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Boxster DYI - Off to a Helluva Start


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After spending lots of time & money to gather up everything for a whole series of maintenance on my '03 986, I thought I'd start with something easy - an oil change. Unless left isn't loose and counterclockwise isn't loose, I think the tech at the dealer torqued the crap out of my drain plug. The fun part is that it's aluminum and I started to strip the hell out of it with my hardened chrome vanadium steel 8mm socket. I quit while there was still something left of the plug, but it looks like now I'm stuck going to the dealer for a nice $250 oil change meanwhile I have everything I need (including a new drain plug). It doesn't give me much confidence to do all the other stuff...

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Ouch! You have my sympathies. I just did 60k maintenance on my 2001. Everything went smoothly.

Maybe you can get the dealer to loosen the drain plug (until it is only snug), but not remove it. Then you could remove it at home and continue the work.

Good luck.

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After spending lots of time & money to gather up everything for a whole series of maintenance on my '03 986, I thought I'd start with something easy - an oil change. Unless left isn't loose and counterclockwise isn't loose, I think the tech at the dealer torqued the crap out of my drain plug. The fun part is that it's aluminum and I started to strip the hell out of it with my hardened chrome vanadium steel 8mm socket. I quit while there was still something left of the plug, but it looks like now I'm stuck going to the dealer for a nice $250 oil change meanwhile I have everything I need (including a new drain plug). It doesn't give me much confidence to do all the other stuff...

Wish I could help...

Had exactly the same problem with the drain plug, but managed to get it out and put it back in! When putting it back in with a torque wrench, I got additional stripping to get it to the approriate torque...

I don't know how it is gonna look the next time around. If there is a better plug I can get I would definetly do that next time around assuming I can get the one in there out next time - the OEM plug sucks :soapbox:.

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Thanks for the sympathies guys. The only good thing I can say is that it's better to strip & bust a drain plug than strip the drain pan. After stripping and having to tap out a drain plug in my old BMW 525i, I found out that most drain plugs are softer metal so that this works. Unfortunately, my wife's old car was American and she'd been getting her oil changes at Wal-mart when we started dating. When I crawled under to do the change for the first time, it was over-torqued and ...$600 later, I had a shiny new oil pan installed. Apparently most American cars use hard steel plugs in a hard steel pan (something to ponder for conspiracy theorists)

Anyways, I'm president of the local Porsche club and one of my members has a lift, so I might try to see if we can get it out before I head to the dealer.

The other stuff I'm planning (for both my (986 and my new BMW) on is doing the brakes - flush now, change pads & maybe rotors later, change ATF fluid, fuel filter, and a few other misc items. If that goes well, we'll see...

Edited by mackguyver
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I've got a 996, so I'm not sure if it's the same plug/pan setup, but I just had a huge headache with this too. I took the car to the local Firestone for an oil change, and they came back saying that the Hex key insert of the plug was too stripped to remove it. Then they came back saying it wasn't the plug that was stripped, but the pan that was stripped and it wouldn't seal back up. Then they made some excuses about how you can't tap out the plug because the pan is aluminum and it would crack or not seal.

I had taken the car in to get a check engine light diagnosed because I couldn't figure out why it was running lean, so the oil change was just an afterthought since it was already there, and I had a coupon.

That coupon ended up costing me a completely new oil pan. I was not happy.

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Not get off topic - but I was screwed at a Firestone, too. I took my wife's car in and like you, as an afterthought, asked them to flush the radiator. Next thing you know, it needs new hoses, then it has holes in it and needs to be replaced. I ended up talking to someone in their CEO's office to get it straightened out. It still cost me a bundle and I was NOT happy. It's probably what prompted me to start working on her car, too.

I sure hope that my story has a happier ending, but it's not off to the best start. Hopefully I can get some time on my friend's lift soon - he races almost every weekend and he's building a friend's race car so it's not the easiest thing. I'll let you guys know what happens. I just hope there's enough grip left on the plug to get the damned thing out. Like I said, I have a new plug - I've learned the hard way to always have a new plug on hand, just in case. For $3 or whatever, it might even be worth putting a new one on each time - it's not like I bought a Porsche to save money on cars!

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This is not uncommon.

Get yourself a T50 torx bit and see if you can get the plug out. It is actually a better fit than a 8 mm allen bit. Buy a new plug before you do this.

I actually started out with a T50 bit after noticing that the (new) plug looked more like a Torx than a hex. Hopefully I can get it on a lift soon and get it out. I have a new plug ready to go...

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If it is really rounded past the torx bit stage, then you go to a triple square/xzn 10 mm bit and pound it in with a hammer. It is the type of bit on the right. One of the mechanics taught me this.

For others. Left is 8 mm allen. Middle is T50 torx. Right is the triple square.

For the children at home - you never drill into a drain plug unless you are prepared to have your car towed if you DIYers cannot get the plug out.

post-4-1213825057_thumb.jpg

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I had a similar situation when I changed my manual transmission fluid on MY 98 Boxster. They say never drain the tranny fluid until you make sure the fill plug can be removed, else you will have no way to refill the tranny or get to a shop unless you tow the car. The drain plug on the tranny was a 16 mm triple square with a hole in the middle for the drain plug. I tried removing with one without the center hole and stripped it badly.

