By on June 29, 2011

How user-serviceable should a car be? Should special tools be required to perform basic tasks? If the car in question is a sporty car, should there be less effort on the manufacturer’s part to ensure serviceability (because it’s a “toy” and more likely to be owned by people with multiple cars) or more (because sporty cars tend to have longer in-service lifetimes and have a more self-service-oriented owner base)?

After performing most of the 30,000-miles service on my 2004 Boxster S “Anniversary Edition”, I believe I’ve become a little more passionate about my answers to the above questions.

This is what Porsche recommends for the 30k on a Boxster:

  • Oil and filter change, with Mobil 1 15-50
  • Air filter
  • Cabin air filter
  • Fuel filter (with caveats, see below)
  • Sparkplugs (really? At 30k????)

Start with the easy stuff. Cabin air filter: open the front trunk, remove a trim panel with a Torx T20 screwdriver, remove the top of the filter compartment, install in the same flow direction as the original. This isn’t too bad, although requiring a specific Torx bit to do gas-station-level work on the car seems odd. (If you have an Asko dishwasher, you already have a Torx T20 sitting around to remove the front panel, right?)

Fuel filter: Around the year 2002, Porsche switched from a removable inline filter to a “lifetime” tank filter. If we define “lifetime” by the MTBF for the M96 watercooled six, that’s not encouraging. I prefer to think that Porsche expects me to use the same fuel filter across two, or even three, complete engine replacements, so I ain’t gonna mess with it.

Oil and filter change: Using the rocker-panel dent you made the first time you jacked up your Boxster as a guide, jack up the left side of the car. The Boxster has four strong, durable lift points under the car, but you need those for your jackstands, so the shade-tree Boxster mechanic jacks the car up on the seam and puts the stands under those jack points. This does not always go well. There is a lot of plastic, and bendable metal, under there.

My fix is to jack the car up on the appropriate point, leave it on the jack, and put a couple of mounted wheel/tire combinations underneath the middle of the car for safety. I do think, however, that this says a lot about Porsche’s expectations for its owners. Take it to the dealer, and save your paint finish.

The Boxster holds ten quarts of hot oil. If you jack the car up, instead of putting it on a lift, it doesn’t all come out. Hmm. The oil filter is tucked under the car, on the driver’s side. It looks like a conventional filter, but it isn’t. It’s a twist-off housing. The real filter is inside. Porsche sells the appropriate “cup tool” at dealerships for $59. A regular filter wrench may remove it. If you damage the housing, it will cost you. Be careful.

Did you enjoy buying ten quarts of Mobil 1? Nowadays, that’s $80 most places. The rest of the parts mentioned above will run you $150 or so. $230 is a lot of money for a self-service, but the dealership charges $750 or more to do it. I wouldn’t buy regular oil to save money. Boxsters get hot. We’ll find out why in a moment.

Time for the air filter. The informative video which heads this article is applicable to pre-2004 Boxsters without the Bose stereo option. If you have an Anniversary car with Bose, as I do, you will need to add the following steps:

  • Unplug subwoofer while removing the first of the three covers on top of the engine. Do not damage plug. Remember where plug goes, since that area is not visible when replacing the cover.
  • Using a Philips head screwdriver, disassemble the air filter cover and filter mount, then work the old filter out sideways, being sure not to break the mouth of the air intake. The air filter arrangement on my car is the 987 filter arrangement, which flows much more air and sounds cool but which is more complex than the original.

Did you watch the video? Have you noticed that this is not a one-person job? Doing it yourself will damage the pieces and scratch the car, unless you use the Porsche factory rear fender covers. Your dealership has a set. They’ll do the work for you… but do you really trust them to swap the filter, when they can charge an hour’s labor and not bother with it?

Now we are ready to do the sparkplugs. I haven’t done those yet, but it’s as simple as jacking up each side of the car as described below, removing the rear wheels, removing the inner fender covers, and using a couple of ratchet wrenches and universal-joint extensions to remove the old plugs, wipe a little anti-seize on, and install the new ones. In an era where Hyundais and Fords have 100,000-mile plugs, why did a $62,220 Porsche come with 30,000-mile ones? They’re cheap, by the way. Oh, that must be why.

