Misfire Mayhem and Trusting Your Mechanic


The gauge cluster of a 996-generation 2003 Porsche 911 with a check engine light lit.

What you don’t wish to see on an off-the-cuff drive in torrential rain.
Picture: Kyle Hyatt/Jalopnik

So typically proudly owning a cool older automotive isn’t all that enjoyable. It may be fairly aggravating and costly as a result of stuff you had deliberate to restore when it was handy to take action begin breaking when it’s decidedly inconvenient to take action. That is the place I discovered myself this week with my new-ish to me 2003 Porsche 911 Carrera, however fortunately, I’ve a great mechanic.

Now, I don’t know when you’ve been being attentive to the climate as of late, however we’ve been getting an insane quantity of rain in California. Whereas this wouldn’t actually be a problem for many vehicles, in a 996 with questionable ignition coils which can be comparatively unprotected and a few inches off the bottom, it could possibly trigger issues. Right here’s the factor, although, I knew I wanted to do that job due to my PPI, so I had already ordered the components from FCP Euro.

By issues, I imply that I discovered myself attempting to drive my spouse to her job in one of many current torrential downpours we had in usually sunny Southern California. Partway via this drive, I stored getting ignition misfires, which I knew due to a flashing examine engine gentle. I managed to limp the very sad automotive house and scan the OBDII codes, which confirmed the misfires and likewise advised me they had been all on the identical cylinder financial institution. I additionally received a catalytic converter effectivity code on that very same financial institution of cylinders, which was unnerving.

Method Too A lot Rain In Pasadena

The answer, not less than to start out, is to exchange the coils and plugs, and I used to be planning to exchange them this previous weekend because it’s not an enormous job, simply an inconvenient one. Sadly, being Jalopnik’s resident outdated man on the wizened age of virtually 38, I managed to utterly wreck my backbone when bending right down to pet a cat. Silly, I do know, however “stay by the sword, die by the sword,” as they are saying.

This is the reason it’s essential to have your self a high quality mechanic. In case you have a Porsche and don’t have dealership cash, discovering a great unbiased mechanic you may belief is essential. I’ve used Auto Werkstatt for some greater work, however the truth is that they’re as a lot as an hour’s drive from me in visitors, so discovering somebody nearer for stuff was key. In fact, having a great mechanic isn’t only a Porsche factor; it’s key while you personal any older automotive.

Pasadena, the place I stay, has a glut of Porsche retailers, which is bizarre, on condition that it’s not that large of a metropolis, so I had loads to select from. One of the crucial extremely regarded unbiased Porsche-specific retailers on the town is a spot referred to as Home Automotive, and so they’re solely a 10-minute drive from my humble abode. So, realizing that I wasn’t going to get to the plugs and coils by myself anytime quickly, notably with extra rain on the horizon and that cat code looming, I referred to as Home, and so they had been in a position to get my automotive in that very same day.

A silver 2003 Porsche 911 is on a lift being repaired.

A tidy shop is always a good sign.
Photo: Kyle Hyatt/Jalopnik

Now, before you throw your lot in with just any mechanic, you should try them out. My method for doing this has been to send my car in for something that is low-risk and low-cost. If the shop treats you well on that job – mine with House was an oil change and a reverse light switch a few weeks ago – then the odds are good that you’ll still be treated well when spending more money.

The crew at House did a killer job on the little stuff, so trusting them with my car for something a little more involved was no big deal. Another mark of a good shop, at least in my experience, is that the shop was clean. There weren’t piles of parts and trash everywhere or a thick film of shmutz on everything, which says that they’re likely to be at least as meticulous with my car as I would be, which is reassuring. Finally, the shop offers a discount to members of the Porsche Club of America, known for having somewhat anal retentive members, among which I count myself, so bonus.

They were also kind enough to let me bring my own parts, which is typically not something that shops will do (and I don’t recommend you do that either, especially if you’re not really good at ordering parts). Still, since I already had the parts on hand, this was a way to save a little cashish on an unexpected repair, though it did mean that the shop wouldn’t warranty the parts if something were to go wrong later. It’s a roll of the dice, but I always order high-quality OEM parts and double-check not only the boxes that the parts come in but that the parts are the right ones for those boxes.

The engine underside of a 2003 Porsche 911.

You can just see one of the spark plug holes and this is one of the two easy ones.
Photo: Kyle Hyatt/Jalopnik

So, after a couple of hours of sitting in House’s waiting room and working from my laptop, my car was finished. It ended up being a good thing I brought the car in for this job because a previous owner or mechanic left part of their magnetic spark plug socket in one of the plug wells, and it took some effort for the guys at House to get it out along with the old plug. Knowing me, I’d have spent a considerable chunk of time swearing, and the air in LA is dirty enough without me spewing curses into it.

Now that I was a few hundred bucks lighter, the last thing to do was to take the 911 out for a real rip to see if the misfires or the catalytic converter codes came back, and, blessedly, they haven’t. The car runs smoother than ever, and I suspect that I may even see slightly better fuel economy from the big flat-six.

The moral of the story is that sometimes, even if you like doing work yourself on your car, either your skill level, time availability or something else can get in the way, and you’ll need to take your vehicle to a pro. Spending that money is never fun, but it’s not a sign of failure, and if you find the right mechanic to build a relationship with, it can save you money in the future if they spot something you didn’t know to look for.


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