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maytag

New owner: where should i start?

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 Hi all. 

Today I put a check in the mail for a  '03 Boxster S. Car will be here in about a week.  

I'm already looking at the calendar at my local racetrack.... hehe

 

So my question: I'm very new to the Porsche world.... where sound I start with this car?  What are the known flaws I should look out for?  Weaknesses I should start looking at upgrading?  Springs?  Brakes?  

 

And: best euro-exotic sounding exhaust?  (No rice-burner fart-cans, please) 

 

Looking forward to learning from y'all.  

 

Dan in Utah

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8 hours ago, maytag said:

What are the known flaws I should look out for?  Weaknesses I should start looking at upgrading?

 

The  IMS is the "Achilles' heel" if it hasn't already been updated.  There are several after-market solutions, not all of which are created equal.  Good time to do it if you're doing the clutch anytime soon.... Congrats on your new car!

 

 

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10 hours ago, maytag said:

 Hi all. 

Today I put a check in the mail for a  '03 Boxster S. Car will be here in about a week.  

I'm already looking at the calendar at my local racetrack.... hehe

 

So my question: I'm very new to the Porsche world.... where sound I start with this car?  What are the known flaws I should look out for?  Weaknesses I should start looking at upgrading?  Springs?  Brakes?  

 

And: best euro-exotic sounding exhaust?  (No rice-burner fart-cans, please) 

 

Looking forward to learning from y'all.  

 

Dan in Utah

 

Welcome to RennTech :welcomeani:

 

Silver_TT hit one of the majors right off the mark, as IMS failure means a new engine.  There are some additional areas to look at such as the water pump, the AOS, the RMS, etc.  These cars come with excellent brakes and suspension, which is why they handle so well, so not much is needed there unless you want to seriously track the car, which will also open up the conversation about oil control, sump baffles, and Accusump emergency oiling systems.  Exhaust systems are a can of worms as most aftermarket system do not make any more HP than the factory units (and some actually dyno at less HP), plus they add horrific drone problems at cruising speeds.  Probably the best here is the optional factory PSE system, which adds a mellow growl without power loss or drone issues.

 

Good luck with your new ride, and just remember the often quoted rule about new cars:  They don't exist without photos........:drive1:

 

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Welcome to RennTech :welcomeani:
 
Silver_TT hit one of the majors right off the mark, as IMS failure means a new engine.  There are some additional areas to look at such as the water pump, the AOS, the RMS, etc.  These cars come with excellent brakes and suspension, which is why they handle so well, so not much is needed there unless you want to seriously track the car, which will also open up the conversation about oil control, sump baffles, and Accusump emergency oiling systems.  Exhaust systems are a can of worms as most aftermarket system do not make any more HP than the factory units (and some actually dyno at less HP), plus they add horrific drone problems at cruising speeds.  Probably the best here is the optional factory PSE system, which adds a mellow growl without power loss or drone issues.
 
Good luck with your new ride, and just remember the often quoted rule about new cars:  They don't exist without photos........:drive1:
 
Hmmm..... all good stuff! Thank you!

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What maintenance history do you have for the car? Done things like leakdown test, scanned for current or pending codes, pulled the oil filter and pan and inspected for debris?  Alignment? Cam deviation? Has a professional Porche experienced mechanic driven the car? How old is the clutch? Condition and age of tires? Brake fluid age? Oil and filter? Where I'm going with these questions is you need to get where you really really know the condition of the car.

 

What is your height relative to the rollbar? Have a hardtop? What are the rules of your local track and race sponsoring association?

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1 hour ago, mikefocke said:

What maintenance history do you have for the car? Done things like leakdown test, scanned for current or pending codes, pulled the oil filter and pan and inspected for debris?  Alignment? Cam deviation? Has a professional Porche experienced mechanic driven the car? How old is the clutch? Condition and age of tires? Brake fluid age? Oil and filter? Where I'm going with these questions is you need to get where you really really know the condition of the car.

 

What is your height relative to the rollbar? Have a hardtop? What are the rules of your local track and race sponsoring association?

 

Thanks Mike.  Plenty of track time under my belt, so of course many of these things are just a given.  once I get my hands on the car, priority one is making sure everything is working the way it was designed to.  I don't have any maintenance history, so I'll be particularly thorough.... but I tend to be anyway.

Cam deviation?  IS that a problem with these cars?  I don't know the motor at all yet... I'll be learning. 

