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A bit of a puzzle on my '98 986

 
Old 06-24-2019, 07:53 AM
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kalripken
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Default A bit of a puzzle on my '98 986

Sorry guys, kind of a long story but necessary for the background. First post so feel free to yell at me if it's too long! Or call me out on being an idiot if I making mountains out of mole hills.

A few months ago, I had to take in my '98 986 to the shop due to transmission (tiptronic) issues. Turns out the transmission was leaking oil and the oil pan needed to be resealed and fluids filled. While I was there, I brought up that my hood and trunk release switches were both locked out and I hadn't gotten around to checking them out. Happens all the time and is a pretty easy fix. They asked where I was at in terms of servicing the vehicle and I told them I was getting close to an oil change (due in about 2,000 miles) and that we might as well do it now, but everything else had been done within the past 3,000 miles and shouldn't be due for a while, but no harm in checking it all out. They said they would give it all a look and with a handshake and a thanks, I was out of there feelin pretty good.

Sounds simple, but the problem is, it took nearly a week and a half to get information and estimate for the repairs needed. I'm talking dropped the car off on a Thursday and didn't hear back until the the next Monday eleven days later. Now I had never been to this shop before, and had to go out of town anyway, so I was understanding every time I called them to check on what the hold up was. I wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt and they claimed they were busy- for record the shop is nearby my home and they do a lot of business, so I thought nothing of it. However since I live just a mile up the street they're on, I passed by their shop multiple times over the course of that following week. And on multiple occasions I saw my car lifted in one of their garages, which to me indicates they were working on it (FISHY). Yet still no estimate or information on what had gone wrong.

Here's where things get interesting. I finally get an email for the repairs needed. See below (or skip for rest of story) copied invoice:

________________________________________________________________________ _________________________________
Transmission:
Low in fluid due to leak. Customer was advised transmission may have internal damage at this point but will not be able to find out until transmission oil pan is resealed and fluid level is refilled to specs. Parts needed $125.77 Trans Filter and Gasket Kit (102043011) and $107.40 Transmission fluid (00004320700) 5 Quarts at $21.48/pq

Labor: $490.00
Parts: $233.17



Hood and Trunk Release Switches:
CUSTOMER STATES:HOOD RELEASE AND TRUNK RELEASE SWITCHES DO NOT WORK. CHECK AND ADVISE. upon inspection found complete trunk handle release mechanism is faulty and needs to be replaced. customer was advised. as far as the handle assembly for the trunk and hood release, It a Germany only item so if you would like order this it will take about 7 to 10 business days to arrive. Trunk / Hood Handle mechanism $654.87

Labor: $280
Parts: $654.87

Service:

CUSTOMER STATES:CHECK WHAT SERVICE VEHICLE NEEDS.upon inspection found vehicle in need of major service. customer was advised. renew engine oil, oil filter, drain plug washer, replace spark plugs, air filter, pollen filter, renew brake fluid, renew steering fluid, reset service reminder, clear faults in engine computer, top coolant and washer fluid levels, top off all other fluid levels. clean sunroof/top/a/c drains, lubricate door hinges and test charging system. set tire pressure to manufacture specs. mobil 1 0W-40 mobil1 7.00/$10.90=$76.30; drain plug washer 1.00/$1.60=$1.60; oil filter 911/boxster 1.00/$24.70=24.70; Air filter 1.00/$40.88=40.88; Cabin filter 1.00/$53.90=53.90; Spark plug Boxster 6.00/$20.70=$124.20; brake fluid MOTUL RBF600 1.00/$25.00= $25.00; steering fluid 1.00/$25.65=$25.65

Labor: $560.00
Parts: $372.23


BATTERY:
upon inspection found battery not holding charge. customer was advised battery needs to be replaced. battery has 4 year warranty. New H7 VAR Battery 1.00/$354.98= $354.98

Labor: $70.00
Parts: $354.98

Breakdown of Total Quote:
Labor: $1,400.00
Parts: $1,615.25
Environmental: $80.77
Shop Supplies $60.31
Subtotal Charges $141.08
Tot. Before Sales Tax $3,156.33
Total Sales Tax $153.45
TOTAL: $3.309.78
________________________________________________________________________ _________________________________

Now I'm no mechanic, and I'm probably on the lower end of the totem pole of the DIYer's, but I was incredulous. Not only do I wait for 11 days to hear anything about my car- while being told that my car hadn't been looked at the entire time while I can see it being worked on (FISHY)- but I went in for a ATF leak and get an estimate for a new battery (mine was a little over a year old), spark plugs (3500 miles on them), brake and steering fluid (3500 miles on them), and nearly a grand to fix the non-electrical '98 trunk/hood latch (can be fixed with a thin flathead screwdriver).

