6.0 Car Care

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Porsche Boxster (986) FAQ

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6.1 Larry Reynolds Car Care Articles
6.2 Cleaning the Wheels
6.3 Taking Care of the Cabriolet Rear Window
6.4 Cleaning the Tailpipe
6.5 What to Use Instead of a Garage

6.1 Larry Reynolds Car Care Articles

Larry Reynolds of Car Care Specialties, Inc. webout.gif (933 bytes), wrote an entire series of articles on car care. All are available from his web site, http://www.carcareonline.com/howto_articles.html webout.gif (933 bytes). These are a great resource. You can find information on the following topics:

  • Car Covers: Types and how to use them
  • How to properly clean your car's paintwork
  • How to properly maintain and preserve your Convertible Car Top
  • How to repair the finish on wheels that have been damaged by improper cleaning
  • How to properly clean your car's engine compartment
  • How to properly care for the leather surfaces in your car's interior
  • How to properly repair paint chips
  • How to protect your car's paint finish
  • Extra protection for your car's paint finish when driving on the track or in autocrosses
  • Squealing brakes: How to save wear-and-tear on your horn!
  • Tires, Exterior Rubber, and Vinyl protection
  • Vinyl Care
  • How to properly wash your car
  • How to properly care for your car's wheels

Also, for a black Boxster, Larry recommended the following products (note that the editors recommend Plexus instead of Meguiar's):

Purpose Product
Cabriolet Plastic Rear Window Meguiar's #17 and #10 (for windows with scratches)
Cabriolet Plastic Rear Window Meguiar's #18 (for window maintenance)
Cabriolet Top Cleaner Tunap Cabrio Top Cleaner or Sonax Soft Top Cleaner (same stuff)
Cabriolet Top Protectant Cabrio Protectant Spray
Car Wash Sonax Gloss Shampoo
Chrome Tailpipe One Grand Chrome Polish or P21S Multi-Finish Restorer Polish
Engine Wash P21S Total Auto Wash
Glaze 3M Imperial Hand Glaze (for paint with scratches and swirls)
Glaze P21S Paintwork Cleanser (for paint that does not)
Leather Interior Cleaner Lexol pH Cleaner
Leather Interior Conditioner Lexol Conditioner
Tire Maintenance Black Again/Meguiar's #42
Vinyl Interior Lexol Vinyex Spray
Wax One Grand Blitz Wax (for daily driver)
Wax P21S Concour Look Wax (garage queen)
Wheel Cleaner P21S Wheel Cleaner
Wheel Wax One Grand Blitz Wax

6.2 Cleaning the Wheels

To clean the wheels, the Boxster Owner's Manual says:

Pitting may occur if metallic particles which cause contact corrosion (e.g. brass or copper in brake dust) are allowed to remain on the aluminum for too long.

Regular care is necessary in order to retain the attractive surface finish. The wheels should be washed down with a sponge or wash brush every two weeks. In areas where salt is spread on winter roads or there is a lot of airborne industrial dust, it is best to clean the wheels weekly.

The Porsche Light Alloy Wheel Cleaner (pH-value 9.5) can be used for this purpose.

If the pH-value of the detergent is incorrect, the protective coating on the wheels will be destroyed.

Every three months you should coat the wheels with a non-corrosive grease (Vaseline) after cleaning. Using a clean cloth thoroughly rub the grease into the surface.

Polishes which dissolves oxides, such as those frequently used for other metals, or abrasive tools or agents are unsuitable because they break down the oxide film of the protective coating and will cause discoloration of the wheel.

[Page 119, Model Year 1997 Manual]

The Porsche Light Alloy Wheel Cleaner is part number 999.901.030.40 for a 500 ml spray bottle, and 999.901.031.40 for a 1000 ml refill. They both have a street price of about $17 a bottle. This is apparently P21S wheel cleaner in a Porsche bottle. You may want to buy the Porsche cleaner in case there is any problem with the finish on your wheels, since it would then be covered under warranty.

You will notice that there will be a black line of road grease that accumulates around the hub cap that contains the Porsche crest. To clean this off, you can pull off the hub cap. You can make a hub cap puller out of a coat hanger that fits into the two little holes in the hub cap crest. Insert this puller into the holes, then pull straight out from the tire. An example of such a puller can be found at http://grr.xoc.net/boxster/articles/hubcap.asp webout.gif (933 bytes).

6.3 Taking Care of the Cabriolet Rear Window

Vinyl is inherently soft-surfaced, so it scratches readily. It easily absorbs a wide range of chemistries from water to acids to all manner of hydrocarbons, so it tends to cloud slightly when humidified and it can be colored by industrial fallout or cleaning agents. It is relatively optically transparent to UV, and while it is relatively stable against UV-crosslinking itself, it can absorb stuff that is not.

