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Coolant tank/water pump replacement


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I have several questions regarding the coolant tank/water pump replacement. I have done quite a bit of searching, so I thought I would combine my thoughts in one post and obtain some feedback from folks who have some experience with this.

My car is a 2000 base that I bought used about 7 years ago. Unless the car has a major mechanical problem or an accident, I intend to keep it for another 4-7 years. The original owner kept meticulous records on the car, so I’m confident that I have the full service history. I know the coolant tank, water pump and coolant are original.

I drive it about 8000 miles a year, and it has about 84,000 miles on it. I am planning to start using it on long trips, and while I normally do not fix things that are not broken I think the fact that the coolant tanks are a weak link seems to be widely accepted. I do not want to be stranded 1000 miles from home at the mercy of an unfamiliar repair shop.

Question 1: Is it prudent for me to replace the tank in the next year or so?
Question 2: Should I replace the water pump at the same time?

Question 3: Should I reuse the coolant? I noticed that Pedro Flush Coolant System stated that his coolant still looked good after 190,000 miles and the Porsche coolant is expensive.
Question 3a: Is there a less expensive alternative to Porsche coolant that won’t cause a problem in the system?

There are several good DIY tutorials on replacing cooling system. In addition to the one posted above, here are the ones I found:
Replace Coolant Reservoir
Replace Water Pump
Pelican Technical Article: Boxster Coolant Tank Replacement - 986 / 987
Pelican Technical Article: Boxster Water Pump & Boxster Thermostat Replacement - 986 / 987
Pelican Technical Article: Boxster Coolant Replacement / Boxster Coolant Flush - 986 / 987
http://www.renntech.org/forums/tutorials/article/133-water-pump-replacement-diy/
Question 4: Does anyone know of a better tutorial or have a preference for one technique or another?

I do not like to get under a car on jack stands. I have a set of Rhino ramps that I use to work under the car. This leads to

Question 5: Can I do this job without going under the car or by putting it up on ramps?

It looks like I have all the tools I need except for the job except for:
(1) Cable operated spring clamp pliers Cable-operated Hose Clamp Pliers: Clamping Convenience with Sears and
(2) a pump to purge the cooling system Airlift
Question 6: Is it worthwhile to buy a purge tool? I hate to buy a fairly expensive tool for a one-time use, but I did see some posts from folks who overheated due to an airlock, so it seems inexpensive in that context.
Question 6a: Would it be fairly easy to re-sell the purge tool after I am finished with it?

Question 7: It looks like the coolant tank can be a difficult job. I have replaced my spark plugs and brake pads, installed a top and frame from a 2004, and replaced my gauge cluster. I have also done coolant system work on non-Porsches. Does this project seem like it is within my skill level?

Question 8: I am planning to do this job in the spring. Is there anyone in the Richmond, VA area who would like to participate in this project and take care of their Boxster at the same time?
Thanks in advance for any input or suggestions.

Edited by KevinH90
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1). Yes.

2). Yes.

3 and 3A). The coolant is not that expensive, and while very long life span is possible, you are due for a coolant dump and refill. Use only the OEM coolant (there have been problems with aftermarket brands, do a search for the details) and premix it with distilled water (only) to a 50/50 ratio.

4). Matter of personal preference.

5). The car will need to be in the air, so do it however you feel most comfortable, but do it safely.

6 and 6A). The Uview Airlift tool is indispensable for doing the coolant on these cars; with it, it is a 5 min. project, without it you could be looking at a lot more time and effort. As for selling the tool, these are very popular, but I cannot imagine why you would sell it as it can be used on anything with a cooling system.

7). It is not a difficult job, but it can be time consuming because of the confined space.

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Thanks for the reply. I appreciate the opportunity to double check my research with an experienced person.

At first I was a little confused by your statement that "the coolant is not that expensive." Based on my initial research It appears that Pelican is charging about $50 per gallon shipped. Since I thought I needed 5 gallons I estimated the total coolant bill to be about $250. So, for someone who is accustomed to using a gallon of Prestone for around $15 to perform a radiator flush, I have to admit to some sticker shock.

However, upon re-reading the instructions, it appears that the coolant capacity is 5 gallons and I would be filling with a 50/50 mix of coolant and distilled water. So, I would only need to buy 2.5 gallons of coolant. Even if I ended up buying 3 gallons of coolant, I would be spending a more wallet-friendly $150.

Although the coolant is not as expensive as I originally thought, do you know of a less expensive source for Porsche coolant? For example, would it be better to purchase from the local dealer and avoid shipping charges? The bottom line for me would be to do the job right and not jeopardize the success of the project. I noticed that Pedro appeared to use Prestone extended life coolant in his tutorial, but if that strategy introduces unnecessary risk I'll bite the bullet and purchase Porsche coolant.

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Hi KevinH90,

I did the same service maintenance on MY98 Boxster several years back and did everything your considering minus the coolant tank. JFP gave some great advice and was very helpful. I also added a 160 TStat and the improved Boxster S oil cooler along with a new water pump. I think Sunset has their water pumps on sell for Renntech members, check the Special offers link on the main menu.

Here is the LINK to the project. I have a uView Airlift tool. I sent you a PM.

Good Luck!

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  • 1 month later...