Now I'm a pretty clear headed individual and don't really make scenes, so after viewing the estimate, I give them a call and walk through the invoice. I tell them that I want to focus on the the transmission issue to make sure the leak didn't damage anything further before focusing on preventative or cosmetic issues. The service manager seems to be pretty amicable and receptive to this and agrees that we should prioritize the transmission over everything else. So we agree to have the transmission repair done and the oil change, and push everything back till later since the transmission was the main focus and nothing else was a legitimate issue, just their recommended servicing.

To be honest, by this time I thought they were trying to rip off someone they thought they could pull a fast one on, but by this point I was already out of town and didn't really want to deal with any arguments or taking the car to a different shop after paying for their diagnostics while I was out of town, so I OK the repairs.

This is where the puzzle begins. Another week later, my car is finally ready. 18 days from drop off for an oil change and the transmission work. They give me a call, tell me the transmission is shifting gears well- that it was a little dicey at first but ran well after being driven around for a few miles and there was no major damage done to it from the leaks and while low on fluid. They state the car is ready to be picked up so I head on over, pay for the repairs (Transmission and oil change= $990), get the keys, and hop in to go on with my day.

Not sure the SOP others on here abide by, but maybe I should've checked the car out before I paid?

I hop in the car...start the engine...and I immediately notice my instrument cluster doesn't turn on. Analog and digital on the tachometer not working, analog and digital on the speedometer not working, no odometer, tiptronic lights in safe mode (alternate blinking from D to 4), spoiler warning light on, airbag light on.

I immediately hop out, go back inside and tell the service manager who I had dealt with the entire time the issue. He seems confused and comes out with me to inspect. He brings the mechanic that worked on the vehicle over and they speak to one another in spanish, and my entry level spanglish doesn't keep up. The service manager tells me that the instrument cluster had been like that since the repair was done and that the mechanic said that they were unable to get it to work, however the car drives fine. For record when I came in only the tiptronic safe mode lights were occurring.

I'm like WTF do you mean the car is fine, I literally have no idea what speed I'm going, what gear I'm in, or if any of the other dash lights even work. The service manager and mechanic agree that that is an issue and tell me that they believe that it is an issue with the cluster, that they go bad with age, and that I will most likely have to have it replaced. I tell them that it was working fine when I dropped the car off, never had an issues before, and that it must've been something that occurred due to the work they did on it. We talk a little more about it, and I tell them that I want to drive the car around for a bit and look at it myself before I have them take another look (NO CHANCE) at the cluster. They agree and say that sometimes the computer works things out after driving around for a bit and if not, come back.

I start to leave, and this is where things get even more ridiculous. The service manager runs out and stops me. He tells me that the mechanic informed him that I have their battery in my car. WHAT? I ask why and he informs me that my battery couldn't hold enough voltage and that they had to switch it out with theirs so they can carry out their repairs. So what happened to my battery? He tells me that since it had gone bad they threw it out. By now I'm finally speechless. What do you mean you replaced my battery, got rid of it, put yours in, didn't notify me of any of this, completed the transaction, caused and ignored additional damage to the vehicle, and practically let me drive off the lot before telling me that your battery was in it? And batteries don't get thrown out.

I literally don't know what to do by now, so I ask, well what next? He asks me if I want to keep their battery, which I of course have to pay for, or get my own battery and return theirs. On the spot, I tell him that I decided that I'm going to drive the car around to see how the transmission does, take a look at the cluster, see how the car runs, and go from there. We agree to follow up in a week or so to see how everything holds up and part ways, though it's pretty clear that both parties just wanted to get rid of each other.

I haven't been back there since. They haven't followed up and asked about their battery. I have no intention of ever having them do any work on my car ever again.

