Diagnostic: Windows stop working, or entire car electrical system freezes.

Cause: Water seeps through the rubber gasket in the door jambs to get to the electrical wiring that activates the power windows and shorts it out.

Details: This causes the circuit to short and the windows to stop working. After this, it then continues to short until the entire electrical system of the car shorts.

Time in Shop: Several hours to a week, depending on what got fried.

Repair Instructions: None.

Notes: In some areas of the world, it drizzles continually, day after day, for months on end. If the car is parked outside unprotected, it can seep through the gasket causing the problem. To prevent this, you can do a number of different things:

  • Garage your car--the most obvious, but not available to some people
  • Use a car cover--also obvious, but sometimes inconvenient
  • Try a liquid gasket around the rubber seals--a little preventive maintenance may save a lot of repairs on your car
  • Let it short--You'll get a new electrical system under warranty

Condensation Over the Radiator Cap

Diagnostic: Condensation of radiator fluid on the inside of the rear trunk over the region of the radiator cap.

Cause: Leaking radiator cap.

Details: Porsche has updated the radiator cap to a new version with the same part number. Some people have replaced the cap, under warranty, which seems to cause the problem to go away. There may be some back stock of the older radiator caps, so keep trying caps until you find one that makes the problem disappear.

Time in Shop: Five minutes.

Repair Instructions: The part number for the radiator cap is 996.106.447.00.

Notes: None.


Speedometer Miscalibrated

Diagnostic: Speedometer reading shows higher than your actual speed.

Cause: Engineering problem in design of Boxster.

Details: Porsche claims that the tolerance range for the speedometer is 10% over your actual speed to 1% slower than your actual speed. There are several ways to have this checked:

  • Radar gun
  • Dyno
  • Mile or kilometer markers on a freeway
  • GPS (Global Positioning System)

To use the mile or kilometer markers on the freeway, they must be accurately spaced. You will need a stopwatch. Measure your time driving past several markers at a constant speed (use the cruise control if you have it), then use this formula: (3600 number of markers) number of seconds = actual speed.

One owner ran his June 1997 Stuttgart built Boxster on a dyno. It showed the speedometer to be within one mph of accuracy at 60 mph, so not all cars have this deficiency. This is important to know because you cannot presume to have five mph slack without checking your speedometer.

Time in Shop: None

Repair Instructions: None

Notes: Even if the speedometer were calibrated correctly at the factory, there are a number of factors which can contribute to the speedometer reporting inaccurate speed:

  • Tire tread
  • Tire pressure
  • Tire size

The odometer uses a separate technique to measure distance, so it does not have this problem.


Wet Carpet

Diagnostic: Carpet wet inside passenger compartment.

Cause: A drip line from the climate control system is clogged or misdirected.

Details: Condensation from the air conditioner is directed into the passenger compartment instead of dripping underneath the car.

Time in Shop: Less than half an hour.

Repair Instructions: Clear clog yourself.

Notes: None.


Static on the AM Radio

Diagnostic: Static proportional to their speed appears on AM radio when trying to tune into weak stations.

Cause: The Boxster's electronics is generating a signal in the frequency range of the AM radio.

Details: Engineering problem in design of Boxster. There is currently no fix.

Time in Shop: None.

Repair Instructions: None.

Notes: None.


Radio Buttons Peel

Diagnostic: Outer surface of radio buttons peel.

Cause: Badly formulated plastics on buttons.

Details: Requires warranty repair of radio or radio face plate.

Time in Shop: 0.5 hours.

Repair Instructions: None.

Notes: None.


Whistle While Driving

Diagnostic: Whistle sound proportional to speed while driving.

Cause: Wind blowing over gap.

Details: The sound can be caused in several places, but the most frequent is the front edge of the hood. The solution is to have your front hood height adjusted. If the whistle still is there, you can apply a gasket where the front gap appears.

Time in Shop: 1 hour.

Repair Instructions: None.

Notes: None.


White Smoke From the Engine

Diagnostic: White smoke comes from tailpipe when the engine is started.

Cause: Oil residue under the pistons heads.

Details: The Boxster engine uses a flat six cylinder design. Because of this construction, oil residue remains under the piston heads and burns off at every start up. This can produce a white puff of smoke. It should only lasts a few seconds. This is normal, and no correction is necessary.

Time in Shop: None.

Repair Instructions: None.

Notes: None.


