Buying (Continued)

 

Finding one?

Try http://www.cars.com. Last time I was there they had 865 Porsche Boxsters. Remember the prices you see there are asking prices.

http://www.PedrosBoard.com   Pedro's Boxster Board has classifieds where owners advertise their cars for sale. They are likely to be well maintained and thus a bit pricey. After all, they highly value the cars emotionally unlike the used car lot. But you are more likely to get the straight scoop and records.

http://www.car.com  allows you to search in your zip code and surrounding area for a specific year, model, price, etc.

www.autotrader.com allows you to search in your zip code and surrounding area for a specific year, model, price, etc.

http://www3.us.porsche.com/english/usa/preownedcars/default.htm  

allows you to locate cars available from dealers.

http://www.rennlist.com/ads/  has a few advertised.

http://www.pmletter.com/   a subscription newsletter has hundreds of Porsche’s advertised.

www.craigslist.com select your city and cars & trucks then use the search on Boxster. Bargains here!

www.edmunds.com

Your local newspaper.

Your dealer.

Other Boxster owners, especially ones active in Porsche clubs.

You found it, what does it include?

Ask for the original window sticker. It will list the options in English. If you don’t have access to the original window sticker, one of the ways you can tell what options the car was built with is to look at either the maintenance book or the white sticker inside the front hood. Both carry the same 2” square listing VIN, model, build location and the “built into the car at the factory” option numbers. This is what it looks like.

 

The car may come with other options that could have  been added on by the distributor (floor-mats and the like). Lots of owners like to add on later too.

To translate these codes into descriptions, there are options lists. Because no options list seems 100% complete  (at least for my car I had to use several), I’ll give you these.

http://www.pedrosgarage.com/Site/Porsche_Option_Codes_List.html

http://www.986faq.com/4-0/default.asp   gives a good English description, often with pictures that allow you to confirm the item by comparing the car and the picture.

http://www.kindel.com/Porsche/options.asp

http://www.industryfigure.com/berkeley/Porsche/Options/Options99General_22May98.htmwhich gives 1999 prices

http://www.industryfigure.com/berkeley/Porsche/Options/OptionsMatrix.htm   gives the information for the 1997thru 2002 Boxster and Boxster S.

The grandmother of all options lists 

http://www.intellichoice.com/search/Used/Porsche

http://www.986online.com/cgi-bin/ASI_Store.cgi?Search+XPage_optioncodes.html

RennTech 

And the back pages of the Porsche Parts manual for the Boxster (the PET).

Of course it could also have upgrades and hacks that were added after delivery.  You'll have to spot those and ask the seller about them.  

A VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) decoder is here.  

Does the seller have…?

  • The Owner’s manual in a leather case (often in a holder under the steering column)
  • Dealer Directory
  • The Radio Manual
  • The Warranty Booklet (all needed services stamped?)
  • Boxster accessories booklet
  • 2 remote keys (Figure hundreds to replace or acquire one)
  • 1 valet key (much smaller than the normal remote key and lacks the remote opening key head)
  • The key codes card that tells the dealer what the security computer is coded to accept. Needed if you lose your key and want another one created ($$$$$). If the car has passed through multiple hands it has probably been lost. The dealer can't just retrieve this info without going back to Germany with proofs (for anti-theft reasons).
  • The Radio “code” card for pre-2003 cars (The 4 digit numeric code is needed if the battery is disconnected or run down to reactivate the radio. May also be written into the warranty book or on the options sticker under the front hood)
  • The spare tire and spare tire cover
  • Jack (behind the spare)
  • Jack Handle
  • The tool kit including:In a black plastic case often in a pouch covering the spare tire
  •     Headlight removal tool
  •     Phillips screwdriver (handle and attachment)
  •     10/13 open ended wrench
  •     Wheel lug bolt lock socket (if wheels have locks...very important)
  •     Round lug bolt without head used (mount into wheel socket then hang wheel on while inserting other lug bolts)
  •     Lug nut socket and handle (whimpy, get a real one)
  •     Towing Lug (hook screws into front bumper)
  •     Plastic gloves
  • Windscreen storage bag
  • Yellow flannel cloth protector (perhaps 14" by 30") that goes in between layers of the rear window when the car is to be stored with the top down or driven that way for a long time. 
  • Floor mats

Ask for any records of maintenance that would enable you to establish that the required maintenance to maintain the warranty was done. Future potential buyers of Porsche’s will pay more the better the service is documented.