Congratulations! You’ve serviced your Boxster! Now have your friends work with you to reassemble the vehicle. Carefully, because if you happen to damage the very fragile “ball end” mounts for the top or break the crappy plastic hooks which hold down the back of the top liner, you will buy a new top for your Boxster, and you do not want to do that.

Normally, at this point I would deliver a stirring lecture about how the crappy new Porkers are far tougher to service than the awesome old ones… but as a 993 and 944 owner I know that isn’t the case. Changing the oil on a 993 is a serious affair involving two different filters in separate locations. Changing the plugs on a 993 involves dropping the motor. Let’s not even talk about the infamous 944 clutch job. Nope, the Boxster is business as usual at Zuffenhausen. The question is: Why?

Are Porsches made deliberately difficult to service in order to encourage their owners to use the dealer? Is it a side effect of trying to pack a lot of performance into car which are absolutely tiny by modern standards? Does Porsche, like much of the German auto industry, see its products as fixed-life, disposable items? Are there even any other recent-model Porsche owners who want to service their own cars?

I don’t know the answers to any of those questions except the last one. When I explained to my Porsche parts supplier that I needed a “987” air filter for a 2005 Boxster, instead of the “986” filter, he shook his head. “Might be a problem.”

“Really?” I figured that this company, which sells enough parts every year to finance a Daytona Prototype team, might be aware of a fundamental flaw in the new filter. But that shouldn’t be the case, since Porsche’s been using that filter in the Boxster for six years now. Surely the bugs are worked out after Six. Long. Years. Right?

“We don’t know where to get it. Nobody’s asked us for one yet.”

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61 Comments on “Watch This Video, And You Will Be Able To Change A Boxster Air Filter Using Only One Friend And An Hour Of Your Time...”

  • avatar

    “We don’t know where to get it. Nobody’s asked us for one yet.”

    That statement is inclusive of their service department, which tells you plenty about what happens when you pay for your $750 dealer maintenance. At least $750 is only about half what our Porsche dealer charged my mother for her car’s fake service.

    • 0 avatar

      Mr Baruth’s “Porsche parts supplier” seems to be something else than official dealership. Independent spare parts specialist, (gray-)importer or some such.
      I don’t know, based on that video, was it really that bad job for modern mid-engined car? Changing air filters in 10 minutes. How often you need to do that, once a year max. No tools used at all, just turning and pulling some fasteners? You want to have good handling, weatherproofing, some want to have soundproofing and subwoofers. Porsche made all to provide what customers want.
      What about other modern mid-engine cars, umm… MR2, Ferraris? Are they really much easier to work on. I doubt.

      • 0 avatar

        My MR2 Spyder is pretty much a PITA to work on too, the spark plugs are on the wrong side (firewall side), as are most of the hose connections and stuff. It was meant to be a FWD powertrain, when it was flipped to the back it had to go in the wrong way I guess. The Air Filter is right up high at the back, should be easy to get to, except a bunch of hoses and wires go all around the casing, requiring you to disassemble a bunch of stuff just to get it open. Last time I did it though, I accidentally fixed a minor vacuum leak that was causing a slight idle stumble, so bonus there! :)

      • 0 avatar

        When I had an Acura NSX, I was able to do a lot of things on it – swap out the exhaust, change all the coolant hoses (23 of them!), coolant change, oil change, valve adjustment etc. My regular mechanic who had never worked on one thought it was easy to work on, so I think you can design a mechanic-friendly mid-engined car with some effort, FWIW.

  • avatar

    Jack, a quick response to your remark about Torx fasteners: I wish every fastener on every car was Torx. Why would I want fasteners that require specifically-sized tools to work with them? Because they NEVER strip and are much easier to work with.

    I must be the only person who defends GM’s use of Torx. Nonetheless, there you have it…

    Oh, and the Porsche maintenance is insane.

    • 0 avatar

      I work in the IT industry, where Torx is common. I thought they were weird in 1991, but now I love ’em. I even use torx screws for home woordworking projects.

      They’re just better than phillips-head screws. They’re much harder to strip, harder to mess up, and if you have a T-20, it just fits.

      I don’t know why everyone doesn’t use them for long-lived equipment like cars.

      But, yes, I’m appalled by the rest of the German-style maintenance regimen for this Porsche. It’s like 8x the cost and 8x the pain of the Volkswagen I owned….! And, unlike the Prius (which requires the removal of the bumper cover in order to replace a HID headlight), it’s not like everything that requires that much digging lasts through 5-10 years of car ownership….

