2008 Porsche Boxster S; photos by Chris Chase. Click image to enlarge
That doozy is the possibility of an intermediate shaft failure. This engine component runs off the crankshaft and in turn, turns the oil pump and camshafts. This link explains the problem better than I could, and includes a how-to for replacing the part yourself, if you’re ambitious. (That link covers first-generation models (to 2004) specifically, but the problem persisted in the second-generation model.) You’ll avoid IMS trouble if you buy a 2009 or newer Boxster S, as these cars use a newer, direct-fuel-injected engine that doesn’t have an intermediate shaft.
Another inherited flaw is that of bad engine rear main seals (RMS), a less serious problem that causes an oil leak.
The PDK transmission is known for being sensitive to low battery voltage, and the high-pressure fuel pump used with the direct-injected engine in the 2009-and-newer Boxster S is a troublesome piece. Both of these problems are noted in my recent review of the Porsche 911.
Watch for a six-speed manual transmission that pops out of second gear, and could signal the need for a rebuild or replacement.
The Boxster’s convertible top is known to be temperamental. This link provides a good start for troubleshooting an inoperative roof. The rods that handle the mechanical task of raising and lower the roof are prone to breakage, too.
Neither the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) nor the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) tested the Boxster for crash safety. Not even the European New Car Assessment Programme (EuroNCAP) has tested any Porsche models.
Canadian Black Book calls a used Boxster one of the most expensive cars of its kind, being worth more than comparable vehicles, like the BMW Z4, Audi TT, Mercedes-Benz SLK and Nissan Z roadster. I’d suggest that it’s worth the extra money for the kind of enthusiastic driver who is truly attuned to the car’s excellent chassis tuning. It’s your money, but if all you want is a well-appointed and entertaining roadster, save a few bucks and go for a notably less-expensive TT or Nissan Z.
If you do pull the trigger on a Boxster, however, do it right and get the car checked by a trustworthy and knowledgeable Porsche mechanic for evidence of the common problems noted above. Choose a car that comes with complete service records, too.
Black Book Pricing (avg. retail) February, 2012:
Crash test results
Used vehicle prices vary depending on factors such as general condition, odometer reading, usage history and options fitted. Always have a used vehicle checked by an experienced auto technician before you buy.
For information on vehicle service bulletins issued by the manufacturer, visit www.nhtsa.dot.gov.
For information on consumer complaints about specific models, see www.lemonaidcars.com.