Porsche 996 FAQ  (Frequently Asked Questions)

The 996 FAQ

This is a listing of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) relating to the Porsche 996 C2 and C4. Many thanks to all who contributed, and in particular to: Mike Blaszczak, Bill Economos, John Felker, Howard Groveman, Van Larson, Mike Pumphrey, Todd Serota, Robert Sirico, and Eric Sklut - without your contributions and involvement in the 996 community, we would all be the poorer. A special thanks too to John D, founder of RennList, for hosting this FAQ.

If you cannot find the answer you need here and haven't already tried searching the RennList archives, you are strongly advised so to do. You might also want to check the archives of CFG's 996 Board. If you still cannot find a suitable answer, you are more than welcome to post your question to the Rennlist 993/996 Board but please observe posting etiquette. Many issues pertaining to the 996 are also shared with the 986 Boxster. There is an excellent FAQ on Porsche Pete's Boxster Board.

Please send written contributions, suggested amendments, and comments to: paul_stanfield@bigfoot.com. I will do my best to respond to emails as soon as I can. However, I am not a 996 expert, so please, if it's not here, check the archives and the Boxster FAQ.

Finally, all telephone numbers listed are U.S. numbers, unless otherwise stated. If you would like to send me details on suppliers outside the U.S., I will do my best to post these too.

Paul Stanfield (Columbus, OH - '99 996 C2, WIFE OKD)

Legal & Disclaimer

The following trademarks, mentioned in this FAQ, are the exclusive property of Dr. Ing. h.c.F. Porsche AG: PORSCHE - CARRERA - TIPTRONIC - VARIOCAM - BOXSTER - TEQUIPMENT - 911. Other product names used herein are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners. Copyright remains the property of the original authors. Information given below has been useful to others but cannot be guaranteed to be useful or beneficial to you and should be followed, if at all, entirely at the reader's own risk
This FAQ is in no way endorsed by Porsche AG or any of its divisions, subsidiaries or dealers.

 

Index

A. Interior Stuff

  1. Pedals/Heel & Toe
  2. Gauges
  3. Armrests/Consoles
  4. Steering Wheels
  5. Stereo
  6. Navigation
  7. Radar
  8. Cellphone & Garage Door Opener
  9. OBDII/"Chipping"

B. Wheels & Rubber

  1. Wheel Spacers
  2. 17" vs. 18"
  3. Tires/Tyres (including pressures)
  4. Using a Pyrometer

C. Suspension

  1. Springs
  2. Alignment
  3. Sway Bars

D. Brakes

E. Exhausts

  1. Air Intake
  2. Mufflers/Exhausts

F. Exterior Stuff

  1. Wings/Body kits
  2. Engine guards
  3. Cleaning products
  4. Litronic Lights

G. Fluids

H. Drivers' Ed

  1. Drivers Education Event Prep
  2. Harness Bars/Harnesses

I. Troubleshooting

  1. Over Heating
  2. Warning Lights
  3. Ghostly Windows, Creaking, Squeaking & Wailing
  4. Oil leaks
  5. Clutch failure
  6. Radio Buttons
  7. Over-rev'ing (inc. rev limiter)
  8. Speedometer
  9. Break In Period/Procedure

 

A. Interior

1. Pedals/Heel & Toe

Aluminum pedals are both an attractive addition to the cockpit and, for some, allow better heel and toe operation.

What is Heel & Toeing?

The idea of this technique is to match engine speed to the changing of gears. For example, if you are approaching a corner and need to change down, simply braking and changing gear can often mean that the engine is running a bit too slowly for the optimal speed for the next gear selected (3rd to 2nd, for example). The result is that the engine slows even further as the car "engine brakes".

A better way is to somehow "blip" the gas just before completing the downshift and while continuing to brake. Blipping raises the revs to a point that is better matched to the next gear, giving that gear all the revs it needs to continue your speed (or launch you onward after the corner). Perfectly matching engine speed results in very smooth shifting, without clunks or engine braking, and can also allow quicker entry and exit from race course corners. Heel & Toeing isn't just for down-shifting - it can also be used during up-shifts, particularly if you have allowed the engine speed to creep a little low for the gear you're currently in.

So how do you blip the gas? The answer, of course, is heel and toeing.

There are broadly two schools of technique for this, both of which should be practiced and perfected in a safe area before graduating to the road. The first method is to use the ball of the foot (some would say the lower part or even the middle of the foot) on the brake pedal, while swivling the ankle to blip the gas to just the right point for the gear with the heel. Using the upper ball of the foot, placed in the center of the brake, may for many put the heel too low on the gas pedal for this method to work properly. This is the "old fashioned" method - old fashioned because in the early days of pedal set ups, this was the only way to blip the gas.

The other method is really using the sides of the foot - the left side firmly on the brake and the right overhanging to the gas pedal. When depressed under decent braking, the brake pedal is roughly the same height as the gas pedal, which makes things easy. The 996's pedals are designed to do this, although some have complained it this method only works well under heavier braking, which spoils the fun in every day "normal" driving.

Pedals

Suppliers include: Techart (www.techart.de/homee.htm) , NR Auto (www.nrauto.com), OMP (various suppliers, including Northstar) and Tech-efx (www.tech-efx.com). There is also a device called the Third Foot which has been used by at least one of our group - it is a bolt on (no drilling) gas pedal that is wider than normal (Wings Engineering LLC, CT, USA, Tel 202-438 2222; although I always got a busy signal when I tried.)

The Techart pedals are nice but expensive ($300 + I believe). It looks as though both the NR and Tech-efx pedals are essentially reworked Techart pedals and the Tech-efx run about the same in price. The OMP pedals are heavier and include a lip to help prevent your right foot from getting caught under the brake pedal when under pressure, as well as a rugged texture on the surface to prevent slipping. They run at about $40-50. A reasonably good picture can be found at www.ompracing.it . They're not bad and raise the height of the pedals very slightly. For me at least they haven't significantly improved my ability to heel and toe - but then I am a novice...

2. Gauges & Trim

The addition of aluminum gauges is a popular option or upgrade. Some have said that at night the crispness of aftermarket illuminated gauges isn't quite as good as stock. However this is not something that has greatly irritated those who have installed them. Here is Howard Groveman's guide to installing NR Auto gauges:

"NR Aluminum Instrument Faces

www.nrauto.com or call (800) 225-3498 Estimated Cost: $299 - be sure to specify 6-speed or Tip

Here is a real quick run-through on them install (about 2 hours including testing if you really take your time). Technical difficulty: moderately easy. I didn't disconnect the battery but it has been suggested that one do this. If you disconnect the battery, be sure to have the radio code handy when the battery gets reconnected.

1. Carefully make a diagram of all instruments and note the needle locations in the OFF, ignition switch on, and idling condition. Don't run the car long enough to affect engine temperature, or this needle will be hard to set.

2. Remove the "floating" dashboard which contains the instruments. This is accomplished by removing just two T-20 long torx screws. One is under the microphone circle at the left side and one is under the emergency flasher switch. The microphone circle can be removed by taking a paper clip and making a small 1/8" hook on the end with a longnose pliers. Insert the hook through one of the central slits, rotate and pull it right off. The emergency switch pulled out with a fingernail to start and then firm pulling and very gentle rocking with 2 fingers. Two parts fall out - the switch button and housing. You now have access to the two torx screws. The left screw was unscrewed and then retrieved with a magnetic-tipped tool so it didn't drop into the cluster. The right screw is a no-brainer. Now lift up on the floating dashboard and it pops off.

3. Remove the blue, white and black connectors from the back of the instrument cluster by depressing the connector latch and flipping its plastic cover all the way up. All 3 connectors are identical except for color. Remove two more T-20 torx screws from behind the floating dash which hold the instrument cluster on. Bring the instrument cluster to a towel covered workbench. At this point I flipped over the floating dash in the car onto a towel on the dashboard to get it out of the way for future testing of just the instruments. I never removed the connector from the emergency flasher switch.

4. The cluster has a front and back half. It needs to be split open. There are 3 obvious tabs that hold it together, as well as 2 metal slide clips. Remove the two clips and pop open the 3 tabs. The case now wants to open completely, but there is one hidden attachment at the central top which requires the insertion and a gentle twist of a flatblade screwdriver. If you study the thing, the point to do this will become obvious. Voila - its open.

5. Follow the NR instructions to remove the needles with the supplied tool which looks like a modified tent stake. Be sure the undersurface of the tool is smooth with no sharp edges to avoid scratching the faces (either sand or cover the underside with masking tape as a precaution). The needles basically pop off if pulled out straight (the tool allows you to do this without exerting sideways forces). Peel off the old faces and replace them with the new ones one at a time. Remove any glue left from the old face by using some scotch tape as a blotter. This worked perfectly. Remove the backing from the new face and do not press firmly until it is in perfect alignment. When done, reattach the needles only halfway.

6. VERY carefully attach the opened instrument portion to the three connectors and test for proper needle location. I actually did a small test drive at this point before pushing the needles down fully. Get a passenger to hold the floating dash so you don't mar the finishes. I found that I had to realign a couple of the needles 2 or more times to get all back to normal. Test that the idle RPM's are OK and match the MPH readings between the digital and analog dials. When pushing the needles down, use the NR tool as a "stop" or "spacer" so that you don't push the needle down so far down that it hits the dial. Make sure that you are happy with all readings before proceeding. I also brought my engine up to full temp and made sure the needle was where it always is.

7. Once again, disconnect the 3 connectors (you will be a pro by now) and reaassemble the cluster halves. Then, simply follow the above instructions in reverse order and you are finished."

3. Armrests/Consoles

The dreaded console hinge break! At the time of writing, it is not clear that there has been a good fix for this problem, a problem which has afflicted many 996 owners. It is replaceble under warranty. (There are also reports of similar breakages with the sun visors.)

There is an after-market replacement which few have bought to date so there is no opinion yet on its merits. It is usually advertised in Excellence and Panorama and features a raised height, more storage, and an optional cup holder. Bird Automotive, CT, USA, Tel: 203 834 1119.

For cup holders, check out www.javagrip.com and possibly www.automotion.com.

4. Steering Wheels

The standard 4 spoke steering is not as elegant as some would like and lacks a nice Porsche crest in its center. A number of option items are available, including the standard 3 spoke (with crested airbag, thumb bumps, but lacking a nice leather feel) and a range of leather covered, burl wood, and other variations. These latter steering wheels are particularly nice (especially those with leather airbag cover) but can be pricey and may, in some cases, delay your order.

There is little information at this time about aftermarket steering wheels but buying a replacement from Porsche Tequipment naturally will be expensive (as I discovered after my dealer swapped steering wheels on my car before selling it to me). By the way, the airbag is classified as Hazmat - some won't ship these to you should you choose to buy from a non-local dealer or parts supplier.

5. Stereo

Even with the HiFi package, the Porsche sound system is not special. The good news is that it seems to be relatively easy to re-wire for your kick-ass after-market gear if you get the HiFi package and take out a bunch of the speakers and components. This is only an FAQ and cannot cover any significant ground on this subject but...

