Lee Sibley By Lee Sibley 2 months ago

Porsche Boxster roof: the common issues

9WERKS' resident expert Chris Wright shows what you need to watch out for with the roofs of 986, 987 and 981 generations of Porsche Boxster

Think of a Porsche and your mind will likely project an image of a flowing Coupe, but did you know the first car Ferdinand Porsche penned was actually a roadster? Ever since then, open-top motoring has endured for Porsche enthusiasts.

But what began as little more than as a simple rain cover, progressed to a zip out window or foldable hood in the 911, before becoming a revolutionary Z-fold design on the Boxster in 1996.
There is a great deal of historic roof design and manufacturing knowledge within Porsche, who's subsidiary CTS Fahrzeug-Dachsysteme (CTS Car Top Systems) originally did the Boxster roof, along with the Mercedes SLK and others, before it was sold to Magna International in 2005.

That was all a while ago now, and it might not be surprising that issues can arise with the roofs of Boxsters. Wrightune's Chris Wright explained what problems typically present with the various model's roofs. "They are generally really good, and don't tend to fail,” reassures Chris. "With 986 model cars, we'll commonly see snapped tension cables", an issue so common Wrightune always carry the part in stock.

Beyond that, he reports mainly electronic problems; the micro switch where the roof locks in or the switch by the handbrake, both of which are crucial for correct operation of the hood. "Very rarely I've had a relay causing a problem, or roof gearbox,” he reports, pointing out that in the main, they are reliable. Things to watch are the plastic rear window, which can crack in cold weather, and for tension loss around the window itself, which is also an issue on the later 987 Boxster variants. That isn't exactly a crisis list, considering the age of the cars, and the exposed nature of the part on the vehicle.

The 987 raises a different set of concerns. "Check the operating rods, which use a plastic ball joint,” explains Wright. "That joint can go brittle and then snaps, preventing the hood operating.” The most pressing concern to check is for water ingress, as the ECU is under the passenger seat. If that gets a soaking, it can randomly attempt to open the roof. If that happens when the hood is locked at the front, (which it likely will be) that can cause “varying degrees of damage.” says Chris, "From stressing and damaging the operating rods, through to damaging the gearbox teeth. The best thing there, is to always investigate any water ingress into the vehicle as soon as you notice any.”

The later 981 Boxsters, Chris says, currently have no reported problems that he is aware of. Which is reassuring for a decade-old car now.

By way of preventing these issues, it's pretty much the standard stuff regardless of variant: "Check roof drains are clear, otherwise water can get in the car, and don't neglect the canvas – keep it clean and reproof it when needed,” advises Chris. "By and large the roofs are very good. They moved it on from the earlier 911 type hood, and then only got better with each generation".

Regardless of which Boxster model you own, the roof works so well, and is such an integral part of the enjoyment of the car that it is one part you really should make sure works properly. Besides that, Ferdinand would want you to have the roof down, wouldn't he?

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Article written by Alisdair Cusick