Was the Engine replaced?  Mass Airflow sensor? The coolant tank? Rear Main Seal? Air-Oil Separator (AOS) tank? These are common Boxster problems with improved parts available compared to early production year versions.

Look at the rear tire for unusual/uneven wear to check the alignment.

Ask for any records of tire, battery or other replacement items that may be still under a warranty.

Ask for any documentation of any transferable warranty.

Ask if the original window sticker is available.

Ask if the owned has any special cleaning supplies he has used to maintain the car that he would include in the sale.

Should you buy this one?

OK, now how do you figure out if the car you are looking at is worth buying?

  • A Pre-Purchase Inspection by a mechanic (the buyer pays)
  • A query at the Porsche dealership for a vehicle maintenance history by Vehicle Identification Number  (expect to pay for it)
  • A careful study of all of the maintenance documents the owner or dealer hands you
  • A Carfax report (http://www.carfax.com/) that can tell you about the vehicle history, reported accidents, the type of title, the history or odometer readings reported. It is important for what it tells you, but it doesn’t necessarily have the entire history, it can be fooled.
  • At least a drive by someone familiar with the Boxster who can notice something odd that you, who are new to the car, might miss.

I did none of these in buying my first Boxster and still bought a very good car. I have had mid-engined Porsches and Alfas before and probably 20 cars over my lifetime. Still, I should have done some more homework, I was lucky. 

My second Boxster I was a bit more uncertain about. I had a 4 page PPI done for $250+ and it told me lots of things I didn’t detect by myself. Nothing fatal so I still bought it. But it put me in a position to know exactly what I was paying for. And to bargain from that knowledge.

One person’s description of what a Pre-Purchase Inspection (PPI) should include is here. While it applies to a new car purchase, there is a lot there that also applies to looking at any prospective car purchase. 

Mine included a complete cosmetic inspection of every exterior and interior surface with a 1-10 rating and description of items found (including under the car!), a mechanical inspection of the tires and brakes with measurements taken of tread depth and rotor and pad thickness, an inspection of the engine and transmission for leaks and obvious signs of problems (motor mount, belts, hoses, leaks, etc), a PST2 analysis of stored codes and engine history and a leakdown test to see the internal condition of the engine. A test drive. And last but not least, the preparation of a multi-page report and a verbal walk through of that report in case either the buyer or seller has questions. In my case, the walk through was done while the car was on the lift. I feel it is important that the seller receive a copy of the PPI so that, if there is any negotiation of price required based on the findings, that both the buyer and seller operate with the same knowledge. It is only fair, the seller provided the car to the PPI process while the buyer pays for the PPI.

Ask online in the forums for a good PPI supplier near your car's location. It is important how well they know Porsche.

Even if you don't do the PPI, at least don’t look at the car only at night or in the rain. Both can hide paint issues you’ll wish you had seen in bright daylight.

Have the owner walk you through every control showing you that they work.  If you are buying from a non-Porsche  dealer, then you may have to break out the Owner’s Manual and figure out what they do and if they work.

A suggested check off list for a new car might also be of use in making sure you have looked at everything. One can be found at by asking a dealer (if you are buying there) for his CPO checklist.

Something to watch out for after hurricane Katrina is cars that were flood victims. They often have gremlins that are hard/expensive to fix if they ever can be.  Not just rust but electrical bugs. Water damage is easy to hide from the car shopper while a professional will know where to look.  These cars are supposed to have salvage titles but some don’t. So now, more than ever, I’d trace the title and, if the car was from a gulf state, I’d absolutely get a PPI and ask specifically for them to check for possible flooding.  The car could have been in New Orleans and now being sold in Montana, so location shouldn’t give you a false sense of security.