For a relatively small investment it seems that a good way to go is to keep the door speakers and bass enclosures and up-grade the rest of the speakers to MB Quart, a/d/s, or some other high quality provider. The door speakers can of course be replaced too - 6 and 1/2 inch woofers have fitted the stock opening for the 5 and 1/2 inch speakers, although some have had difficulty doing this. This change alone has been reported to make a huge difference.

Moving up a level, a custom made 8 inch MB Quart sub woofer box can fit neatly into the passenger side footwell without taking up any significant foot space. This will require cutting the floormat.

Going a step further, folks have swapped out the amp, with various choices again here, such as the McIntosh MCC 446 6-way amplifier (with CH 5 & 6 bridged for the sub) or the a/d/s P840 (about $850).

When moving to this stage, be sure that you are working with a top-notch installer. Alternator whine is a widely reported problem.

If you live on the West Coast, Sacramento area preferably, Rod Birch ( rodb@audioinnovations.com) is worth checking out. He has a good reputation on the RennList for installs on older model 911's. When I last corresponded with him, he was keen to test his skills on the 996 and offered special pricing for the priviledge. www.caraudioinnovations.com/ . Also, Paris Audio in Beverly Hills is reported to produce top notch results and has worked on a number of 996's (see below).

As a very, very rough guide guide to "basic" upgrade costs:

If installing a Becker CD Changer, you might find the following useful to your install: Gary Samad's Boxster 6-Disc CD Changer Installation Manual.

Todd Serota has this to say about his own upgrades:

"Here are the details of my system, all put in by Paris Audio in Beverly Hills (310-289-8494):

If I may say so myself, the system does sound amazing - well worth it. It's pretty much as good as or better than any home system I've ever had, and I was a bit of an audiophile in my younger days. [Ed: Another Board member has confirmed that Todd's system is extremely good. Todd regularly drives his Cab roof down and the audio still sounds killer.]

As for the upgrade, I went through the exact same decision process. In my case, I talked to Paris first, and Jamey (the owner) told me not to bothe spend ing the $600 [for the HiFi option] , because for a lot less, he would make custom enclosures to fit into the holes in the front of the doors that come with the stock system. That's what I did, and I'm glad I saved my money. The subs sound great, and the install is awesome - just some fine black cloth in an oval shape in the door.

Now in your case, it depends on what you're stereo shop is capable of doing. If you're going to have them put in your system, and they're telling you to get the upgrade, that tells me that they don't have anything like what Paris did, and therefore you should take their advice.

If you have any other questions, other than how much it all cost, let me know. It was done as a package with a number of other things (radar detector hard wire, Nokia phone install, Clifford alarm install and K-40 laser diffuser install), so I don't know the breakdown for just the audio stuff.

Todd Serota: tserota@primenet.com (home) tserota@vinoquest.com (wine business)"

6. Navigation Systems

Like the audio stuff, navigation systems are supplied by various companies and there is little consensus yet on the winning equipment. They are of course very cool and particularly useful for roaming sales or consultant types or for those not brought up in the States, like myself, and who still have difficulty with this whole North, South, East and West thing...! We hope to bring you information soon on how to install one of these units..

7. Radar

There is plenty of debate about the various makes and merits of radar detectors. Consensus seems to focus on two brands: the Valentine 1 and the K-40 (the concealed unit with laser diffuser for the number plate). It seems to be generally acknowledged that the V-1 gives greater range of protection but at the cost of poor (or almost zero) concealability. The K-40 seems to offer almost complete concealability but a lower range (as yet undefined) and apparently more false alarms.

It is very important to have the K-40's displays in a suitable position - usually towards the center of the main gauges. Some have reported not being able to see these displays due to poor installation.

There have been many ingenious hard-wired installations of the V-1, a unit which lends itself particularly well to this. TWe hope to be able to bring you suggestions on how to do this in the near future.

From Eric Sklut, Charlotte, NC, here is his advice on the K-40:

"K-40 makes a tremendous installation package for the Porsche. There is no need to drill anything in the car, firewall, trunk areas or instrument cluster. There are a number of K-40 products on the market, all of which must be installed by a certified K-40 installer in your area. My choice was a complete undetectable system with Laser Defuser. This includes modules in the front and rear of the vehicle, laser transmitter in the front grille, speaker in the front dash underside, and visible LEDs below the instrument cluster. Keep in mind that "undetectable" in this case means invisible. It may not be invisible to VG2 detector detectors in states that use them. To make this work, the installation takes a full day. Wires are run from the inside of the vehicle through the trunk panels (removing the liner) and through holes in the driver's side headlight cavity. The light is removed during installation. The front sensors for wideband radar can be mounted inside the front bumper, or can reside in any general area in the front end of the car. The modules are weathertight. The Laser Defuser must be in a cleared visible area - therefore we placed it in the lower center opening of the front grille. It is black and is only visible as you get within 5 feet of the car. It transmits laser and "fools" the laser gun into getting a scanning error.

Picture of Laser Defuser in front grille.

The rear sensors can be placed inside the bumper or inside one of the light lenses. The lenses are much larger than the bulbs which light them, and the modules are quite small. Again, no drilling as there are enough extra holes to bring the wiring harnesses through. Once completed, the on/off/hwy/city/volume switch is mounted. It can be placed nearly anywhere, though having it "unseen" is important. There is an outer ring with three notched positions for city-off-highway, then the center knob controls volume. I chose to mount mine under the dash, just left of the steering column, and forward of the kneebar. I have to lean forward but can easily reach it. After a few tries, I got the hang of which position it needed to go in, and can easily reset it whenever needed.

Picture of barely visible remote switch just below kneebar, under steering column.

The speaker is located on the underside of the driver's dash area. The LED's can be placed anywhere, but it's best to have them in the line of sight of the instrument cluster. In the 996 (and possibly the same in the Boxster), these lights are small enough to reside just under the two outer lower corners of the cluster, just below the warning lights. There are convenient nooks right there to place both lights. The leads from these red LED's will slide behind for easy wiring to the system. You may choose to also include the green LED (on/off) and/or the yellow LED (city/hwy). It is not necessary. I use only the two RED LED's (left one = front, right one = rear). I know the system is on and armed when I start the car.

Picture of LED location.

There are numerous options with these lights including a small black bracket in which the lights can be mounted. The bracket is then attached to the lower dash in a visible spot. Installers can guide the selection depending on each customer's wishes. K-40 guarantees all tickets within the first year. The cost of the system is not cheap, and is nothing at all in the range of glass mounted detectors (V-1 @ $399). Typical complete K-40 systems like the above average $1200 - $1500 installed. Contact K-40 for details: www.k40.com "

Also from Eric:

8. Cellphone

"Installation of cellphones in the Porsche is a breeze. There are numerous choices for both analog and digital. TechArt ( www.techart.de/homee.htm ) which is represented by CEC in the US ( www.cecwheels.com ) offers a mounting piece that attaches to the right of the lower storage compartment of the center/upper console. Phones can easily mount to this.

Pictures - TechArt phone console www.techart.de/bilder/k_5.jpg

On my installation, the installer used a flat brass mounting plate that was custom formed just for the cradle of my low profile analog phone. First remove the side covers of the lower storage boxes. The front cover over the lower storage boxes (top for tape/cd shelf, bottom open) can be pulled off easily by grabbing the center shelf and pulling gently side to side then straight out. Inside the existing framework should be at least one screw hole to which this bracket can be attached. The bracket was drilled once fitted, then mounted to this hole. It's a very tight fit and low profile so as not to damage the interior surfaces. The faceplate of the storage compartments is then carefully placed back on. On the outer end of the bracket two holes were drilled to accommodate my cradle. Since each phone is different, the installer will need to use trial and error. Instead of the included hands-free mic located left of the instrument cluster, we opted for one elsewhere. The factory location may be OK for some, but most will find it to be not the best location. Therefore, we drilled out one of the blanks beside the a/c controls console. If you have navigation, these controls are the same location on the driver's side of the nav system console. The hands free mic from the phone was then disassembled. Mine is about the size of a #2 pencil eraser, and is black. By drilling the blank we found a perfect solution. The mic is placed right behind the blank and sits in a small hole that was drilled into the blank, and since it's all black, no one can see. It's also a bit closer to the driver, and lower, and more likely to transmit easier, even with the convertible top down. Since this was an analog installation, we used an external antenna supplied by Hirschmann. They make nearly every European vehicle hidden cellphone antenna on the market, and have a US distribution arm in New Jersey (800 225 0524 x330). They should have digital products available to enhance digital phone transmission also. We mounted the Hirschmann product inside the front bumper. Again, wiring openings exist so there is no drilling needed. The antenna consists of two rubber like pads about 3" x 3" each connected by two cables, with a lead to the phone. The pads can be glued in place, or can be mounted easily within the confines of the interior of the bumper with minimal work. The Porsche radios offer a mute feature if your phone sends a ground signal when active. The ground wire attaches to a wiring plug at the back of the radio. If you pull out the lower storage boxes from the center/upper console, the wiring plugs/harnesses are within easy reach. Use your phone wiring diagram for the proper connection. Once correctly wired, when a call is activated, the radio will mute, will display PHONE on the faceplate, and the sound will come through the front speakers. This phone installation provides absolutely the cleanest, least destructive installation for the Porsche.

Garage Opener:

Depending on your remote opener, you should be able to accomplish this quite easily. 12-volt openers work perfectly. Contact the service company or manufacturer of your garage door opener. Many have small remotes that work best in this installation. On the driver's side, beside the light switch, you will find an oval "plate." This is used in many countries for light leveling devices. Since it is not used in the US market, this plate is blank. Your installer can do this, or you can try this yourself. Using a very small "pick" tool (a tiny version of an awl), gently pry off the oval plate. Be very careful not to damage the plate. It should come off very easily. Pushbutton switches and LEDs are available at any hobby store. You can buy them or your installer can provide. We took the circuit board of my 12-volt opener, removed it from the remote, and soldered the battery contacts to insulated wire leads. The circuit that lights the internal LED on the remote was bypassed, with leads running to the new LED in the oval plate. The wiring and circuit board were then tucked into the cavity behind the oval plate. If yours won't fit, place it in any area of the lower dash behind the manual holder, near the firewall. Run the leads to the fuse panel from there. Ours is set up so that the ignition must be in the "on" position in order to activate. The oval plate was drilled with two holes - one for the pushbutton, one for the LED. Some pushbuttons will have to be taken apart to fit properly in this small space, and you won't need the top nut to tighten it to the plate - that would look tacky. Find the smallest pushbuttons you can. Ones that have a screw-down neck work best. When you activate the pushbutton, the red LED will light up telling you the switch is getting power, and the garage door should activate.

Picture of the setup.

