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Porsche Boxster and Boxster S



  • tj60tj60 Posts: 4
    Hoping to buy my first Porsche a 2003 Boxster S with 50,000 miles. But now I'm getting really concerned about going through with the purchase since I've been reading about all these engine failures. Is this still a major problem with the 2003 or is it associated more with the pre 2001 models. Its overwhelming
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,633
    edited October 2011
    Not a problem with a 2003. These are *great* cars; however, you have to have the car checked out by a Porsche specialist before you buy it, nonetheless. Nothing on this car is cheap to fix, so start out right with it. It'll be the best $150--$200 bucks you ever spent. Also work all the switches and controls, and operate the top and examine it for wear.

    They made a *lot* of Boxsters, so you don't have to leap at one.
  • tj60tj60 Posts: 4
    Thank you so much for the response, this will help in my decision process.
    If I may ask one other question. What is your opinion on this retrofit for the IMS I have read about. Its supposed to be a beefier version of the origional
  • Well I don't really know the details of that although I could find out, but you don't want to have to get inside a 2003 Boxster S engine--it would be too expensive to modify it. You can buy and install short blocks for less money than rebuilding an original engine.
  • There is no documented evidence that 2003 cars are any more reliable than others with the M96 engine. In fact, there is no documented evidence at all on the incidence of engine failures because Porsche has not published any. All we have are the reports of victims. There are many and they are not pretty. If you buy a car with an M96 engine of any year, you take your chances. Yes, Porsches can be great cars . . . when they work. If the manufacturer would admit its design defect, compensate the victims appropriately and give the rest of us an extended warranty or some sort of interim fix, the cars would be far more enjoyable. On Planet-9, the Porsche enthusiast site, a number of victims have gotten together and have filed safety complaints with NHTSA, with the aim of forcing Porsche to issue a recall. If you are a victim and you haven't filed a complaint, you should definitely do so. That's the only way we will truly know the extent of the problem because the manufacturer has apparently decided not to acknowledge the issue publicly or stand fully behind its product. From reports I've read, Porsche makes customers sign a confidentiality agreement even if they are only given partial reimbursement for an engine replacement and still have to shell out thousands of dollars of their own money to get a low-mileage car running again. Others with low-mileage failures get nothing. One has to think twice about buying a car from a manufacturer with such an anti-customer attitude. If there is such secrecy about the M96 cars, one has to wonder if there are any defects in new Porsches that are also being hidden.
  • I wouldn't hesitate to buy one, as long as it wasn't a 1997-99 original engine, presuming it checks out, and presuming the following components have been checked on the 2003 car: (these are known possible areas of deficiency in a small number of cars)

    Air oil separator

    Variable cam solenoid

    Mass Air Flow sensor

    Radiator and radiator fan

    The Boxster engine was totally redesigned in 2004, and I suspect that some of the above issues would not appear in those engines.

    I have many friends with these cars and no problems--but I do agree that I wouldn't touch a 97-99 Boxster with a ten foot pole unless it had a replacement engine in it already.

    So I'm willing to put my money on the line for a 2003--and in fact, I intend to buy an S sometime in the next year or so. But I'll be very selective in my purchase, as I am with any car I buy.
  • tj60tj60 Posts: 4
    Thanks again, really do appreciate all the input. just wish it could ease my mind a little more :)) For now I think I will curb my enthusiasm on buying one until I can get some more info from a local porsche mech. Thanks again
  • If you are in the San Francisco Bay Area, I can hook you up with one. Maybe I'll call over there and see what they have to say. They've been working on these cars since Day One, so they'll know for sure.

    My opinion is that a lot of these engine problems came, quite frankly, from people who are first time Porsche buyers and who are used to the maintenance schedules and maintenance costs of a Toyota Camry, which are substantially less. Add that to the weaknesses of the 97-99 engines, and you have a problem.

    If you want one of the world's best handling cars, with outstanding performance, you have to step up a bit and be a pro-active owners, and not be stingy in your care for a car like this.
  • Okay, spoke with the Porsche experts. Their advice is that they have rarely seen a RMS (rear main seal) issue in the past few years with Boxsters at least, since all the problem children (earlier cars) have been taken care of already.

    As for the IMS, intermediate shaft bearing, issue, one still has to be careful. They felt that the earlier cars, say 2000-2008, are safer in that if a bearing fault is detected early enough, it can at least be repaired. But 2009 on up, no such luck--the engine is totaled.

    The way they test a used Boxster for the IMS is interesting. They remove the oil filter and cut it open and examine it for metallic bearing debris. If they see it, then they can intervene and replace the bearing (not cheap, since the transmission has to come out) by pressing in a new one.

    so no debris, no worries. Some debris, some worries. By all means have this test done if you're buying a used Boxster. I certainly would.
  • lemmerlemmer Posts: 2,676
    Are you still planning on purchasing a Boxster S? That IMS stuff gives me pause.
  • Sure. I'll just make sure they cut open the oil filter. I see plenty of Boxsters running around with well over 100K++. Sure a few people will get burned--and a few will be creamed by a garbage truck waiting at a stoplight.

    I went through this with my MINI purchase as well---another "risky" car with all kinds of potential factory defects. I avoided all of them with an inspection except for one---the noisy flywheel when cold--but in that case it's only a noise and doesn't affect the clutch.

    All used cars are a risk---the best one can do is either play the odds and try to eliminate all risks, or don't play at all.

    If I didn't play at all, I would never have owned many of the cars I did end up buying and enjoying.

    If a person is totally risk-averse, they should buy a good ol' Camry or some such. Exciting cars are always risky to some extent.

