Dear Car Talk:
I have a 2007 Porsche Boxster S, which I love, but don’t take out much for fear of not being able to get home.
When it’s cold, it starts fine and runs great. However, if I am doing a bunch of short trips, with each start, it cranks slower and slower until it won’t start.
If left alone for a while, it will then start. The battery has been replaced, though this is not likely the issue as it will come back to life on its own.
I have mentioned it at the dealership when I have brought it in for annual service, but beyond replacing the battery, they have not had much insight.
It has been like this for the few years I have owned the car, and I have taken to leaving it running if I’m making a couple of quick stops. I’d prefer to not have it stolen. Any ideas? — Stuart
I don’t see a lot of Boxsters in the shop, Stuart. My labor rates are about $300 an hour too low. But speaking generally, it sounds like a classic case of a bad starter motor.
When a starter fails, it often gets harder to turn, especially when it gets hot. It’ll try to turn at its normal speed by drawing more and more electricity. But as it heats up and binds up, eventually even the extra electricity can’t make it crank at normal speed.
So, I’d certainly start by testing the starter. When the car is good and hot, and it’s exhibiting this behavior, drive it to any good mechanic and have him see how many amps the starter is drawing. It probably should be drawing 150 or 200 amps. If it’s drawing 400 or 500 amps, then it’s very likely that the starter is bad. At that point, you put in a new starter and hope that fixes it. It probably will.
But if it doesn’t, then the news gets worse.
That suggests to me that the engine could be starting to seize up. It could be due to overheating or lack of proper lubrication, but if the pistons aren’t moving easily in the cylinders when the engine is hot, that could also explain slow cranking.
If that’s your problem, I’d go back to leaving the car running when you do errands. Having it stolen might be your most economical solution, Stuart.
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