There are plenty of troubleshooting steps to make this work. First, location of the circuit board is critical. If the signal can't get out, the door won't activate. We encapsulated the board with a zip-loc type bag and tried placing it near the battery compartment in the front trunk. It worked, but did not have the distance capability. We then pulled it back into the interior and placed it next to the firewall. It gave us better distance, but not the best. The best location ended up being right behind the oval plate/vent cavity. This allows the signal to escape near the front glass. Distance is greater than 30 feet. Second, rolling code or learning code remotes are tricky. You will need your manual from the garage door opener to do this properly. Training the remote before you install is best. Remember this, there are plenty of other garage opener products on the market. Home-Link is one of the largest vendors to the automotive industry, and they make a number of other options that might work best for you. There are other hacks that use blank switches in the Porsche as well. This installation was a simple, easy, and inexpensive option, and no one knows it's there! "

Eric has a web site which you might want to check out:

www.geocities.com/MotorCity/Factory/4822/Erics996.html

[Ed: There's also an explanation, with pictures, of something similar to this install at http://www.boxsey.com/. Check under Projects.]

9. OBDII/"Chipping"

Contrary to early popular belief (and some erroneous comments from someone quoted in Excellence magazine), chipping the 996 is quite possible and if done by a tuner of repute is unlikely to do anything nasty to the engine. There are a number of providers but unfortuantely at this time all but one of them require a hard chip replacment rather than an upload of refreshed parameters. But I'm getting ahead of myself. But why touch the computer at all? In short, when setting standard tuning parameters, any car manufacturer has to take account of fuel efficiency requirements, emmissions standards, and a wide variety of altitude, gas/petrol grade, air temperature and other considerations. The result is an engine which is not ideally mapped for performance. Re-mapping can give significant increases in both HP and torque - typically between 15-20HP over stock at the wheels. With intake and exhaust changes, this can be as high a gain as 30HP. (Note: OBDII is adaptive to driving styles. This can make dyno testing/comparison difficult, if not scientifically impossible.)

What you're playing with is variously called the DME or OBDII (not to be confused with the OBC - On Board Computer - which is an option for gas mileage, speed gongs, etc.). As mentioned, most tuners are pulling out the tuning parameters chip and replacing it with another set more aggressively. Typically you have to send the unit in to get this done (unless you fancy yourself adept with soldering and fine pitch surface mounted electronics but watch out, screwing this up means your car is dead until you can get another replacement chip). If you're really lucky, you might have one of these tuners near to where you live and it may be possible to tune your actual engine rather than getting a vanilla upgrade. Vendors include: Protomotive (recommended to me by Jim Conforti, who is widely considered to be the best BMW tuner), Fabspeed (of Fabspeed exhaust fame), Gemballa, and others.

Not quite here yet is the ability to simply plug into the OBDII unit and upload the new settings semi-permanently. It can be done in other car marques but sadly not the 996. The closest so far is the PROgram from The Racers Group. (Fabspeed, above, also provides this, as well as traditional chip replacements). This is a piggy-back arrangement where a device sits between the engine feedback data and the OBDII unit giving the engine revised and optimized mappings. There seem to be several reported adavantages:

  1. As an "interceptor", this device does not permanently affect the Porsche DME. All it does is intercept data and remap it. The engine and DME have no idea it's there. There's no opening up of the DME and tinkering around with chips.
  2. It allows the tuner to optimize fuel & ignition timing for that particular car (with any and all its other modifications, such as intake and exhaust). Allowances for altitude, temperature and fuel type can be made and conversative, as well as aggressive parameters can be set. Unlike software uploads on other cars, you do not lose your tuning set up if the service engineer for some reason re-sets the DME.
  3. The unit can be removed and the car returns completely to stock. Service technicians will not know it's there and even when left in, the unit will not throw up any fault codes when scanned by the service Porsche computer. Other software changes, such as setting the mirrors to tilt down when reversing, are unaffected (different stuff altogether).
  4. The unit can be taken out and used on a new or different OBDII car - you don't lose your investment if you sell the car.
  5. Cost is about the same as a chip change but it does require a local tuner and is not yet available in all markets.

Steve Weiner, of Rennsport Systems, had this to say about the PROgram (Note: Rennsport provides its own chip replacements, so I guess is a competitor to TRG's PROgram and Fabspeed):

"Indeed, gasoline is a variable based upon location and state laws where you live. For example, 93 octane fuel is not available here in the Pacific NW, 92 is max. The only fuel you can buy that has more octane is racing gasoline. I'm not sure about California but with the advent of reformulated gasoline in that state, they are close...

In a perfect world, one could dial in a timing or fuel curve that would provide better power everywhere in the RPM range, under all conditions. Unfortunately, its not that simple. This is one reason why the manufacturers spend millions for R&D to map the engine management system to work under all atmospheric conditions and loads without engine damage from detonation, subaudible or otherwise.

The important thing to bear in mind when arbitrarily changing lambda values or timing numbers is understanding that the engine's threshold of detonation is not a constant, its constantly changing with outside air temperature, air density, cylinder head temperature, engine load, even what gear you are in. Few people know that much about how Porsche maps their OBDI and OBDII cars. Did you know that the amount of available ignition advance changes with which gear you are in and throttle setting? All of the OBDI/OBDII and RSR's have this feature.

I'm quite uncomfortable about setting a timing figure, using a dyno, to peak power without consideration and allowance for the variables listed above. Does one simply dial up the advance and use "Kentucky Windage" to dial it back a little? Every engine possesses a minimum and maximum ignition advance value that works for that design. As an example, the big bore air-cooled 911's prefer timing in the 32-36 degree range using single-ignition. Twin-plug engines run best between 25-29 degrees. With cold or cool cylinder heads, you can observe a higher power reading with a little more advance before the heads heat up and the power sags off with the onset of detonation. If one is going to experiment with such devices, observing and interpreting cylinder head temperatures is a must.

Having the ability to program a known timing and fuel number in a range that, from experience, will work with either race gas or pump fuel is much more desireable than adjusting some knobs on a controller to peak power then backing it off somewhat without empirical information about EXACTLY what those final numbers are.

Programming, making and installing EPROMS to achieve this isn't fun to do, but these are good safe methods, albeit inconvenient to use, in the right hands. Certainly having in-car controller is neat technology and I love such gadgets as much as anybody here, but I would caution anyone who considers this about what you are doing and the consequences of too-little information when adjusting such a device for peak power on any given day.

Everything has its place.

Steve Weiner Rennsport Systems Portland, Oregon 503.244.0990 http://www.rennsportsystems.com/~porsche/ "

Steve further points out that, "This applies only to devices that do not allow specific lambda values and timing advance numbers to be used. Chips, flash or otherwise, from experienced knowledgeable tuners are just fine provided that the re-programming is compatible with the local fuel and the car's mechanical compression ratio. A gentleman wrote some time ago about his 3.8 kit in his 993 that, combined with an existing chip, created a pinging situation that couldn't be resolved. His CR was too high for that chip's programming and pump gasoline."

I could very well be wrong but it seems to me that there is no critical difference between a chip that is a replacement and an interceptor unit. Maybe Steve's final point above is the nub of the matter, although having talked to some suppliers the point is either lost or moot. For me, the most important factor is the TUNER, not so much the tool. If you trust your tuner, inexpert as I am, I do not see there being any significant difference between the parameters being hard-coded on a burnt chip or fed through an independent unit.

Price for any of these upgrades is going to be between $595 if you do the chip install work yourself, to around $1,000/1,200 for the piggy-back unit and tuning. Cheap it ain't but hey, you're getting a whole bunch of return and I can vouch for the amazing difference this can make to flat spots and top end torque/HP. Sometimes a car will feel noticably different but you shouldn't loose any of the 996 smoothness.

I guess you should be aware that there is concern that any significant increase in torque and HP may damage your engine's weaker parts - pistons/camshafts/etc. However, this comes from the same source that said there were no chip upgrades, so who knows if this is for real? Regardless, 20-30HP probably shouldn't be a danger to your car. The issue probably only kicks in when you're adding forced induction.

 

B. Wheels & Tires/Tyres

1. Wheel Spacers

There are a number of suppliers of wheel spacers for the 996, including TechART, Fabspeed, Gemballa, etc. There are several PAG options: 5 mms, 17 mms, 21 mms, 25mms and 31 mms. These are reported to not only improve the look of the car but help with understeer.

2. 18" vs. 17" Wheels

The general consensus is to go for 18" wheels. They are however more likely to get damaged where roads are poor (Central Ohio seems to have more potholes than the whole of Southern Burma) and tires are more expensive. Ride quality really shouldn't be a significant issue and resale value is probably going to be higher. (Note that the tire type will have an impact on ride comfort/performance probably more than wheel size.) Some have proposed getting 17" on their order, keeping them for resale and buying or exchanging them later for some aftermarket 18" like Fikse, Kenesis, BBS, etc. (There are a multitude of wheel manufacturers. Wheel Enhancements seems to be a good source of information and advice on this subject.)

One downside to 18" is that currently there is great difficulty in finding race tires like BFG R1's, Kumho's, the P-Zero C, and the Yokohama A032R for this size. (They may not even exist in some cases.) Hoosier seems to be the main exception to this.

Track drivers favor 18" for their larger contact patches and thinner sidewalls which deform less under hard cornering. Auto-X drivers favor smaller wheels for less weight and sharper turn-in. Both go for the significantly lighter and stronger aftermarket wheels. Those into car looks favor 18" or even 19" wheels, either OEM, since weight isn't a big deal, or aftermarket or a particular "look". Take yer pick!

3. Tires

Todd Serota has given us some excellent pointers on tires and tire pressures. The following are snippets from Todd and others on these tricky questions.

Consensus favors: Bridgestone S-02 Pole Positions, Pirelli P-Zeros and BFG G-Force KD's, in no particular order. The Conti's are fine but are not considered "real" performance tires by some. They will however generally last longer, are quieter and smoother.

Todd says: "If replacing only the rears in a C2, the decision is whether to choose 265's or go to 285's. Just be aware that if you go to 285's, the car will understeer a bit more, since traction is increased in the rear relative to the front. If you're replacing all four tires, you can go bigger in the front - like 245's, to go with the 285's in the rear. Wheel size will dictate tire sizing. 8" width up front, rather than the 7.5"of the regular 996 18" wheels, allow 245's (which strictly speaking are recommended for 8.5" rim widths but seem to work fine)."

A good supplier will give you advice on sizing and it is worth noting that tire sizing varies. In other words, the width of a 245 in one tire can be different in another. Also important to note is that without lowering the car the stock 996 is stuck with almost no ability to change camber. Without dialing in some negative camber it is possible that larger tires will rub the spring perch.

Bill (Chicago) Economos reports: "I have run Hoosiers 245/35/18 on both 8.5 and 9.5 inch width rims on the front with no tire rub. I have H&R lowering springs on my car."

Tire pressures have generated considerable debate in the past. Some favor only factory recommended tire pressures. However, anyone who has ever been to or seen a race track knows that one experiments with tire pressures to find the best for performance driving. It is certainly true that under- or over-inflated tires can be dangerous.

Most favor dropping cold pressures on their street tires somewhat to give greater stickiness and handling characteristics. Personally in my 996 C2 with 17"'ers, S-02's, I ran 34/36 on the track recently and noted appropriate wear on the tires. I could have dropped them a little more to get it just right (probably around 32/34 front/rear). It is worth mentioning here that had I stuck to factory recommendations on cold tire pressure, 36/36, I might have exceeded the maximum pressure for my tires once they had heated up under those extreme conditions. At cold pressures of only 32/34, pressures will increase to about 42-44 hot. This is an ideal pressure for many.

