Q—I am thinking or selling my 944 and moving up to a 928. I wonder which one I should choose and what I should be looking for before I take the plunge. –Emil

A—Taking a plunge into the Shark Tank can be a scary and exhilarating process. My thumbnail analysis is to budget two times the purchase price to do needed maintenance and repair inevitable problems that these older classics are prone to. I suggest that any one considering a specific model should join the local Club that is most associated with that model. Join the model-specific community of motorheads who live, breathe, and sleep in that world. One group recommend is the 928 Owners Club. Attending an event geared toward making an informed decision is also a wise move. The local 928 geeks meet once a month at a local watering hole and they are a great group of guys and gals. Yes, wives and girlfriends are welcome.

Q—Should I start my car up when it is stored in the winter time? If so, how long should I let it run? –Chuck

A—I do not endorse starting the car routinely in the wintertime unless you can drive it. Starting it up without a full warm up creates more problems that it solves. During warm up, that metal parts get coated with corrosive chemicals that are eliminated when the system gets up to operating temperature. If you decide to drive it, I would recommend a 10- to 20-minute run to get everything up to temp with a few high rpm romps and some hard stops thrown in to clean the flash rust off your brake rotors. Even if it does not help your car, you will feel better; that is what it is all about anyway. –MC

Q—I am getting ready to put my car up for the winter, just after the color tour. What do you recommend? –Pete

A—This simple check list is all it takes:

1) Wash the car a week or two before you cover it up, allow all the water to evaporate.

2) Clean the wheels to remove all the brake dust before you store the car. Your best bet is to remove them first. When you do, you can clean your beautiful brake calipers with the wheels off. Brake dust contains corrosive elements. You do not want that on your wheels and calipers all winter.

3) Clean the interior, under the seats, in the map pockets, check the glove box for missing receipts and don’t forget any other compartments as well as the trunk(s).

4) Wax the car. If it needs a good buffing, do that before you wax it. Now that your wheels are clean, wax them too.

5) Use a protectant on the vinyl trim and rubber. Use a leather treatment on the seats.

6) Fill your tires to the maximum pressure allowed and for added benefit, consider tire cradles to keep them from flat spotting. Don’t worry too much about that however, my tires flat spot over the winter and when I get the car out in the spring, it takes a week or two and the problem goes away. It is important to remember to adjust the pressures back to their proper spec when getting the car OUT of storage. I will often write myself a note to that effect and tuck it in front of the steering wheel, so I’m sure to see it when I get in the car in the Spring.

7) Consider a battery cut off switch. If you do not have one, disconnect the negative terminal from the battery until you are ready to fire it up. If you have an electrically operated front hood latch, I suggest that you place something to obstruct the latch. If you don’t, and it shuts, you will have to jump power to get it open in the springtime.

8) Use a modern high quality battery tender, not a trickle charger, to keep the battery up to snuff. If the unit you have in your car was installed by the dealer when you bought it, go online and investigate the wisdom of replacing it with a newer version. Ask me why later.

9) Fill the tank with gas. When the tank is full, there is no air space in the tank which can contain moisture. Put some Sta-Bil in the tank and one can of premium gas line treatment containing isopropyl alcohol.

10) If your car is due for an oil change, change it before you store it. If not, don’t worry about it.

11) Have you had your annual brake fluid flush? Better to do it more frequently than less. Brake fluid absorbs water from the air and letting it sit in the brake system all winter is not a good idea.

12) Purchase a carpet remnant for your garage’s cement floor. This will keep condensation down. –MC

Q–. I plan to have a direct oil feed installed in my Boxster, but I am confused.
Do I still need the LN Engineering bearing? Can I keep my existing bearing? Do you recommend a ceramic bearing? –Pete

A—With the direct oil feed, you may be able to use your existing bearing if it is in good condition. You can also purchase a new standard bearing if your original bearing feels rough or if you want to put a new one in for insurance. I would vote for the new one regardless since the cost is low and you cannot be sure of the lifespan of the original bearing. As far as the ceramic bearing, it is a fine idea and for even MORE insurance, go for it. Is the ceramic bearing actually necessary? I do not think so. The load factor on the original bearing is relatively light and simply supplying oil should make it last the life of the engine.

