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Advice Needed! Boxster Variocam Problems


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tool pants et al,

i have a MY97 Boxster 2.5L and i just went to the dealership yesterday to have the fault memory read out, as the Check Engine light had been on for about a week (steady, not blinking.) yesterday it started to blink, so i went right to the dealer. i was told that most of the codes were related to a low fuel level (never ran out of gas, but had been very low a few times.) the service manager told me that there was a variocam timing issue and that it would be about $1200 to fix (8 hours labor + parts.) i was suspect (as i always am) and thought that i would ask for expert opinions before have the car repaired. what is puzzling is that he told me about the variocam timing, but on the service receipt the recommended fix is to replace the "variocam solenoid." i would think that a solenoid would be a cheap fix, but that's why i'm asking... here are the codes from the report i was given:

Boxster DME fault memory

174 Camshaft adjustment, bank 1

OBDII code P1530

------

62 misfire emissions-relevant

OBDII code P1319

------

50 cylinder 1 misfire

emissions-relevant

OBDII code 1313

------

51 cylinder 2 misfire

emissions-relevant

OBDII code 1314

------

52 cylinder 3 misfire

emissions-relevant

OBDII code 1315

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322 toothed belt out of position, bank 1

OBDII code 1340

------

75 cylinder 1 misfire damaging to cat. converter

OBDII code P0300

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63 cylinder 1 misfire damaging to cat. converter

OBDII code P0301

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64 cylinder 2 misfire damaging to cat. converter

OBDII code P0302

------

65 cylinder 3 misfire damaging to cat. converter

OBD code P0303

now, i still have warranty left on the emmission portion, so these codes that say "damaging to cat. converter" have me wondering if something needs to be replaced (cat. converter, other parts?)

also, i was told (not by dealer of course) that a properly designed variocam should never veer into dangerous territory and that this may be a hardware/software design flaw that should be goodwilled by PCNA. what is your opinion and recommended course of action?

thanks so much!

Chris

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yes, there are other dealerships. i guess i haven't ever had really good experiences at any of the ones i've been to.

i don't trust that people actually know what they're talking about. a good example is i went in to get my 30K service done. approx. $1K to do this, which is extremely high. i specifically asked them to top off the coolant, which was never done. i really don't know what they did besides charge me $1K. the best (worst) part is, i had asked them to check the right rear side fog light, which wasn't working. (i found out later that this light is NOT SUPPOSED to work!) after looking at my service receipt about 18 months later (organizing), i realized that they charged me about $40 to tell me that the light wasn't working, and that the "fix" was to buy a new right side tail light assembly. i didn't buy it as it wasn't that important to me, but i figured i would ask when i was in for service. i didn't expect to be charged in addition to the 30K fee. anyway, if i had bought the assembly, it still wouldn't have worked!

my point is, shouldn't the porsche techs KNOW that this light doesn't work and is not supposed to work? seems like Porsche 101 to me. as far as i know, there are NO porsche cars that have 2 working rear fog lights. this and the ridiculous prices they charge for basic service has really turned me off. i do what i can myself. unfortunately, the variocam is a little beyond my skill level...

anyway, i'm going to try to get some help from PCNA, hopefully a goodwill fix.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi all...new to this board but wanted to pass on my story. I had the same thing happen to my 99 2.5. for some reason the cam solenoid went bad. Dealer replaced that and some other stuff. plus oil and filter change and did the key stuff reprogramed the key head...for around 1,300.00. more than I wanted to spend but the job was far to hard for me to do at home. Been fine since. Hope you have a good result with yours.

please post your results.

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  • 11 months later...

I have a similar problem with my 98. After the CEL came on last Friday I took the car to the dealer. They found 1 fault ... "178 Bank II camshaft adjuster". Then they told me the fault is not present. (?) They said the car would be running poorly if the problem was real. They reset the light which came back on the next day. Now they want the car for a day to "dig deeper".

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  • Admin
I have a similar problem with my 98.  After the CEL came on last Friday I took the car to the dealer.  They found 1 fault ... "178 Bank II camshaft adjuster".  Then they told me the fault is not present. (?)  They said the car would be running poorly if the problem was real.  They reset the light which came back on the next day.  Now they want the car for a day to "dig deeper".

Did they not scan for the proper P-Code?

A fault 178 could be either a P1524 or a P1539.

P1524 -- No triggering of the actuator, active position nevertheless. Potential causes: Short to ground or Actuator faulty.

P1539 -- Actuator triggered, no active position. Potential causes: Open circuit in triggering wire, or Open circuit in B+ supply, or Actuator faulty.

Lot's of difference between an open and a short... looks like a bad connection.

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Hi Chris,

The same thing just happened to me.

How much were the repairs?

Thanks,

Fred

fred,

i never got it fixed. the car magically healed itself after i changed the oil last time. no more codes, no CEL, no misfires nor stutters nor stalls. i can't explain it... but i'm happy about it.

the dealer quoted me $1200.

good luck. try changing your oil! :huh:

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Loren,

Thanks for the reply.  They found both fault codes P1524 and P1539.  Yet they told me the faults are not present.  I don't really understand. <snip>

Thanks,

Marc

Marc,

The workshop were correct if they told you the faults were not present - but should have elaborated on that. In OBD II rules, if a fault occurs with the engine, it has to be logged in the ECU. The fault code will then be tagged as present, or intermittent. If intermittent, it has occurred but has cleared itself. intermittent faults are stored for 50 driving cycles, then cleared by the ECU itself (A driving cycle is engine start, run for a certain length of time I can't remember, then stop - so its no good just cycling your ignition 50 times).