My water pump started making a grinding noise about two weeks ago, so I ordered a water pump, gasket and 3 gallons of coolant from Sunset Porsche. The parts didn't arrive until last Tuesday so I had to wait until Saturday to start work. I finished the final touches tonight. The cost breakdown was:

Water pump: $268

Gasket: $7.71

Coolant: 3@$27.93 - $83.79

Shipping: $46.24

Total: $406.45

The shipping cost was high due to the weight of the coolant, but even with the shipping charge it was less expensive than the local dealer.

I'm still planning to replace the coolant tank in the spring. I thought about doing it now, but the car has been off the road for about two weeks and I've missed a few nice driving days already. Overall, the project was time consuming, but not as bad as I expected. If I had access to a lift it would have been much easier.

I would appreciate some feedback from folks who have done both the coolant tank and the water pump. Basically I want to know which project they consider the more difficult. I'm hoping they say the water pump.

Many thanks to all who provided comments and especially to Karst who was kind enough to lend me his Airlift tool.

Edited by KevinH90
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My water pump started making a grinding noise about two weeks ago, so I ordered a water pump, gasket and 3 gallons of coolant from Sunset Porsche. The parts didn't arrive until last Tuesday so I had to wait until Saturday to start work. I finished the final touches tonight. The cost breakdown was:

Water pump: $268

Gasket: $7.71

Coolant: 3@$27.93 - $83.79

Shipping: $46.24

Total: $406.45

The shipping cost was high due to the weight of the coolant, but even with the shipping charge it was less expensive than the local dealer.

I'm still planning to replace the coolant tank in the spring. I thought about doing it now, but the car has been off the road for about two weeks and I've missed a few nice driving days already. Overall, the project was time consuming, but not as bad as I expected. If I had access to a lift it would have been much easier.

I would appreciate some feedback from folks who have done both the coolant tank and the water pump. Basically I want to know which project they consider the more difficult. I'm hoping they say the water pump.

Many thanks to all who provided comments and especially to Karst who was kind enough to lend me his Airlift tool.

The tank change out is not hard, but it is time consuming and for some annoying. It is going to take some time to do the first time (nearly everyone that does one says they could cut the time substantially the next time) and you need to acquire cable drive hose clamp pliers (figure on $20-30)to get it done:

AST9409A.jpg

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Thanks again JFP.

I checked the Pelican technical articles and it showed the talent level for replacing the water pump was 2 wrenches and the coolant tank was 3 wrenches. So, it looks like I'll the coolant tank is 50% more difficult than the water pump. I am always concerned about exceeding my talent level and biting off more than I can chew. I found the water pump challenging and time consuming, but I never felt like I was in over my head. I'll just take a systematic approach and make sure that I have all the information and tools that I need.

One thing that was odd about the water pump write ups was Pedro's suggestion that you loosen the front motor mount and lower the engine to access some of the bolts. This turned out not to be necessary, but it increased my concern about the complexity of the job..

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Thanks again JFP.

I checked the Pelican technical articles and it showed the talent level for replacing the water pump was 2 wrenches and the coolant tank was 3 wrenches. So, it looks like I'll the coolant tank is 50% more difficult than the water pump. I am always concerned about exceeding my talent level and biting off more than I can chew. I found the water pump challenging and time consuming, but I never felt like I was in over my head. I'll just take a systematic approach and make sure that I have all the information and tools that I need.

One thing that was odd about the water pump write ups was Pedro's suggestion that you loosen the front motor mount and lower the engine to access some of the bolts. This turned out not to be necessary, but it increased my concern about the complexity of the job..

I'd have to agree with you on the front motor mount, it really is not in the way, but some people find it easier that way. The tank is a bit more annoying because of the confined space and the number of hoses connected to it with those spring clamps. Just take you time, take an occasional break from the task, and it will go smoothly. The tank replacement is actually the very first DIY repair for many owners, so there are lots of write ups on the subject.

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I have done the water pump twice myself. It wasn't too hard the first time and was really easy the second time around. Other than draining the coolant initially, the rest can be done while half sitting in the car or next to the car.

There are some posts on this forum about doing the coolant tank from within the trunk rather than underneath. I can't remember where though so you will need to do a search. I think this would make a substantial difference to the comfort and ease of doing the procedure.

I got my local mechanic to do the tank because I didn't want to approach it from below the car, and I hadn't found those tutorials on how it can approached successfully from just the trunk at that stage. The mechanic charged me $170 for labour of replacing the tank. I supplied the tank. Can't complain, I think.

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  • 3 years later...

I just purchased a 2000 boxster S that came with all service records and I found out that I'm on coolant tank 3, and that seems to be leaking....is this normal? I have receipts from a reputable shop, Porsche parts were paid for (?) according to receipts. Is there a reliable part now?

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35 minutes ago, netguy said:

I just purchased a 2000 boxster S that came with all service records and I found out that I'm on coolant tank 3, and that seems to be leaking....is this normal? I have receipts from a reputable shop, Porsche parts were paid for (?) according to receipts. Is there a reliable part now?

 

Welcome to RennTech :welcomeani:

 

By far the biggest cause for 986 Boxster surge tank failures are the use of aftermarket "OEM type" parts.  While only a fraction of the real factory unit, they also have the life expectancy of a mayfly (we have seen them fail literally within weeks of installation), which is a ridiculous attempt to economize on a part that can take the average DIY several hours of skinned knuckles to replace.  The real factory unit has be updated multiple times over the years to improve it, and it has shown in how the factory unit performs over time.

 

Contact board sponsor Sunset Porsche, and get the real thing; it will cost a bit more, but will also live.

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