Should you even buy one?

Reasons I can think of that you shouldn't buy a Boxster (or any high-end car, for that matter):

  • You can't afford the purchase price or the loan payment leaves you no $ to enjoy other things in life.
  • You are on a fixed income or limited income and have no reserve to pay for what could be expensive maintenance.
  • You don't fit in the car (too tall, too wide, etc)
  • Your significant other doesn't like to ride in the car (hair blows, feels unsafe, etc). Don't discount this issue, my wife doesn't like to ride in the Boxster top up or down for any distance.
  • You are in an area where Porsche mechanics are scarce or non-existent.
  • Your driving record is already bad. The cops say they don't target Porsches but if you drive an attention attracting car aggressively, you will attract attention. Check the potential insurance costs. Bright colors do attract attention, especially if driven in an aggressive manner.
  • You live in an area of the country where you'll have to store it 3/4 of the time or drive it in heavy snow. Get a SUV instead (or in addition but I hate to think of a Porsche just sitting and depreciating without being driven for months on end). 
  • You need a higher miles-per-gallon car. Boxsters get 22 to 30 MPG (depending on engine/transmission combination and year) on the highway if maintained and driven moderately but they do take premium. And every time you put your foot in it to hear that sound, the gas pump will extract a price.

One Owner Important?

Not to me.  Both Boxsters I've bought were multi-owner cars before me. Because the 2-seater is a "lifestyle" car and our situations change as we go through life, they tend to be owned for shorter times than sedans, SUVs, etc.  It isn't a reflection on the car when a Boxster is sold but rather an acknowledgment that the owner's situation changed (one of my sellers replaced her Boxster with a Hummer H2 when she had 2 kids and found she didn't drive it, the other was a saleslady who needed to drive clients around and found 2 seats too few, etc).  It is surely a plus to find the one-owner car only serviced at the dealership it was bought from and with perfect records.  But I would absolutely consider a car with multiple owners if it passed a rigorous PPI...I bought 2 of them.

Carfax?

You can get a report from Carfax which will report everything that has been reported to them by the DMVs (Department of Motor Vehicles) or the insurance companies. Unfortunately, not everything gets reported and not everything gets reported accurately. Still, it is better than nothing.

What if it was in an accident?

Carfax is supposed to contain only information on significant accidents. But on a Porsche, a fairly minor accident can trigger the limit and cause the repair to be reported. Example: My car was slid into from behind. If you looked at a picture taken minutes after the accident you absolutely couldn't tell there was any damage. There was no damage to the sheet metal or lights/spoiler/trunk-lid. Just to the bumper cover and the supports underneath it and to the bumperettes. So what did it cost to fix? Well over $3k!!! But would it affect real value? No because it was repaired correctly and the parts now are newer than the car. And the look is flawless. (I also have the "just hit" picture to show the damage and the repair invoice to show a prospective buyer just how trivial a $3k repair can be.)

I guess the moral of this story is every accident has to be examined individually. A reported accident that you have no details on can be a reason to pass on this car, or to be used as talking point to lower the buying price.

The Economic Climate

The realistic price is what people are paying for a car like this one this week.  What the owner paid last year doesn't matter.  What someone else paid for a car like this 6 months ago doesn't matter.  In tough times, Porsche's are the first thing to go and there are desperate sellers who have to have cash now.  Cash now is king.  In good times, sellers hold out for the best deal they can get.  It is up to you to gauge the market and how motivated the seller is to sell today.

 The offer?

Don’t “just gotta have” this one car.  Drive at least several of the car you think you want. There are thousands for sale today!

The best deals you’ll get are ones the seller offers you as you walk out the door.  My standard line is “It is a nice car but I see this issue and that issue which keeps it from being perfect.  Given that and what I see as the real market as proven by these figures, I’d buy it today at $ but the $$ you are asking is just too much based on my research”. 

