Pedal to the Metal

My Boxster has been humming along well for a couple years now. I suppose it’s time that something should need work. While pulling into the gas station, I suddenly noticed that my clutch pedal wouldn’t return from the fully depressed position. I managed to get the pedal back up from the floor manually and hobbled home to do some investigation. After some research on my favorite forums (Pedro’s Garage, Pelican’s useful site, rennlist, and a couple others) and a discussion with my neighbor who owns the same car, I came to the conclusion that rather than a faulty clutch and all that entails, I likely had a problem with my clutch master and/or slave cylinder.

I took the car for one more short test drive around the block and discovered that the pedal worked mostly normally, but at the top 25% of the pedal’s travel it would move much more rapidly than the other 75% of its usual upward travel… almost like it was spring-loaded compared to the rest of its travel. Yet another clue hinting that the slave and/or master cylinders of the clutch need replacing. Once I pulled it into the garage, I immediately noticed some yellowish/greenish fluid on the floor behind the wheel of the driver’s side.

Further reading seems to indicate that I need to replace the clutch’s slave cylinder. There was some disagreement in forums as to whether I should simply replace the slave cylinder or that I should replace both the slave and the master. So, I opted to purchase both parts and some fluid. I will start by replacing the slave cylinder and bleeding the system to see how that goes. But, if the master cylinder manages to fail (some forum members insisted that the master might soon fail also… or that a new slave might cause the old master to also fail), at least I have the part and can try my hand at that job too.

Right now the project is on hold, because the temperature is hovering around 0°F. As soon as the temperature climbs back to at least the 30s (or 40s, or, God willing, the 50s), I’ll get the car up on stands and do the swap.

If you haven’t done this job before, the process is relatively simple:

  1. Jack up the front end and put the car on two jack stands. (you’ll need to get way under the car… under the midline of the car, where the transmission lies)
  2. Remove two of the bottom panels of the car. There is one long protective panel at the midline of the bottom of the car. It fits together puzzle-piece-like with another smaller panel towards the front of the car. The rear panel can probably be safely ignored for this project.
  3. On the left and top side of the transmission is the slave cylinder for the clutch. It is connected to a fluid line, which you’ll remove first. And it has one bolt attaching it to the transmission.
  4. Once removed, lube the bellows end of the new slave cylinder, or I’ve been told you’ll never be able to insert the new part into the transmission. Install the part, tighten its one bolt, and reattach the fluid line.
  5. Time to bleed the system. I’ve borrowed a power bleeder from my brother for the job. I will write more later about this process, once I’ve actually performed it.


So, that’s where things stand as we hit the new year. I normally drive the car year-round and only really garage it if there is snow, ice, or lots of ice removal filth on the roadways. Otherwise, I drive it all year. (it’s my daily driver, not my priceless garaged jewel lol). Fortunately (?) the weather has been dreadful of late, so it hasn’t been much of a bummer having the car garaged. But I sure do missing driving her. 🙂 I’ll post more as the project progresses. I don’t have exact numbers to report, because my receipt isn’t nearby, but the cost for OEM parts was around $120 for both the master and slave clutch cylinders combined. Tack on about $30-$40 USD for a can of decent fluid for the bleed/replacement process. Thanks to the free loaner of the power bleeder and already having a jack, stands, and a receptacle for catching the old fluid (recyclable at most auto parts stores, like old oil is), the total cost is around $150-$160. The slave cylinder, I am told, should take about an hour to complete. And the master cylinder will take 2-3 hours. Not too shabby.

Happy Boxstering and a Happy New Year to you all! 🙂


Deciphering the VIN.

Suppose your Porsche Boxster has a VIN that looks like this…

What on earth do all of those seventeen characters mean? Simple:

#1. W = West Germany before 1989, or just simply Germany after 1989

#2. P = Porsche (you didn’t think it was Pontiac, did you?)

#3. 0 = sports car

#4. C = Body Type: a code for Boxster (and other cabriolets; other letters are also used; more info later)

#5. A = Engine: Boxster 986 2.5/2.7

#6. 2 = Air Bags: At least two air bags

#7. 9 = Model Year: up to MY2009

#8. and #12. : 8 and 6 = Boxster 986 (1997-2004)

#9. 5 = A checksum digit (a code to sanity check that the VIN is accurate)

#10. Y = Model Year Code: Y – 2000

#11. U = Factory Location: U = Uusikaupunki Valmet factory (Boxster 986 was produced there 1997-2004)

#12. (see above #8)

#13 <-> #17: Serial Number: 23908

There are many Porsche VIN decoder pages on the web that will help you decipher your own VIN, no matter the model. Here’s one good one. 

How to pronounce Porsche

If you poke around the web, you’ll find scads of people talking about the “proper” pronunciation of Porsche. If you’re “lucky”, an American will know enough to give you an answer like this:

Unfortunately, it’s still wrong. The speaker gets brownie points for knowing that it’s two syllables and that German pronounces that final ‘e’. (in English, that word-final ‘e’ has a way of changing preceding vowel sounds: spat vs. spate; cap vs. cape, etc).

So, for all of you folks that don’t speak German, here’s how you really say it. That final letter ‘e’ is something akin to the letter “E” in the name “Edward”. ‘EH’. Not ‘AY’. not ‘UH’. EH! It unusual for us English speakers, because we simply do not have words that end with the ‘eh’ sound. We tend to turn it into its nearest English approximation “uh”. (and we have lots of words with ‘uh’ at the end… killah! lol Buddha. etc.)

And while we’re on the topic, Speedy Gonzalez taught a lot of Americans wrong. It isn’t pronounced “OLAY” for ‘Olé’. Guess what! It’s the same sort of vowel sound that Porsche uses on the end. It’s the EH sound. But don’t sound gauche… it’s a fairly short EH. Start saying that “E” in “Edward” and as soon as you start saying it, STOP. Don’t lengthen it, or it comes out AY.

Alles klar?! Gut!

Bis bald.


Here’s an odd little part that initially missed my attention. A “Klammer” in German is a “clip”. And “steck” is something like English’s word “stick”. So, it’s a clip that you stick! When you put the top down on your Boxster, you release a small button at the upper center of your windshield. That button has a couple functions, but one of them is to disable the motion sensor part of your alarm. That way, when your kid accidentally tosses a frisbee into your open car, the alarm won’t sound. But, sometimes you might want that motion sensor to work when the top is down! Enter “Der Steckklammer”. With this OEM part, you can clip the button at the top of your windhshield where the top normally latches. The clip depresses the button for you and now your motion sensor will work when you go topless. Simple, clever, and inexpensive.

The Porsche part number is 986-504-986-00.