Q – The wipers on my 1990 C4 just stopped working. I have to drive the car so I am afraid to get stuck in the rain. I checked the fuse and it is fine. Gary

A – The most common problem that I have seen is dirty contacts in the switch itself. I have had some success by removing and cleaning the contacts but first things first. To make sure that the problem is not the motor, remove the intermittent wiper relay in the fuse box. If the wipers work, you can then drive the car until you can have the problem fixed. You will notice however, that they no longer park.

So assuming your wipers now work, you could have a bad switch or failed relay. My vote is to replace the relay first with a known good one and see if everything goes back to normal. The relay is located in the fuse box under the hood and identifying it is easy. The number is 928 615 101 01. If the wipers still don’t work with a good relay plugged in, you may need actual diagnosis and on your car, with the air bag and all, I would leave it to a professional.

On my car, (older Carrera) my intermittent wipers quit working and the park function failed at the same time. My cheesy solution is to park them wherever I want. For me, being vertically challenged, I like them to park on the right side of the windshield rather than the left anyway. On my personal to do list, intermittent wipers are a relatively low priority. – MC

Q – My 944 climate control doesn’t work and I am planning to drive it this winter so it has to keep me warm. When I rotate the fan control knob, nothing happens, it just spins. When I rotate the temperature control, I get no heat. Got any hints? This is going to be my daily driver and I’ve got plans for it but I need to keep the bill at a minimum right now. Calvin

A –       It is a rare individual who plans to drive a Porsche in the winter, and I salute you, sir.   I have driven my 944 in the winter too and it is an excellent car with all season tires and about 300 pounds of sand in the rear hatch area. No problem, except for the salt! Wash the underchassis regularly. But I digress…

The problems you are having could turn out to be quite expensive. For now, I will just focus on getting heat. First of all, the climate control should fail safe in defrost mode, full heat and yours does not. Have you had any cooling system work done on it? Sometimes an air bubble will keep the coolant from flowing through the heater core.  Assuming there are no bubbles and that warm coolant is reaching the valve, to see if the heater could work, disconnect the vacuum hose to the control valve, in the engine bay at the center of the firewall. You should now get heat. The heater control valve is the same part as used on older Audi 5000’s and when vacuum is absent, it goes full open, full heat. If you still get no heat, remove and inspect the valve.   I have seen some where the lever moves but it is not connected to the flap inside the valve.

As far as the fan, sometimes the knob simply breaks free from the shaft. Pull the knob off and see if you can rotate the inner part of the fan switch shaft. If you can turn the fan on…simple, a new knob fixes it. If you only get high speed, the fan resistor might have failed. The resistor fits onto the blower box, driver’s side top and it is one of the easiest fixes for missing fan speeds.

This should get you heat and hopefully by next spring, you can take the diagnosis to the next point and get the temperature control functioning again. – MC

Q – My ‘88 Carrera was driving great until I let my son borrow the car for the Woodward Cruise. I never had a bit of trouble with my transmission but when he brought it back it wouldn’t go into third gear without loud gnashing sounds. It doesn’t matter how easy I shift or at what speed either. All the other gears including reverse, work normally. The other thing that is different is that the clutch pedal is about a half inch lower than it used to be. I am hoping it just needs a clutch adjustment. I was told by my mechanic that these gearboxes are bullet proof so I wonder. How good are they? The car only has 41,000 miles on it! – Denny

A –The G-50 transmission is generally bulletproof. They are hard to break but even the best sometimes fail depending on what mayhem is committed. The Woodward Cruise has caused some normally sane people to get a little crazy. Have you been down to the loop in Pontiac? Yeah baby!!