To get the tranny drain plug out I drilled a hole in the center with a 1/4 bit and drained the tranny fluid. I then used an easy out and crescent wrench and the plug came out with no issues. If the receiving threads on the oil pan are stretched or stripped and you need to replace the lower part of the pan the cost for that will be way below dealer prices and access to the pan is very easy to get to.

In any case it's a good example on using a crush washer and use a torque wrentch so you don't over tighten on the re-install.

Maybe others can share their experience, in any case good luck and keep us posted how you resolve your dilemma.

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Has nothing to do with the original engine oil drain plug question, but here on the left is the 16 mm triple square anti-tamper bit with the hole in the middle, and on the right is a standard 16 mm triple square. For the 5 speed gearbox drain plug.

Seems VW/Audi did not want 5 speed owners to easily to change the transmission oil. The bits are the same size. The left one looks bigger because the bit holder is larger.

post-4-1213832114_thumb.jpg

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Thanks for the replies and interesting stories on trans plugs and things, all. It doesn't look like I'll get access to my friend's lift anytime soon, so I guess I'll go the dealer route. On the jackstands, there just isn't enough clearance for me to really see the plug and not nearly enough to try to hammer or drill. Wish me luck at the dealer...

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I got my Motive Powerbleeder (Black Label) this afternoon and while it was missing the collection bottles (separate shipment???) I went ahead and did my brakes. I got off to another bad start, though. The only 11mm wrench I have is part of a micro wrench set and it didn't have much leverage - it actually flexed as I tried to open the 1st bleed valve. I ended up ever-so-slightly rounding one edge of the valve without getting it open :(. I was mad again because I'm sure it was the same genius mechanic who over-tightened this, too, since he did the oil, brakes, and other stuff just before I bought the car. I definitely need to get a full sized 11mm wrench before doing it again.

Well, I decided to try the inner valve and got it free - along with the rest of the bleeder valves. I drained extra fluid from the right rear brake in the hopes of clearing out the whole line despite not being able to free the one valve. I ended up going through about 1.2L of ATE Gold, but got it all done. I took a test drive and did some easy stops and then 2 hard (ABS-engaging) stops from about 60 MPH. The brakes feel SO much better - much firmer pedal feel (it was getting soft). I can't believe the difference! I'm going to do my BMW tomorrow if I can find a local place that carries ATE.

I think the "black label" model was worth the extra few bucks (it was all Das Auto Sport had in stock) for the longer hose and billet cap. The bleeder bottles would've been nice to have, but I made due. This was a pretty expensive maintenance since I didn't have much of the right stuff - I bought a 1/2 torque wrench on sale at Sears - $60, breaker bar - $20, no-scratch socket set - $30, 3 ton aluminum racing jack on sale at Harbor Freight - $80, Motive Bleeder, bottles, 2L of ATE Gold - $120 with shipping - so about $330 with tax. Sure I could've gone cheaper, but I plan to use the tools for other maintenance, too. I think the dealer charges ~$160, so I'll just about pay for it after I do my Bimmer - and next time around I just have to pay for the fluid - plus I have nice tools to do other items.

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I had a similar problem, but as I was torquing the drain plug, after filling the case w/ oil, the bolt head cracked. I hadn't achieved the proper torque and the it simply cracked and of course fresh oil started to slowly drip. I was able to grip the outside of the bolt with needle nose vice grips and together with the allen driver slowly back the it out. Then quickly insert a replacement oil drain nut with out loosing to much of that fresh "Mobil 1, black gold".

I only mention this as some care should be used when driving a larger driver into your stripped plug, as you've already found out how soft the metal is, you don't want to the plug to break as mine did.

bf19xs.jpg

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Thanks for the tip and you must've felt very fortunate to have a spare drain plug nearby. Black gold is no joke and I'm sure it's only a matter of time before the price per quart of the good stuff goes way up...

As a follow up to my previous post - the BMW was MUCH easier - and I wish I'd done it first. Only one valve per caliper - properly torqued and I had an 11mm racheting socket wrench this time. It's always cool when I can buy one size for both cars.

Anyways, I go to the dealer Friday morning - we'll see what they have to say...

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Update

I went to the dealer this morning for a "45k minor service" at 39k miles. It's been two years since I bought it and I've only put about 11k miles on it, so I thought it was a good idea to get it checked out. Well $196 later, I drove off with a new drain plug, no problems and a oil and filter change. I could swear I heard the mechanic telling the service advisor about the drain plug, but no one said anything to me about it. I even asked if they found anything at all and they said no. I don't know if they were embarrassed at the thought that another dealer had done this or what, but alas, all seems to be good. Hopefully I'll be able to do my own oil change next time. I don't think Mobil 1, paper filters, or metal washers / rings have a shelf life, so I should be all set in a year or two.

Also, I still can't believe the amazing difference that my brake flush made - especially since I didn't see any air bubbles come out while doing it. My brakes are much firmer and have so much better "feel". If you've got the other DIY tools, I'd strongly recommend getting a bleeder.

My next purchase will be need to new tires, and we all know how cheap those 18" low profile tires are, so I'm probably out of fun money for more DIY projects for the time being.

Thanks to all of the helpful people who responded to my post!

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