Piston Slap: Bad Information, Badder Boxsters

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta

TTAC commentator Detroit-Iron writes:

I am in the process of buying a new car (despite Steven Lang’s admonitions). I would like to get a 2009 after the 2010’s come out, maybe a Legacy or Ralliart. My problem is that there is zero information on the specific month that a given manufacturer is going to release the 10s. I can understand the manufacturers and dealers wanting to keep that info under wraps considering the inventory but I would think that a journalist or consumer advocate would have it, but I can’t find anything.

One more item: did TTAC ever get a figure for the percentage of Boxsters that had their engines die? Were any years better or worse than others? I came very close to buying one until I found out about that.

Sajeev answers:

I have friends in the car business (who aren’t car people, per se) and I am amazed at their isolation from the operational activities of their respective manufacturers. While The Best and Brightest might disagree, dealer communication channels seem inferior to the rich tapestry of corporate information that “we” get on the automotive blogosphere. Aside from the release date of 2010 models, of course.

Speaking of friends, I grabbed a Porsche Tech from a local dealer for your second question. That’s mostly because I didn’t find conclusive information on Boxster engine problems from Google and Forum searching. It seems like Porsche owners prefer to not air their dirty laundry, unlike damn near any other brand loyalist.

So here’s the scoop, in plain English: the first three years (1997-1999) had cylinder sleeve problems that lead to engine failure. The inventory of Epic Fail engine blocks ran out after 1999. Which is exactly what Wikipedia says on the matter. After that, the only problem (I found) was a leaky rear main seal: Porsche made a redesigned seal, and said Porsche Tech says it’s a good fix.

Of course, my answer is to buy an original Boxster with a blown motor for cheap. Then do a RUF-style big-bore Boxer upgrade from a wrecked 997.

No wait, that’s not ME talking: I suggest spending less (in parts) and get a complete LS4 from a (transverse engine’d) Impala SS, a custom bellhousing adapter from one of many fabricators on the Internet, and re-wire the hell outta that little Porker for unbelievable amounts of mid-corner torque. Now that’s a spicy meatball!

[Send your technical queries to mehta@ttac.com]

Sajeev Mehta
Sajeev Mehta

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  • Detroit-Iron Detroit-Iron on Jul 01, 2009

    Thanks everyone. I think I am going to wait a couple years and see how the next gen engine turns out.

  • Power6 Power6 on Jul 02, 2009
    I would like to get a 2009 after the 2010’s come out, maybe a Legacy or Ralliart. I am suprised that the dealers can't tell you when they can't order 09s and will be able to order '10s. Anyways I looked at a Ralliart a few months ago before I bought a WRX, and even then I was told Mitsu had already stopped making them. So the chance of getting the color and options I would want was nil. The dealer could have been BS-ing but they were really trying to sell me, they were willing to ship in a white one for me from out of state, I think they would have been willing to get me a new one if they could. You are much better off with the Legacy, they are at the end of the model run, so the '09 should go down in value, except for the fact that it appears to be a better car than the '09 but the general public probably won't figure that out. Though you might check out the WRX if you are in the market for a Ralliart. The Subaru dealers don't seem to be hurting to sell cars this year, their sales are up.
  • Bd2 If they let me and the boyz roll around naked in their dealership I'll buy a Chinese car.
  • THX1136 I would not 'knowingly' purchase a Chinese built or brand. I am somewhat skeptical of actual build quality. What I've seen in other Chinese made products show them to be of low quality/poor longevity. They are quite good at 'copying' a design/product, but often they appear to take shortcuts by using less reliable materials and/or parts. And , yes, I know that is not exclusive to Chinese products. When I was younger 'made in Japan' was synonymous with poor quality (check John Entwistle's tune 'Made in Japan' out for a smile). This is not true today as much of Japan's output is considered very favorably and, in some product types, to be of superior quality. I tend to equate the same notion today for things 'made in China'.
  • Mike Beranek No, but I'm for a world where everyone, everywhere buys cars (and everything else) that are sourced and assembled regionally. Shipping big heavy things all over the planet is not a solution.
  • Jeffrey No not for me at this time
  • El scotto Hmm, my VPN and security options have 12-month subscriptions. Car dealers are not accountable to anyone except the owner. Of course, the dealer principles are running around going "state of the art security!", "We need dedicated IT people!" For the next 12 months. The hackers can wait.