By on November 3, 2010

My local Porsche dealer, Midwestern Auto Group, doesn’t bother to offer an oil-change special. Why should they? We all line up to pay $249 or more to have it done, since only a fool would give Porsche Cars North America a chance to deny warranty coverage. The 15,000-mile service on my Boxster S was $789, and from what I hear, that’s a reasonable price. The 60,000-mile service on my 993 was $2420, but since the old airboxer is out of warranty I had it done at an independent shop and saved a grand.

This newest special, pictured above, has me concerned, because it implies that someone is a bit fuzzy on how these German wundercars actually work. Does brake fluid really have anything to do with the engine? It could be a system like the one found in the Citroen SM. If the headlamps in your SM stop auto-leveling on your way down the road, it’s the first and last warning you might get that you’re about to involuntarily lower your ride height from now until the moment you end up in the Armco.

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40 Comments on “What’s Wrong With This Picture: Guess It’s Not REALLY Air-Cooled, Then...”


  • avatar
    Lokki

    Service cost madness is what has stopped me from getting a Boxster.  I love the car, and I could afford one but I don’t think I could afford  the maintenance.  So, instead, I buy BMW’s and make sure they go away right before the 50K free-service does.

    Oh, and I don’t get your problem with the ad shown above.  It seems obvious to me that you wouldn’t want your engine to brake down, would you?  :-)

    • 0 avatar
      Lokki

      I hope it’s not necessary to tell anyone that I know the difference between ‘break’ and ‘brake’, is it?

      That was a joke, son, a joke.

    • 0 avatar
      Alwaysinthecar

      Although you actually paid for the price of that “free” maintenance which was “hidden” in the sale price of the car (or in your case, I’m assuming a lease.)
      In addition the OCIs keep getting lengthened by BMW.  Now it’s 15k.  Anything in-between then you pay with your dime.  And that includes any sort of preventive maintenance that’s outside their “free” maintenance schedule.
      In the end, there’s never a free lunch.

  • avatar

    Somebody did a search & replace without thinking.

  • avatar
    PeriSoft

    I wouldn’t worry about Porsche; that ad is about twenty times removed from anyone who has engineered anything other than an office back-stabbing. From my experience in car industry promotion, it’s amazing anything gets done right, let alone everything.
     
    On the subject, a few years ago there was a little banner ad in my ICQ window (anybody remember ICQ?) that had a picture of Michael Schumacher’s Ferrari. It was promoting a racing-centric chat thingy, and it said, “HOW WELL DO YOU KNOW YOUR NASCAR?”
     
    Not very well, apparently…
     
    The kicker was that the guy who cut the car out of the background in photoshop seemed to have not realized it had a back end; he also trimmed out everything past the sidepods. It only had two wheels.

  • avatar
    brettc

    $150 seems a bit high. They must use the gold infused brake fluid… I bought a Motive power bleeder a couple years ago for $50. 1.5 litres of OEM VW brake fluid goes for about $21. I’ll never own a Porsche, but I can now flush my Jetta’s fluid for about $21 and an hour of time.

    And whoever did that brake fluid special ad is apparently somewhat slow in the head.

    • 0 avatar
      qfrog

      I’d expect it to be a bit closer to reasonable if you factor in a few more tool items which should be used in a DIY. For those of us with the tools, skills and time it makes sense to DIY for other people even the “slow in the head” it might make sense to let somebody else do it.
      10 & 11mm Flare nut wrenches $?
      Proper Jack $?
      Jackstand $?
      Wheel chock $?
      Breaker Bar $?
      17mm Deep socket $?
      Torque wrench $?
      Short extension for socket as not to damage wheel finish $?
      Rost-off or similar to be sure the M10x1 bleeder threading isn’t damaged $?
       

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    Maybe without the service the brakes begin to drag and this has to be compensated for with extra throttle input … or not!

    Re-used ad cut and past error pure.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      By the way, I notice that the local classic car dealer here has three Porsche (uh what model was it with the forward popping up headlamps, 928?) for sale at (IIRC was not too interested) about 20k CHF each.  (I was more interested what was inside … a 74 E-type for 104k CHF, a 63 MB droptop, a TR-6, an MGA, an Austin Healey, a MG-TF…

    • 0 avatar
      pgcooldad

      I’m going to have to be quicker with my replies. I was thinking the along the same lines … is the old fluid expanding thus adding pressure to the system, causing drag to the brakes, and making the engine work harder?