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      Agreed on Torx: self-centering, high-torque, non-stripping heads are a blessing and beat both Phillips and Hex.

    • 0 avatar
      Darth Lefty

      My BWM motorcycle is built mostly (why not entirely?) with Torx fasteners. They are a pain in the ass.

  • avatar
    The Comedian

    That fuel filter in the tank is ridiculous. In what gold plated world do German engineers live that they’ve never had to deal with a bad tank of gas? I had to change the fuel filter in my GTI every 10 to 16 months after it started showing sign of plugging up again. I may have had a weak fuel pump, but I suspect it was more likely the banana oil “gasoline” I was buying in the south end of Hartford.

    And as for that air filter, anyone still want to argue that a 911 has the engine in the “wrong” place?

    NAPA has Mobil 1 on sale right now for $4.99 a quart, including the 15W50.

    Hurry, though, the sale ends tomorrow.

  • avatar

    Now I know why I have never loved a Porsche, or, for that matter, a Jaguar, Maserati, Mercedes or any specialty toys, no matter how well they perform.

    • 0 avatar

      your loss … I’ve had a great ’73 911 for the last 20 yrs. and it’s easy to change oil, plugs, brake pads & fluid, air filter, etc., all by myself … and reliable too.

  • avatar
    Nicholas Weaver

    And THIS is why I bought an S2000 rather than a Boxter…

    Go to the dealer (I’m lazy), get the oil changed, full sythentic, PLUS transmission lubrication changed [1], PLUS rear diff fluid changed [2], PLUS filters, PLUS new front brake pads [3] PLUS a brake fluid change/flush [4], for about what the Porsche dealer would charge for a glorified oil change.

    [1] I’m paranoid and have that done every ~4 oil changes (8k miles oil change interval). Honda suggests 6 IIRC.

    [2] Every 2 oil change intervals. Could get away with 3, but again, see [1]

    [3] 65K miles on the car, yeah, about due for new front pads.

    [4] If I’m getting the pads changed, I’m having the lines flushed and the fluid replaced, thankyouverymuch…

    • 0 avatar

      …and THAT is why I bought an MX5!

    • 0 avatar

      I wouldnt trust a Honda dealer to do anything to my car… but then again I wouldnt trust any dealer, but thats just me. I like to work on my own cars.

      Funny story: I had a Civic several years ago, and took it in to get an oil change on one of those coupon specials. An hour or so later, I get a call from them, apparently my spark plugs are looking “dark”, and need to be replaced. I ask how they know that, and they said they removed them as part of the inspection process. So I asked, do all them look too dark, did you check all 4? And they said yes, they were all too dark and they recommend replacing them. I said, OK, so how much will that be to have done? The guy replies “$95″. I said $95, are you insane? He says its standard labor rates, and I said, but you already removed them… you have to put them back anyway… why dont you just put back new ones instead???” They refused, so I said put the old ones back in.

      I changed them myself. The plugs are on the top center of the engine, it took me literally 15 minutes. Never went back to that dealer!

    • 0 avatar

      This article made me think the same thing: “boy I’m glad I bought my S2000.” It is probably the easiest car I’ve ever worked on, although it has a few hassles of its own (it looks like replacing the thermostat is going to be a hassle). My biggest complaint is that the rear diff fill bolt is 23mm, necessitating a $15 Craftsman wrench purchase b/c no one owns a 23 mm wrench. The drain bolt is 24mm for the record.

      My wife’s 07 MX-5 seems to be almost as easy to work on although I’ve only done an oil change on it. I would like to punch whoever put the oil filter above a cross-member.

  • avatar

    I don’t think they’re made deliberately difficult to service in order to encourage their owners to use the dealer…I just think there was no effort made on Porsche’s part not to make it easy in any way whatsoever to service them because they know most owners will never touch their engines. That’s bad news for the handful of people who do, but if in six years no one ever asked for a 987 air filter, well…that hand belongs to Verne Troyer.

  • avatar

    Difficult to service vehicles are nothing new and restricted to German cars. On the ’78 FJ Cruisers (before the disposable oil filters), changing the oil filer required at least the removal of the alternator and if you had larger hands much more.

    Part of this is either bad design (the FJ) or due packaging compromises due to other engineering goals. Owners don’t seem to care as people that service their own cars are about as rare as people that would actually buy manual diesel sports wagons.

