Case of the Month – Boxster Valves

Oct 1, 2017 by

The claimant’s 2002 Porsche Boxster was rear-ended by the insured. The claimant took it to a shop for repairs, but due to financial issues, no work was done for over a year. When work began, the shop diagnosed engine damage, including possibly bent valves. GEI was assigned to investigate.

The vehicle was inspected at the shop in Huntington Beach, California. The Boxster was generally in good condition, except for a year’s worth of accumulated dust.

The odometer had nearly 150K miles on it. The damage to the rear of the vehicle from the impact included small cracks in the paint of the left portion of the bumper cover. Small cracks were also found in the paint of the rear bumper guards. The rear bumper guards were removed but available for inspection.

No other damage was found on the vehicle from the rear-end impact that occurred on the date-of-loss. A search for recalls by Vehicle Identification Number found no open recalls for engine issues.

The engine oil had been drained in preparation for the leak tests, as was the proper procedure. The right camshaft cover was removed for the tests and the inspection. The camshaft lobes and valve caps were visible for inspection, and the spark plugs were removed to perform the leak-down test of the cylinders.

The engine in this particular vehicle was a flat six design, three cylinders per side, and was mounted in the center of the vehicle, otherwise known as a mid-engine configuration. The engine was water-cooled. The engine was not run before the time of the inspection due to the low compression on all of the right (passenger side) cylinders. A leak-down test was performed on the #1 and #2 cylinders.

A leak-down test was also performed on the left forward cylinder #4, as shown below.

These readings showed that the left cylinders on the engine were in good condition as were the valves. The cylinders on the right bank all failed the leak-down test and would have caused the engine to run poorly or not at all. The condition of the engine at the time of the inspection was a direct result of long-term wear-and-tear. (This could have been contributed to by operating the engine with an insufficient amount of coolant or oil.) That would cause the engine to overheat, which could have caused the observed low compression readings on the right cylinder bank.

The camshafts on the right side were visible, and the caps for the valves were exposed. When the #1 cylinder was on the firing stroke, all of the valve caps could be rotated, indicating sufficient clearance at this location. The caps could be rotated easily, but could not be moved in an up-and-down motion that would indicate bent valves. Excessive up-and-down movement would indicate bent valves, but this condition was not present on this engine.

Another possible cause for the low compression /failed leak down test could be burned or damaged pistons. Removal and disassembling of the engine would have been necessary to determine if the low compression was caused from excessive worn valves or damage to the pistons and/or cylinder walls. This additional disassembly was not performed for the purpose of determining if the rear-end collision caused the engine damage.

To summarize, the engine itself was not damaged in the impact that occurred on the date-of-loss. The damage to the vehicle’s engine was a direct result of long-term wear-and-tear and possible overheating. The minor impact to the rear was in no way connected to the current low compression on the right cylinder bank. No other conditions were found that could have caused or contributed to the engine damage.

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