      Maybe they have upper management is pumping the brakes!

    • 0 avatar
      vaujot

      (uh what model was it with the forward popping up headlamps, 928?)

      Either 928 or 968.

  • avatar
    ash78

    I’ve regularly seen $99-$129 advertised at my VW place. Most brake systems are pretty similar, but owners’ price sensitivities clearly vary. That’s one of the unseen problems with platform and component sharing–the service cost RELATIVE to the price of the vehicle often throws people for a loop, especially when their car is on the downstream end of the platform or components.
     
    But I digress…to me, letting someone change your brake fluid is like letting someone cut your grass or paint your bedroom. It’s not specialized work, and I can understand if you just don’t have the free time, but DIY can easily mean the difference between an affordable car and a money pit.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    I spend about $120 total over the course of a year doing the routine oil changes for all three of our family vehicles. Brake fluid changes run me less than $20. DIY rules.
     

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    Will it void the warranty if I do the work my self? Aren’t they just replacing the fluid sitting in the reservior?

  • avatar
    mikedt

    $150 for a brake fluid change (I assume this is a complete bleed) is a steal compared to $250 for an oil change.

  • avatar
    kenwood

    Jack,
    $789 just might be a pretty good deal.  What do they include with that? I’ll be due for mine soon.
    [email protected]
     
    Thanks.

  • avatar
    obbop

    Feel free to enlighten a Dart/Duster era crotchety Old Coot as I recall reading that ABS-type brakes can require specialized knowledge and perhaps even tools in order to properly remove all the brake fluid and refill in a manner conducive to obtaining tip-top proper performance.
    Additionally, some ABS brake systems, dependent upon the type/style present upon the vehicle, need/require/demand that certain precautions be known and followed.
    Inquiring minds want to know as soon as finished with this article informing how ex-prez Bush was the sire of a two-headed alien love child being raised at Area 78, the higher-class compound that superseded the passe’ Area 51 of yore.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      ABS isn’t a big deal. Bleed the brakes normally, go out to an unbusy area (gravel or dirt if you can find it) and get in a few ABS activations, then head home and bleed again. Top off with a gravity bleed if you have the time.

  • avatar
    Boff

    Meh…even being a casual petrolhead is enough to smoke out most dealership howlers. When we bought our last BMW, a brochure on this rubberized undercoating spray the F&I gal was pushing claimed it would result in a smoother ride. And the salesman, when I expressed misgivings about run-flats, claimed that almost 90% of cars had them now. Maybe he meant BMW’s.

  • avatar
    colin42

    The latest offer from Jiffy Lube’s 1st Porsche dealership?

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Funny thing: when I was getting my snow tires put on I saw a 911 on the hoist at Canadian Tire.  Not sure what was being done, and for all I know it was a tire change, too.
       
      Still, it was neat to see.

  • avatar
    CliffG

    I was going to hoot at you for being silly enough to own a Porsche, and then realized I own a bike.  Um, 16k services on a VFR are $700+ minimum, and you get more mileage out of your racing tires…and they are probably cheaper.  I suspect the adrenal benefits of your Porsches are about the same as me biking, which means the bucks are worth it.  So, there you go.  Pay up and shut up I believe is the mantra.

    • 0 avatar
      thats one fast cat

      Amen, my brother.
       
      I recently had my Ducati 916 serviced at a topflight Duc Dealership in Northern Virginia.  I admit that I did have them put on new tires.
       
      When they told me what the bill was, I had to remind them I wasn’t here to buy a new one, I was just getting my old one serviced.  No such luck – the cost would make a service writer on a BMW 750iL blush.