  • avatar
    jonny b

    This begs a question for the best and brightest. Of all the non-exotic sports cars currently in production, which one is easiest to maintain yourself?

    • 0 avatar

      Probably the Mustang GT, as I remember Camaro V-8s having to be jacked up to remove a couple of the spark plugs, thus leading to them having six good plugs and two old corroded plugs after awhile. I don’t know if the new one’s have that problem but why accuse GM of doing something right for a change?

      • 0 avatar

        4th gen F-bodies were such a pain because the half of the engine was under the cowl due to the cab-forward design inherited from the mid-engined concept cars. I wouldn’t think that would be a problem with the new ones.

        Yeah, V8 Mustangs are pretty easy to maintain. Plugs on my 2V are a breeze – right up top and easy to get to, no fumbling around trying under the heads squeezing between scalding hot exhaust manifolds. 3V & 4V motors should be similarly easy. I have to remove the intake tube on mine (2 clamps and a couple electrical connectors) but front breathing 3V & 4V shouldn’t need that step.

        Most of this is based on my experience with my 2V 4.6L but most still applies to the rest of the Modular family – there’s a lot more in common than different between motors and across different chassis generations.

        Oil filter is easy to get to but it does gush over the steering rack and make a little bit of a mess when you remove it. I can’t remember if they relocated the oil filter for the new 5.0L.

        Air filter, fuel filter, PCV valve, serpentine belt and hoses are all easy to get to as are all the engine sensors.

        Aside from a couple of specific years, and seemingly mostly affecting Panthers, the timing chains, guides and tensioners are all good for basically the life of the car.

        The 3rd starter bolt and 4th power steering bolts are infamously tedious to remove – lots of 4.6L short a bolt or two after replacement of either one of those items.

        Leaks just don’t happen. Gaskets are reuseable if you do take anything apart.

        Steering and suspension parts are straightforward for servicing except for springs on Foxes/SN95 – you supposed to use a special compressor not readily available for rental with the V8 springs (not enough space between the coils for the usual spring compressor) although in truth, you don’t need a compressor to get them out. You do need it to get stock springs back in, or else get them banded. Shorter springs will go back in without a compressor. Not sure if that still applies to the S197 though.

        Brakes are a breeze as with most disc brake cars (don’t miss drums one bit!). You need a $5 tool to spin the rear pistons to compress them on mine – not sure about the newer ones.

        8.8″ rear end is fairly bullitt proof for normal abuse. I haven’t taken mine apart but many folks have done gear swaps in their driveways, many with good success if care is taken measuring clearances and pinion depth and so on. One day I’ll need to rebuild the Trac-Lok but it looks pretty straight forward and doable.

        If you want a fun car that’s cheap and easy to keep on the road for a long time, a Mustang is the way to go.

    • 0 avatar

      Oil change on my Mini Cooper is the easiest I’ve ever seen. Drain plug is on the bottom of the pan, so instead of shooting out in a horizontal arc it drops straight down, and the filter is on top of the engine, in the front. I could do the job wearing my Sunday best then drive straight to church. So far that’s the only maintenance I’ve had to perform on the car.

    • 0 avatar
      Felis Concolor

      I can’t speak for the recent generation, but Ford’s Fox-body chassis is famous among the hot rodding and car crafting crowd because its engine bay is cavernous compared to what is normally found in the average pickup truck: comparisons to other automobiles just aren’t fair. Engine and transmission swap times can be measured in minutes, once all the wires and hoses are disconnected from the engine. It’s that trait, plus Ford’s installation of the aforementioned 8.8″ diff in every single unit sold (if you’re not going to top 500 hp, there really is no need to go for a 9″) that has endeared it to the “cheap speed” crowd. It’s hard to argue with a project car that can go from a wheezy 2.3 liter 4-banger to a pavement melting 5.0 V8 in an afternoon.

      • 0 avatar

        Foxes do have a lot more room because the Windsor 5.0L is so much narrower than a Mod motor – the engine bays are all about the same for a Fox, SN95 or S197.

  • avatar

    Jack, is this the car that made you do all the walking?