In that time, the car has driven fine in terms of the tiptronic transmission shifting in automatic. However, the problems with the cluster still remain, with some additional issues. If you've made it this far, this is the main puzzle of this post. I have had no success in getting the cluster to work, while also being introduced to new issues as I believe the problem lies in something electrical that was most likely caused by whatever the hell they did to destroy my battery that they took over three weeks to cover up. Call me crazy, but I have a feeling that whatever the problem is with the battery having to be replaced and instrument cluster going bad was caused by them and that the length of time it took to get a quote, the time it took to get simple repairs done, and the overcharging and ridiculous mark up on my estimate for repairs needed all go hand in hand in them screwing something up and trying to cover it up and make back whatever they had to spend to get it right.

Or I actually am crazy and this is all unrelated and the 986 is just being itself and these things happen.

So, here are the issues.

Issues:
Instrument Cluster
No speedo, no tachometer, no odometer, no clock/oil level, spoiler warning light on/switch doesn't work.
Tiptronic safety mode lights on, however gears shift normally and are not in just 4th as that would indicate.
- Note: when key is turned to the 2 position in the ignition, all cluster lights are working. All go away and work fine except spoiler light.
- Note: airbag light and seat belt codes cleared by durametric scanner conducted by independent shop owner (that rocks btw), haven't returned since.
- Note: when vehicle is off, but headlights are on, the red gear light on the cluster shows to be in drive and not park...can't remember if it is even supposed to be glowing in park when the car is off.

Cigarette Lighter
No longer works, won't heat. Light turns off if lighter is pushed in.

A/C
Doesn't blow cold, even when on low and turned all the way up

Radiators
Not sure if they're running. With AC on and turned up, can't feel anything blowing out of them, but at times while driving I will hear fans running. Temperature gauge has never gone too far past 180, not sure if warning lights work.

Coolant
Appears to be leaking. Hoses and tank were replaced a couple years ago. No evidence of leak in trunk. No evidence of leak in engine oil. Minimal leak under vehicle, vehicle could be dumping. Is coolant leak related to radiators/ac not working- lead to overheating and expanding coolant that gets dumped?

Battery
Good guy mechanic that cleared the airbag light and seat belt codes said that the battery voltage was low. This was the new battery that bad guy mechanics left in my car. Car had sat for a few days before I took it to him, and the scanner read that the alternator was working fine and after a few laps around the neighborhood voltage was looking good. Checked it again two weeks later, but had driven it daily in that time, and battery read good again. To me this means that something is not turning off and is draining the battery if it sits for too long.


Attempted Remedies to no avail
As of right now, the car drives fine and no other codes are showing up. Other than the spoiler warning, which is no surprise as the spoiler is activated by the speed and it appears the sensors aren't working properly. In the time since I got my car from bad guy shop: I have checked all the fuses, none were blown and all worked fine. Still, I changed B1,B2, B8, B9, B10, C8, C10, D5, D6, D8, E1, E7. None remedied any of the above issues.

I tried to turn on without B1 fuse in, turn off, put in, turn back on to no avail. I tried to disconnect the negative battery cable with key in igntion, put ignition in 1, foot on brake to bleed power to cluster, turn back to off, reconnect negative cable to no avail.

I removed the instrument cluster and checked to see if all connectors were properly seated, disconnected them and reseated and locked them into place just in case and that also didn't work.

Next, I changed out the Ignition Switch as many of the symptoms I have were mirrored in the symptoms that a faulty ignition switch can cause. Again, no dice, though I did notice the ignition seems to work better/less loose. Certain lights that I forgot existed (ashtray, power window switches, cigarette lighter light) all work again, though I could be imagining that they hadn't worked and am looking for things that the switch could have fixed.

I am officially out of ideas. I've thought about the relays, but I know nothing about relays.

What happened to the electricals of the car? Are any of these issues interrelated? Can they be traced back to whatever happened when the transmission was worked on? Is there a fix outside of replacing the cluster? Would replacing the cluster even solve the problems? What is going on?!?!

If anyone can solve this puzzle, or give advice on how to proceed with the whole situation, please do so!

Thanks everyone, and I apologize again for the length. Any and all help is so appreciated!
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Old 06-24-2019, 12:52 PM
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Boy, oh boy, oh boy, oh boy!

First of all, never, ever go to that shop again.

