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The PiperBoxster guide to buying a Boxster!

Ok, so its taken a little while to getting this part of the web site together. But I wanted to make sure the rest of the web site was fleshed out before beginning on this section. This is because as you will see I will include links and references to other parts of the web site.

 

Which model? Boxster or Cayman?

Its important to know what model of Boxster you want to buy, before you go looking. There are four models or types of Boxster to buy. The Boxster (2.5 or 2.7 engine) the Boxster S (3.2 or 3.4 engine), Cayman (2.7 engine) or the Cayman S (3.4 engine)

So the first question needs to be, do you want the car to be a convertible model or a coupe model?

If you answer this question that you want a convertible, then the answer is that you need a Boxster or Boxster S.
However if you answered that you want a coupe, you want a Cayman or Cayman S.
Simple huh? Well, there is a third option on this question, you want both. If you want a coupe in Winter and a convertible in summer, then you need a Boxster or Boxster S and may choose to buy a hard top for your Boxster (Available new from Porsche or used on ebay etc.)
Another option would be one of the hard top conversions that turn a Boxster into a Cayman! For these look in the options available in the body styling page.
So now you have decided between a Boxster or a Cayman, the next question is..
What is a Boxster S (or a Cayman S) ?

The S in short means "Sport". The main differences are bigger brakes and a more powerful engine. An S version comes with either a 3.2 or 3.4 litre engine, whereas the non S cars have a 2.5 or a 2.7 engine. Click on the "Engines" button on the left of the screen to see the power differences. The S version also comes with larger cross drilled brakes for increased braking efficiency and brakes that are less likely to fade on a track. Click on the "Brakes" button for more information on the differences between the S and non S brakes.

 

What paint colours are available?

Now you have picked which type of car, you need to know what colours the Boxsters and Cayman were available in. You will also notice in Boxster or Cayman classified ads that owners will describe their cars colour sometimes by a name, such as "Iris Blue" or "Polar Silver", on our "paint code" page you will notice that we have listed all the colours that the Boxster and Cayman were available in. This will help you get an idea of what each colour looks like. We are also building a database of actual photo's of the fuel filler cap on each of these models so that visitors can see each colour in a real world picture. It may be worth printing a copy of the paint code page so that you can take it with you when you view a Boxster, so that you can compare the paint code on the car, with the actual colour the car is painted in. If you find that the paint code page describes a colour as being a light blue, yet the car is a dark blue, it may be worth investigating further to make sure the car is not a stolen car or an accident repaired car and painted in a different colour.

 

What optional extras are available?

The Boxster and Cayman have been available with a vast mind blowing array of factory options. Ranging from items you may be familiar with such as cruise control, through to satellite navigation and beyond. For a complete list of available factory optional extras visit our "option code" page. Its worth printing out the option code page and taking it along as you view cars, as you might find that some of the options that are installed on the car were not fitted at the factory, or you may find that the options that were fitted are no longer there (some sellers can often be tempted to keep items as a memento of their car!)

 

What is a high mileage?

With some Porsche models I have owned, it has not been important if a car has high mileage, its only been important that the car has been serviced on a regular basis. A 1989 944 for example with 200,000 miles shown on the odometer, is not something to panic about. But this may not be true of the Boxster, where its a new enough car with enough available to try to buy one with a reasonable mileage. With some cars you will hear people say that 12,000 miles per year of age for a car is average and I would tend to go along with this. So a 10 year old Boxster with 120,000 miles should not be a bad purchase, however another 10 year old Boxster with only 50,000 miles will often be a better purchase. If you see a car with low mileage, it may be worth perhaps 10% more than a high mileage example.

 

How do I trace its history?