That line lets them know you are serious and that you are willing to look another day for another car.  Also that you have done your homework and know what the car should be worth. And the $ price I mention is one I would buy at and is an aggressive one for them to meet. I don’t want to go home thinking that I should have asked for a lower price.    

The worst that can happen is they say no and you keep looking. The best is they accept your $ figure and you save a bundle. Most often they will meet you at least half way. And then you have to decide if you want that car at that price. You have saved half but your research says you shouldn't be paying this much. After all, that $ was the figure your research said was fair. So walk out!

I can’t tell you the thousands I’ve saved on everything from cars to fur coats by starting to walk out the door.  You can always walk back in. 

But if they think they might lose a buying customer, they get to shaving the price more to do it now. Or call you in a week and accept your offer.

Marbelheader's thoughts here:

"In view of the fact that I am most likely the least mechanically oriented guy on this board, and I am gaining a lot of technical expertise from everyone here (Thank you!).  I wanted to “give back” something. Yesterday, I posted “opinion of market value” seeking value opinions from the board regarding my recently purchased Boxster S.  Without disclosing my actual purchase price, suffice it to say, my purchase price was lower than any of the figures put forth by board members.  While I do not have mechanical abilities to offer to the board, I do have business/negotiating skills.  So for those interested, I am outlining my approach to purchasing my Boxster. Perhaps those of you currently shopping will find this helpful.

1. Don’t allow yourself any emotional attachment to the car until after the deal is made.  You must be prepared to walk away at any time! In connection with this, do not include any person (wife, girlfriend, children, friends, etc) in the shopping process that will likely get emotional and urge you to act before the appropriate moment.  You must have ice water in your veins during the process (which I know is difficult as a Boxster is such a sexy, emotional car).

2. Set a financial budget for what you want to spend.  Don’t forget to include add on costs such as: your Boxster may be due for a service (in my case I am due for the 15k service and that was factored into my purchase price), extended warranty, any dings or scratches you may want addressed to make the car perfect, insurance (the Boxster may cost more than your previous car to insure), car covers, rented off season garage space, new mats, etc.  Think through all the ancillary costs. 

3. Research prices!  Check out all the car sales sites, Ebay, Auto Trader, Vehix, etc for at least a month and track what cars are listed and sold for.  Pedro's Board is a great source of price info also. I personally did not find the so called “blue books”; KBB, Edmunds, etc particularly helpful.  Going out in the field and gathering price barometers personally was much more accurate. 

4. Prioritize exactly what colors, options you are interested in.  In my case, I was lucky to find the exact color combination and options I desired.  Actually, I was seeking a base Boxster, but I ended up with the S for no extra money (because after negotiating it fell within my price goal). 

5. Have your money ready!  You should be motivating the seller with an immediate cash transaction.  Prior to making the final deal, you should have your money/financing lined up.  Providing the seller has clear title in hand, you should be fully ready to transact immediately. 

6. Go to a Porsche dealer and ask for a VIN# search of warranty service history.  The dealership will view you as a potential service customer and will search the service history for you (free in my case). 

7. Run a Carfax.

8. All the mechanical stuff, have an authorized tech do a pre-purchase inspection."

You make a reasonable offer and the private seller won't budge

There is a human characteristic, well documented by economists, called "the endowment effect" (See The Economist June 21, 2008 Page 95) which says that people value an item irrationally high because they own it when, if they didn't own it, it has been proven they would value it lower.  

If you want that car, you have to either pay the higher price or risk that someone else will. And you have to be willing to wait.

When you are dealing with someone whose pricing is seemingly irrational, its just human nature. Your task is to find the motivated seller who can get beyond this feeling for one's own possessions and make a rational pricing decision.  Here is a case where it pays to know the market and to know why the seller is selling. 

Does he need to sell or is just bored and want to buy another car?