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      Nope, I’m flying to Nashville Saturday morning to complete my trip and will have a full report to TTACers on Tuesday. Cross your fingers, that vehicle and I have 900 miles left to go together :)

  • avatar

    I service our fleet which consists of an M3 Lightweight, a Ford Freestyle, and a VW Passat. The BMW is by far the easiest. I can do an oil change on that car without a single drop of misplaced oil. 20 minutes tops including jacking and cleanup. I can do a front brake job, pads and rotors, complete, in 50 minutes. Fuel pump replacement in under 20 minutes.

    The VW is harder, but the internet is your friend. People have helpfully posted easier ways to do things than the shop manual shows; for example, there is a way to replace the thermostat in 30 minutes without removing any bumper components, vs. 2.6 hours per the shop manual. How do you convince a dealer to do the 30 minute method? Oil changes would be neat were it not for the filter that is angled such that removing it spills oil. Now, I put a plastic bag over the filter so the spilled oil goes in the bag, but then you are left with a bag with some oil in it. Everyone should just adopt what BMW does with its engines – a housing with a removable insert right in front of the engine.

    The Ford looks easy; I haven’t done much yet there except make a parts list for the 60k service.

    The Porsche sounds like a shameful nightmare.

    • 0 avatar

      @Djoelt: The GM Ecotec has a similar set up for the oil filter. You spin off a cap on the front of the engine, remove the oil filter element, replace element, screw on cap. It takes longer to let the oil drain out of the engine than it does to change the filter.

      At least one thing has gotten easier to access…

    • 0 avatar
      Robert Schwartz

      “there is a way to replace the thermostat in 30 minutes without removing any bumper components, vs. 2.6 hours per the shop manual. How do you convince a dealer to do the 30 minute method?”

      The dealer does the 30 minute method (in 20 minutes, they are pros), he charges you 2.6 hours.

    • 0 avatar

      The dealer uses the 30 minute method but charges you 2.6 hours

  • avatar

    Ah, the memories. I’ve changed a 944 clutch in my garage. Without dropping the torque tube. I’ve adjusted valves on the older 911s at home. Jack, you’ve missed out on this little pleasure since the 993 was the first air cooled Porsche with hydraulic lifters.

    And a few years ago, I bought a crashed Boxster. Front end damage, mostly. I swapped out the steering rack and steering column. It was much harder to do than on any Japanese car I had worked on.

    I do have to say taht I admired how lightweight the steering components actually were. And it’s always a joy to spend time under a Porsche, admiring how purpose-built all of the suspension and driveline components are.

    But these vehicles are definitely not service-friendly.

    I look through Craigslist every once in a while and see a smoking deal on a 996. But then I cringe at the thought of working on the car…

  • avatar
    cRacK hEaD aLLeY

    And this, Sir, is why I drive a Toyota Camry Hybrid. XM satellite radio on, engine not running for a good part of my daily commute and same brake pads since new, 5 years ago. Not to mention no cop ever, EVER does a double-take on a silver Camry.

    When the need to fun rises I just hop on the XR650.

  • avatar

    the big engine – small car combo usually makes for a difficult time when it comes to service. put that engine in the back and it gets worse I see… My old z32 is a bloody knuckle nightmare, and I have to do most of the service myself. nobody else does it right.

  • avatar

    There is something to be said for opening up a bonnet and being able to easily access everything under there. Of the cars I’ve owned, I rate GM vehicles top for design of the engine bay. Ford used to be pretty good, but then in from the late 90’s onwards it seemed that their engineers thought it acceptable to add the air-con system, wiring, vacuum pipes and fuel lines as a messy, tangled afterthought. Never had much experience with performance cars, although having heard the cursing and swearing coming from a bunch of mechanics removing an engine on an older 911 during a rally service stage, I can understand Jacks frustrations.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert Schwartz

      Once upon a time you could pop the hood on an American car, and see the ground underneath. A Buick with a straight eight — that was easy to access.

      • 0 avatar

        You still can see the ground in a Dodge Avenger with the 2.4 I4 engine, but it isn’t a particularly desirable car though. Engine bay is big to accommodate the 3.6 L motor. Probably makes transmission removal easier. :O)

      • 0 avatar

        The engineers who design the original engine aren’t responsible for whoever designs the body shell.

        On my Mazda Tribute, a.k.a Ford Escape, there is an engine bay for a 3.0 V6. I have the 2.0 4 cylinder ZTEC lifted from the Contour and Escort. Consequently, there is plenty of room to see the ground and I can access the oil filter from the top.