Please also see Mike B.'s comments on this subject under Drivers' Ed below.

For track tires, specifically Hoosiers, the following remarks have been made by Lynn and Bill (Chicago):

"I have run Hoosiers for three years on my race car. It is difficult to give you cold pressures to start because the increase in pressure will depend on the track, and how aggressively the car is driven (and the car). The key is to have the tires at 40 lbs when hot (this is only my opinion of course). At a track like Lime Rock for example, since all of the turns are right hand except for one, I start with the right front 1 psi above the right rear which is 1 psi above both left side tires. When I come in hot, the pressures are equal at 40 psi. Colder than this, or tires not all equal, or higher pressure, will lead to inferior lap times by several tenths of a second. Lynn"

"Andrew -

I run the exact same tires on the track. I have found that the tire presure increases closer to 8 - 10 psi after the first session, and will continue to rise throughout the day. I need to let air out after each session. I have also found that the left side of the car on most tracks will heat up more. According to Hoosier, for a car that weighs between 2500 - 3000 pounds, you should be running between 42 - 46 hot (see Tire Rack web site). I start at 32 front 33 rear, and run at 40 - 42 hot. I measure them after a cool down lap, so they are actually a little higher. For autocrossing you need to start much higher, since your tires will not heat up as much.

Most people run at around 40 hot like Lynn suggested. No matter what weight car you have, so you may want to experiment between the 40 and a little higher. If you talk to a Hoosier tech ask them what you should run given the weight of your car. I would be interested to know.

Bill.

BTW I always have about two pounds more in the back tires, since with my lowered car and the Hoosier tires my car will oversteer at high speeds. So I put a litte more in the back to even it out. I you have adjustable sway bar you will not need to do this."

Here is a more expanded discussion of tire pressures and the use and benefits of pyrometers from Todd:

"Tire Pressures

By Todd Serota, from the message archives

"I have the stock P-Zeros on 18" rims on my 996. I'm guessing you've got 17" rims on your Boxster. While pressures can be a bit lower on 18" tires because the profiles are a bit lower, my comments here apply to 17" tires as well.

Porsche's factory "recommended" pressures for the 996 are 36/44 front rear [Ed: My handbook says 36/36 for the C2 with 17" wheels], which are way too high, IMNSHO. I lowered mine to 31/33 cold, and the car works great that way. I'm not getting much rollover at all (just a smidgen - certainly nothing to be concerned about), and I can't imagine many people driving harder at a track event than I do. The Boxster Board members who went for rides with me can report on how well the car worked at those pressures. Also, a friend of mine at the event finally lowered the pressures on his C4S from the factory recommended 36/44 (I've been telling him to do it for some time now), and he watched his times drop by about a second, I believe.

Now, for the Boxster, I was very surprised at the factory recommended pressures of 29/36 front/rear, and said so to several of my students on Saturday. 29 is getting pretty low for a street tire, and 36 is on the high side. Even stranger, the Boxster has near 50/50 weight distribution, so I was very surprised to see a 7 pound spread recommended between front and rear. On a 911, there's normally a 2-4 pound spread (the factory's 8 pound spread is nuts, and is likely to assure understeer - see below), but that's because there's significantly more weight in the rear (about 59/41 weight distribution front/rear). Re the Boxster, I'd guess that Porsche is trying to assure the car has some understeer, for "safety" reasons. Generally, an understeering car is safer for 99% of the driving population. Unfortunately, it's hardly the fastest way around a race track if it's anything more than just a little.

Anyway, I told my Boxster students to try 32/34 front rear and see how that worked. I don't know if anyone tried it, or what the results are - perhaps they'll post in this thread. I can tell you, though, that the 5 or so students' Boxsters I drove on Saturday didn't all handle the same. I didn't have the chance to discuss how all of them were set up, but some certainly understeered more than others. Varying tire pressures may well have had something to do with this.

Finally, what tire pressures you use will vary somewhat, depending on the speeds you will hit at a given track. In a tight autocross, you'll have to start with higher relative pressures, because you won't be going very fast, and the tires won't heat up as much, meaning pressures won't increase all that much. On a super fast race track like Willow Springs, with very high cornering speeds (turn 8 in my car is 130+ mph), you would start lower, because the tires will heat up a lot, and thus pressures will go up a lot more. Of course, you never want to go so low that you're getting significant roll over.

One quick final note - on alignment. The factory alignment, particularly in the front, is geared toward adding understeer, and assuring maximum even tire wear. My 996 came with essentially 0 negative camber in the front. This is not optimal from a performance standpoint. If the Boxster is similar to the 996, then the range of camber adjustment in the front is severely limited, but I'd suggest you max it out at something just shy of 1 degree negative. This will make your front end stick better whatever pressures you have. Moreover, factory toe-in is substantial, and while it keeps the car tracking nice and straight, it works against crisp turn in. I had my 996 set to 1/16" toe-in - still enough that the car doesn't wander, but less than the original factory setting, so the car turns in better. 0 toe, or even 1/32" toe-out, would really make the car turn in great, but makes the car a pain to drive on the street."

4. Using a Pyrometer

By Todd Serota, as posted on the BoxsterRacing.org message board 8/23/99

"You don't compare pyrometer readings between tires - each tire is analyzed separately - it's the relationship between the 3 temps for each tire that is critical. I'll give you some easy examples, and I think you'll get the idea. Generally, the middle reading should be the average of the other two, and the spread should be as small as possible. The values I'll list below will be outside, middle, inside, for one tire.

170, 190, 170 - the tire is overinflated, causing the middle to be hotter than the sides.

190, 170, 190 - the tire is underinflated, causing the middle to be lower than the sides.

190, 185, 160 - not enough negative camber, and the tire is overinflated for the suspension setup. How do you know there's not enough negative camber? Because what caused the outside to be hotter than the inside is that the tire rolled over, enough that the inside of the tire wasn't making full contact under max g-load, and the outside was bearing too much of the load. It's overinflated because the middle is much higher than the average of the other two.

160, 165, 190 - too much negative camber, tire underinflated for the suspension setup. The logic is the same as above. The inside is hotter than the outside by so much because, with all of that negative camber, even under max g-load, the outside of the tire wasn't making full contact with the pavement, and the inside portion was bearing too much of the load. It's underinflated because the middle is much lower than the average of the other two.

170, 175, 180 - about perfect, likely as good as you're going to get with that suspension setup.

Does that help? Needless to say, since you're treating each tire as its own sub-system, you adjust each tire separately. That means that after adjusting, when the car cools, you may find different values in your left tires as compared with your right, in addition to the difference you'll see from front to rear - that's perfectly fine.

Re chalking, believe me, if you're underinflated, even with the stiff sidewall of a Kumho, you'll see it.

Finally, re hot pressures, generally speaking, you're pretty close. I would say you're just a tad high - 38/40 hot front/rear would be about optimal in your situation.

Here is a link to some good info on using a Pyrometer and adjusting your pressures accordingly:

http://home1.gte.net/fastco/temp.htm "

 

C. Suspension

1. Springs

When I first drove a 996 I thought it felt a little "floaty". My car at the time was a 98 M3, which felt solid, hunkered down and aggressive. Subsequent drives in the 996 changed my mind completely. Yes, it was much lighter and more delicate to the touch but these were qualities I rapidly came to appreciate and value. I found that I could take familiar corners on the way home much faster than I had been used to, turn in much more sharply and quickly, and almost dance with the car. The M3 was much less a dancing partner - more a trusty charger/steed. As much I enjoy my new 996, I believe it still needs to be lowered and stiffened. It still floats a little too much for my taste and understeers too much - a kind of unpleasant GT feel. So, without further ado, what should one do?

Porsche's own sports suspension package substitutes stock springs with MO30's. Be sure to order the right set (US or RoW). Spring plates differ by market and I believe C2s and C4s are also different. It may well be that you can fit RoW MO30's, which are stiffer than the US part, to a US car but make sure before buying. The car will be lower by about 20mm front and 10mm rear. Some report that there is a mismatch between these springs and the stock shocks, resulting in a slight bouncing effect. This has not been confirmed by enough people to be a definitive issue however. In the order of stiffness, most other springs are likely to be stiffer than these, although a Tech at H&R claimed that the MO30's would give a greater stiffness than shorter springs, such as their own progressive spring package for the 996, due to the fact that they have greater distance in which to exert their springiness. This seems like a strange remark to me... but I'm not a spring guru like this guy was supposed to be.

You WILL feel a harsher ride with almost any sport suspension, so if you are hestitant at all, try to hitch a ride with someone who has already made the change and see if you are willing to make the trade-off (comfort vs. performance). I took a ride in Bill (Chicago)'s C2 which has H&R's and the ride was just fine. For my taste, not harsh in the slightest and giving a much flatter ride through corners. Bill reports that his H&R's are great on the track due maily to lowered center of gravity and a tightness when under pressure but that in normal driving over rough roads they are not well matched to the stock shocks giving an occassional mild bouncing effect.

There appear to be four significantly favored alternatives to MO30's: H&R, TechART, Eibach, and JRZ.

H&R springs are extremely well-known to enthusiasts the world over. The standard springs (H&R only make one set for the 996) correct understeer somewhat, lower the car (about 30mm) and feel stiffer through twisties when pushing hard. Most seem to be very happy with them but some feel these springs are too stiff/harsh. It all depends what you like. My personal view is that the car needs stiffer springs and that H&R's are almost identical to stock - really not stiff enough. The fact that they lower the car helps, however, and will keep the car flatter through turns. If you like a "touring" ride, stick with stock. (H&R has an official coilover kit for the 996 which will be formally released towards the end of 1999. Others have created their own H&R based coilovers, using, I think, Bilstein shocks.) Tire Rack sell H&R's and are one of the cheapest suppliers.

TechART springs lower the car by about 20mm. Reports are scant on performance but these springs may provide a nice balance somewhere between H&R's and Eibachs. You should expect about $360 for the set plus $400 for install and realignment.

Eibachs, typically coupled with M30 Bilstein shocks, are known in BMW circles to give many of the handling characteristics of a sport set up without being as harsh as H&R's. At least one Board member has this set up and likes it. It would appear to be a good compromise if you are not a die-hard D.E. type.

Of course, if you really, really want the best available, then JRZ's or the Penske Double Adjustables (used by Kelly Moss on their 996 race car) might just be your ticket to suspension bliss. The JRZ's come in at least 2 flavors - single adjustment and doubles (for bump and rebound). There may also be a triple adjustable version. A few of us have or are getting JRZ's, mostly the single adjustables. Here's what Todd Serota, who has no affiliation with JRZ, has to say about them:

"In a word - AWESOME!!

First, some details. I added 14-position, single adjustable (rebound) JRZ shocks and Faulkner (of F1 racing fame, from England) springs - 450 lbs rear, 400 lbs front (as compared with about 200 rear and 175 front, I believe, for my M030 springs), purchased from Joe Fabiani at Fabspeed. I could have lowered the car any amount I chose (within reason), and I decided to lower it about 35 mm in the front and 30 mm in the rear. Here are my impressions.