Last and worst, it is made flexible during original formulation by inclusion of plasticizers, which are oil-like complex hydrocarbons. Vinyl, in a sense, is a sparse matrix of plastic sponge which is saturated with liquid plasticizer. It is this high percentage of plasticizer that makes gradual contamination by airborne junk so problematic, because the plasticizer rapidly dissolves the junk from the surface, and it spreads throughout the vinyl.

Plasticizers are meta-stable liquids under the best of conditions; for instance, in a new car, the film that forms on the inside of the glass consists of condensed plasticizers that heat-evaporated from the back window, the other vinyl in the car, and perhaps from the leather seats. (Plasticizers of similar chemistries are used to add softness and flexibility to materials other than vinyl, as well.)

Automotive vinyl is made with premium plasticizers to minimize evaporative loss, but nonetheless there are limits to how much stability can be achieved. Evaporative stability and good low-temperature flexibility are difficult to achieve together.

Plasticizers are readily stripped from the surface of vinyl by anything that can bind and lift oils, including detergents and soaps, and certainly including ammonia such as is found in some glass cleaners. More plasticizer will leach to the surface to replace what is stripped, but when cleaning loss is combined with gradual evaporative loss, eventually the vinyl will become less well plasticized, and thus stiffer. Decreased plasticizer content, cold temperatures, and stiffening due to UV-crosslinking of various absorbed contaminants can all lead to flex cracking.

There is no good fix for this. Vinyl is an imperfect material, used only because nothing else is better.

The best options for auto maintenance are to scrupulously avoid exposing the vinyl to even trace amounts of anything not water-soluble; wash the window with water and as little cleaning agent as possible; and regard the back window as a disposable/replaceable item.

[Thanks to John Shaefer for this information.]

While there is no definitive best product to clean and protect the window, the products that have been endorsed by Boxster owners the most are Meguiar's #18 Clear Plastic Cleaner Polish, Meguiar's #17 Clear Plastic Cleaner, Meguiar's #10 Clear Plastic Polish, Plexus and Zymöl. The editor, having tried both Meguiar's 10, 17, and 18, and Plexus, can unequivocally recommend Plexus.

Ken from LA notes:

After several months of trial and error I discovered a method for maintaining the rear window . Using every plastic product I could find, I finally came across Plexus, sold through Performance Products. In my opinion, it is far superior to any other brand on the market.

Spray the cloth (not the window) and work in. Do not let any plastic cleaner dry on the window. Next, remove the wax by using a clean side of a diaper for one full swipe only (following the same direction). After 12 to 15 passes the window is absolutely clear--not a spot, not a smudge, not a streak. Allow 15 to 20 minutes for the job and you'll need 15 clean diapers to cover both inside and outside surfaces.

Is it worth the effort? After nine months of ownership the rear window of my Boxster is cleaner and clearer than showroom new.

Another big question is how to protect the plastic window while hard top is on for the winter. While again there are many suggestions, the main thing would be to make sure that the window is clean and polished (with no excess polish residue left on the window). Then prior to lowering the top, make sure that there is a towel, diaper, or some such thing in the fold of the plastic window.

Our suggestion would be to go to a fabric store and buy a yard of felt. Cut the felt a little larger than the plastic window. and while top is lowering have another person carefully place the felt over the window and allow the top to close, folding the felt between the plastic. This should keep the plastic from contacting with itself and protect somewhat against discoloring.

If you leave the top down in cold weather, two circles, about two inches in diameter, can appear on the cabriolet top when you put it up. This is caused by heat being transferred from the engine compartment through some plastic screws that hold down the panel over the engine. These are not permanent and will go away on their own.

6.4 Cleaning the Tailpipe

To clean the tailpipe, one owner recommends using a Dremel Moto Tool with a small buff wheel attached. Using Blue Magic polish, it took about an hour to clean the pipe. Be careful not to hit the car's body. This owner used duct tape to protect the paint, although you might want to use something less sticky.

6.5 What to Use Instead of a Garage

There are a number of alternative to car covers, although they generally are going to be more expensive. They will, however, probably do a better job of protecting your car and do not actually touch the car surface, so scratching is not an issue. They are large and in some cases not very attractive, so you would need to ensure that they don't violate deed restrictions in your neighborhood or cause complaint by neighbors.

One version is made out of that cover cover material called Evolution, which is supposed to be very good. It looks like a tent for your car. You drive it in, then zip it up. It's lockable, although that doesn't mean much since all a scum has to do is cut the material to get to the car.

Another product is based on the same premise, but it's made out of clear material. It is an inflatable bubble and is called a Car-coon. Seen in ads in Hemming's or Dupont Registry. It is recommended that you put bags of both activated charcoal and silica inside of the Car-coon to keep the odors and moisture out.

Some use an A-frame pole-tarp. The footprint is about 10'x20', which is plenty for a car. A series of poles slip together and a heavy, reflectorized tarp essentially bungees to it to form an A-frame roof. You can put the four corners in buckets with redi-mix quick-set concrete. Of course there are no sides or doors--It is pretty much just a sun and heavy rain protector but is a relatively inexpensive solution. Cost: Under $200.