The first rule of negotiating is "there is another car just like this around the corner".  The more you believe that, the firmer your negotiation will be.  And the more you make the seller think that, the more flexible the seller will be if he has to sell.  After all, you may be the rare potential buyer he needs.

Remember, there are hundreds of used Boxsters for sale today.


Buying from a Dealer? 

One thing the dealer has access to is parts.  And he buys them at wholesale. So a trick I use when I buy from a dealer is to write into the deal that I get to buy any parts I want from the dealer (or specific parts) at dealer cost. This costs the dealer nothing but some admin hassle and can save me hundreds when I know I wants some accessories. From new mats to some oil filters, it all adds up. And it is something the dealer is usually willing to give away as it affects the parts department's bottom line, not the sales manager's.

 Why did I pick each of mine?

First Boxster:

Combination of local availability, 45 minute test drive, exact color, close enough in options, price, maintenance history, condition, ability to deal (I like to negotiate), clear title, drive-it-home-ability, it was a beautiful day, I had waited 28 years between Porsches, warranty.

I was not sensitive to year but didn’t want the first year or two, figuring some bug fixes and improvements would have been introduced by the third year. I didn’t have a list of the model year differences like the one above when I was picking. It was a ’99. I got it for about $3k under what others were going for.

Doing it again, would I pick the same car? Yes, I had a glorious summer in a mid-engine convertible P-car for the first time in 32 years (I had a ’70 914 when I was young and single). Zero unscheduled maintenance.

Did I wish I had a stick or a 3.2 or a 2004? Yes.

But the Tiptronic is really much better than the stick for where I mostly drove (I refuse to keep it just for a few weekend romantic drives, I drove it daily through very crowded traffic to work.). I didn't track it or Drivers Education (DE) it. 201 HP was enough to get me in trouble .The S and the newer models were more than I wanted to spend at the time. As it was, it cost me a mink coat in “approval tax” <grin>.

And then I totaled it!!  

And my wonderful wife (the same woman who said the first time “you’ve been looking at the ads for 25 years, why don’t you just go buy one?”) said “you are going to get another one, aren’t you?”.

Second Boxster:

This time I followed more of my own advice. I was torn between a basic S Tiptronic or one with lots of options. It all revolved around the money I was willing to spend. I first looked on eBay to see cars that had not sold but which looked promising. Soon I had a complicated deal going on a car 1,400 miles away that almost worked. Except that the owner didn’t have clear title and needed my cash to pay off his loan. We worked for a week to fashion a way to cure that challenge (with a contract and him giving possession of the car for the first payment but me not paying in total till the title was in my hands), but a local came along and bought it out from under me. The second car was a pretty basic S in very good shape. Noisy Yokohama tires, reasonable options (Sport, heated seats, power seats, Porsche Stability Management, etc. but no OBC (On Board Computer), Litronics (high intensity white headlights) or fancy wheels), more miles (42K) than I’d like. But I’m going to drive it only around 6k miles per year so the miles won’t build up and I decided it was good enough. A sweetener is the ‘01 S was priced (in the dead of winter with snow on the ground, the car covered with road-salt and no sane person interested in buying a convertible) at less than my insurance company had paid me for my totaled ‘99 base. And it had a warranty for 3 years I could pick up if I wanted to which would reduce my risk. Got this one for at least $3.5k under what it would sell for in the spring. And had the fun of driving it the first warm day.

I did a Pre-Purchase Inspection for $240 at an Independent Porsche Mechanic I had used before and trusted . Learned a lot about the car as he found cosmetic issues (scratches) I hadn’t seen and informed me of things like the state of the alignment, air filter, serpentine belt and rotors I would want to deal with before I really drove it.

In the end, it was less than I wanted in options (of course) but was very reasonable for what I was willing to spend.   Didn’t take the warranty. At the end of the first three years, I have spent ~$350 in unscheduled maintenance so I'm way ahead. Learned to do some of the minor maintenance items myself. And made a few conservative modifications.

Extended Warranties

There are varying opinions on buying an extended warranty. 

