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VMax1

Possible Engine Failure - Misfire and Low Compression

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So here's my problem.

I've got a 2001 Boxster S with the factory 3.2L engine and ~70,000 miles. I bought the car in 2010 with 38,000 miles on it. I have it serviced regularly every 5,000 miles at the independent dealership, iAutohaus, where I bought it. They specialize in European luxury cars and I trust them as much as a person can trust a dealership, I guess.

My wife drove out Monday from Phoenix to Albuquerque with no issues. After spending the night at a friend's house, she left to drive on to her final destination in Santa Fe. After leaving her friend's house, she called me saying the CEL was flashing and the car was running really rough and had very little power. She was close to an Autozone so I had her take it there to have the codes read. She called me back saying it read a P0303, P0302, P0301, P0300, P0304, P0305, and P0306. Which I know are misfire codes, on every cylinder.

Well, while I was checking around to find a reputable Porsche mechanic in Albuquerque, I guess the Autozone salesman told her it was due to bad gas and to buy some fuel system cleaner and she'd be fine. I called her back to tell her what I had found mechanic wise, and she said she had driven it on to Santa Fe. She said it was fine as long as she stayed out of 6th gear and didn't rev the engine too much. I'm not real happy she did that.

Anyway....

She got it to a mechanic in Santa Fe and he initially checked the coil packs. After clearing the error codes, he said the misfire on cylinder 3 kept coming back. He swapped the coil packs but the problem stayed with cylinder 3 so he began to think maybe spark plugs. That didn't help either. A compression test showed very low compression on cylinder 3 and a leak down test showed it wouldn't hold pressure.

The mechanic is suspecting a broken valve spring, or worse, and is suggesting either a $4500 rebuild or find another engine.

But of course, I'm in Phoenix and the car is in Santa Fe. Oh, and my wife, she is still there too.

I guess I'm a little confused on how it can go from running fine one minute, to having misfires on every cylinder, to having no compression on cylinder 3. Although, I'm sure the fact that she drove it an extra 50 miles didn't help anything.

I'll be leaving Sunday to go pick up the car, and my wife. I'm am an experienced mechanic, just not fluent in Porsche so I'm not sure if I want to tackle this myself or not.

Do you have any suggestions on additional troubleshooting I could do or should I just start looking for a new engine?

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So here's my problem.

I've got a 2001 Boxster S with the factory 3.2L engine and ~70,000 miles. I bought the car in 2010 with 38,000 miles on it. I have it serviced regularly every 5,000 miles at the independent dealership, iAutohaus, where I bought it. They specialize in European luxury cars and I trust them as much as a person can trust a dealership, I guess.

My wife drove out Monday from Phoenix to Albuquerque with no issues. After spending the night at a friend's house, she left to drive on to her final destination in Santa Fe. After leaving her friend's house, she called me saying the CEL was flashing and the car was running really rough and had very little power. She was close to an Autozone so I had her take it there to have the codes read. She called me back saying it read a P0303, P0302, P0301, P0300, P0304, P0305, and P0306. Which I know are misfire codes, on every cylinder.

Well, while I was checking around to find a reputable Porsche mechanic in Albuquerque, I guess the Autozone salesman told her it was due to bad gas and to buy some fuel system cleaner and she'd be fine. I called her back to tell her what I had found mechanic wise, and she said she had driven it on to Santa Fe. She said it was fine as long as she stayed out of 6th gear and didn't rev the engine too much. I'm not real happy she did that.

Anyway....

She got it to a mechanic in Santa Fe and he initially checked the coil packs. After clearing the error codes, he said the misfire on cylinder 3 kept coming back. He swapped the coil packs but the problem stayed with cylinder 3 so he began to think maybe spark plugs. That didn't help either. A compression test showed very low compression on cylinder 3 and a leak down test showed it wouldn't hold pressure.

The mechanic is suspecting a broken valve spring, or worse, and is suggesting either a $4500 rebuild or find another engine.

But of course, I'm in Phoenix and the car is in Santa Fe. Oh, and my wife, she is still there too.

I guess I'm a little confused on how it can go from running fine one minute, to having misfires on every cylinder, to having no compression on cylinder 3. Although, I'm sure the fact that she drove it an extra 50 miles didn't help anything.