        Sometimes you get lucky.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m not necessarily talking about quantity of space under the hood, its the quality of the layout that matters. Although space is nice, if the gubbinz under there is laid out nicely, where the designers though “how can we make some spanner wielding DIY’er less likely to skin his knuckles and utter profanities?” it can make working on a car a pleasant experience. Take my old 2001 Fiesta for example – the oil filter was on the back of the motor, underneath the exhaust manifold. To get at it you had to jack the car up, climb underneath and then remove several layers of plastic/heat shield just to get at it. There was no room to attach a filter remover so in the end I had to hammer a screwdriver through the old filter just to get it to turn. Not repair friendly that car.

  • avatar


    I got some tips for you.

    First, Porsche hasn’t recommended 15W-50 for water cooled vario-cam models-ever. Its 0W-40; 5w-50; or 5w-50. Many different suppliers. Using 15W-50 in a cold variocam is akin to pounding the valve train with a hammer.

    Go to your local auto supply and buy a size 74/76 oil filter socket from China. Not as nice as the German counterpart, but it will work. Be glad you don’t have the 987.2. The factory decided to tuck the oil filter almost to the top of the engine. You now need at least an 8″ extension to reach it.

    I use two jacks, one on each side, to raise and lower the back of the car. Hockey pucks give you a comfortable space between the jack points and your sheet metal. Just alternate between jacks until you get the height you need. You can then lower the car onto the oil collection pan and let it ALL drain out w/o a problem-just make sure you chock the front wheels.

    Can’t help you with plugs,air and filter’s R&R. It is what it is, but I can name half dozen of my former rides that were at least as bad if not worse- and some begin with the name Ford…

    Porsche is not the only manufacture that requires gorilla warfare to service their cars.

    Remember “There is no substitute”.


    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      Well, Boston, I had a post all ready to go for you along the lines of


      but it turns out that only the aircooled owners manual sez.

      On the other hand, this Boxster has been running 15w-40 for at least 26,000 miles that I know of, perhaps 4,000 of those miles on a road course.

      The Porsche fan sites are chock full of disagreement about this. Virtually everyone acknowledges you shouldn’t run the car that way in winter (not an issue for me, I don’t drive it in winter) but that trackday longevity may benefit as a result.


      • 0 avatar

        Interesting. I can see why this would be a winter issue (lower number equals better cold flow) but why would it help at the track? Surely the 50 weight oil maintains viscosity at high temperature better than the 40 weight, right?

      • 0 avatar
        SVX pearlie

        Boston notes Porsche suggests 0W-40 pr 5W-50 vs Baruth’s use of 15W-40 for trackday focus.

        0W & 5W are far better at cold temps, while 40W & 50W are just as good at high temps.

        The difference is that Baruth doesn’t have the low-viscosity stuff breaking down at high temps of on-track use – he has proportionally more high-viscocity oil for heavy-duty work.

        With so much oil needed, potentially, Jack could concoct a custom blend of oil weights to cover the low end in winter and the high end at the top. A couple quarts of 0W-50, a couple extra quarts of staight-up 50W, a quart of 10W-40 here, and a quart of 20W-50 there…

  • avatar

    Having just had a major service disaster with the Touareg, I no longer think you are nuts. Both the S2000,and the C43 are easy to service, and we now do it ourselves. The Harley goes to the shop, but they have loaners I guess the days of rebuilding your small block in the backyard are really gone.

  • avatar

    Porshces are probably not made difficult to service on purpose. They have two priorities, look good, drive well. They will not compromise on those two for any reason I guess.
    I belive BMW’s are quite easy to service. Right now I own my first Bimmer, but everything looks very uncluttered and well made, and the little work I have done so far has been quite simple, allthough it may need more spare parts in general than many other cars. Fords have traditionally been made easy to work on deliberately, unless you have soeme special version, it seems any diversion from the base cars make stuff harder. But I think soem of the worst cars to work on are US cars from the 80’s and 90’s, in general. Sparkplugs on F-body cars have been mentioned, rear line of plugs on any Chrysler v6, removing a Cadillac transmission to get the oil anf filter changed. Not to mention the lack of a drain plug on chevy smallblocks, requiring you loosen the oil pan, and if you needed to replace the oil pan gasket, you also have to remove the timing cover. And the timing cover sadly is not in front of the belts etc…

    • 0 avatar

      From my old BMW days, I’ve always found them to be easy to work on, but parts are pricey and require the use of a tool forged in the fires of Mordor that you can only get from one dealership in a 6 state regional area. Further, they are damned proud of their special tools, and the price reflects it.

