Ask Jason

Green Mountain PCA Member Jason Eastman, mechanic and owner of Bullfrog Auto in Milton, Vermont, has graciously agreed to answer members’ questions about their Porsches in a club feature we call “Ask Jason,” appearing here in the Tech Talk section of the website and in our Mountaineer Newsletter.  Any member with a question should email Communications Chair Sandy Gilmour or Webmeister Alessandro Iuppa who will forward to Jason.   In approving this feature, your GMR Board also invites any club member with mechanical expertise to submit similar Q&A’s or articles they believe would be of interest to members; just email Sandy or Al.  

Q: Jason, when we last spoke you offered your tips for winter storage. The time for getting our Porsche’s out of storage is upon us, do you have some tips for our members? When it is time to pull a Porsche out of hibernation there are a few things that I do and check.

  • Connect and install the battery if removed from the car.
  •  Remove any dryer sheets or steel wool from the intake of the engine and exhaust if any were placed for storage.
  • Check the engine oil and coolant levels to ensure they are at the proper levels.
  • If both the engine oil and coolant levels are good, start the engine and allow it to stabilize; but back out outside quickly to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Once outside, allow the engine a couple of minutes to stabilize. It’s not uncommon to hear a little more clatter, see a little more smoke from the tailpipe or run a little ragged on initial start up. These issues may occur because the engine oil typically bleeds off during extended periods of sitting. Additionally, oil can settle in the cylinders and contribute to a little extra smoke. All should dissipate quickly on its own or after a short drive.
  • With the car outside, check the storage space for any signs of fluid leaks. While the engine is idling remove any dryer sheets, moth balls or other forms of rodent deterrents from the car. Check for any signs of rodents that may have decided to take up residence in your Porsche.
  • Check the tire pressures and set them to the specified tire pressures found on the chassis.
  • Check that the registration and insurance cards are in the car and are current.
  • Check that the inspection sticker on the windshield is current. 
  • Take the car out for a short drive (usually about 7-10 miles) to get the engine up to operating temperature. Listen for any odd noises, vibrations, etc. It’s very common for tires to develop flat spots when sitting in one place for an extended time. The tires typically will smooth out once they warm sufficiently. Return home and if all went well you’re ready for the driving season. 
  • Now is also a good time to wash and wax the car. Enjoy the season and the Porsche Club tours, once they resume! 

Q: Jason what safety tips have you had to take during the Covid-19 crisis, with social distancing, surfaces, etc?

I’m still open for customers to come in however, I can’t at this time allow people into the shop due to state regulations. My procedure is to have customers call me to schedule service and then drop the car off on the scheduled day. Leave the key in the car. I’ll come out and take it from there wearing a mask and gloves. The pickup procedure is much the same in reverse. Payments are taken over the phone and receipts are emailed or mailed via snail mail.

Editor’s Note: Car repair services are considered an “essential service”.

Q: Jason can you share some tips for winter storage?There are many thoughts and opinions of how a car should be stored over a winter season. The following items are the how I prepare customers’ cars for storage.

  • Wash and wax the car just before storage.
  • Cover the car with a quality car cover. Inspect it to make sure it is free of dirt and debris.
  • Change the engine oil before storage. Preferably the car will be driven fewer than 100 miles from the time of the oil change to the time of storage.
  • Inflate the tires to the maximum rated pressure (PSI) indicated on the sidewall of the tires.
  • Add fuel stabilizer to the fuel tank. Follow the instructions on the product label.
  • Fill the fuel tank with fresh premium fuel.
  • Clean out any trash from the interior and trunk areas, especially any food or food wrappers.
  • Attach a HIGH QUALITY battery maintainer. If you using a cheap maintainer on a modern car with computers then the negative battery lead should be disconnected. Cheap battery maintainers often allow too much A/C voltage through the maintainer and into the car. This can damage sensitive electronics. Remove the battery if there is a chance it could freeze (storage not heated).
  • Once parked in storage, don’t start the engine until it’s time to remove the car from storage. Running the engine without driving causes more harm than good. It’s best to let it sit untouched. If the car should be parked/stored for an extended amount of time, then further measures to protect the engine should be taken. Ask me for more details about this in the event of a planned extended storage.
  • Rodents are always a concern and while there are no guarantees of how to keep them out, the following seems to be effective. They like to nest in the car where it’s comfortable and warm. There are 101 different opinions on how to keep them out of the car. To date I’ve found that dryer sheets seem to work best. Bounce dryer sheets specifically seem to work better than most. The stronger and longer lasting the scent the better. Moth balls will also work but they leave a lasting scent in the car that is unpleasant and hard to air out. DO NOT PLACE DRYER SHEETS ON LEATHER OR VINYL!