Pro: The worst thing that can happen to a Porsche is a multi thousand dollar engine or transmission replacement and by buying the warranty you guard against high cost replacements and repairs. By buying the warranty, you'll spend more if nothing goes wrong but lots less if something major does. There are many anecdotes both ways you'll hear in this discussion. 

Con: The person selling you a warranty is going to get paid the selling commission, the dealership will get its take, there are administrative costs and the warranty company’s actual expenses for repairing vehicles. This “actual repair costs” has been reported to be only several hundred dollars while the total cost to the car-buyer is thousands. Plus everyone is going to make a profit. And they don't cover everything anyway, there are always hidden gotchas.

My take on the subject: I looked at buying one when I bought my second Boxster because it came with an extended warranty I could assume for $50 or the seller could get a $3,000 refund and change me $3,000 less for the car. I took the lower initial cost route. I buy none of those extended warranties on anything I buy as they all are ridiculously overpriced relative to the average expected repair costs. I only insure myself against expenses I can't afford to pay for out of savings (life insurance, auto insurance, house insurance, personal liability). I figure over my lifetime, I’ve saved tens of thousands of dollars by not buying the extended warranties and seldom have I had to shell out for the worst-case repair on any item. So far, on my 2 Boxsters, I’m several thousand $ ahead by not buying extended warranties. (On the one I refused the warranty on, the  years have now elapsed and I'm $2,300 ahead.) Your luck could vary.

If you do buy the warranty:

  • Read it three times before signing. The actual warranty contract, not the sales literature. If they won't give you the contract to read, walk away.
  • Compare the list of problem areas on Porsches with the list of covered items. Seals covered? Electronics? Suspension parts?
  • Ask the dealer and at least one independent mechanic in your area their experience with the company. Some companies are low pay, slow pay and find excuses to call things uncovered. Same don't.
  • Compare the warranty you are offered with one from a big reputable company that markets direct and thus has lower selling costs.
  • Investigate the financial soundness of the company actually backing the warranty. Many are hidden behind shell companies whose soundness looks good because they are the marketing arm of the group but the real liability for repair expenses on the policies they sell may be held in a less well financed company which goes out of business just when you need them to pay your claim. 

Consumer Reports had an article on this subject in the April 2008 (page 26-29) devoted to the known statistics about them.  Car and Driver Dec 2009 Page 34.  Horrible statistical bet but then everyone has a different risk tolerance.

More on this subject at this link.

Buying a car with a lien on it

A lien means the seller owes the bank or finance company money. It also means that the seller can’t deliver to you a clear title. And part of what you pay for is the clear title. If you don’t have that, you can’t register and tag the car. Here is how I approached that problem. I assumed that the seller was honest and wanted the sale to go through. I proposed a contract between the seller and the buyer spelling out exactly what would happen and what the penalties would be if they didn’t happen. We signed the contract with witnesses and both had original copies of the contract. I gave the seller just enough to pay off the lien in a cashiers check made out to  the finance company. I took possession of the car and all sets of keys but the seller maintained ownership of and insurance on the car and I didn’t drive it until I had received the title. I actually stored it under cover. When the finance company released the lien and I had the signed title and the lien release in writing from the finance company, I paid off the rest of the selling price, we signed the contract as completed and both kept a copy, and I got all the records, booklets and other stuff that went with the sale and I was then free to get a title in my name and register the car so I could drive it (after insuring it, of course). The key to this deal working is a cooperative seller.  And while waiting for the lien pay-off to clear, while she had my $, I had her car. So we both had leverage and reason to complete the deal.  She wanted the rest of her money and I wanted the title.