Whine When Starting the Engine

Diagnostic: Whine comes from the engine compartment for 30 seconds after starting the car when cold outside.

Cause: This is an air pump that helps the emission control system reduce the pollutants released into the atmosphere.

Details: This is normal, and no correction is necessary.

Time in Shop: None.

Repair Instructions: None.

Notes: None.


Visor Mirror Flap Won't Stay Up

Diagnostic: The sun visor mirror flap won't stay up.

Cause: Adhesive loosened on metal clips that provide friction on the hinges of the mirror flap.

Details: When the adhesive loosens, the clips slide out of two holes in the assembly and no longer provide the friction necessary to hold up the flap.

Time in Shop: Five minutes

Repair Instructions: For the dealer to fix them under warranty they need to follow the directions in the Porsche technical bulletin labeled Improved Sun Visor Mirror Cover [grp6 1/98 6823 5/14/98].

For you to fix them, you need to pop the mirror encasement out of the sun visor. There are four plastic lips that hold it in place. Take a small screwdriver and carefully pry the mirror encasement from the sun visor. It should just pop out.

Once you pop the mirror encasement out of the visor, you should find two U-shaped clips. Be careful as the metal clips may fly when you remove the mirror encasement from the visor. If you don't find two, shake the visor around. If you hear something moving, it is likely the clip stuck in the innards of the plastic of the visor. Keep shaking it around until they fall out.

Take the metal clips and place a drop or two of super glue on them. Force the clips back into the holes where they belong with the tapered part of the clip with the "nubs" on it back into the hole and the flat part against the mirror cover hinge. You can use vise-grips to gently hold the clips in place for about five minutes until the super glue dries. You should probably protect the visor from the vise grips with something so it doesn't leave marks.

Notes: None.


Rear Tail Light Shows White

Diagnostic: Rear tail light shows white instead of red, and brake light is dim.

Cause: Light assembly out of place.

Details: None.

Time in Shop: Half an hour.

Repair Instructions: To fix, open the trunk and look to the lower right where the back of the right taillight is. Unscrew the two black disks holding the trunk liner and set them aside. The taillight assembly comes out for bulb changing in one assembly held in by a plastic tab located about the center of the assembly. See if the assembly has somehow popped out and is not snapped in firm. If it has dislodged, the light bulbs will not be seated where they should be just inside the rear tail light lens. A simple matter to push the assembly back in so it snaps into place and replace the inside trunk liner.

Notes: None.


"Loose Change" Sound from Behind Driver

Diagnostic: There is a rattle sounding as if you have some loose coins rolling in the engine compartment.

Cause: The cable for the cabriolet top being out of adjustment.

Details: There is a ball joint where the cable for the cabriolet top connects. If the cable is loose, the joint connection makes a horrendous sound. The cable tension needs to be adjusted.

Time in Shop: 10 minutes.

Repair Instructions: Open the top to a half-way open position. Then find the ball joints where the cables snap in. There is a bolt on top of the ball joint that turns to tighten or loosen the tension on the cable. Turn this bolt to increase the tension. You might also want to put some grease or lubricant into the ball joint. The cables just pop off the ball joint with a little pressure.

Notes: None.


Gas Gauge Out of Calibration

Diagnostic: The gas gauge on the dashboard reads low even when the tank is filled.

Cause: Miscalibrated gas gauge.

Details: The gas gauge can be calibrated using the PST2 (Porsche System Tool 2). The gas tank must be completely drained. Then a precise amount of gasoline is introduced into the tank. Then the PST2 is used to calibrate the gauge needle.

Time in Shop: One hour.

Repair Instructions: Requires dealer repair.

Notes: None.

 


Gas Tank Won't Fill

Diagnostic: When you try to fill the gas tank, only about 1/10th of a gallon will go into the tank before the auto-shutoff triggers in the gas pump.

Cause: Tubes behind the flapper in the gas tank have slipped.

Details: There is a one way flapper type valve at the junction of the filler neck and the tank. This is to allow gas in but not out. There are tubes in the tank behind the valve that can slip down preventing the flapper valve from opening allowing only the filler neck to fill up then slowly seeps by the valve.

Take to your dealer with less than 1/2 tank of gas. The fix is to have the dealer secure the tubes up and out of the way of the flapper valve.

Time in Shop: Several hours.

Repair Instructions: Requires dealer repair.

Notes: None.


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