Once it’s time to start driving the car again, the following items need to be addressed.

  • Carefully remove the car cover and place in a garbage bag for next year’s storage.
  • Lower the tire pressures to the pressure specified on the specifications label found on the car. These labels are located in different places on different models
  • Connect the battery terminal if removed.
  • Remove any dryer sheets from the air filter housing if there were any placed there.
  • Test the brake pedal and ensure it still feels firm and normal.
  • Start the engine and idle it outside of the garage so as not be overwhelmed by exhaust fumes. Once outside allow the engine to idle for a couple of minutes.
  • While the engine is idling, remove the dryer sheets from the car.·       Check the vehicle registration stickers and the vehicle inspection sticker to make sure they are up to date.
  • Drive the car and allow the engine to reach full operating temperature.
  • During the next few trips with car, run the fuel tank low so as it can be topped off with fresh fuel.
  • Most importantly, DRIVE THE CAR AND ENJOY IT! After all what good is a summer car if it just sits in the garage unused?

Q: Jason, when I step on the pedal from a dead stop in low gear, my ’99 Boxster is not taking off like it used to.  The last time I changed plugs was seven or eight years ago at 90,000 miles, now I have 122,000. Should I change plugs? 

Jason: This is not a straight forward simple answer as the car has aged and they are many factors to consider. Think of it like this: A high school track star may run the 200-meter dash in 15 seconds. As this same athlete ages, their body changes, wears and overall, it deteriorates slowly. The same track star won’t be running the 200-meter dash at 15 seconds when they are 70. (Editor’s note: tell me about it!) The same basic principles happen to an automobile engine. The degradation is so slow most people don’t notice until something major happens. 

So, to answer the question — yes, spark plugs can contribute to this concern and as a general rule of thumb should be replaced every 30,000 miles. However, there could be a number of other things that can also be adding up to this concern. For instance, the pistons and piston rings are no longer sealing as tight as they once were when leaving the factory. They will be allowing some air to pass by resulting in less power. The valves are also likely not sealing as well as when new. In addition to mechanical parts, sensors also wear and don’t register as accurately as they should.  Nothing lasts forever but unlike the human body, sensors can be replaced, or an engine can be rebuilt over and over. The only thing that limits this is the cost. 

Q: How often should I get a wheel alignment?  

Jason: Wheel alignments are a part of routine maintenance that is commonly overlooked until tire wear is noticed. A basic rule of thumb is to have an alignment performed with every set of new tires. Aligning more often will help extend the life of tires and suspension components. If a vehicle is driven on rough roads then the alignment should be checked more frequently as frost heaves, pot holes and, heaven forbid, curbs, will alter the alignment angles. One last thought: An alignment will typically cost about the same as one tire. By having an alignment performed you can protect your investment and ensure you will get the most out of a set of tires.

Q: I am getting some oil drip on the garage floor under my 1971 911E. Is that a problem, what should I do?  

Jason: Old Porsches are prone to oil drooling. Is this oil leak something that has been going on for some time or just started suddenly? Some small spots, dime sized or smaller would be considered normal to me. If the spots are larger than that, or there is a steady drip, then this should be addressed sooner rather than later. First step is to check the oil level. I recommend doing this at every fuel fill up until you are familiar with your engines level of oil consumption. Also, the oil level should be checked at least every 1,000 miles. On this model of Porsche, the engine has to be running and up to operating temperature. The oil level should be about 1/2-2/3 above the min mark on the dipstick but certainly not over the max mark. Anything above 3/4 above the min mark will typically just burn off due to the engine design. 

The gaskets and sealants have improved immensely in modern cars. We often forget this and compare our old cars to the modern cars that are by and large free of oil leaks thinking that there shouldn’t be any oil leaks.  There are many areas of an air cooled 911 engine that can leak oil and certain generations are prone to mechanical problems that enhance the ability of an oil leak.

Common areas for oil leaks are from the oil return tube seals, oil pressure switch, cam tower oil lines and rocker shafts. Proper evaluation of these leaks will require someone to investigate who is familiar with these engines and willing to take on a project like this. Some of these aforementioned parts are minor repairs; some such as the rocker shafts are more involved and require special tools and experience to successfully repair the leaks.  

Editor’s note:  To submit a question to Jason, please email Communications Chair Sandy Gilmour and Webmeister Alessandro Iuppa.  If you have a comment or would like to submit an article on a mechanical issue you have experienced, please email it to Sandy and Al.