Looks - amazing! It looks like a different car - more like an older Speedster (obviously without the lower raked windshield and rear bubble). It's incredible what a huge difference an inch or so can make. Now there is no space between the top of the tires (18's) and the bottom of the wheel wells. At lunch, I happened to park right in front of another 996 Cab at stock ride height, so I could look at both cars from the side at the same time. Much better.

Feel- what a difference! I already had the 996 Supercup adjustable anti-sway bars, which helped to flatten out handling, but there was still noticeable body roll as compared with a full-on race car. Now, the car feels almost dead flat in transition. I did some quick lane changes back and forth at about 90-100 mph (on a relatively deserted freeway, so don't worry), and the response is frighteningly quick. Around one low speed on-ramp turn (30-40 mph), where the car stuck ok but understeered before, it just stuck effortlessly at 40 mph and felt like there was a lot more balanced stick left. Around a freeway transition sweeper (405 South to Slauson, for those in L.A.), the car felt incredibly stable at 100 mph, while before it would have given up at about this speed.

Ride - surprisingly, ride quality hasn't deteriorated all that much. Yes, it's noticeably stiffer, with slightly sharper jolts over larger bumps, but not unpleasant at all. In my view, this is how a street car should feel. [Ed: Bill confirms that Todd's car rides very close to stock and is not harsh at all. For those of you that like a Bentley-type ride for your 996 though, stick to stock - or buy a Bentley!]

Alignment - Where I could only get 1 degree negative camber in the front at stock ride height, I now have 2 degrees negative - the most I'd want to run on the street anyway. The rear is at 1.8 degrees negative. Toe in at the front is just a smidgeon (1/32") in, making for crisper turn-in.

Well, so much for brief! That's it for now. If any of you are thinking about doing this, go for it. Just make sure you have someone who really knows what he's doing do the installation - it's not exactly a bolt-in job."

Costs for JRZ Singles hovver around $2,500-3,000, depending on whether you're getting just the shocks or the other goodies too (springs, sway bars, etc). Doubles, with their remote reservoirs, run about $4,000 +. Add in the cost of installation and things can get costly, so beware! The Penske option is reported to be even better but I have only very limited information on these at present, other than the fact that they are more expensive than the JRZ doubles. By the way, The Racers Group is now the sole importer for JRZ, although Fabspeed and others still re-sell them.

2. Alignment

Bill Economos (Chicago) suggests the GT3 street alignment:

Rear Axle:

Camber: -1.50 degrees +/- .10 degrees

Toe: +08' +/- 05' Total Toe: +16' +/- 10' axle angle: 0' +/- 10'

Front Axle:

Caster: +8 degrees +/- 3 degrees

Camber: -1 Degree +/- .10 degrees

Toe: +03' +/- 03' Total Toe: +05' +/1 05'

He adds that for autocross and D.E. he increases the camber: "on the front to -1.75 degree front, which is about as most as you can go with a 996 lowered with H&R springs, and -2.3 degrees back. Also I toed the front out about 1/16 of an inch. This setting makes the ride more harsh, and will probably wear my tries out faster on the insides. So I would not recommend it unless you use your car more for the track and drive quite aggressively."

3. Sway Bars

If you're going to put sway bars in, most agree that adjustability is crucial. Understeer/Oversteer can be dialed in with adjustables but remains fixed with non-adjustables. There are at this time probably only three sources: the factory Supercup bars, TechART, and those produced by The Racer's Group (TRG - Kevin or Erik on 707 935-3999). The Supercups do not fit the 996 properly and extra fabrication needs to be done to the drop links. TRG has addressed this problem with their new kit which is available any time soon. The TechART bars fit properly from the outset and are, apparently, adjustable.

D. Brakes

No information yet. It seems that new ceramic brakes will be offered as an option for the Turbo - these will be lighter but there is no public information available on any performance benefits. As for brake pads, Pagids are the popular choice for the track but can squeal badly in everyday traffic. I'm hoping that there will be Perfomance Friction pads available before too long. These perform well on the track and rarely squeal on normal roads.

E. Exhausts/Plumbing

1. Intakes

In a similar vein to the suspension and tire pressure debate, intakes have generated some debate on the board. It may be a matter of philosophy - track guys vs. street guys. Or it may be that some of those who've tried alternatives to stock haven't allowed their OBDII to remap to the new set up. Powerflow have also slightly redesigned their intake (see below), which may have made a difference to peoples' experiences of it. In short, the jury's still out but it's looking more and more that this is a good performance modification to try out.

Powerflow inhalers (ZucZ): Getting more air into the engine should clearly increase performance. However, every engineer (or armchair engineer) knows that you rarely get something for free. The major downside to freer-breathing intakes is the likely increases in silicates entering the engine. Even very small differences in percentage filtering efficiency can result in significant increases in engine dirt. Also, the benefits of having more air enter the engine is also related to air temperature. Without a proper heat shield, freer-breathing intakes can actually reduce performance! Heroic pioneers on the list (Van's the Man!) have tried the Powerflow filter but so far several have decided to return it. The reasons given are noise (unpleasant droning like a bee hive between 3/4 and full throttle), a "hunting" at idle, a negligable power increase except when running over 5k, and a flat spot somewhere between 2-2500.

In response to this view, Mike Pumphrey had this to say:

"A few months ago I did a "test" of the Fabspeed exhaust on this site. Essentially it was a follow-on to Todd S's earlier test. In my report I mentioned that Joe Fabiano recommended the Powerflow as a compliment to the Fabspeed so I asked him to send me one. It was delayed nearly 2 months because, according to Joe, they were making changes to the 996 Powerflow unit. It arrived yesterday and I installed it.

It's an easy install, the instructions are clear except one spot where it talks about a piece of "black" hose that is actually orange, leading me to think I had the wrong parts (Once installed only black hose is visible). One caution - when you disconnect the battery (per the instructions) remember to hunt up your radio code so you can reenter it - otherwise, no radio. Also, the one touch window won't work until you run each window all the way down and back up the old fashioned way - by holding the switch down for each direction. The instructions state that the idle rpm will "hunt" by around 100 RPM for the first 60 miles or so as the computer "learns" the system. Mine did that for about 20 minutes and than stabilized at the normal rpm.

Sound: - To me the combination of the Fabspeed (FS) and Powerflow (PF) is THE SOUND for the 996. The PF adds a sort of growling-wail that at full throttle says, "Race Car" (did you know that "race car" spelled backwards is "race car"?) However, the PF does not add noise unless the throttle is essentially wide-open. Therefore, under any other driving conditions, the car is no louder than it was with the FS alone. I'm tellin' ya, ya gotta hear the FS/PF combination! At full throttle going from 5000RPM through 7300 it will make your hair stand on end!

OK, what about performance? Per recent advice from Joe Fabiano, I did a lot of acceleration runs to speed up the computer learning curve before any testing. If you don't give the computer time to learn the new system, your acceleration times will be SLOWER than stock. I learned this on my Fabspeed test where the car showed a loss in power until I retested several days later. I nearly returned the Fabspeed because I assumed the computer would instantly adjust to the new component - it doesn't. It learns the change gradually. The more full throttle runs you do, the quicker it learns. Install Note: You don't really have to disconnect the battery to install the system but it's safer and if you don't, the computer will take longer to "learn" the change.

Anyway, my "testing" showed a consistent .2 sec improvement in acceleration time from 3-7000 rpm in 3rd gear averaged over 10 tries. As in my FS "test" I can't claim it to be very scientific but the stopwatch times are pretty darn consistent so I'm confident I'm not doing the "louder is faster" thing. My overall differences stock vs FS/PF show a .4 second improvement. The only caveat is that the FS/stock tests were done in warmer weather several months ago. Since it was considerably cooler (20 degrees) yesterday when I tested the PF, the cooler air may have provided some (or maybe even a substantial amount) of the improvement. (Any air density/horsepower experts out there?)

Overall, Although I generally liked the FS alone, the combination is fantastic and is definitely better than the sum of its parts.

Now for the the disclaimer: one man's music is another man's noise so don't blame me if you spend the 450 bucks and don't like it. (Todd, ignore the disclaimer, you gotta buy this thing) "

Mike added a little later:

"In the interest of fair reporting, I have some items to mention concerning the Powerflow intake system that I reported very favorably on a week ago.

1. Today I noticed a scratch on the Powerflow that is caused by interference with the engine compartment fan. I didn't notice it on installation although I checked it carefully. There is a manufactured "dimple" in the Powerflow that is probably there to clear the fan; but the dimple does not align with the fan strut. It would take very little adjustment to rotate the Powerflow slightly and match the dimple to the fan however...

2. The bracket that holds the Powerflow to the same bolt that held the OEM airbox does not allow any "shifting" of the Powerflow position. It should have elongated holes to allow this. I may fabricate a new bracket or elongate the holes in the supplied bracket - 1/2 inch of adjustment would be plenty. The bracket should be able to adjust height and angle.

3. Several days after the installation I noticed that when the engine is cold there is some surging at part throttle - such as going downhill with just enough throttle to hold the speed. It's not particularly bad and when the engine is warmed up it is essentially gone. I noticed this occasionally with the OEM airbox but it seems more noticeable with the Powerflow.

I'm still extremely pleased with the powerflow sound and performance and would never consider going back to stock but the bracket must be improved to allow adjustment which would resolve the fan clearance issue. The surging is only noticeable under cold-engine part throttle conditions and I haven't found it to be objectionable at all but I wanted everyone to know about it. "

Update, Update! Mike now adds: "There is a mod to the 996 Powerflow that corrects an occasional part throttle surging condition.  The mod can be obtained free from Zuczs, the maker of the powerflow.  Call Todd at 480-317-9911 for specifics if you have a Powerflow that either exhibits any surging or triggers the "Check Engine" light." [Ed: The modification is a spacer that correctly places the unit with regard to the Mass Airflow Sensor. I have also heard that the unit has been slightly redesigned to fit the compartment better.]