    • 0 avatar
      PeriSoft

      Of course, with a bike you also have to consider hospital bills and/or funeral expenses.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      (As a 150cc scooter owner who is in no way as awesome as you guys are for having bikes let me say @PeriSoft)
       
      Telling us this is like telling a smoker; “Hey you know those things are going to kill you right?”  Duh.  But obviously we consider it our bodies to do with as we please.  I might see a guy on a motorcycle not wearing a helmet and think; “God what a f)#*&ing idiot that guy is for not wearing a helmet.”  But I keep my opinion to myself.  I think the same thing when I see an idiot teenager on a 250 Ninja with his inappropriately dressed girlfriend hugging the back of him, neither of them with the least bit of safety gear on.  But guess what?  Since they’re not my family or friends, I keep my opinion about their stupidity to myself.
       
      (rant off)

    • 0 avatar
      JuniperBug

      Oh, come now, VFR’s don’t need maintenance! Even the dealer tells me not to waste my time with valve adjustments before 30k miles or so on my white/black ’09. Of course, this is my first vehicle that’s under 10 years old, so the bar for “ease of maintenance” isn’t very high. My old TL1000S cost me a fortune in parts alone.

      I would consider ponying up the cash for this, though: http://aaperf.com/vfrkit-gen6.html 170 hp at the wheel on a “sport touring” bike? Yes please!

      That said, when people envy my gas mileage, I do tell them that whatever I save in gas, I more than make up for in tires – 7000 miles or so if I’m lucky on a $500 set, and that’s if I choose the “less aggressive” compounds.

  • avatar
    CarPerson

    Buy the fluid at the dealership and keep copies of the receipt in at least two places. Update the service log in the vehicle manual.
     
    If you are super paranoid about the dealer refusing warranty work, video capture (most newer cameras have this feature) the VIN and mileage and set the camera, still running, where it can record you doing the bleed. Burn it to a disc.  It’s super crappy you have to do this but the new profit center at some dealerships is denying valid warranty claims because of DYI service.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      That’s just ridiculous.
       
      If dealers are going to make you jump through all these hoops to do DIY during the warranty period, then the manufacturers need to either print in the owner’s manual/warranty booklet exactly what needs to be done for proof, or just write “all maintenance items must be completed at an authorized service center”.

    • 0 avatar
      npbheights

      or just write “all maintenance items must be completed at an authorized service center”.

      I believe that this would be against the law as per the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act of 1975.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    Midwestern Auto Group were the one who got scammed out of a BMW 750 a couple of years ago by a 15 yo kid from New Jersey. They are not the sharpest knives in the drawer.

  • avatar
    peterbigblock

    Warranty or no warranty, I do all my own routine maintenance on my Boxster S.  Brake fluid, oil, brake pads, air filter, etc.  The chances that this will actually void my warranty are, I believe, minimal.  It saves a TON of money and hassle (drop-off/pick-up/blah blah).  And it avoids things like an overfilled crankcase and other infamous Porsche service goofs.  I also enjoy it, so of course ymmv.
    I believe a man should be able to maintain his own car.  I think all the “voids the warranty” scare tactics from dealers are crap.  I’d do my own maintenance even if I had a BMW and it was “free” — I don’t trust the quality of work being done by someone who loses nothing if their work is shoddy.

  • avatar
    chuckR

    I’m 14 months overdue on my 2year flush of the brake fluid in a Cayman S. I will take it in as I still have 3 years left on the CPO and I’d like them to crawl all over it and fix anything they find under coverage. Flushing the brakes isn’t hard – two bleeders per brake but you should also do the clutch cylinder and that’s no fun. I do my own cabin and air filters, keep an eye on the power steering, will probably do the brakes if I have the time, but I will keep doing the oil at the dealers to, yes, keep them on my side.
    Jack, my service interval is 20K – the first was done as part of the CPO at 13K miles… Oil and filter of course muuuch sooner – every 5K miles.
    At an independent garage, when my winter tires were put on, I got a NASCAR stagger – front 205s on the left, back 235s on the right. Drove OK, though, for a 100 miles.
     
     

  • avatar
    ash78

    People think I’m crazy when I often state “having a factory warranty is often more of a liability than an asset”

  • avatar
    BostonDuce

    I’m not about defending dealers but it’s easy to cackle about the price (which is really a screaming deal) in the ad if you drive a VW, Toyonda, Buick or otherwise have no idea what you are talking about.