No, a "professional Porsche Experienced Mechanic" hasn't touched the car, that I'm aware of.... nor do I expect they ever will.  If it comes to that, then I've chosen the wrong car.  Unless I discover that they can do something I can't to improve performance?  (That may be the case if we get into things like timing and injection parameters, but I'm not imagining I'll go there with this car)

I'm a short 5'9", so I'm guessing I should be fine, relative to the rollbar  (of course we'll see.... ).  

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I think Mike was just giving a list.  Cam deviation is not a known issue per se but is one of the things that can easily be checked with a tool like Durametric.  I recommend buying a Durametric if you don't already have one.

 

As far as a Porsche mechanic, I don't think it's so much them doing something special to improve performance as much as it is just always helpful to have someone with deep knowledge of these cars "kick the tires" before buying.  Doesn't mean they will find every single possible thing and they are God, but just generally speaking it never hurts to have a seasoned veteran take a look.  Like many things in life, experience trumps all.  And as far as improving performance, everyone has their own opinion but it's mine that a lot of aftermarket performance enhancements are more marketing than anything else (especially on a Boxster as opposed to, say, a TT).

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1 hour ago, maytag said:

No, a "professional Porsche Experienced Mechanic" hasn't touched the car, that I'm aware of.... nor do I expect they ever will.  If it comes to that, then I've chosen the wrong car.  Unless I discover that they can do something I can't to improve performance?  (That may be the case if we get into things like timing and injection parameters, but I'm not imagining I'll go there with this car) 

 

One of the first things to learn about these cars is that very small performance increased come at very large dollar expenditures.  The factory did a more than adequate job of ringing out what the car can deliver, and as mentioned, most aftermarket improvement claims are way more marketing than fact.  You will also find that very few people have cracked Porsche's proprietary DME software, so aftermarket tune claims are amongst the most spurious.  You would be far better off signing up for some driver education at one of Porsche's events to learn how to get the most out of the car before investing in extensive power adder modification.

 

There are people like Jake Raby who have wrung amazing power out of these engines, but one of his make over's start well north of $20K as his magic is all mechanical rather than tuning or software based.

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One of the first things to learn about these cars is that very small performance increased come at very large dollar expenditures.  The factory did a more than adequate job of ringing out what the car can deliver, and as mentioned, most aftermarket improvement claims are way more marketing than fact.  You will also find that very few people have cracked Porsche's proprietary DME software, so aftermarket tune claims are amongst the most spurious.  You would be far better off signing up for some driver education at one of Porsche's events to learn how to get the most out of the car before investing in extensive power adder modification.
 
There are people like Jake Raby who have wrung amazing power out of these engines, but one of his make over's start well north of $20K as his magic is all mechanical rather than tuning or software based.
Yup, I've been towing this line for years: learn to drive first. Haha.
Having said that; I'm not a novice. And I've never owned a car that didnt need a little help to be "squared - away" at the track. If the Porsche is "good to go", as you're suggesting, it'll be vey exciting to me, and a first.

To be clear, I'm not talking about racing it, at any level. I don't need it to make more power (unless that came cheap and easy, haha). But I've never owned a car that couldn't benefit drastically from a strut tower brace, brake upgrades, stiffer springs, etc. Is it that the Porsche doesn't need these or other items like it? or is it that these things are so prohibitively expensive in these cars that nobody bothers until that last 1/4 second per lap needs to be found?


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I think Mike was just giving a list.  Cam deviation is not a known issue per se but is one of the things that can easily be checked with a tool like Durametric.  I recommend buying a Durametric if you don't already have one.
 
As far as a Porsche mechanic, I don't think it's so much them doing something special to improve performance as much as it is just always helpful to have someone with deep knowledge of these cars "kick the tires" before buying.  Doesn't mean they will find every single possible thing and they are God, but just generally speaking it never hurts to have a seasoned veteran take a look.  Like many things in life, experience trumps all.  And as far as improving performance, everyone has their own opinion but it's mine that a lot of aftermarket performance enhancements are more marketing than anything else (especially on a Boxster as opposed to, say, a TT).
Thanks, silver.
I've been reading through threads and the durametric is on my list, as soon as I'm able to confirm that none of the other tools I already own work with the porsche, hehe.

Gotta get that car HERE!.

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Good deal.  Just a word of warning if you decide against going with the Durametric.  Using a non-Porsche-specific reader has the potential to get you in some trouble.  There are a lot of them out there and I'm not saying it won't work, but I have seen cases where using a generic reader either missed codes or otherwise reported misleading/incorrect information.  Durametric is so cheap and they hold their value so well, even if you have other readers it would be hard to pass it up.  Last I checked Durametric was $300 or thereabout for the Enthusiast which is plenty -- one wild goose chase from a bad reader can easily exceed that in terms of your time or buying new parts that weren't needed, etc.  Again, just generally speaking, not saying generic scanners don't or won't work, just saying Porsche-specific readers like Durametric are the gold standard among those in the know.

