DIAGNOSTICS
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DIAGNOSTICS

The Porsche Boxster was designed with a diagnostic connector so that a computerised workstation can be plugged into the car to assist in diagnosis of faults. The location of this connector is bellow the dashboard on the left hand side of the car. The connector is usually Blue or Purple however in some cases is black.

I was very lucky recently that my local Porsche specialists JMG had enough free time to run through the various diagnostic equipment they use for connecting to the Porsche Boxster and Cayman range. Some of the tools are from Porsche such as the PST2 and PIWIS which is all that's available to the main dealers.

Porsche System Tester 2 ( PST2 )
Porsche Integrated Workshop Information System ( PIWIS )

 

Jon at JMG has also invested in additional equipment as well as the PST2 and PIWIS not available to the main dealers, the main items are the ALS-ISD91 and the full Durametric suite.

Durametric
ALS-ISD91

They also have a backup PST2 that has been re-housed into a laptop computer so that other diagnostic software can be used at the same time on the same screen, such as wide band exhaust gas software and some other software they use when testing a car on the dyno.

All these machines are designed to plug into the OBDII connector (mentioned above), which I am told all Porsche model cars have has since the introduction of the Porsche Boxster. So these machines will also talk to the Porsche Cayman, Cayenne, 996, 997 and even the Carrera GT and future models.

You may be asking why JMG have such a selection of diagnostic tools? Well Jon took the time to help me compile the following list of the various scan tools, with their strengths and weaknesses. Just for the sake of completeness we have also included some other tools Jon at JMG uses with these tools as an example that sometimes a £20 electrical tool may be more valuable than a £15,000 tool.

Tool
Strengths
Weakness
MULTIMETER

 

 

Cheap from £20 to £500

Good for quickly testing voltages, amps and resistance's

Instant to use, no boot up time.

Unable to read diagnostic codes stored in the cars systems

Unable to visually test and display waveforms

OSCILLOSCOPE
   

Able to read waveforms of sensors in real time, even ones not supported by the diagnostic system.

Instant to use, no boot up time.

Unable to read diagnostic codes from the cars systems.

Tricky to display voltages or resistance's

Delicate LCD screen.

Cost up to £2000

POWER PROBE

Able to apply voltages or grounds directly to a actuator, solenoid or other electrical item.

Able to sense the presence of a voltage or ground.

Able to bypass the loom for signals or voltage levels.

Instant to use, no boot up time

Robust and cost under £500

unable to read diagnostic codes

Unable to read waveforms

Unable to display voltages

Unable to display resistance's

PST2

Able to read and clear fault codes in Boxster systems.

Able to recode or re calibrate systems

Able to view some signals or signal levels available through the diagnostic systems.

Able to control some actuators directly through the diagnostic system

Unable to directly read all voltages, signals, resistance's or waveforms.

Unable to apply power or grounds directly to some components.

Slow boot up time

Delicate screen

Unavailable new, used value £7000

PST2-LAPTOP

Able to read and clear fault codes in Boxster systems.

Able to recode or re calibrate systems

Able to view some signals or signal levels available through the diagnostic systems.

Able to control some actuators directly through the diagnostic system

Able to also run other software at the same time such as for reading wide band exhaust gas sensors and chip tuning.

Able to read data regarding driving style (rev limits etc)

Unable to directly read all voltages, signals, resistance's or waveforms.

Unable to apply power or grounds directly to some components.

Slow boot up time

Not as good as a PIWIS for later cars after 2004.

Delicate screen

Unavailable new, Cost typically the same as a PST2

PIWIS

Able to read and clear fault codes in Boxster systems.

Able to recode or re calibrate systems

Able to view some signals or signal levels available through the diagnostic systems.

Able to control some actuators directly through the diagnostic system

Compatible with the post 2004 cars

Able to read data regarding driving style (rev limits etc)

Unable to directly read all voltages, signals, resistance's or waveforms.

Unable to apply power or grounds directly to some components.

Slow boot up time

Not so good for older cars.

Delicate screen

Cost £12,000 plus update costs of around £4000 per year!

ALS-ISD91

Able to read and clear fault codes in Boxster systems.

Able to view some signals or signal levels available through the diagnostic systems.

Better at viewing signals and waveforms better than PST2 or PIWIS

Able to control some actuators directly through the diagnostic system

Instant boot up time

Compatible with all Boxsters and other Porsche

Unable to directly read all voltages, signals, resistance's or waveforms.

Unable to apply power or grounds directly to some components.

Slow boot up time

Not so good for older cars.

Delicate screen

unable to recode or re calibrate systems

Unable to read Boxster alarm fault codes.

DURAMETRIC

Able to read and clear fault codes in Boxster systems.

Able to view some signals or signal levels available through the diagnostic systems.

Able to control some actuators directly through the diagnostic system

Compatible with all the Porsche models

Able to read data regarding driving style (rev limits etc)

Able to display and overlay several waveforms and signal levels at the same time. (Better at data logging than PST2 or PIWIS)

Able to run other software at the same time as running the durametric software

Cost with a laptop around £2000!

Unable to directly read all voltages, signals, resistance's or waveforms.

Unable to recode or re calibrate systems

Unable to apply power or grounds directly to some components.

Slow boot up time (faster than PST2 or PIWIS)

Not so good for older cars.

Delicate screen

The problem with diagnostic equipment, its only as good as the operator, which is where I have no doubts with JMG as Jon explained that the diagnostic systems on board the Boxster and other Porsche models can only report a fault with a component. However the component may not be faulty, it could be that there is a bad contact, a broken wire, or even another fault exists with the car which is causing a sensor to produce a signal level outside of its normal operating range. He explained that a good example of this is a MAF sensor, which can often be faulty, but a diagnostic code will not be logged. Or another example was that a lambda (o2) sensor can be reporting that a bank is running lean, when in fact the car may be running rich and the sensor may not be faulty as the problem could be with a problem with the exhaust drawing in fresh air!

The list of diagnostic codes that a Porsche can report is very long and beyond the scope of this article. The best reference for this information can be obtained from the factory workshop manuals which includes a test plan for what to do in the event of most fault codes. However, like the service manual, it was written prior to the Boxsters maturing and problems unexpected by the factory are not listed, which is where a skilled and experienced technician becomes invaluable.

 

Send comments and ideas to web at piperboxster.com