      So far, my E46 was the easiest car I’ve worked on. My good friend’s IS300 was a nightmare.

      • 0 avatar

        I’ll second that E46 are extremely easy to work on. Plus, their fasteners don’t rust.

        I have not had any complaints on part prices, either. Even genuine BMW parts are fairly priced if you mail order. Aftermarket part prices are quite low. If you want high prices, try American cars. I have had to support several Ford and GM models and parts are several times more expensive and very, very difficult to find compared with BMW/Mercedes/SAAB/Volvo cars I have had to repair. Also, genuine BMW parts are of fantastic quality, as opposed to some American and Japanese car parts I have had the pleasure of installing several times over.

  • avatar

    It’s interesting to look at the Rennlist Porsche forums and see some of the heroic DIY stuff these guys are willing to attempt.

  • avatar

    All this is very interesting. Porsche is jumping all over the place on this maintenance stuff. For 2006 and 2007, the Boxter and Cayman had oil change intervals of 20k miles or 2 years (!!!), whichever is first. Then for 2008, the exact same engine had intervals of 10k and 1 year. I’m coming up on my second oil change (2 years ownership on a 2008), so wish me luck! My first one cost something like $125 at the local Porsche dealer, which sounded like a relative bargain especially in the Bay Area.

    That said, consider the first owner and his first 5 years of costs… From, the cheapest Boxster has these 5 year costs in California: $26k depreciation, $5k taxes, $8k financing, $13k fuel, $12k insurance, $6k maintenance, $3k repairs. The $6k maintenance, by year is: $348, $831, $477, $3472, $1002.

    Although I’m skeptical about many of those estimates (tax is low; fuel and insurance are high), the maintenance is small potatoes. The maintenance looks fishy too: with $13k fuel costs (and assuming $4 gallon fuel and 20 MPG), they’re assuming 65,000 miles in 5 years, but low maintenance costs in the first 3 years means no tires until the 4th year, implying at least 39,000 miles on a single set of tires!

  • avatar

    I don’t bother with a jack and jackstands except when doing work on wheels/brakes. I purchased a set of Rhino Ramps a few years ago, and they work beautifully for oil changes and most under-car work.

    • 0 avatar

      I love my ramps. Even if I’m not going under the car, getting the car up in the air makes it much more comfortable to work on as I don’t have to bend and lean over so much.

      If I have to take a wheel off, I can put it on the ramps and then get a jack under the a-arm and then pull the ramp out – that gets the wheel up at a more comfortable working height too.

  • avatar

    Porsche has gone downhill on an ease-of-service basis since 1990. Try changing all 12 spark plugs on a 964.

    The bottom came with the 986/996 starting in 1998. The M96 motor family was never designed for major mechanical service. You bought a rebuilt motor from Porsche and they shipped your old one to Germany for rebuild to sell to the next sucker.

  • avatar

    Just got a quote for what my Cayman needs at 46 months in service.

    a)4 year service – $1600 – spark plugs and a bunch of other stuff but overlaps with the next two items – generally yeah right is the correct response – just did an oil and filter
    b)complete brake fluid flush – $250 – they really want this every 2 years
    c)alignment – $220 – I’d like that and they do a good job based on my C4 experience
    d)front tires dry rotted – $950 w/ mount and balance – BS – called TireRack and confirmed hairline cracks on the outer shoulders is no big deal – it would take up to a few more years to dry rot the tires. They’ll be gone in a year anyway. Tirerack sells those tires for under $500 per pair, local garage mounts and balances for under $50, add $50 for shipping.

    I’ll toss them something – its CPO’ed for another 27 months

    Access to the underside – I’ve seen pix of bottle jacks (just don’t look right), jack stands (JB’s dent/bend problem) and my favorite, 2×12 Doug fir ramps. Honestly, those ought to work fine if you hand sort for a decent grade of lumber and build them up into giant doorstops. And somebody else just backed his Boxster up a short steep embankment. Careful with those front wheel chocks.

