Misfire Mayhem and Trusting Your Mechanic

Misfire Mayhem and Trusting Your Mechanic

What you don’t want to see in a random car in the pouring rain. Photo: Kyle Hyatt/Jalopnik

So sometimes owning a cool old car isn’t all that fun. It can be quite stressful and expensive because things you planned to repair when it was convenient to do so begin to break down when it is decidedly inconvenient to do so. That’s where I found myself this week with my new 2003 Porsche 911 Carrera, but luckily, I have a good mechanic.

Now, I don’t know if you’ve been paying attention to the weather as of late, but we’ve been getting an insane amount of rain in California. While this wouldn’t really be a problem for most cars, in a 996 with questionable ignition coils that are relatively unprotected and a few inches off the ground, it could cause problems. Here’s the thing though, I knew I had to do this work thanks to my PPI, so I had already ordered the parts from FCP Euro.

By trouble, I mean I found myself trying to drive my wife to her job in one of the last downpours we had in normally sunny Southern California. Partway through this car, I kept getting misfires, which I knew about thanks to a flashing check engine light. I managed to limp the very unhappy car home and scan the OBDII codes, which confirmed the misfires and also told me they were all on the same cylinder bank. I also got a catalytic converter efficiency code on the same cylinder bank which was concerning.

Lots of Rain in Pasadena

The solution, at least to start with, is to replace the coils and plugs, and I was planning on replacing them last weekend as it’s not a big deal, just an inconvenient one. Unfortunately, being Jalopnik’s resident old man at the miserable age of nearly 38, I managed to absolutely destroy my spine when I bent down to pet a cat. Silly, I know, but “live by the sword, die by the sword” as they say.

This is why it is important to have a quality mechanic yourself. If you have a Porsche and don’t have the cash to sell it, finding a good independent mechanic you can trust is critical. I’ve used Auto Werkstatt for a few bigger jobs, but the fact is they’re about an hour’s drive away from me in traffic, so finding someone closer for things was essential. Of course, having a good mechanic isn’t just a Porsche thing; it’s key when you own any older car.

Pasadena, where I live, has a lot of Porsche shops, which is strange, since it’s not that big of a city, so I had a lot to choose from. One of the most highly regarded independent Porsche-specific shops in town is a place called House Automotive, and they’re only a 10-minute drive from my humble abode. So, realizing I wasn’t going to be getting to the plugs and coils myself anytime soon, especially with more rain on the horizon and the cat code looming, I called House and they were able to pick up my car at the same time. day.

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

Now, before you throw your lot in with any mechanic, you need to test them. My method of 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 – my job with House was an oil change and a reverse light switch a few weeks ago – then chances are good you’ll be treated well when you spend more money.

The crew at House did a killer job on the small stuff, so trusting them with my car for something a little more involved was no big deal. Another sign of a good store, at least in my experience, is that the store was clean. There weren’t piles of parts and junk everywhere or a thick film of shmutz on everything, which means 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 for members of the Porsche Club of America, known for its somewhat anal-restrained members, of which I count myself, so bonus.

They were also kind enough to let me bring in my own parts, which isn’t usually something shops will do (and I don’t recommend doing this, especially if you’re not really good at ordering parts). However, since I had the parts on hand, it was a way to save a little money on an unexpected repair, although it meant the shop wouldn’t guarantee the parts if something went wrong later. It’s a roll of the dice, but I always order high quality OEM parts and double check not only the boxes the parts come in, but that the parts are the right ones for those boxes.

You can only see one of the spark plug holes and that’s one of the two lighter ones. Photo: Kyle Hyatt/Jalopnik

So after a few hours sitting in House’s waiting room working from my laptop, my car was finished. It ended up being a good thing I brought the car in for the job because a previous owner or mechanic left a piece of their magnetic spark plug plug in one of the plug wells and it took a few tries for the guys at House to get it out . together with the old plug. Knowing me, I would have spent a significant amount of time cursing, and the air in LA is dirty enough without cursing.

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

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

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