I have some bad news for you Denny. When I have seen this symptom, it is usually due to a broken synchronizer ring or damaged gear set.  “Internal transmission damage” is how I describe it. Any way you slice it the repair will not be cheap or easy. The first step is to perform a basic “eyeball” inspection of the clutch pedal, hydraulics and lever at the transmission…but that probably won’t turn up anything. The next step is to pull the powertrain out, separate the transaxle from the engine and find out what broke and how painful this is going to be.

The low clutch pedal on this car is another issue that may have contributed to the transmission failure. On this model, although the pedal linkage is adjustable, it rarely if ever needs to be adjusted. What does happen is that the rubber center of the clutch can fail and over a period of twenty years or so, it starts throwing chunks of rubber into the pressure plate. These chunks get lodged in the pressure plate, some of the clutch spring fingers warp, and this changes the release bearing height. Now I have a question for you (and your son): What happened just before third gear started grinding?

“Well, he shifted fast from second and got the shifter part way into third and let the clutch out. The shift lever kicked back at him into neutral, and then it would not go back into third without grinding”

At least you know when and how it happened but now to find out how bad it is. With the powertrain removed, things to consider at this age and mileage include rubber and plastic parts. On this list I include: the rubber center clutch, release bearing, input shaft seal, crankshaft seal, engine compartment insulation, oil thermostat O-ring, breather gasket, and possibly the oil light switch. Whenever the powertrain needs to be removed, overlap between related operations can benefit you by easier access. For my money, if I have the budget for it, I want to do it once and do it right. MC

Q – The starter on my Carrera is making unhealthy sounds and I would like to get your opinion on my choices. I see some aftermarket gear reduction starters available, some rebuilt Bosch starters and Bosch Reman starters. What’s the difference? Jeff

A – Your car was built with a Bosch starter and they work for decades, not years. The aftermarket gear reduction starter is lighter, and in some cases cheaper than the original. The benefit of that starter is weight and power. For racers, they are an excellent choice. The warranty is not as good however and it is a fabricated part meaning that if a component fails, you might just need to buy another one.

The rebuilt Bosch starter can confuse things because all original starters were Bosch and anyone can rebuild one. That’s the problem.   Who rebuilt that starter? Who knows? Generally the warranty on rebuilt or reman Bosch starters covers the part itself but no labor. Another issue is terminology. What constitutes a rebuilt starter anyway? I have seen (and been victimized) by supposed rebuilt parts that simply did not work well and sometimes not at all.

A Bosch Reman starter comes right from the source, Bosch. When Bosch remanufactures a starter, ALL the working parts are replaced…not just “the bad ones!” Bosch also supplies Porsche with their “Factory Rebuilt” starters…the Factory in question is the Bosch facility in Broadview, Illinois. The quality is unsurpassed and the warranty on them is rock solid.   If you take your Porsche to the dealer for a starter, you get a top quality part and a warranty on labor as well. Any Porsche dealer can correct the problem at no charge for parts or labor. If you buy a Bosch Reman, the same parts and labor warranty applies. Anywhere in the U.S. or Canada, you can get the Bosch part warranted and if it was installed by a Bosch affiliate, the labor as well.

Naturally, although the warranty is a factor, having the peace of mind knowing that you will probably never need to take advantage of the warranty is even better. My vote, saving money by choosing a “no brand” is not worth it. MC

Q – My 2001 Cabrio has developed some weird electrical oddities. The door lock on the driver side automatically locked itself when I put the key in the ignition a couple times. When I drive the car, the seat belt / key in ignition chime goes on at random. John

A – John, I got out my crystal ball and determined that your car is possessed. Electronic demons are attacking! But seriously the common denominator is the ignition switch and these are known to fail. The switch is the same as the one in many late model Audis. The trouble is, without a consistent fault, you are trying to find a needle in a haystack. I suggest that you disconnect the battery and let the car sit overnight. Reconnect the battery the next day and drive the car. I have done this and it worked for me.

