Sep 082011

Last week my rock solid Porsche 944 decided to go soft on me. It left me hanging here at Breakdown Lane HQ and I was pissed. The Porsche 944 is a great car, one of my favorites since I was a kid. My option was to either save up for a more expensive car in a few more years ten years, or have one of my all time favorites right now.  Since I couldn’t fit my kids on the back of my Ducati or my Harley, I figured it was a great option for me. All i had to do was sell the bike, use the cash to buy the car and leave my bank account out of the situation.  These cars are cheap to buy but not all that cheap to own. Like they say, “The cheapest Porsche is the most expensive one”. It’s been a fantastic car, my kids love riding in it and I can track the car without making any major investment on performance changes. I have upgraded the suspension and brakes but that’s not really necessary. This car has been very reliable for me, I have invested a ton of time and money into the motor and I normally just take the easy way out and send it up to my boys at Autobahn Performance. So far they have replaced many of the troublesome parts for me like the timing belt, water pump, front crank seal, cam tower gasket, oil pan gasket and the list goes on. This time I was determined to do it myself, and if I can do it, anyone can.

My 1985 at it's 2nd Home - Autobahn Performance Peabody, MA

After AAA managed to get the car back to my house I took my time with troubleshooting. Like any problem that needs to be solved, the hard work comes in the form of research, process elimination and sound decision making. It’s really not that hard, but many of us are just scared of the unknown. I would be no where without brand specific forums. There is so much information out there, I can almost guarantee that someone else with the exact same car  has had the same exact problem. I spent about 4 or 5 days digging through endless threads of forum conversations, tech articles and asking parts suppliers, so patience is a virtue here, but that is what troubleshooting is all about. And I have to do mine at night after the kids go to bed, hence the 4 or 5 days it took me to find it.

With a small investment in a digital multi-meter for $15 and a few other small items I found that I wasn’t getting any spark. Fuel pressure was good, distributor and cap were good, ignition coil tested good for both voltage and resistance and all sensor connectors were disconnected and reconnected. I also measured the reference and speed sensors for resistance and they were suspect. I checked the ECU,swapped in another ECU from a running 944, checked the fuel pump relays, the battery and all the hidden electrical grounds. Old Porsche’s have what seems to be an insatiable appetite for electronic sensors and connectors, the Bosch Gremlins I like to call them.  But there is hope, with some patience, an internet connection and maybe a little investment in proper tools, anyone can fix this stuff. And that is really my point. I know far too many people, guys in particular, who are just scared to death of touching anything under the hood, and its just not THAT tough. All you need is information.

I was so excited to hear her fire up after I replaced the sensors, I almost took it out for a spin right then and there. Good thing I remembered the kids were inside sleeping, that wouldn’t have worked out very well I’m sure. I have a couple of bloody knuckles, I’m a little light in the wallet by about $100 but the upside is I’ll finally get to take my car to this years PorscheFest at the Larz Anderson this coming Saturday. It’s a really good show with some very early cars, race cars and even a good number of late model cars. Who kows maybe someone will even bring a Porsche tractor this year, yes there is such a thing!

PorscheFest 2011

  2 Responses to “When The Bosch Gremlins Attack”

  1. nice to see you have you car going….have a great time at the show

  2. I think I’ll be heading to Larz Anderson tomorrow. I’ve never been to Porsche day before. If I see you, I’ll introduce myself.

    Congrats on fixing the problem yourself. As you can probably guess, this is not really a Porsche-specific issue; it’s endemic with pretty much all modern cars.

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