Here's a picture of James' (of Atlanta, soon S. Florida) install:

One of the listers, Robert Sirico, justifiably unhappy with shelling out $450 for some tubing and a filter, built his own intake. Here's his write up:

"I read some posts about the Power Flow and felt I should write you about what I've accomplished. I manufactured my own intake after reading the article in excellence magazine. I went to a local auto parts store and purchased a K&N cone air filter, a big one, I had to cut off about 2" in length than re-attached the metal end cap on it to make it fit into the area it needed to go. Next I used 2 - 3" PVC fittings, a 90 degree street el and a 45 degree street el and lastly a no hub 3" rubber gasket and 1 hose clamp. I came out of the throttle body with the 45 facing down than attached the 90 facing left than added the air filter. I added the MAF sensor to the right side of the 45, sprayed it all black with hi temp paint and installed it. Looking at the photo in excellence my filter ended up in basically the same spot as theirs. Upon start up the idle was smooth and off I went. The car seemed fine and I did notice an improvement for a while but as the engine compartment heated up I felt the power taper off. I drove back home and popped the engine compartment and touched the metal end cap on the filter and almost burnt my hand. Way to much heat from the engine was being transferred to the intake and I remember reading something once that said for every 10 degrees of temp you pick up you loose 1 hp. Not good. So I decided to make a heat shield that would keep the hot air away and help divert the cool air directly towards the filter. I manufactured it out of aluminum and foil type insulation. A cut here and a tuck there and it was done. I went for a good long ride and never noticed a decrease in power, in fact the engine felt perkier than it did before the heat shield. When I got back I popped the engine compartment and again touched the metal end cap and it was just barely warm. It worked, I was getting cool outside air to the filter. The whole project probably took me 3 hours and cost me $40.00 for the K&N, $9.00 for the two PVC fittings and no-hub gasket, and $17.00 for the 2'x3' sheet of aluminum, 2'x2' aluminum insulation and aluminum tape. Total cost $66.00. I spend money freely when it comes to my cars. I race an SCCA T2 BMW M3 that is a MONEY PIT but I couldn't go along with $449 for an air intake. I get intake noise but only at wide open throttle."

2. Mufflers/Exhausts

There are, naturally, a bunch of after-market exhausts on the market for the 996. They include Tri-Flo, Gemballa, B&B, and an outfit called Fabspeed. Bottom line is that Fabspeed ( www.fabspeed.com ) is the darling of the 996 web community, closely followed by a small band of happy B&B customers (at least one of whom prefers the tip shape of the B&B). I have not seen a single bad report on Fabspeed and lots and lots of good ones. Although the primary motive for most seems to be sound and looks, the Fabspeed muffler does seem to give slight increases in performance. However, it is essential with OBDII cars to allow plenty of driving time for the system to adapt and make any gains it's going to - don't expect immediate and dramatic changes. Also, it's always a good idea to hear a car that's been modified with a new exhaust. I have one 911 friend who scrapped his aftermarket muffler because he couldn't live with the sound. I heard the Fabspeed muffler recently and, to be quite honest, couldn't really tell much difference in sound when inside the car, either at standstill or at speed. Outside, the sound is somewhat richer than stock but not a huge difference -very tasteful actually.

Todd Serota has been helpful in documenting his Fabspeed install and the following is his summary of tests he did against his stock exhaust:

"Ok. I’ve finally gotten around to putting together the numbers from the comparison I did between the stock exhaust on my 996 Cab and the Fabspeed exhaust I added. All tests were done on the same stretch of road, with the same driver (me) and the same timer (a friend). Times of day and air temp, fwiw, were also essentially the same. Obviously, the tests involved full throttle acceleration. The car had about 1500 miles on it when I did the stock exhaust test, and about 4000 miles when I did the Fabspeed exhaust test. The results appear below:

2nd GEAR - 3k-6k RPMS (approx. 32 mph to 63 mph indicated)

Stock exhaust:

Fabspeed exhaust:

2nd GEAR - 4k-7k RPMS (approx. 42 mph - 73 mph indicated)

Stock exhaust:

Fabspeed Exhaust:

3rd GEAR - 3k-6k RPMS (approx. 45 mph - 89 mph indicated)

Stock exhaust:

Fabspeed exhaust:

3rd GEAR - 4k-7k RPMS (approx. 60 mph - 103 mph indicated)

Stock exhaust:

Fabspeed exhaust:

It’s clear from these results that putting on the Fabspeed exhaust added some hp. I’d guess that about 5-10 hp, which is what Joe claims for the exhaust alone, seems about right to produce this kind of gain. The only odd thing is the result in the 2nd gear, 3k-6k test - the times were essentially identical. In all of the other ranges, there was a definitive, consistent, approx. 0.2 second gain with the Fabspeed. At this point, I don’t have an explanation for it, but I don’t think it invalidates the results in the other ranges.

Let me close by saying that whatever hp gain there is, I consider it a bonus. I got the exhaust to enhance the visceral enjoyment of the sound of the car, and in that regard, the Fabspeed exhaust is a 100% success. It’s been on for a few months now, and I still love listening to it as I get on and off the throttle. Of course, having a Cab really helps - on those rare occasions when the top is up, the effect isn’t as dramatic. Either way, it’s one of the best sounding aftermarket exhaust I’ve ever heard on ANY car. Highly recommended.

[Ed: The OBDII unit takes time to re-map. Driving hard for a couple of hours helps speed this process. Some on the list started out with flat spots and other disappointing results after installing their after-market exhausts, only to find that later the power came back with just a hair more to boot. I think it reasonable that the Fabspeed muffler can make an additional 5-10HP. However, it is also lighter than the stock system, which may help a little to create the positive impact noted above. The PowerFlow/Fabspeed combo is reported to be properly sporty and bannishes the luckluster sewing machine exhaust notes!]

F. Exterior Stuff

1. Wings/Body kits

Check out the following vendors of after-market kits (not a comprehensive list). Porsche also has an aerokit, which may have been tested for aerodynamic effects/improvements. So far there is little or no evidence that the aerokit has significant track advantages however.

"Automotion" http://www.automotion.com

"Classix" http://www.avantgarde-prestige.de/c1/e22.htm

"FVD Performance Products" http://www.fvd.de/fvd_en.htm

"Gemballa" http://www.gemballa.com

"Shiller USA" http://www.shillerusa.com

"Strosek" http://www.strosek.de/lists/frset.html

"Techart" http://www.techart.de

2. Engine guards

Crucial bits of the 996 are exposed on the underside of the car and several suppliers provide easy bolt-on protection plates. Porsche provides one for around $50-80 delivered. It uses the existing bolts for the engine lines and installation is very easy (probably don't even need to raise the car). The Porsche part is a thin alloy plate and has had no reported side-effects, such as unwanted heat build-up. It's a good idea to get one, especially if you've lowered your car. Gemballa, Tech-efx, and others all provide variations on this part, as well as boomerangs for the very front underside.

3. Cleaning products

This is an area where people have particular favourite products and an FAQ can't hope to cover them all. Whatever products you end up using, there are some important techniques and supplies you should consider for the care of your car. Rather than repeat what someone else has already written, here's a link to an outfit called Zaino Brothers, a provider of my personal fave products. Ignore the product information if you wish - Mr. Zaino has some good general advice here, particularly at the bottom of the page: Zainobros. You can also call this guy up and ask him general questions about car care. He certainly knows cars - he knew, for example, what kind of leather I had in my 996.

There is some consensus on wheel cleaner. PS21 is a good, wheel-safe, product. Spray a mist on, squirt off with water, et woila, shiny clean rims. What's cool is that the stuff also seems to make it extra easy to just wipe grunge off between full cleanings. This company also makes an additive for your windshield washer fluid which seems to prevent streaking.

Almost no-one on the list has admitted to putting their car through a car wash. If you do however, note that Porsche does not recommend the types that move the car along a rail if you have 18" wheels. You don't want damaged wheels, in addition to your finely scratched up paint... (Guilt trip you enough?!)

Here's a very limited list of cleaning links:

Stoner: www.stonersolutions.com/auto.htm (at least one happy tire cleaning customer on the Board)

Nawab: www.nawabenterprises.com/ (125% price guarantee)

Dealers Choice: http://www2.epix.net/~tdc/pages/cartips.html (general tips and tricks and some links to manufacturers)

Griot's Garage: http://www.griotsgarage.com/ (cleaning products and supplies, tools, all kinds of cool garage stuff)

Carcare: http://www.carcareonline.com/howto_articles.html (very good general resource)

Zymol: http://www.zymol.com/

4. Litronic Lights

Want significantly better lighting at night, lower power consumption, and a "look at me in a fancy car" cache? Then litronics are for you, my friend. For a mere $1200-1500, a kit will wing its way to your establishment of choice, complete with headlight washers. Here's John Felker's guide to installing these babies:

"Litronic Installation

I installed the Litronic Retro fit to my 1998, March Production, Boxster. The installation is very simple. The light units are Plug and play. The Kit came with a wiring harnass, "black box" and other small items needed such as replacement "pins" and cable tie. The odd thing is a trim peice that is included. It is the Oval cut out to the left of the ignition. It was in 996 Trim plastic not Boxster.

I have posted the installation instructions from Porsche: http://pages.prodigy.net/jfelker/litronics/lintonicinst.htm

Here are the KEY points"

1. Get the Pin removal tool.

2. The pins are held in place by a Locking mechanism in addition to the metal on the pins. You have to "unlock" this.

3. This installation take an hour at most, IF YOU can get the PINS out quickly.

4. NOTE: The tilting is of both the HIGH and LOW beam. The entire "vertical" part of the back of the unit tilts!

5. Bacic Instruction: Remove the top of the carpet to allow you to run the wires behind. (CD-changer and AMP also), run wires, install pins, Plug in! Install headlight units.

COMMENTS: They are definitely better than standard equipment but NOT as good as the Xenons on the BMW. "

[ED: FYI, the new Turbo is likely to have a newer, better version of litronics with a different cluster design.]

 

G. Oil & Fluids

Mobil 1. Not a lot more to say on oil really.

The procedure if you want to do this yourself is really easy. Get a decent plank of wood, about 2" thick, and reverse the rear right hand side of the car over it so the rear wheel is sitting on top of the wood. This gives you enough space to slide the majority of floor jack types under the jack point on the rear right. (I used an 2.5 ton jack borrowed from a friend. Thanks, Joe!) Properly and safely secure the car with chocks under the other wheels and start slowly jacking the car up. When you've established that you've got enough height to be able to slide under the rear or rear/right side of the car, again make sure the car is safely secured. Some use jack stands for this.

You'll need a flat oil collection pan with at least 12 qts capacity, an 8mm wrench socket for removing the oil drain plug, a filter removal wrench (ideally one that fits the filter housing and allows a separate rachet to attach to it - I didn't know the correct size and simply used an adjustable jaw wrench), and the various parts - namely, new filter (which comes without an external housing), o-ring for filter, a new aluminum washer (for drain plug), and a probable max. of 9 qts Mobil 1.

Removing the drain plug was easy but take care to properly insert the socket - the plug seems to be made of aluminum and you'll damage it easily if not careful. Drain the oil, taking care not to get scalded if it's still hot. (You may also want to wear latex gloves as used oil is carcinogenic.) Once the oil is drained (I waited until there was a steady drip rather than a flow as such), you're ready to remove the outer casing of the oil filter which is located just forward of the drain plug. Screw this off to reveal the filter and note that there will be plenty of oil in the casing as you pull it away. The filter itself can be pulled off either directly by pulling downwards or by twisting and pulling down. There are no threads or anything, just a phallic-like head that pushes into the filter's top. Replace the filter by pushing it up and over the knob and screw the old housing back on, with lightly lubricated o-ring (easier to get it on if it's slippery). Replace the drain plug and use the new washer. You're now ready to pour in the new oil. Several people have suggested mixing two different viscosities of Mobil 1. I believe Van Larson might have been the first to post on this and he was also the first to explain a 996 oil change in any detail. (Thanks, Van.) Pour in 4 qts of 5-30, followed by 4 qts 15-50. If you need to top off, add very slowly, more 15-50 but don't over-fill or you might have to drain the whole lot! Lower the car to normal, start her up, and immediately check the oil pressure, which should be right up at max. Also check for any warning lights. If there's a problem, something's leaking, you haven't put the lid on something properly, or you've somehow dramatically underfilled the car. Checking oil level means getting the car up to normal operating temperture. Take it out for a spin, periodically checking pressure, and when warmed up, stop, turn off the engine and check the dip-stick. It is not advisable to exceed the max mark on the stick and some have reported (Bill, actually) that excess oil can be a cause of oil leaks from the main bearing seal.

