Boxster Engine Problems
Boxster Terminal Engine Failures
Boxster engines are not unreliable, its not likely you will have a problem with one. But, to be an honest and balanced buyers/owners guide I have a duty to outline some of the problems that can be the death of a Boxster engine and some of the things which seem to spell the death of a Boxster engine but are not as bad as you might at first think.
1997 - 1999 Boxster 2.5 Engine
One of the Porsche Boxster engines with a reputation for being more likely to suffer an engine failure would be the 2.5 Boxster engine used between 1997 and 1999. Typically this engine (and the 3.4 996 engine) suffers from the following problems (click on link for more information)
Intermediate Shaft Failure
Cracked Cylinder Heads
Head Gasket failure
Total bore failure
You can read about these failures by clicking on the links above, but I must stress that these failures are rare and most Boxster owners have had trouble free enjoyment of their Porsche. There is even a case that could be argued that some of these failures could be caused by inadequate servicing or maintainance.
Non terminal engine problems.
In addition to these failures the following issues may blight the engine of any Boxster, although are what we would class as non terminal failures. the post 2004 models have a many design improvements which should see the Boxster/996/Cayman engine much improved but some of these items may still be applicable.
Air oil seperator failure
Variable cam solenoid failure
Radiator fan failure
In the event of engine failure.....
Should the engine in a Boxster fail, typically at time of writing this (june 2008) a new complete engine (with ancillaries) from Porsche is about £7000 + Vat. Cost of replacement at a main dealer used to be around another £3000. Cost of replacement at a specialist tends to be around £800 - £1500 + consumables (oil etc) based on a call to my local specialist (JMG) a typical used boxster engine costs between £2500 and £3500 depending on who is selling it, its mileage and the version of engine.
Non terminal engine issues.
Another point that can be known to show the same symptoms of a blown up engine (clouds of smoke from the exhaust) yet is not something to panic about, is the air oil seperator. The early versions of this part are known to fail causing a massive engine vacuum and oil to be fed into the intake manifold. To check if this part is begining to fail, undo the oil filler cap with the engine running, if it does not pop up on a spring once undone yet will pop up a while after the engine is shut down, then the air oil seperator is probably failing or has already failed. Replacement of this item is best performed by a main dealer or specialist and is much cheaper than a new engine!! However I expect many Boxster engines over the years have been falsely diagnosed as failed due to this simple problem. Most specialists routinely check this during a service, although its not part of the service schedule and therefore isnt checked at the main dealers. (another benefit to using independent specialists in my opinion!)
Engine Servicing and preventative maintainance.
The official service schedule of the Boxster has a terminal flaw in the opinion of many experts. To increase the sales potential of new Boxsters the servicing prices seem very reasonable. Especially due to the Porsche low mileage service prices. Any Boxster owner or potential owner needs to beware of the low mileage service. It just includes a quick safety check and topping up of fluids. In particular I have heard of many cases from owners who have only ever had low mileage services performed on their Boxsters due to the low mileages they cover each year. However this can result in an engine which for many years and tens of thousands of miles has NEVER had an oil change, let alone other preventative maintainance such as spark plugs, drive belts, water pumps, tensioner rollers, etc.. let alone servicing that the rest of the car requires.
For a trouble free long living Boxster engine, please ensure you have your oil changed EVERY year as once the engine has been run a few times, contaminants in the engine oil begin a chain reaction and within 12 months the oil reaches a condition where it is actually damaging your engine rather than protecting it. Even though Mobil and other quality brands of oil are named "long life oils" even the engineers at these oil companies as well as specialists recommend changing your engine oil every 6 months. I know its expensive but its a lot less expensive than a new engine!!!
The Boxster drive belt should also be changed every 50,000 miles (due to stress and wear) or every 4 years (due to aging of the rubber) otherwise it could break. When it brakes it can cause your engine to rapidly overheat (faster than you will notice) which could cause a terminal engine failure. If you do not know when yours was last changed, get it changed! (while your at it, it may be worth getting the water pump checked and the tensioner rollers replaced also)
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