Secondly, if they did the work right the prices aren't out of line. This is what you pay for work on a Porsche if you don't do it yourself.

Thirdly, spend $100 and purchase used issues of "101 Projects for your Porsche Boxster" and the Bentley "Porsche Boxster Service Manual" and just speed read through them so you know what they cover. You can also get bootleg copies of the shop manuals on CD in eBay.

The way I keep my Boxster ownership affordable is by:

A) Do all work that I can DIY myself. You will be amazed how much you can do with the above documents and the right tools. The first major problem will pay for all the tools!
B) If I am in a rush, the work is dirty or just requires tooling I don't have there's a trusted garage that I take it to.
C) If I mess something up and realize I have taken on too much or I know its beyond my capability I may also take it to a Porsche independent mechanic
D) If I win the lottery jackpot ir its something only a Porsche service center can do I;ll take it there.

In three years of Boxster ownership I have done C once because I messed up a caliper and I had to get ready for a DE, The rest of the time it has been A.

Hope this helps!
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Old 06-24-2019, 01:05 PM
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Oh, another thing.

Parts:

A) If the part is non-critical and it is broken I always buy used. Like your trunk lid release assembly. No point in buying that new. On the Boxster forums you will find people parting Boxsters all the time. They are typically great to buy from. I am picking up a set of Boxster S springs for $50 next Sunday.
B) If the part is critical or it is wear and tear I look for OEM parts. Porsche sources most of their parts from outside vendors, Brakes are Brembo, electrical stuff is usually Bosch, etc.
C) If the part is unobtainable from any outher source I'll buy original Porsche
D) Be very, very careful buying from eBay and Amazon hosted vendors. There's a lot of fake stuff out there made in a country that uses strange characters.

Another problem you may run into with eBay and Amazon hosted vendors is that you order a part and its not what you ordered that shows up. My most recent experience was ordering a washing machine hose from Amazon. A dryer heating element showed up. I returned it for a replacement with the correct part. I received the same dryer heating element. Both boxes had labels saying washing machine hose on the outside. I asked for my money back.
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Old 06-24-2019, 03:10 PM
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Thanks for the response! I'll absolutely look into the 101 projects, and the previous owner actually gave me a copy of the porsche technical manual when I bought it a couple years ago. And I absolutely agree with you that the prices are in line with independent porsche mechanics, my qualms with it was that many of the things they quoted me on were unnecessary.

For example, and I forgot to include this in my long ramble, in regards to the hood/trunk release latch, I merely asked them to take a look at it because they had jammed up and I hadn't gotten around to giving it a good look. They quoted me for an entire replacement- which I declined- and on the very same day I picked the car up I was able to unjam them myself so I can get to the battery. Didn't even have to go in there with a thin flathead and move the locking cam that was probably causing it, just put my foot down on the floorboard and gave it a good hard yank. Greased up the insides and haven't had an issue since. Saved myself $900 on something they told me was unfixable and needed to be replaced, even after mentioning that I believed the locking cam was just stuck. They told me all my fluids had to be replaced, basically that I was due for a major service, when I had records indicating when everything was due for servicing. I was thousands of miles away from most of their recommendations, and when inspecting the fluids later and having the mechanic that cleared the codes I had take a look as well, they were all fine.

Could just be a shop trying to upsell, but something tells me that they were trying to reclaim some money to cover up the screw-up they made. Hard to explain but just an instinctual vibe I got from them being dodgy, neglecting certain information (replaced my battery), telling me they haven't looked at my car when I saw it on a lift days later, taking far too long on a quick turnaround job that should've taken a day or two at most.

I'm all out of ideas so I may just bite the bullet and take it into a porsche dealer or go back to the good mechanic who cleared the codes, but he basically told me he'd have to work backwards to figure out what went wrong and take apart a lot of stuff trying to figure out what they did which might not be worth the $$$ for labor costs. Gotta love that honesty.
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Old 06-25-2019, 10:18 AM
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Wow, that's a lot to unpack. I am so grateful that I have a trustworthy and talented indy mechanic who works with me on my repairs (because most of the time he diagnoses and I do the fix).