Disposal of used oil is regulated by law in most places, so its best to find out where you can legally dump it. Most auto parts stores have free disposal tanks.

Check out http://www.boxsey.com/ and under Projects you should find a section on changing oil. It's on a Boxster but is roughly the same.

The oil change interval is a matter of up-bringing, religious conviction and/or happenstance. The recommended interval is either 10,000 miles or 15,000. To be honest, I can't remember which it is - you'll just have to look it up in your Service Guide or call the dealership. I personally change oil after 10,000 and will change regardless after a school/D.E. Some say changing the oil after the initial 3-5k helps get rid of new engine particles and other ware-in stuff. I did my first change at 5k, after a DE event. One good rule of thumb - it is probably worth changing the oil at least every year regardless of the mileage done.

Other fluids: Well, ATE Super Blue (and other colors to help you gauge when you've swapped out the old stuff) for the brakes is liked by many. Its higher boiling point prevents fade during track time. There are other products that have even higher boiling points. Redline products are also liked by many and their WaterWetter fluid, which mixes in with your coolant, might just keep your temp under control if you've been running too hot.

H. Drivers' Ed

1. Drivers Education Event Prep

Here's an excellent introduction to D.E. preparation, from Mike Blaszczak (Beki M.) mikeblas@microsoft.com :

How do I prepare my car for a Drivers' Ed event?

Driver's education events, whether they're sponsored by the Porsche Club, another marque's club, or a full-featured driving school, are a terrific way to learn more about driving and begin to understand your 996. A well-run event is a very safe place!

If you're starting new with the club, you'll probably be invited to a ground school that teaches you some of the basic things you'll need to know about the track and the rules the club will enforce at the track day. At an introductory driver's school, this will all be covered in the classroom at the event.

No matter what kind of event you're attending, don't ever hesitate to ask any questions you have. The people there are experienced instructors, and have tremendous experience with the cars. Make sure you learn as much as you can from them!

When you go to the event, you'll want to do a few things to your car to make sure you have as much fun at the event as possible.

Making your car Ready

First, give your car a bath. If you don't have much time, at least clean the windows carefully. At speed, it's important to be able to see clearly. What seems like a trivial bit of glare on the highway can be a dangerous distraction at speed.

Next, empty your car out. Take everything out of the inside of your car. At the track, you'll really be throwing the car around. Anything that isn't tied-down is going to roll, flop, or fly around the interior. Noises from something loose in the back seat or trunk are terribly distracting. And nobody wants to get off a very fast straightaway and into a slow turn to find that there's a cellular phone, a coffe mug, and a dozen golf balls stuck under the brake pedal! Some clubs will even have you remove your floor mats.

Now that your car is empty, think of everything you'll want to take with you to the track. A notebook and a pen are essential. Having a small camera might be fun. You'll be working hard in the car, and probably won't want to run your air conditioner while you're out there, so a few bottles of water or your favorite soft drink are essential. Bring a jacket, as some clubs have you run with the window open so you can signal other drivers or hear verbal instructions. You might need a logbook, and you'll probably want to have any paperwork you need to sign-up for the event--like your technical inspection and membership card.

I like to take a big, plastic storage tub. You can buy one almost anywhere; at a department store like K-Mart or Target, or at a home improvement warehouse store.

I can put all my gear into the tub and leave it lying around in the paddock area while I'm out on the track. Even if it rains, my stuffs stays dry. And my tub marks my spot in the pits. Some folks take a fold-open cabana to the track; it'll provide shade and shelter if the weather really gets nasty. You might bring a lawn chair and a cooler for your drinks and lunch, too. A tarp to cover up the stuff you've brought, in the event of rain, is a good idea, as well.

Make sure you pack anything you might need to save your day. I keep a towel, a jacket, and a spare set of contact lenses. Tape, spare change, and gas money are other important things to take.

Track Maintenance

You'll want to make sure that your car isn't going to fall apart at the track--few things are more embarrassing! The club will do an inspection to make sure that everything looks good. Most clubs check the battery to make sure it's bolted-down properly and not about to break loose from where it's mounted. If you're going to leave your spare tire in your trunk while you're running at the track, make sure it's bolted down correctly--and that the jack is put away tightly. Again, you don't want these things roaming around your trunk as you throw the car around the track.

You should make sure your wheels are on tightly. For 996 cars, you should have the lugnuts on with about 95 foot-pounds of torque. [Ed: My manual suggests 110 nm - check your manual to make sure of the recommendation for your car.] Anything less will allow the wheel to have free play under stress, and anything more risks deforming the mounting surfaces of the wheel and ruining the bolts.

Check your fluids, too. Be sure that you have proper levels of coolant and brake fluid and hydraulic fluid, but also be sure that you've got all the filler caps on tight. Try to go to the track with a full tank so that you can enjoy the day without having to leave to find a gas station.

Make sure you have enough tire tread and brake pads to be safe. Do you wipers work well? Do you have enough wiper fluid? Are any body parts loose? Does it appear that any fasteners are missing?

You should check these things yourself, at home, so that you won't be turned away from the event. The more time you have to fix any problems, the better chance you'll have of making the track day.

Setting-up Your Car

Even on your first day, the two most important settings on your car are the alignment and your tire pressure. If you've not had an alignment for a while, get one before you go to the track. Have the shop set your car to factory specs. You'll be sure not to ruin any of your tires at the track this way--nothing chews through that expensive rubber faster than a bad alignment! And by having your first trip to the track on known, neutral alignment settings, you'll have a solid reference point for making changes later.

Tire pressures are a very interesting issue. [Ed: See also the section above on tires and tire pressures.] On your first visit to the track, it's a great idea to stick to the factory recommend pressures for your tires. For a 996 running 18-inch turbo-look wheels, you'll want 36 pounds in the front and 44 pounds in the rear. If you've got 17-inch wheels, Porsche suggests starting at 36 psi all around.

You might even exceed these settings slightly. After adding a few pounds all the way around, you'll find that the car breaks loose very easily. On your first few trips to the track, you can use an extra-hard settings to quickly learn where the cars limits are. But never exceed the maximum recommended cold pressures on the tire sidewall.

After a few trips to the track, you'll probably want to experiment with tire pressures that are slightly lower than recommended by Porsche because they'll improve your handling. I'm happy running my C4 (which has 18-inch wheels) with 32 pounds in front and 36 pounds in back. Some run slightly lower pressures. Either way, take notes. Buy a nice tire gague and take a pump to the track; concentrate on what the changes really mean to the car and how it handles. Write down the settings you used and what you noticed about the car. Within a few sessions, you'll learn what pressures are optimal for your driving style and your track.

Whatever settings try to you use on your 996, you'll always want to make sure that you have more pressure in the rear than you do in the front. Setting equal pressure all around, or setting more pressure in the front, results in conditions so suboptimal that they're actually quite unsafe. [Ed: Agreed, which makes Porsche's recommendation of 36 all round for 17" wheels rather strange. Must be something to do with the difference in tire size or a street set up or something...]

Throughout the day, make sure you check your tires. If you pick up a nick or a puncutre, you'll want to find it in the pits and not deep into a fast corner. If the wear bars are coming up, or if you notice a bulge in any surface of your tire, stop driving the track and get the tire examined at your favorite shop or the dealer.

Protecting Your Head

Almost all clubs ask you to wear a helmet in the car. Even if you're belted in, a bad crash can bobble your head against the glass or steering wheel. You should check with your school or club for specifics--or to see if you can borrow a helmet for the day before you commit to buying one. But you should be able to buy any helment that has a rating sticker from the Snell Memorial Foundation. They're a group that tests motorcycle and car helmets, and they approve helmets that meet standards even more stringent than DOT helmets. Snell updates their standards every few years; approvals were issued in 1990, and 1995. The board recently re-upped their standards, and the newest helmets available are now bearing a 1998 sticker.

You'll find the sticker inside the helmet--it may be obscured by part of the head liner, so ask the salesman or just poke around in there. A helmet with a blue "M90" sticker was approved for the Motorcycle version of the 1990 standard--a helmet with a yellow "SA95" sticker meets the standards for autosports in 1995. Again, the minimum requirement varies from club to club--so check with your hosts. But most clubs allow you to use a motorcycle helmet; the only differences between it and a car helmet are that the car helmet will have a fire resistant liner, and the motorcycle helmet may have a slightly wider field of view from the face hole.

The salespeople you work with will be happy to give you specific advice about your helmet sizing. If the helmet moves easily on your head, it's probably a little too loose. If the helmet pinches in just the few minutes you wear it at the store, you can imagine that it will be uncomfortable to wear all day.

Optional Equipment

After you get to the track and run a few times, you'll find that you might want some more goodies. Certainly, I wouldn't invest in any of these extras until I was sure I liked driving at the track.

If you spend more money on your helmet, you're either buying comfort or fancy graphics. Try to borrow a helmet for your first few trips before you're sure you like the events. If you want to spend more money on a replica lid that looks like your favorite driver's, or one that's lighter and cooler, do so after you're sure you like the sport.

When you go to the track, you'll want to learn about the information that the car conveys to you. In order to listen to the car, you'll want to wear comfortable clothing. Long pants are a great idea; jeans are just fine. The car can get pretty warm (or quite cold, if you run with your window open on a rainy day) so you should try to layer your clothing.

A racing suit is an option, and can protect you from fire in a crash. But they're not necessarily very comfortable and can cost lots of money. On the other hand, gloves and boots can protect your hands and give you excellent feel for the pedals--and are lots less expensive than a suit.

Check Your Head

The most important piece of equipment you take to the track is inside your helmet.

Going to the track with the right attitude and outlook is by far and away the most important thing you can do to prepare for the track. There's a lot to think about, and there's a lot of things that you'll learn.

If you're going to the track just to go fast, you've probably got the wrong idea. The track is a place to learn to handle your car. That means you'll need to be smoother on the controls; easy on and off the brakes. You'll learn to shift and match engine speed more effectively and quickly than before. You'll learn to squeeze on and off the throttle to control the car. No good driver ever says that you need to "drop anchor" or "pop the clutch" or "spin the wheel" or "floor it".

While you're driving, have respect for others. Don't race people into turns or through passing zones. Even if your car is powerful enough to pull away on the straight, you should let better drivers around you if they can get away from you in the turns. Make sure you understand the rules that the club or school enforces for entering or leaving the track, or for signalling passing to the other drivers. Learn where the corner workers are, and where signal flags will appear.