 

Congrats again on the car.........Toughest part is waiting :)

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11 minutes ago, maytag said:

To be clear, I'm not talking about racing it, at any level. I don't need it to make more power (unless that came cheap and easy, haha). But I've never owned a car that couldn't benefit drastically from a strut tower brace, brake upgrades, stiffer springs, etc. Is it that the Porsche doesn't need these or other items like it? or is it that these things are so prohibitively expensive in these cars that nobody bothers until that last 1/4 second per lap needs to be found?
 

 

The Boxster is pretty rigid as delivered, assuming everything is in good shape.  People have been selling aftermarket strut braces ever since the cars were introduced, with little evidence (other than "seat of the pants" reactions).  I would think that good driver DE and sticky tires would add way more than some fancy aftermarket bits.

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10 minutes ago, JFP in PA said:

 

People have been selling aftermarket strut braces ever since the cars were introduced, with little evidence (other than "seat of the pants" reactions). 

 

Hehehe... you haven't driven some of the crap cars I have then!  There is MUCH more than "seat of the pants" evidence to back up the use of strut braces on MANY cars.  There's a reason the FRP's (and tons like them) come with them from the factory... it's because they've been proven to not only work, but to actually be necessary on the track, in that platform.   BUT: you are SO right, that most strut braces are simply posing.  this goes hand in hand with Silver's comment about the exaggerated claims of the aftermarket parts industry.  So Right On. 

 

As to Driver's Education: absolutely no question that good education provides better bang for the buck than any modification one could make when starting out at the track.  I said so above, as well.  So can we please let that sleeping dog be?  haha. 

 

Seriously: this is an age-old statement that comes out every time anyone on any enthusiast forum says they want to track their car.  it should ABSOLUTELY be a person's FIRST investment.  But to suggest that it remains the best bang for the buck, regardless of how much training or track time a person has is simply false.  A person reaches a point where performance upgrades to the car outweigh the "bang / buck" ratio of education.  Not that one shouldn't continue to learn; they must.  But the cost of that time becomes more expensive than the upgrades.  WHERE that point occurs has EVERYTHING to do with how expensive the improvements are, and how much track time and education a person has.  

 

I can tell you that, as a former racing instructor (Superbikes, not cars) it becomes very, very frustrating trying to teach someone advanced skills when their equipment isn't up to the task. 

 

I've watched and watched for years, and I hate to say that I've noticed a trend on the internet (and even to some extent in the paddock) where a newcomer arrives and expresses an interest in going racing (or just HPDE's), and so many people hit him with the negative vibe that he crawls back away and goes back to street-racing.  I was always the guy who'd see those squids and quickly gather them in and tell them how awesome their modifications looked, and then tell them how simple it is to get to the racetrack to try them out.  Of course, the very first thing we hit them with then is the cost/benefit of rider training versus putting a pipe on their bike, haha, just like you have, JFP!  :-)  But I don't tell them not to improve their brakes, or buy a steering damper,  or GET A HELMET! haha.   Let them spend their money where they want.  And if I know their bike, and I know what it responds to, I'll tell them that too.  As long as they're planning to do the education as well, why no let them improve their equipment? 

frankly: anyone getting on the track will immediately understand the difference between those who can / can't.  It's much more obvious than the difference between  those who have / haven't.  haha.  

Thanks for all your help, y'all.  I'm going to spend a little more time cruising around the forum.  There's got to be some people on this forum who've turned their own wrenches on these things, and know what they respond well to.  And should I be so lucky to have purchased the ONE CAR in the HISTORY of CARS that doesn't have any flaws when you push it hard.... then I'll be a Porsche-guy for life!  :-)

 

Thanks Y'all!  

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Huh... I just reread JFP's post and realized you weren't dismissing strut-braces globally, but rather just for these cars.  So my reaction was in error, because I missed a word... dang it.  sorry.  

 

I also reread my own post... and it may sound more harsh than I intended... hehe.  I'm a chuckler, and a fun-poker.  I could NEVER use enough smiley-faces to convey my personality.  :-)  

So if it sounds a little harsh, please accept apologies.  But maybe I'm simply being overly cautious 'cuz I don't know y'all yet?   So I'll let the post go unedited, because the idea i was trying to convey is still encapsulated there.  

 

Thanks Y'all!