    A used Corvette has its risks, too. The only upside is that it's not a $12,000 engine. (but it's getting there).
  • tj60tj60 Posts: 4
    Thanks for doing all this checking really appreciate it. I found a good porsche mechanic here where I live so first chance I get I will be bending his ear with lots of questions. still would like to own one :))))
  • Yep, the people who work on them everyday are in the trenches, and know the situation better than any of us. Tell us what he says when you speak to him.
  • I don't know if you've bought yet, but if you haven't, I would suggest you do more homework. Search for engine failure posts on forums like Planet 9 and Rennlist, go to the "Porsche Boxster Engine Failure" page on Facebook and do a Google search on Porsche engine failures. Contact some of the owners directly and see what their experiences have been. I think you'll find the picture a little less rosy than some of the postings on here. While independent mechanics may be somewhat helpful, they don't have the broad knowledge of the problem that you can find by searching the web.

    Yes, the Boxster does handle great. There's still nothing quite like it out there for the price, especially if you buy used. But if I had to do it over again, I never would have bought mine. The financial exposure is too great and the fact that Consumer Reports rates my engine "much worse than average" does nothing to help resale value. The safety risk is too great, especially if the engine suddenly goes while you're on a crowded highway doing 80 mph with a Hummer tailgating you. And, while I always understood, from personal experience and from others, that Porsche was not the best for customer service, it is clear that by the time the '05s were launched, Porsche had plenty of knowledge about the IMS problem and yet it continued to sell cars with defective bearings to unsuspecting customers like me. Any company with such a contempt for paying customers doesn't deserve my business. Since -- based on owner reports -- the '97-'04 cars were defective and the next generation '05-'08 cars also harbored defects, who's to say that the cars built in '09 or after won't be trouble as well?
  • Well the internet *is* great for gathering information but there is the tendency to presume that a problem one sees posted time and time again represents a 100% failure rate---which is hardly the case. Even a 5%--10% failure rate for a certain component is considered a catastrophe for a manufacturer.

    So most Boxster engines will run fine for many years...BUT...there is that risk, yes indeedy. This is why I recommend sawing apart your oil filter at every change.

    At least, if you see any indications of bearing debris, you can do a retro-fit at considerably less cost than an engine rebuild.

    Actually nobody really rebuilds Boxster engines. as that's just MORE risk--most shops install a new short block.
  • rabbitbrabbitb Posts: 1
    I know this post is old... I live in KC area and am thinking about buying a Boxster. Did you ever buy? What has your experience been like?

    Appreciate the feedback in advance.
  • alexxjm1alexxjm1 Posts: 1
    Drained of dollars and time by the local Porsche dealership, I tried to take my Boxster to Jiffy Lube for an oil change. They said, "Only the dealer can change the oil on these." Doubtful, I drove a mile to another nearby Jiffy Lube, where they told me that it would take about 20 minutes for all the oil to drain out, and that they don't carry the filters, so I'd have to go buy one at the Porsche dealer. Instead, I drove to Autozone, and bought a FRAM filter. Anything wrong with any of this?

    Also, my Boxster is low mileage -- 40 K now. I have heard mixed things about timing belt/tensioner maintenance. Any input? Thanks!
  • Claire@EdmundsClaire@Edmunds Chicago areaPosts: 968
    "Here are two things you might want to know about the new 2013 Porsche Boxster S. First, its lateral acceleration, at a nice even 1.0g, is better than the lightweight, wholly uncompromised, utterly focused, bikini-top-wearing 2011 Porsche Boxster Spyder.

    Second, its 72.8-mph slalom speed happens to be better than the last all-new 2012 Porsche 911 Carrera S we tested. Clearly, this car is far from entry-level."

    Read the rest of the road test notes.



  • habitat1habitat1 Posts: 4,282
    edited September 2012 Summit Point Raceway at a Porsche sponsored driving event.

    Unfortunately, all the cars we drove: 4 Panameras, 4 Carrera S's, 2 Boxster S's were all PDK's so I didn't get a chance to drive the manual transmission Boxster S that I would likely order for myself.

    But the experience was, nonetheless, impressive. I don't think I'd put the Boxster S as close to the new (991) 911S as the Edmund's reviewer did, at least with regard to acceleration. But, compared to my former 997 911S Cab, and in my hands, the Boxster S may have been quicker around the track with less white in my knuckles showing. It's a very easy car to drive well, as even my wife came out of the drivers seat with a big grin. (Compared to the dizzy look she had after sitting in the passenger seat with me at the wheel of a 911S).

    This is one tight little car. In 2005, I found the Boxster S back then to be very good, but insufficiently better than my former S2000 to warrant a 2x price. Today, I find the Boxster S to be improved in all performance categories - not to mention much better looking inside and out - to warrant a price that's 20% higher than I was looking at in 2005. I think if you are smart with the options - sport chrono, PASM, Premium w/adaptive sport seats, infotainment - you should be able to keep the MSRP to around $75,000 and negotiate a 5-6% discount for a net price of $71,000 +/-. That's not cheap by any means, but there really isn't anything short of a more expensive 911 or Ferrari that will give you the same driving experience. The SLK, Z4, and other cars at a similar or lower price point are not remotely close in handling precision or driving experience. Lotus, maybe, but they are uncomfortable tin cans that spend too much time in the shop. Perhaps Honda needs to come out with an S3000. But until they do, the Boxster S is in a league of its own IMO.
  • hkyhky Posts: 71
    I am considering buying a Boxster. There isn't much news about the newer model, are they better and more reliable than before (I am expecting more to own this car but certainly don't want a money pit) ? Dealer has a 2012 loaded around the price of a base 2013, should I go for 12' or 13'?
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