I find it most productive to go to the track with the idea of focusing on one aspect of my driving, or on one part of the track. On your first visit, you'll want to learn the ropes--become comfortable with the instructors and the rules of the road. That's enough to learn the first time, and your familiarity with the track is an important safety concern! On subsequent visits, pick an aspect of your driving: learn the line and disregard your shifting and acceleration. Or, work on your shifting and acceleration and realize you might not be able to focus on the perfect line every time. Once you get comfortable with both the car and the optimal line for your track, try to really focus on a corner or two and optimize the way you drive those turns.

Don't become overwhelmed by the whole experience. If some aspect of your driving isn't working, walk away from it and focus on something new for a little while.

Remember that the track is a serious place. You're going fast enough to do some expensive damage to your car, and maybe even hurt yourself. If you approach your learning with patience and maturity, you'll go much further than someone who's all out at the onset. But more importantly, you're not going to solve any other problems while you're at the track. If something's going wrong at work, or there's problems at home, or you're tired from partying the night before, you probably should cancel your track day. Put those distractions away; don't take your cellular phone if it's too much of a temptation. A few seconds of inattentiveness will put you yards behind your car and what you're doing--and you'll probably find that your day ends on a flatbed.

Don't ever hesitate to ask questions. Your school or club will provide instructors who've proven their abilities with all sorts of cars. If you have questions about your car's setup, about techniques to use on the track, or need advice about equipment, never hesitate to ask an instructor for their input. Their knowledge and experience is one of the greatest benefits of being at your school or club event!

Above all, have fun. Learning to drive your car is a fun and demanding experience. There are few more thrilling pastimes for a Porsche owner."

2. Harness Bars/Harnesses

There are two harness bar set ups that leap to my mind - Speedware and Brey Krause. Both bolt into the 996 using existing mounting points - no drilling is supposedly necessary. I used the Speedware bar and, after some struggling with the instructions, got it in with few problems. A nice product. My only gripe, other than the weak instructions, is that the kit raises the car seat very slightly due to the mounting hardware for the lap belts. I've got used to it now and other than drilling, can't see an alternative. This could be a serious problem for someone tall and wearing a helmet. We hope to have proper installation instructions and tips for this here in the near future. The B-K kit looks great and their reputation is excellent. It was just a little pricey and completely blocks the rear seats.

I. Troubleshooting

1. Over Heating or Low Coolant Warning Light

There may be a number of issues here. The first relates to bubbles in the coolant system and the second to a drop in coolant level due to heat expansion in the flexible joints of the plumbing. For the first, try Porsche Pete's Boxster Board for a procedure to "burp" your system. For the second, there may or may not be an official fix - check your dealer and PNA. However, Porsche did something and it seems that cars from April 99 on, and maybe earlier, have the fix. Another possibility may be that under very hard acceleration coolant is actually temporarily sucked out of the reservoir to the point where the warning is displayed. Topping off the car and restarting may clear the light.

I have recently heard that one of the PAG factory machines had a fault up until April 99 that may have resulted in sub-standard casings and the resulting overheating problem. This is entirely unsubstantiated at present but if true would mean that cars built before April 99 will not all suffer from this problem. This has certainly been borne out by my own experience and that of others who have older cars but who have never experienced this unfortunate ailment.

Changing the ratio of coolant to water and adding Redline Water Wetter, may also be a fix. Reducing coolant and increasing water will cool better (water cools more efficiently than coolant) but this probably puts your radiator at more risk from oxidation. Different folks assess this risk differently and I do not feel qualified to give an opinion on it. However, this possible fix is certainly cheaper, if it indeed works, than some alternatives (oil coolers, additional radiators, etc).

2. Airbag Warning Light

Eric Sklut has this to say about the airbag warning light problem:

"The AIRBAG LIGHT saga...

Many '99 Porsche owners have experienced the Airbag Light problem - the airbag light comes on when one starts the vehicle, but instead of vanishing like the other warning lights, it remains on until the car is turned off.

This happened to me, and the story is worth reading by any Porsche owner. It is not intended to reflect negatively on Porsche in any way.

I took delivery of my '99 996 Cab in November '98. On day three, the airbag light came on and stayed on. Apparently, this has happened to other owners.

When I took the car to the dealer's service manager, t hey were aware of a problem with the airbag light, but only had one bulletin on the "fix" for it - change the seatbelt receptacles.

The PST2 (Porsche System Tester) indicated fault #45 - driver's side seatbelt. The service technician carefully replaced the driver's side seatbelt receptacle, reset the fault, and I left without the airbag light remaining on. About one week later, the light returned. When the technician checked the PST2, it again showed fault #45, but this time, the passenger side receptacle was changed.

A few weeks later, it happened again. By this time I was getting a little angry, and I asked if the dealer "tech line" had any resolution ideas. The only information coming from Porsche was a change in the seatbelt receptacles, and the new o nes should be on their way soon. The new parts have a "C" in their part #. Once the new ones arrived, my dealer replaced both front receptacles with the new ones. About two weeks later, the airbag light came on again. When I finally spoke with the district service rep, he informed me of a few similar instances where this problem was resolved by enhancing the contact point between the seatbelt receptacles and the frame of the car.

On this fourth fix, I had the solder enhancement added. About two days later, the light came back on. In frustration, I posted numerous questions to the various Porsche chat boards. I also began my own effort at contacting other dealers.

In my quest for an answer, another dealer told me that on early VIN# Boxsters there was a bulletin for changing the wiring harness under the seats. I asked my dealer and district service rep about this, and they agreed that it was worth a try. So, on the fifth try, the dealer pulled both front seats and replaced the wiring harness, soldering in new sections as per the '98 bulletin. To date, there has been no reference to any other failures of this magnitude.

I am glad to report that since the repair, I have put well over 3000 miles on the car and it is still airbag-light-free. It seems like mine was an isolated case, but I know this has happened to others. If your 1999 Porsche continues to show the airbag light there are some steps you should follow:

1) First be aware that the airbag module is STILL active, even with the light on

2) Take the car to an authorized Porsche dealer and have the car checked with the PST2 for faults.

3) If you get fault #45, ask the dealer to change out both seatbelt receptacles

4) If the problem comes back after seatbelt receptacle replacement, inquire about the wiring harness. Dealer should be aware of the early VIN# Boxster bulletin, but check to be sure. If not, have dealer contact their district service rep or PCNA.

5) Get the wiring harnesses replaced - takes about 30 minutes.

You should be fine after these fixes. As a footnote, as of June 1999, there have been a number of reports that there is a "new" fix for this problem. There is supposedly a new control unit that has been referenced as a replacement that will avoid airbag light problems in the future. Best to have your dealer confirm with PCNA on the best possible fix. I post this not to hammer Porsche - they really did work wonders - I had PAG and PCNA involved on this, and they were more than willing to do whatever it took to get it resolved - but I post this only in hopes that it may help other owners. A huge thanks to Steve Riley (PCNA) and Hendrick Porsche (dealer - Charlotte) for their efforts to get this problem corrected!"

3. Ghostly Windows, Creaking & Squeaking

If you come back to your car to find one of the windows about half way down, you have Ferry's Ghost syndrome! You will need to replace the window motor and relay/control under warranty. Dealers may take several goes to get this right. Personally it has happened to me only once and never again. Must have been the particularly strong garlic bread I had for lunch at Bravo's that one time...

Windows and interior bits are prone to squeaking. This may require reseating the front windshield and re-sealing the rear seals. An examination of the rear window seal should reveal if it moves significantly under pressure. If it does, reseal it. Where the interior door panel meets the door opening at the top is also an area worth checking - it is often too loose. Also I've recently noticed a faint and hollow rattling noise, kind of like a beetle sound, particularly when in 3rd. It took me a while to identify the source of the noise but finding it was the shift lever was a relief. Somewhat annoying and I'll have to get this looked at next time the car goes in to the dealer.

The clutch is also prone to sweaking. That too is a fix under warranty. Some have also reported that the clutch on early build cars grabbed too high or erratically. Depending on the month of manufacture, there is a revised clutch master cylinder that fixes this problem.

More on clutch problems below...

4. Oil leaks

There are mutliple reports of oil leaks from the main bearing seal. The fix is to replace the seal, apparently with a slight resetting of the seal placement and a dab of loctite. Persons suffering from this ailment should not be bamboozled by dealers into thinking it is normal for new 996's to leak oil. Some others have reported small amounts of a mysterious fluid under their cars - most often described as clear but with a viscous, oil-like quality. No-one quite knows what this is but candidates include: transmission fluid from the vent tube, power steering fluid, engine coolant, and a/c refrigerant oil. I've noticed this too but only on particularly hot days, which made me think it was condensation from the a/c that had somehow become oily from the underside of the car. Hopefully we will eventually work out what this is!

5. Clutch failure

There have been several reports of clutch failure/extremely rapid ware at very low miles (3-6,000 miles). Most dealers will not replace this under warranty and will claim poor driving on your part. Since some victims are long-time Porsche owners and owners of other clutch-sensitive cars, it seems at least possible that poor driving is not to blame. At the time of writing there is no official response to this issue.

6. Radio Buttons

The Becker radio/cass/CD is prone to button peeling. This usually requires a replacement unit and a change in radio codes (make sure you have the new ones). Warranty issue. Incidentally, it is believed that the replacement units are remanufactured rather than out-of-the-box new. The units can also have problems remembering what track is playing and have pretty poor AM reception.

7. Over-rev'ing (inc. rev limiter)

A fairly regular issue for newer sports car owners is their fear of exceeding the red line on the tach. Fear not! The 996 sports a rev limiter which simply cuts off the gas when you exceed redline, avoiding any damage to the engine. In manufacture all engines undergo several minutes of full redline operation as part of testing and quality control.

HOWEVER, it is still all too easy to over-rev the engine by shifting down inappropriately - aka, missing a shift. Going from 5th at high speed to 2nd (instead of 4th) will likely blow up your engine and no device currently known to man will prevent this. Be gentle and smooth with your shifter - smooth, smooth, smooth...

8. Speedometer

The speedometer is reported to be off (high) by around 10% in some cars. This affects not only speed reported but mileage, which can be significant over the length of a lease. The good news is that there is a software fix for this which should be available at all dealerships. Or do what I did - get a buddy or partner to drive their car at a set speed and tag along behind. I notice that when cruising on the freeway, I'm travelling at the same speed as other cars/drivers, who have presumably set their speed at a nice round number with cruise control.

9. Break In Period

Not really troubleshooting at all but it had to go somewhere. The manual says to keep revs under 4000 for the first 1000 miles. My dealer told me to ignore that and to keep revs under 5000rpm for the first 500 miles and then rev away to my heart's content. Opinion seems to favor sticking to the 4500-5000 'limit' for the first 500 miles or so, edging up to 5,500 until around 900-1000 miles and then going for it. It's important during the break in period to vary speed and revs to allow a "rounded" break in. Some have also suggested a rather early oil change at around 3,000 miles to get rid of any break in contaminates. See the earlier section on religious convictions and fluids. (Hmm, sounds like a line from Dr. Strangelove...)