Mark W comments:

"I've bought and sold many cars with liens and it's really a fairly simple transaction. In the case where I'm buying a car with a lien I always have the check for the entire sales price of the car made out to the lien holder. I then forward the check along with a copy of the bill of sale to the lien holder via overnight service and request return overnight service. The lien holder will forward a check for the difference between the payoff and my check, that's how the seller gets their money. I then execute a bill of sale with the seller and take possession of the car. If I'm in a state that will allow a temporary registration (temp tag) then I get one, otherwise the car is stored until the title is released and I can get it registered. (actually I've driven the car on the owners tag with a copy of the bill of sale and not had a problem for at least 14 days). I ALWAYS have an insurance binder placed on the car the day I hand over money. That covers me for any acts of god as well as unforeseen issues from the seller like insufficient or lapsed insurance. In the case where I'm the seller I allow the new owner to use my old plates until the title comes in. I then exchange the title for the plates after I receive it. The most difficult part of this side of the transaction is the title transfer. You have to trust that the seller will sign over the title in a timely manner and overnight it to you. 95% of the time this isn't an issue. In the rare cases where there is an issue you can always get a new title issued in your state if you can prove that you are the rightful owner of the car. It's a pain in the a** to do but it can be done (dealers do it all the time).

Now, if you are buying the car with a loan you can usually get your finance company to work as your agent. In this case you issue a power of attorney to your loan company and all transactions between the seller and their lien holder are performed by you loan officer. In many cases they can also issue a temporary registration. A lot of banks / loan companies require you to have them act as your agent to insure their interest is covered.

In the reverse I expect the same from the buyer. I will always ask for 2 checks but I'll accept the deal either way. In the case where there is more money owed than the sales price I ask the seller to provide me with certified funds in the amount of the excess and I have a single check issued for the payoff amount. This prevents any delay in the case where the funds need to clear or one of the checks doesn't get posted (I've seen it happen). Many loan companies will also require this before they fund your loan."

Buying a car out of state

The cars in the ads always look better than they are. A variation of the grass is greener theory of life. So lets say you find the perfect car in an ad and talk to the seller and you are seriously interested. What then?  Consider asking on either a national forum like www.pedrosboard.com or one of the local Porsche oriented forums if someone would swing by and take a look. I’ve had someone do that for me and I’ve done it for others. A Boxster owner may well pick up subtle things you might not notice. This look-see is not a pre-purchase, expect to pay for that. But it is a quick once over to tell you if it is worth spending money to come see it, get a PPI done on it, or if it is better to keep looking. Don’t ask for a lot of these, we like to drive our own cars, after all. But if you are serious about the car and the price and the deal sounds reasonable, see if a owner will help you, we like to share our passion with prospective owners (and go for rides in other cars).

Also talk to the seller and find out what sort of drive-away tags are available to help you get the car home. Maybe you get them in the selling state. Maybe you have to buy them in yours. In this respect, the dealer is probably easier to deal with but the private seller may be motivated and priced lower so it will be worth your while to have a bit more hassle for the lower price.

When you pick it up

Go over the accessories, booklets, etc list above. Make sure they are all there.

Look at the tires, make sure they weren’t switched. I once picked up a car at night and drive it 500 miles only to discover they had switched the tires to baldies.

Look over the car again. Make sure nothing has changed from when you first looked at it. When I bought my first Boxster, I drove it, left a deposit and went home to get someone to drive my car back. Left the car in the seller's driveway. Her kids were out riding their bikes and scraped the paint on one of the doors. We had to make an adjustment to the purchase price. Another time, buying a used VW, the dealer switched tires between the time I bought it and the time I picked it up.

Good luck and don’t let all this scare you, they are as fun as they look and surprisingly practical.

I've used mine for an almost daily driver. I don’t do snow or big rains because of the type of tires I choose and the width. I have a CRV for the bad stuff.

What if it doesn’t have the original engine?