 

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Good deal.  Just a word of warning if you decide against going with the Durametric.  Using a non-Porsche-specific reader has the potential to get you in some trouble.  There are a lot of them out there and I'm not saying it won't work, but I have seen cases where using a generic reader either missed codes or otherwise reported misleading/incorrect information.  Durametric is so cheap and they hold their value so well, even if you have other readers it would be hard to pass it up.  Last I checked Durametric was $300 or thereabout for the Enthusiast which is plenty -- one wild goose chase from a bad reader can easily exceed that in terms of your time or buying new parts that weren't needed, etc.  Again, just generally speaking, not saying generic scanners don't or won't work, just saying Porsche-specific readers like Durametric are the gold standard among those in the know.
 
Congrats again on the car.........Toughest part is waiting :)
Thank you for the warning!
I'm going to buy one, and it is the Enthusiast that I was looking at.
It's such a tough thing to do, when everyone said the same thing about the Mercedes-Benz, yet I discovered the accu-gage that I purchased for my Range Rovers works just fine with the Mercedes-Benz. However, my autel unit did not work at all for the Range Rover, that's why I bought the Accu Gage! :-)


Thanks silver!

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50 minutes ago, maytag said:

Huh... I just reread JFP's post and realized you weren't dismissing strut-braces globally, but rather just for these cars.  So my reaction was in error, because I missed a word... dang it.  sorry.  

 

I also reread my own post... and it may sound more harsh than I intended... hehe.  I'm a chuckler, and a fun-poker.  I could NEVER use enough smiley-faces to convey my personality.  :-)  

So if it sounds a little harsh, please accept apologies.  But maybe I'm simply being overly cautious 'cuz I don't know y'all yet?   So I'll let the post go unedited, because the idea i was trying to convey is still encapsulated there.  

 

Thanks Y'all!

 

 

If you ever get the chance to see a Boxster tub stripped, you will understand why.  Because these cars were designed to be mid engine convertibles, Porsche put in some pretty stout front and rear bulkheads for rigidity of the tub; these bulkheads are where the front and rear struts and suspension mount forming a kind of "built in" strut tie on the upper and lower sides in the front, and on the upper in the rear.  The only remaining tie point is the lower rear, and adding a bar there has only added very marginally to times on full on track cars on R compound tires driven at their limits, probably because the factory roll bar is adding strength there already, and because of the way the rear transmission mounts form a type of tie bar.  Cars on street tires have basically seen no real improvement in lap times from the lower rear bar.  Boxsters are pretty stiff just as delivered.

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Although Spec Boxsters are based on the 2.5 liter 97-99 version of the 986 (and yours is an 3.2 liter S), you will find a lot of useful build info on the relevant forums. See here for an example: http://www.porscheclub.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/POC-2017-GCR-BSR-BSX-Boxster-Spec-Rules.doc.pdf

 

I have driven a lot of street Boxsters on track and compared to full blown track cars (or very track focused street cars, eg GT3) the suspension always feels very soft. And stickier tires never hurt either. But once you start messing with these kind of upgrades, the slope get progressively slippery and before you know it you end up with something that's neither fish nor fowl. Your streetable track car ends up a horror to drive on the street, or your street car still leaves a lot to be desired on track.

 

Something else to keep in mind that these M96 engines have top end oiling issues under higher lateral g-loading (in Boxsters that's bank 1 turning left / in 911's that bank 1 turning right), hence the allowance for an accusump in the race cars. 

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Although Spec Boxsters are based on the 2.5 liter 97-99 version of the 986 (and yours is an 3.2 liter S), you will find a lot of useful build info on the relevant forums. See here for an example: http://www.porscheclub.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/POC-2017-GCR-BSR-BSX-Boxster-Spec-Rules.doc.pdf
 
I have driven a lot of street Boxsters on track and compared to full blown track cars (or very track focused street cars, eg GT3) the suspension always feels very soft. And stickier tires never hurt either. But once you start messing with these kind of upgrades, the slope get progressively slippery and before you know it you end up with something that's neither fish nor fowl. Your streetable track car ends up a horror to drive on the street, or your street car still leaves a lot to be desired on track.
 
Something else to keep in mind that these M96 engines have top end oiling issues under higher lateral g-loading (in Boxsters that's bank 1 turning left / in 911's that bank 1 turning right), hence the allowance for an accusump in the race cars. 
Hmmm, great post, penguin. Thank you for the link!
Yeah.... im not going to go making this car no fun on the street. My wife wouldn't ride with me in the last roaster I had because it was too.... (everything, haha). I won't make that mistake again.
I also spent 15 years of our marriage focused on being at the tracks, traveling all over... I won't make THAT mistake again either.

Thanks for your reply!

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