Sunday, December 10, 2017

Sunday 5K German Toss Up: 1998 Porsche Boxster or 2004 Audi S4

Late model German performance cars have a well earned reputation for lightening owner's bank accounts in order to keep them in top shape.  We have two cars for sale today with similar amount of miles, similar price tag, and similar known engine issues.  First generation water cooled Porche Boxster and 911 engines are prone to IMS bearing issues.  Audi B6 and B7 V8 engines were similarly blessed with timing chain issues.  With these potential issues in mind would you be willing to take a five grand flyer on either of these autobahn burners?  Today's craigslist choices are this 1998 Porche Boxster in Ridgefield, CT for $5,000 firm or this 2004 Audi S4 in New Canaan, CT for $4,900. 

The 2004 Audi S4 has 190,000 miles on it and has had an eye watering amount of maintenance done in the last two years.  The $12,883 in repairs was done on:

1. 2-15 Timing chain, upgraded cam adjusters
@ 151K $ 2330
2. 7-15 New AC Compressor, ABS Module, New Radiator and secondary Radiator
@ 154K. $ 4466
3. 3-17 Replace cooling gasket, Bypass hoses, Heater hose and Rear coolant pipe
@ 187K $1951
4. 7-17 Replace Rear Struts
@186K $1518
5. 9-17 Replace steering rack bolts, Front Struts, Front tires $2618

The 1998 Porsche Boxster has 168,000 miles and is being sold by a Porsche PCA member.  The car was bought in April of this year and a relocation to NYC forces sale.  Here is the information provided by the seller:

PCA Member selling 1998 Porsche Boxster Base - 5 Speed Manual 168k miles. Purchased in April '17 with 163k miles. Move to NYC and causing sale. No maintenance records prior to purchase, but happy to share mine and clean CARFAX. Replaced front/rear sway bars, front end alignment, completed "snorkel mod" +5hp and guttural sound, 2 keys and MVA emissions approved through Oct. 2019. Clutch recently replaced - shifts tight and smooth. Everything works - top, windows, HVAC, after market Pioneer Bluetooth stereo with remote, etc. Goodyear Eagle Sport All-seasons with plenty of tread left. No info on IMS, but with new clutch and this many miles I was never concerned. Headlights - 986/996 issues, front bumper - rock chips, and driver seat - cracked are well worn (see photos). Great car, fun to drive! Best $5k you'll ever spend! Autocross, Track Days, cruises through the hills and twisties. Full transparency. Firm on price. New top, headlights, seat, wear and tear all factored in.

It is not unreasonable to think you could spend a couple grand a year keeping either of these machines in top shape.  A IMS or timing chain failure could essentially wipe out nearly all resale value of either car.  Feeling lucky?  Which one would you choose or neither??

See a German car that makes you want to hide your ATM card? email

Cory finally got nearly all the interior reinstalled on his 1995 Mercedes C36 AMG.  DT project car write up coming soon on the car.


  1. Read This
    I'd probably still go for the Porsche

  2. Boxster for sure, if two seats work for ya. Plan to part it out if the IMS goes, but probably safe at that mileages. Most failures happen before 60k

    1. Two row IMS in this year, less than 1% failure rate.

      Boxster is the easy choice here.

    2. If the IMS has not gone yet, probably never will. Porsche all day. I wouldn't own another Audi if it came with a lifetime warrenty on everything.

    3. Mh son bought the same year, same mileage Boxster as this one. Engine light came on. IMS bearing failure. The "one percent failure rate" for Porsche IMS bearings is a figure made up by Porsche Corporation, to prop up used values. But if you look in the ads, you can see: very few folks have fallen for their ruse.

  3. Definitely the Boxer for more smiles per mile. When the engine goes it would be ready for an electric conversion.

  4. I am torn to be honest. The Audi claims the timing chain and sliders were serviced 3 years/40k miles ago? for $2300, that's only the parts, if it went to a shop it would be $8000. So lets say the owner is mechanically savvy, did themselves and have receipts for parts and a couple pics..I would drive he Audi 2 more years and sell it for the same $4900. The beauty of a cheap high end car, is the price does flatten out.

    The Boxster is a fantastic handling car. Be careful drag racing the v6 camry next to you at the light tho. This should be driven like a miata, keep the speed up, dont brake for the corners kind of car. The interiors on these show wear at 60k miles. Really were the "cheap" Porsche, it shows with the interiors. 2 schools of thought on the IMS at this mileage, 1) keep driving, you got a good one. 2) You have been lucky, next clutch or RMS service change the IMS. In Addition, the engineering minds (everyone has an opinion) are suggesting the IMS becomes a maint item, example, every clutch job or 60k miles, put in a new IMS kit. Figure a IMS kit at $ 1000, doable in the garage by a weekend warrior with some skills. I woud be more comfortable with the IMS being replaced and the seller asking another $500-$1000. Last thoughts, generally the headlight issues are just bad $60 headlight switch.

    I vote for the overall fit and finish and Power!(7200 rpm V8, yes please!) of the Audi, and keep the the ownership short term and keep my eyes out for the next shiny bauble.

  5. I'd go with the Boxster. There are considerably more interesting engine swap options on the table if the motor grenades, and supposedly the rest of the car is a bit more dependable.

  6. As the previous owner of a B6 generation A4, aside from the myriad of potential engine issues highlighted by commenters (above) & in the listing, I found myself spending on/about $2,000/yr on maintenance & repairs.
    Unrelated to mechanical maladies, I applaud the owner of this S4 for still having most of the soft-touch plastic paint on their HVAC/audio controls. Wear on the door grab handle is typical.

  7. "Ninety-five percent of all people are selling their car cos there's something wrong with it," according to my son, Sam the salesman. He bought the same year, same mileage Boxster as this one. Engine light came on. IMS bearing failure. The "one percent failure rate" for Porsche IMS bearings is a figure made up by Porsche Corporation, to prop up used values. But if you look in the ads, you can see: very few folks have fallen for their ruse.


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