The Boxster is not destined to be a collector's car. Too many built, not enough special about them. It is what we call a “driver”.  Some unknown portion of Boxsters have had their engines replaced by Porsche with new or rebuilt engines from Germany.  This happens for several reasons. Some design defects in the early 2  model years caused catastrophic failures in some engines. If it is still running, it probably has been replaced or is one where it isn’t going to happen.  And all the Boxster (and other Porsche 6-cyl horizontally opposed water cooled engines) may suffer an oil leak around the Rear Main Seal (RMS) area. An unknown percentage experience this with stick shift cars reported more likely to experience it than the Tiptronic equipped cars. Porsche has gone through at least 3 redesigns of the RMS itself and has replaced some engines if repeated RMS replacements don’t cure the problem. Some additional failures in the Intermediate Shaft area have also required replacement of the entire engine. No one but Porsche knows the percentages of cars each issue may happen to and they aren't talking.

No one is going around checking engine serial numbers on Boxsters like they are on some of the other Porsche models.

So you now own a Boxster …

Manuals

Workshop manuals are available from Porsche but cost many hundreds. They are also available on CD.

A company named Bentley Publishers has come out with a service manual that sells on Amazon for around $62.

If you are missing owners manuals, they are available on eBay at times. Every Boxster totaled makes a set available. They are also available online.

Get a parts list (called the "PET") by going to http://www.porsche.com/usa/accessoriesandservices/porscheservice/originalparts/originalpartscatalogue/.  It is free!  This will give you a 400 page .pdf file from which pages can be printed as needed. (This address changes often as they reorganize their web site so you may have to hunt around on the site.)

There are a couple of things I’d suggest.

Call Porsche at 1-800-767-7243 with your VIN (on dash in front of driver, view through windshield) and register your ownership of the car for purposes of receiving legal notices (recalls) and sales literature.

Boxsters have their radiators low down on each side behind the radiator covers with not much to screen out debris. It is a good thing to periodically (every 2-3 years) remove the front bumper and clean in around and between the air-conditioner radiator and the engine radiators. Something you can do with the help of a friend to hold the other edge of the bumper so it doesn’t get it’s paint scraped. Some have suggested at least using a leaf blower to blow out what you can every spring

Boxsters have drains in the top-storage compartment to the rear of the seats that, if they get clogged, can cause water to come into the cockpit and guess where the computer and other electronics are located…under the seats where the water will collect. That happens and it is big bucks. A good idea to make sure they are flowing freely. And easy to do yourself thing.

Because of the locking mechanisms for the front trunk, battery run-down is big trouble. There are postings which tell you what to do if the battery fails and you can’t get to it to jump start the car.  Sometimes it involves jumping the car through the fuse box, sometimes through the lighter socket, sometimes pulling on the cable by getting under the bumper or under the wheel-well covering. All require preparation on your part. Print one of the postings out and carry it in the car. Practice it on a nice warm sunny day. Check your battery water level every 6 months or (better) get an Optima battery when you need one.

(I borrowed this thought from Cecil who was replying on www.ppbb.com to a new Boxster owner who had 2 other cars, both front wheel drive. But it is good advice for any new car owner.) The tendency of a 1st time owner of a car like this is to think the grip is so great they will never get into trouble with it. This thought is usually followed be the car landing in a ditch or the wheel banging into a curb sideways after the rear does let go. I would suggest that at the very least you take this car to a big empty parking lot early one Sunday morning and see what it takes to cause the car to start spinning and what it feels like just before it lets go. A rainy day is a good day to try this exercise for the 1st time.

And lastly, use www.pedrosboard.com as a resource.  There are an incredible number of knowledgeable people there to help you and many past postings contain the answers top your questions. PPBB consists of a current forum and another page where the archives and classifieds are located. Both the current (maybe the last week or so) and the archives (years and years) can be searched using keywords to try and help you locate the exact advice on what brand of tires, what aftermarket battery fits, how to do that maintenance item, who are good independent shops in your area, etc.

RennTech is another very worthwhile online source of information. 

After all, 90% of what I’m telling you here came somehow from those sources digested over the years of reading other postings.

See you in the twisties…drive safely.


Selling a Boxster


Corrections, suggestions, etc are invited to mike.focke @ g mail.com.

If you still have a question after reading all this, email me. I'll try to help though I'm certainly not an expert on everything, more of a compiler of information.