Most countries of the world have a service available, either run by the government, the insurance industry or by private companies, who will trace the history of a car for you if you pay them a small fee. In the UK the most reliable service of this kind is HPI. For a very small fee, HPI will tell you details such as if the car has ever been a insurance total loss, if its reported stolen or has finance outstanding on it. Its well worth paying for this service as it will alert you to a problem car. Typically in the UK a "catC" car has at sometime had an accident which has proven to be uneconomical to repair. if you have a HPI check performed on a Boxster or Cayman and it proves to be registered as a CAT-C loss, it may not be the end of the world, as a Boxster or Cayman may become a CAT-C car for something as simple as engine damage caused by the engine overheating following a rock breaking a radiator (I have experienced this myself) if the total cost of repairs total 75% of the car value, an insurance company will register it as CAT-C. Typically I would recommend you pay 25% less for a CAT-C car as when you make any insurance claim in the future an insurance company will also regard it as being worth 25% less than a non insurance loss car. If you view a Cat-c car, make sure you can be shown proof of why it was registered as a cat-c car. Likewise, if the car is shown as having finance outstanding, make sure you see evidence that it has been paid by the seller before proceeding to buy such a car.

 

What to look for when viewing the car?
With a Boxster or Cayman, you need to look for several details when first looking around the car.
Panel Gaps When viewing a Boxster, have a look around all the panel gaps, the gaps around the outside of the doors, rear luggage lid, front luggage cover etc. They should all be equal and symmetrical. Normally around 5mm should be about the right panel gap. After you have inspected a couple of cars you should get an idea of what the gaps should look like.
fine cracks in bumpers (fenders) Typically, any signs of cracks in paintwork on the bumpers may be a sign that a car has had a less than careful owner when parking the car, these fine hairline cracks in the paintwork can grow if not repaired and repairs could be expensive.
Stone chips Typically a car with 100,000 miles, unless the front bumper has been repainted, will have a light peppering of stone chips. Without this you may need to ask why has the bumper been painted. On the other hand, a 30,000 mile car with a heavily peppered front bumper with many stone chips may be a sign that the previous owner used to thrash the car and was a bit of a tailgater (the closer you drive to other cars back bumpers the more your car is likely to accumulate stone chips caused by stones thrown up by the car in front.
The magnet test When you view a car, take a magnet along with you, a fridge magnet should be good enough. Wrap it in a small piece of cloth so it does not scratch the cars paintwork, and glide the magnet over the bodywork, if there are substantial amounts of body filler in the panels anywhere, as you glide over that part the magnet will stop pulling towards the bodywork, giving you a clue where to look more closely for signs of accident damage. Of course the bumpers are plastic, so the magnet will not stick there.
The alarm test A faulty alarm on a Boxster or Cayman can be expensive to rectify and can be VERY annoying when it wakes you up in the early hours of the morning for no apparent reason. When viewing a car, with all the doors and lids closed, as you arm and disarm the alarm (using the buttons on the key) the alarm should NOT cause the car to beep. If it does then there could be a faulty alarm unit or even a faulty sensor, either way, not cheap to diagnose and repair. If it does not beep, leave the rear luggage cover open and try the test again, it SHOULD beep, if not then the alarm system may be muted (by disconnecting the alarm horn) so that people no not realise that the alarm is faulty.
Carpet test Reach behind and under the front seats, if the carpet feels even slightly damp, it could be suffering from a leaking roof or even blocked drains. In either case the leaking water may not be the only problem as the alarm control unit lives under the passenger seat and therefore can be damaged if there has been a leak.
Tyres
Check the tyres, especially for uneven wear, if the tyres seem to be more worn on the inside edge compared with the outside edge, or the outside edge more than the inside, it can be a sign of track control arms requiring replacement or a suspension alignment problem. Expect to pay around £180 per track control arm plus a couple of hours installation per arm, plus a 4 wheel alignment (around £200) to repair this, plus the cost of new tyres.
Brake disks

Through the alloy wheel spokes you should be able to see the brake disks. If the brake disks look to have a grooved, pitted or even discoloured appearance, they need to be replaced as it can be a sign that the disks have either worn down too far, have been overheated or have been allowed to rust up at some point due to lack of use.

 

What to look for during the test drive?