For example, if you disconnect the Engine Coolant Temperature sensor and scan the car, you'll get a 'Engine temperature sensor P0115'. Reconnect it, everything will be fine with the running of the car, but the ECU will store P0115 as an intermittent fault. (There, but not present).

Here's my :soapbox: moment: Vehicle technicians seem to be just getting taught how to read scantools and change the component, but not to just step back and think about the fault for a moment. An example is my friend took his Audi in because he had a CEL come on. They replaced all of his injectors, all of coil-packs and the camshaft position sensor at horrendous cost. CEL appeared again in four weeks. I have a scantool program so checked his car - found the same nine fault codes, (Cyl 1, 2, 3, 4 ignition coil short to bat +, cyl 1, 2, 3, 4 injector short to bat + and crankshaft position sensor short to bat+) Now all those components couldn't go bad at the same time, so I started looking for some commonality and after two minutes with my multimeter found the ground connection to the cylinder head had gone high resistance. A further two minutes and a 63 pence crimp solved the problem. He is still battling with Audi on this one...

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Marc,

The workshop were correct if they told you the faults were not present - but should have elaborated on that. In OBD II rules, if a fault occurs with the engine, it has to be logged in the ECU. The fault code will then be tagged as present, or intermittent. If intermittent, it has occurred but has cleared itself. intermittent faults are stored for 50 driving cycles, then cleared by the ECU itself (A driving cycle is engine start, run for a certain length of time I can't remember, then stop - so its no good just cycling your ignition 50 times).

For example, if you disconnect the Engine Coolant Temperature sensor and scan the car, you'll get a 'Engine temperature sensor P0115'. Reconnect it, everything will be fine with the running of the car, but the ECU will store P0115 as an intermittent fault. (There, but not present).

Here's my  :soapbox: moment: Vehicle technicians seem to be just getting taught how to read scantools and change the component, but not to just step back and think about the fault for a moment. An example is my friend took his Audi in because he had a CEL come on. They replaced all of his injectors, all of coil-packs and the camshaft position sensor at horrendous cost. CEL appeared again in four weeks. I have a scantool program so checked his car - found the same nine fault codes, (Cyl 1, 2, 3, 4 ignition coil short to bat +, cyl 1, 2, 3, 4 injector short to bat + and crankshaft position sensor short to bat+) Now all those components couldn't go bad at the same time, so I started looking for some commonality and after two minutes with my multimeter found the ground connection to the cylinder head had gone high resistance. A further two minutes and a 63 pence crimp solved the problem. He is still battling with Audi on this one...

Loren,

Thanks, this explains why the CEL went out on it's own lasr Friday and came on again yesterday. Car still runs well. I will take it back to the dealer this week. Will let you know how this plays out.

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Loren,

I took the car to a non dealer specialist here in Atlanta. Performance Imports. They are installing a new clutch and flywheel. They have diagnosed my CEL problem and will replace the solenoid tensioner assembly. This is working intermittently and could fail completely. Cost is about $900 to fix. They say this will solve my problem. Thanks for all your help.

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I've had cam tensioner issues with a couple of our Audis(multiple cam tensioners replaced under warranty). From what I've read and seen, I think there is a combination of issues going on. This may sound stupid but I found upgrading to thicker Mobil 1 drastically reduced or eliminated tensioner issues & valve train clatter. I think the seals in the tensioner get lazy with 0w oil(too thin), and not all the time which makes it difficult to diagnose. I run 15w-50 in our 01 986 &00 A4(with no oil leaks), and go thinner in the winter. :cheers:

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I had a similar service covered under emissions warranty on my Acura Integra. The VTEC solenoid was replaced which cured a similar condition to what you're describing.

Not trusting any of the dealerships which sell $50k+ cars is a problem, don't you think? Find someone you can trust!

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  • 1 year later...
Well it could be just a bad connection or a pinched wire. They should use a meter on the wires and actuator first. I have to agree that if it were the actuator the car would run like crap. Really sounds like an intermittent connection to me.

Hi Loren,

I recently have similar problem on my 98 Boxster 2.5. I took it in to dealer and they gave me the P1539 code. However the car still runs great and usually after a few days the CEL goes off and then a few days later comes on again. What do you suggest? Please advise. Thank you.

Frank,

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  • Admin

P1539 -- Actuator triggered, no active position. Potential causes: Open circuit in triggering wire, or Open circuit in B+ supply, or Actuator faulty.

Well it could be just a bad connection or a pinched wire. They should use a meter on the wires and actuator first. I have to agree that if it were the actuator the car would run like crap. Really sounds like an intermittent connection to me.

  • Upvote 1
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P1539 -- Actuator triggered, no active position. Potential causes: Open circuit in triggering wire, or Open circuit in B+ supply, or Actuator faulty.

Well it could be just a bad connection or a pinched wire. They should use a meter on the wires and actuator first. I have to agree that if it were the actuator the car would run like crap. Really sounds like an intermittent connection to me.

Thanks Loren,

I appologize for the multiple post, will be careful next time. I will check the wires and actuators first. Again, thank you.

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