I'll be leaving Sunday to go pick up the car, and my wife. I'm am an experienced mechanic, just not fluent in Porsche so I'm not sure if I want to tackle this myself or not.

Do you have any suggestions on additional troubleshooting I could do or should I just start looking for a new engine?

If the engine was other wise fine, don't write it off until you can get it flat bedded and run some diagnostics. Poor leak down values are not good; if the engine is not smoking like a champ, it could be a bad valve spring which is completely fixable. Suggest getting it to somewhere where you can confirm the leak down data, and then bore scope that cylinder, looking for any signs of damage. If all is good, the head will need to come off to fix it, so it would be worthwhile to pull both and go through them to make sure none of the other springs are headed south. By far, the easiest way to do this is to drop the engine, which would also allow you to update any other bits (clutch, RMS, IMS, AOS, etc.) that are more of a pain with the engine in. This is not that bad a project, but I know it sounds that way, and yes, it can be done with the car on jack stands.

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I called her back to tell her what I had found mechanic wise, and she said she had driven it on to Santa Fe. She said it was fine as long as she stayed out of 6th gear and didn't rev the engine too much. I'm not real happy she did that.

And, don't be too hard on your wife. She didn't want to be stranded away from her destination any more than you wanted her to not drive it the rest of the way. ;)

Hope you get it figured out and it's not as bad as it seems.

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bar10dah,

I'm not angry at her in any way. Things happen. I say those things only because 'Oh and how's the wife?' questions always seem come up after the discussion of the car.

Even though I do wish she wouldn't have driven it the extra 50 miles, I have no idea of knowing if that actually had any negative effect on the engine or not. Heck, I've also got an '01 Cavalier that has had the CEL on for 8 years and over 140,000 miles.

Thanks for the advice and support from both JFP and Bar10dah. I am actually looking forward to getting to know my wonderful little Boxster that much better.

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No worries! Sometimes we get so frustrated with our machines, we forget not to be too harsh with our loved ones who don't know anything about the mechanics of how machines work and unintentionally just drive them into the ground.

How's Casa Grande? I did a quick landing at the airport there sometime around 2007, but didn't stay long. That place just exploded over the last several years! I remember seeing a huge shopping area had sprouted up right next to the 10. Phoenix slowly expanded out that far yet?

Edited by bar10dah

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Casa Grande is hot! Too **** hot for any sane human being.

Casa Grande did explode up until the housing market crash in 2009. At the peak in 2008 forecasters were actually predicting Phoenix and Tucson to become one big metropolis within 10 years. Well....that's not going to happen any time soon. And all of the land between Phoenix and Casa Grande is still reservation land. I actually live just a stone's throw away from that new shopping center next to I-10. I really enjoy living here, the commute into work in Chandler is a breeze and now we have all of the amenities we need.

There is a Porsche/Corvette specific salvage yard in Phoenix called 20th Street Auto (on 40th St) that I may be able to get a used engine from. They list several parts cars with engines but no prices so I sent them an email. I'm a little leery about going the route of swapping out with a used engine but it sure would save me a ton of time and maybe a little bit of money....in the beginning anyway. Is there any additional things I should worry about there, like electronics packages or anything along those lines. I would think an M96 engine from a similar model year should be a direct swap. But then again, I'm used to swapping engines in old pickup trucks and dirt track stock cars.

Edited by VMax1

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They should be able to do a leak down and listen for where, if any air is leaking from.

This will help determine if its intake, exhaust, or some sort of cylinder issue.

They could also boroscope that cylinder to see if they see any damage to the piston.

good luck,

mike

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Thanks everyone for the advice and suggestions. The car is home and I'll probably start on it this weekend. It does run with no smoke, just a little ticking sound and a check engine light. I read someone's post somewhere about just having a stuck lifter and an oil change with 0w40 oil freed it up so I'm going to try that first. If that doesn't do it, I'll be buying a scope to check out the cylinder walls and piston. Hopefully there won't be any problem there and I can focus on repairing only the cylinder heads and doing the IMS, AOS and other upgrades. The RMS was actually done about 20k miles ago when i had a new clutch put in.

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