Squeaking suspension During the test drive, try to drive on a bumpy road slowly or even over traffic calming speed humps. If the suspension squeaks as the car travels over the bumps, it can again be a sign of worn suspension track control arms.
Rattles from exhaust This could be caused by something expensive such as the car needing new catalytic converters or silencers, however more often than not its simply caused by the exhaust heat shields becoming loose due to corrosion. Replacement of cat heat shields usually is very cheap.
50-80mph vibration High speed vibration that you can feel through the steering is usually caused by the front wheels being imbalanced. (cheap fix) look for black marks where stick on wheel balancing weights have fallen off as this could be the cause. Or it could be caused by a buckled wheel or damaged tyre, which can be more expensive. If accompanied by a squeak at low speeds as you drive over bumps it could be caused by weak track control arm bushes.
Hard braking During the test drive, try to find an opportunity to use the brakes hard. I know it does not seem to be the done thing when driving someone else's car, but you need to know the brakes and ABS (anti lock brakes) work correctly. The car should not skid, squeal the tyres and the steering should not pull to one side or the other during braking (unless the road surface is very uneven or covered with slippery leaves (even then the ABS should compensate)
Squeaking roof During a test drive, if the soft top on a Boxster has an annoying squeak it probably just needs lubrication with a light silicone oil where the rubbers join, or another tip is to use a dusting of talcum powder on the rubber joints.
Performance You really must test drive as many of whatever model you intend on buying before you commit to any one of them so that you know if the car is performing well during acceleration compared with others you have driven. In particular if you drive a car which seems slower than one of an equal specification it could be sign that the car is overdue a particular maintenance task or that the maf sensor is faulty.
Windows open During the test drive its important to make sure you occasionally open and close the windows and have the roof closed, this is because some noises you need to look for you will either only hear with the windows open or closed.
Bass rumble from behind you If you hear a deep rumbling or "Wawawawawa" noise when driving around 40mph this can be a good sign that the rear wheel bearings require replacement. Normally this can cost around £250 per side to have rectified.
Other wheel bearing noises Another kind of noise that can be a sign of wheel bearing problem is a noise sounding like an electric vehicle (UK people will know the sound of a milk float) following you at speeds between 25 and 50 mph.
Rough idle If the car your driving, either before or after the test drive has an idle which is rough or anything but smooth, it could be a sign of a variocam problem, maf sensor faulty or even an air oil separator problem.
Engine check light If during the test drive you notice the engine check lamp is illuminated its recommended that there could be a serious problem with the engine.
After the test drive

With the engine still running, open the rear luggage compartment and look around the coolant cap (blue) for any condensation, even on the luggage cover above it. this can be a sign of the coolant cap requiring replacement. While your there unscrew the oil filler cap, once unscrewed from its thread it should pop up, if it does not, and if its hard to lift it off due to a vacuum holding it in place, it could be a sign of a air oil vapour separator problem. Try to park the car on a curb so you can look under the back bumper to look for any oil leaks. In an ideal world the engine should be clean and free of any oil drips or stains.

 

Pre Purchase Inspection?

Once you have your heart set on a particular Boxster or Cayman, I strongly recommend a full pre purchase inspection is performed by an independent Porsche specialist or main dealer (my advice would be an independent) Ideally an inspection should consist of at least 1.5 hours of time in the workshop and a half hour test drive and plugging the car into a diagnostic computer to interrogate the cars electrical controllers for faults. £200 or more can be reasonable for this. Another good idea would be to pay the specialist to investigate any further issues or suspicions they have during the inspection.

 

Payment?

My advice to buying a car from a private seller is to only accept payment into your bank by cash or bankers draft. Go there together to pay the money in with both the buyer and seller having a receipt for the exchange. This can ensure that both the buyer and seller is protected from any future problems (stolen bankers drafts, bounced cheque's, fake bank notes). If your buying from a dealer, if its possible, pay using a credit card. Most credit cards (at least in the UK) have a system of protection, that should any purchase bought on the cards become faulty and the dealer not being helpful, the card issuer will refund your money.

 

Once its yours...
Once you own your Boxster or Cayman, its important to enjoy it and I am still here to help with that too. Use the web site as your reference book to your Boxster or Cayman. We have several sections regarding modification, ownership, maintenance and even social enjoyment of your Boxster or Cayman.
     
Send comments and ideas to web at piperboxster.com