The problem is clearly in the electrical system, if I had to take a wild-*** guess, it sounds like the one garage blew something up in there. Do you know anyone with a Durametric or PIWIS? They might help get to the bottom of it. That's would be where I would start. It might be worth paying your Porsche dealer to run a diagnostic if your indy can't.
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Old 06-26-2019, 01:57 AM
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Yea definitely going to head back the most recent mechanic I've been to. Great guy and very informative. Helped me out a lot so far and has been a Porche mechanic for many decades. Seriously, he's solidly past retirement age and still going, in great shape too. One man show with a full lot so he cleared the codes and spent an hour with me- free of charge wouldn't take any money- and told me to drive around for a couple weeks and see if the codes stick and if I can isolate the problem and come back if I need him to take a second look. Probably will.

Funny thing is the shop the screwed everything up has 4 locations Porsche/Audi in my area, and good online ratings, so I thought it was legit. But now re-looking through their yelp reviews going from lowest rated tells me a lot about what is really going on there- it's absolutely my situation to a tee happening over and over. Even more interesting is it seems like they get bad reviews taken down as other reviews I've seen before are no longer there.

Gonna put this here in case anyone finds themselves with similar problems. I was advised on a thread I put on renntech to:

........................................................................ ........................................................................ ........................................................................ ........................................................................ ................................
- Check the transmission wiring harness and plug. Maybe they damaged it, or did not plug it back in properly/completely, or got some oil in there that is causing a short between the pins, which is causing the speed, etc. to not be displayed on your cluster.

- Check the gear selector switch and plug while you’re under there, given the mismatch between displayed and actual position.

- Since they put on a new transmission pan seal, maybe they accidentally damaged one of the plugs/sensors on the valve body, but I would expect that to issue a transmission code to Durametric and throw you into limp mode (D - 4 blinking lights). You mentioned airbag and seatbelt codes, which again I can't imagine are related, but I would have the codes read again to see if they have reappeared, and at the same time make sure to have the transmission codes read. Just FYI, a transmission code will not cause your check engine light to come on, so unless one tells Durametric to check for them specifically they do not show up under the typical engine codes.

- Given the D/4 limp mode, there should be codes stored for the transmission. Check with Durametric and hopefully that will provide some guidance. It is odd to me that the car drives normally in limp mode. Any time I have gone into limp mode, the car is only in one gear and does not shift (reverse will work).

........................................................................ ........................................................................ ........................................................................ ........................................................................ ................................

Will do these first and report back.
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Old 06-26-2019, 08:16 AM
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Well, I would be taking them to court. You took in a car, asked for service on a particular problem, and they returned a car in effectively non-working condition.

If I were to guess, they had an apprentice do the battery swap, and he either shorted something, or failed to follow Porsche's procedure.
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Old 06-27-2019, 11:56 AM
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354 for a battery is NUTS!!!!
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Old 06-27-2019, 03:29 PM
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Originally Posted by dr914 View Post
354 for a battery is NUTS!!!!
That's when I would have run.
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Old 06-27-2019, 03:39 PM
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Hummm, no wants to mention the white elephant in the room?
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Old 06-27-2019, 04:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Pmorritt View Post
Hummm, no wants to mention the white elephant in the room?
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Old 06-27-2019, 08:13 PM
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Originally Posted by hbrewer View Post
That's when I would have run.
That, plus the hood/trunk latch, definitely made me wary enough of them to immediately question everything they diagnosed and qouted me at. Thought about towing it to a different shop but hadn't been to anyone else in the area yet either. It had already sat there for days and no way was the car going to be able to be driven anywhere else.
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Old 06-27-2019, 08:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Pmorritt View Post
Hummm, no wants to mention the white elephant in the room?
I'm daft so it's going right over my head, and I say this with no sarcasm, please do so...
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Old 06-28-2019, 08:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Pmorritt View Post
Hummm, no wants to mention the white elephant in the room?
So, at the risk of being pedantic: A 'white elephant' and an 'elephant in the room' are two completely different metaphors.
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Old 06-28-2019, 03:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Shawn Stanford View Post
So, at the risk of being pedantic: A 'white elephant' and an 'elephant in the room' are two completely different metaphors.
Hahaha didn't even catch that. So when combined with both phrases are they getting at that this is a prohibitively expensive issue that is flying right over my head and no one else wants to be the one to make me aware of it? Bc now I'm worried...
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