    The properly bleed the Porsche brakes, you must cycle the ABS pump with the proprietary Porsche diagnostic software. Otherwise, old fluid, or errant air bubble will sit in that part of the system waiting for the day you activate it with a stomp on the brakes. That’s probably 10 large for the machine and 5K/year for the software update..but you know that since it sits in your garage.
    Porsche calipers can have both inboard and outboard bleed screws (do you know which one to bleed first??) can you say “double the work”. The master cylinder reservoir cannot be fully emptied, so you need to run a few cycles through which wheel first…I keep forgetting, but you know which one.
    ….and have you used the special low-viz (yeah, that’s it, low “visibility”-not) factory brake fluid that insures maximum cycles/sec of the ABS pump which may mean missing some meatball that cut’s you off as you bury your foot into the pedal and flail the steering wheel- but what’s 15% more cycles/sec between friends?
    Not to mention (although it doesn’t apply here), the liability you assume when someone comes in with ceramic brakes. Putting the wheel back without putting in the double guide pins first, risks banging the disk with the wheel and cracking or chipping the disk-but that’s ok- since instead of replacing the $2k disk, they can buy your beater with the clean brake fluid for a few hundred. At least the Porsche guy can drive home.
    Can you bleed Porsche brakes yourself, sure can, but the factory procedure performed by the dealer is much more involved that blowing up a Motive with Pep-Boys SuperDuty brake fluid in it.
    BD
     

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      $149 isn’t a terrible price for this service – especially if a much simpler oil change is $249! – but that job isn’t much different than with almost any other ABS-equipped vehicle.

      As bumpy explained (later), just cycle the ABS system by using it. No air bubbles will be introduced if you keep the reservoir above the minimum level, just like with any other vehicle.

      An extra bleed screw right beside the one you just used does not add much work. Order isn’t going to be a big deal; you’ll be doing a second flush after activating the ABS anyway.

  • avatar
    Jacob

    Reading this, makes me kinda wish Honda didn’t stop building the S2000. That was the only sane alternative to Boxster on the market, and for 2/3 of the Porsche’s price. Many people drive them for 100,000 miles without doing anything other than scheduled fluid changes.

    • 0 avatar
      chuckR

      Anybody who does a DE or track day will likely bleed S2000 brakes much more frequently than that. The more anal Porsche guys change out brake fluid every track day. Or claim to, on the forum I read. Even my gutless lo-performance 99 Audi specs brake fluid change every two years. I think I have managed having it done once a decade. I’ll do brake pads, but I won’t do the brake fluid.

    • 0 avatar
      peterbigblock

      My brother loves his 2007 S2000, and its maintenance is substantially cheaper than my Boxster S, even with both done ourselves.  Parts are cheaper, the brake pads don’t get “cheese grated” to death by those blasted cross-drilled Porsche rotors, it takes half as much oil per fill, etc.  Plus, his car was half the cost when new.  And while it’s maybe 5-7 seconds per lap slower than my Boxster S (driver notwithstanding), it’s every single bit as much fun.  I love driving his car on both street and track — more visceral and immediate.  Wonderful, wonderful car.

  • avatar
    peterbigblock

    Ah, the low spark of high-heeled cynics.  No, you do not need to cycle the ABS in order to flush your fluid every couple years with fresh fluid.  The tiny bit of fluid in there is meaningless when mixed into the rest.  Flushing the clutch line and four wheels (yes, in order) is more than sufficient.  No, don’t use the Pep-Boys special DOT4.  Simple enough to get Motul or ATE fluid for $18.  Or the factory fluid for $25.  No, the second bleeder screw adds no more than about ten seconds to each corner.
    And, if you track your car as I do (and, I suspect, BostonDuce does not), flushing fluid every 2-3 DEs would be insane at the dealer.  From both a cost and a hassle standpoint.  Would they even put in RBF600 for you?  Or the boil-o-rama factory fill?
    Take yours to the dealer and pay the big bucks if it makes you happy — that’s the whole premise of owning a Porsche in the first place, it ain’t the cheapest 300hp coupe you can buy.  But don’t let the “it takes super-special training” jabber scare you from doing it yourself.  There’s no magic to most of the routine maintenance they do at the dealer, as many of my PCA friends have learned.
    But if, in Boston, they don’t go for that sort of stuff — hey, good on ya!

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