  • avatar

    they know most owners will never touch their engines.

    whether the owners does his own work or the shop, to install parts in God forsaken place or move them few inches away where plenty of room to remove it is only a matter of the designer’s frame of mind.
    Perhaps the designer is being resentful to make whoever owns/ service it had to swear that he’ll never go near one of these in his lifetime!
    Then how do we explain as most japanese cars designed to be so service/repair friendly?

    a 73 911 was not as populated in the engine bay as a late 70s.
    And any of these machine that was built last 20 yrs didnt give a F about whoever have to do any work at all. Perhaps Fuhrer’s revenge never really went away ever since the leaky gas from the VW bugs.
    When VW bugs’ heat exchanger get older it will leak copious amount of exhaust into the cabin.

    • 0 avatar

      “a 73 911 was not as populated in the engine bay as a late 70s.”…

      boy, ain’t that the truth! Lol … I keep thinking that maybe some day I might get a new 911 and keep it only for the warranty period, but since I truly would not sell my excellent cond. ’73 for the price of a new 911 ($70k), I don’t have to worry about that for another 10 yrs. or so, LOL…. unlike the new ones, mine is at least holding its value if not appreciating (worth approx. 4x what I paid for it in ’92).


  • avatar

    Subarus (or at least the 2000 and 2005 I’ve owned) aren’t that bad, even with the spark plugs down so low. Only the head gaskets are potential trouble. On the other hand; the left headlight bulb on my 05 must have been designed by a sadist, as you need to move the battery and it’s concealed by a big screw-on piece of plastic that’s not easy to get any leverage on when it’s dark and 20 below zero.

  • avatar

    My 2006 Wrangler with the old AMC straight-six is probably the easiest vehicle to service made in the last decade. Every major maintenance point is easy to access – Air filter – 2 minutes or less, spark plugs are maybe a 15 minute job and the only thing that complicated the oil change routine is the engine skid plate I added. It does have a carefully placed hole for drain plug access, but the oil filter run off does drip onto the skid plate – not a huge deal, but it was easier pre-skid.

  • avatar

    Do oil extractors work on Boxsters? Not that it matters, since the oil filter and drain bolt look like they’re next to each other in a how-to I found. I’m kind of curious, since my extractor didn’t work on a friend’s 04 CTSV for whatever reason.

    When I first bought my E30 (318is) I was worried it was going to be difficult to service, but it’s surprisingly pragmatic in design. The oil filter is up top, the drain plug isn’t placed in some weird place. With an oil extractor, it should be a “top-down” affair that doesn’t involve jacking the car up.

  • avatar

    Oddly enough, at first I didn’t the service for the Porsche was all so bad. For the 40K service for my 2.0t/DSG VW the dealership wants more than 700 dollars. (40K DSG service, which apparently is just fluids, not mechatronics or flywheel, is extra. Much extra.) And I believe it does involve new plugs. It will require as always relatively fancy oil; fancy Audi/VW purple coolant, etc. So I guess I should find some pyschological benefit in knowing that the car has specialty sports car level maintainance requirements.

  • avatar

    At first I didn’t think the service for the Porsche was so bad. For the 40K service for my 2.0t/DSG VW the dealership wants more than 700 dollars. (40K DSG service, which apparently is just fluids, not mechatronics or flywheel, is extra. Much extra.) It will require as always relatively fancy oil; fancy Audi/VW purple coolant, new plugs, etc. So I guess I should find some pyschological benefit in knowing that the car has specialty sports car level maintainance requirements.

  • avatar

    My ’87 951 was an absolute pain to work on… It constantly had me shaking my head asking “why, WHY would you think that it was a good idea to do it this way??” Most of it seemed like engineering masturbation. Nedlessly complicated “because we can”. Why drive the oil pump basically by friction, requiring the crank bolt to be torqued to 450090976 ft/lbs seemingly turning endlessly until FINALLY, after you’ve deposited a few gallons of sweat, you hear the merciful click of the torque wrench? “Because we can!”.

    It did strike me, most of the way through the oil-cooler-thermostat-housing-degunking-and-rebuild / timing belt water pump replacement, that they never inteded the car to even HAVE any sort of major(ish) service done. This car was built to be driven only for a set period of time, and then to be replaced by whatever new model was out at the time. Buing parts for an older Porsche at the dealer cemented this thought.

    The air filter required a philips.

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