Cold doesn’t necessarily hurt us – our cars have heaters that work pretty well. But the ice, snow, sleet, freezing rain, “bridges ice before roads” situations – that’s a different story. It’s an unfortunate fact that front-wheel-drive does handle these conditions better than our light, rear-wheel-drive cars. And sliding sideways into a guardrail isn’t an option.
So many put their Porsches away for the winter while others use these shorter days to take care of some needed maintenance. Of course, the regular jobs like oil change service is mandatory, but here are some other tips that can make the whole winter maintenance thing go better.
Parts: It’s one thing to buy your parts in the box that has “Genuine Porsche Parts” printed all over it…quite another to get your needed maintenance parts from aftermarket suppliers. Most of us can’t or won’t try to afford genuine parts, so we go to the aftermarket, utilizing chain parts stores for our needs. While this is generally okay, we have found that online resources like RockAuto.com can provide quality aftermarket parts at reasonable prices. Shipping is easy and often inexpensive, and quite fast. You can also find parts at Amazon.com – yea, really. Amazon prides themselves on quick delivery, and it can be free if you are an Amazon Prime member. Check all three – parts stores, RockAuto and Amazon before you buy.
Oil Filter: Here at 924S944.com, we only use Mahle oil filters. However, you need to be careful if ordering online. The proper Mahle filter is #142, but some online vendors will sell you a #75. They look the same on the outside and both will fit and work, BUT…the 142 filter has a check valve in it while the 75 does not. The 75 filter was designed to be mounted hanging down while the 142 with the check valve was designed to be mounted upside down – like in a 944 engine. You need the check valve.
Big Jobs: If you are doing something that will take several days (like belts, water pump, clutch, etc.) make sure that you equip yourself with zip-lock baggies and labels…bag and tag everything. If you are like the rest of us, a two- or three-day job may be stretched over several weeks, a few hours at a time. Losing nuts, bolts, screws, tabs, mounts, etc. is not fun and extends the time needed to finish the job because you spend time searching for that last bolt. Also take photos before you start taking things apart as a reference when you can’t remember how that thing goes back in place.
Clean is Good: Take the time to make your workspace clean and organized before you start working. That includes cleaning the area of the car where you will be working! Set up a table or bench for parts that you take off and the new parts that you are installing. Bag and tag everything and keep the bags with the old parts that you take off. At the end of each work session, wipe off and store the tools that you used! That may seem like a little much, but get used to doing it and you will find that it will help you out when you get started again. And get plenty of brake cleaner – that stuff will clean anything. A five-gallon bucket with some water-based degreaser like Simple Green or Purple Power also helps clean parts if you don’t have a parts cleaner.
Don’t be afraid to walk away and come back later. This took years to master! That stubborn bolt, part that won’t fit right, little clip thing that won’t clip – aggravating time-suckers where you spend an hour on something that should have taken twenty seconds. Don’t be afraid to take a break and do something else for a while – get away from it. The human brain is an interesting little machine that will keep working on the problem while you watch another episode or play a game or take a few laps at Sebring in iRacing. When you go back to it in an hour or a day or whatever, you will find that you can solve the issue and get moving in a couple of minutes. We can’t explain it – we just do it.
Right Tool, Right Job: We have all heard this before – use the right tool to do the right job. Borrow if needed, and auto parts chains will rent specialty tools for little or no cost. Take the time to use the right tool.
Get help when you need it, and even if you don’t need it. Going it alone can be spiritually soothing, but having help around is also pretty sweet. And if you get in a bind, online help is always available. A reader called one afternoon while pulling the transaxle from his 944 – first time – and was concerned about getting the gearbox out with the plastic tube for the shift rod not wanting to give it up. We talked for a few minutes, he got the answers he needed, and he finished the job. There were also a couple of “while I got you on the line” questions…all good. And protect your back – don’t lift anything that is too heavy.
In all, take your time and do it right. Don’t neglect a portion of a job just because it is too difficult to reach or too hard for you to attempt. And keep learning – we first learned about these cars because paying to have things fixed was just too expensive. If we wanted to drive our cars, we had to learn how to fix them.
Good luck and put 386-547-9625 on speed-dial. We will help as needed.
Kevin Duffy is an Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at Daytona State College in Florida and a dedicated car guy. He divides his time between teaching criminal justice topics in the online environment and working on/driving cars, particularly Porsches. Kevin is one of the principals in InspiringLifeOver50.com.