I am sure that someone reading this can explain this phenomenon but I can’t. It just works and when you find the solution to your problem, naturally you stop looking. If the symptom continues after dumping all those errant electrons, I would lean toward the ignition switch. My logic is based on likelihood of failure based on history and the price of the switch (very low). Not long ago, a car just like yours had the ignition switch melt in the “on” position and the poor guy could not shut the car off! One thing I have noticed is that sometimes when engaging the starter you really have to rotate the switch very hard to get it to engage. I think this might be a clue. If yours works like that and if there is sometimes a pause before the starter begins to spin, bet on the switch. MC

Q – What you can tell me about the different valve cover gasket kits for my 1988 911. Which ones do you recommend? I know that original Porsche parts are probably the best and when I saw some O.E.M. gaskets on the Albatross Parts website for $22.00 or so, I was impressed.   Why would anyone pay twice that from the dealer when they can get the same part for less than half. I also saw reusable silicone gaskets, gaskets with a sealing bead and I was surprised at the wide variety and pricing. I need some power window switches and I noticed that switch prices are all over the map too. I found some O.E. switches for $15.00 and other sites wanted $30.00 for them. Tom

A – I’m with you. I need a compelling reason to pay more for the same thing so I contacted Albatross for their side of this story. I know that O.E. M. is the acronym for original equipment manufactured. When I scrolled down the site I found that the Porsche brand was indeed more expensive. Naturally I had to ask. Is O.E.M. genuine Porsche in a plain brown wrapper?

I called the 800 number and spoke to “Chuck” (not his real name) who said that the O.E.M kits were not made by Porsche. He told me that the O.E.M. brand is just a brand, not the origin of the part at all. He was not at liberty to tell me who made them either but he assured me that they were indeed an O.E.M manufacturer of gaskets.

All the kit contains gaskets, washers, and nuts. The lower priced gaskets are made to just “get the job done” and are manufactured as cheaply as possible. When you compare them to the Porsche gaskets, you can see the difference but it’s not easy to tell when the picture on your monitor is one inch by two inches. Then there is the hardware. Who knows if the washers and nuts are equivalent to the originals? I bet they are not made in Germany. Well maybe they are but the problem is, they can’t tell you the origin.   I have been shipped stainless steel components that are magnetic. I had to wonder… how “stainless” are they?   Off shore products are here to stay. After all, we just celebrated America’s independence with Chinese fireworks. But this “O.E.M.” brand reminds me of a line in a Frank Zappa tune: “Who you jivin’ with that cosmic debris?”

If we are only talking about gaskets or window switches, they are relatively cheap compared to labor.   Since a valve adjustment takes a number of hours to do properly and carefully, I won’t risk my time to save $25.  There is an old saying in this biz “If you don’t take the time to do it right the first time, somehow you always find the time to do it again.”

In general, why pay double just because it’s genuine? Do it when it matters, either personally for your peace of mind or for longevity or safety. In an application where a replacement part is good or better than an original, buy it.   I’m guilty of looking for the good deal. I have been searching for that “good, cheap painter” for years! If I can get it wholesale, I do. The key is making an informed decision and that leads me to yet another Zappa line, “Is that a real poncho or a Sears poncho?” When your wallet and engine are at risk, don’t chance it. Some parts that seem to be a bargain often cost you double in the long run.

To answer your original question about my preference in kits: I prefer the German kits that have the Porsche tag, date coded but with the Porsche trademark removed. I like the gaskets with the factory applied bead of sealant. Those kits have the nice original gold cad plated nuts and the soft aluminum sealing washers.

As far as window switches, “Chuck” told me that Albatross only sells “Genuine Porsche” switches and they are over $30.00 each. I checked into the source of the cheaper ones and they are NOT Porsche, they are a crap shoot.  You can tell how they feel and the plastic finish is different as well. At least an aftermarket switch won’t generally damage anything when it fails; it merely annoys you – MC