Misfire Confusion and Relying on Your Mechanic

Misfire Confusion and Relying on Your Mechanic
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Instrument cluster of the 996 generation 2003 Porsche 911 with the check engine light illuminated.

What you wouldn’t want to see on a casual ride in a torrential rain.
Photograph: Kyle Hyatt/Jalopnik

That’s why sometimes having a cool old car isn’t all that fun. It can be quite stressful and expensive because the things you plan to repair when it’s convenient start to break down when it’s absolutely inappropriate to do so. I found myself here this week with my new 2003 Porsche 911 Carrera, but luckily, I have a good mechanic.

I don’t know if you’ve been paying attention to the weather lately, but it’s been raining wildly in California. While this isn’t really an issue for most cars, it can cause problems on a 996 that’s relatively unprotected and has questionable ignition coils a few inches off the ground. Here’s the thing, though, I knew I had to do this job Thanks to my PPIso I had already ordered the parts from FCP Euro.

By problems, I mean I found myself trying to get my wife to work during one of the last torrential downpours in normally sunny Southern California. Halfway through this ride, I continued to get ignition misfires I knew thanks to a flashing check engine light. I managed to get the very unhappy car limping home and scanned the OBDII codes which confirmed the misfires and also said they were all in the same cylinder bank. I also got an annoying catalytic converter efficiency code during the same cylinder.

Too Much Rain in Pasadena

The solution, at least to begin with, is to replace the coils and spark plugs and I was planning to replace them last weekend as it wasn’t a big deal., just an inappropriate one. Unfortunately, as the almost 38-year-old Jalopnik resident old man, I managed to absolutely screw up my spine while bending over to pet a cat. Stupid I know, but as they say “live by the sword, die by the sword”.

That’s why it’s important to have yourself a quality mechanic. If you own a Porsche and don’t have dealership money, finding a good independent mechanic you can trust is crucial. I’ve used Auto Werkstatt for some larger jobs, but the truth is they’re about an hour away from me in traffic, so finding someone closer for jobs was crucial. Of course, having a good mechanic isn’t just a matter of Porsche; It is key when you own any old car.

Pasadena, where I live, has a lot of Porsche stores, which is weird because it’s not that big of a city, so I had a lot to choose from. One of the most respected independent Porsche-specific stores in town, Home Automotiveand they’re just a 10-minute drive from my humble home. So, realizing I wouldn’t be able to reach the spark plugs and coils on my own anytime soon, especially with more rain on the horizon and that cat code approaching, I called House and they were able to pick up my car the same way. 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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