This Is Why I Switched From The Porsche Dealer To An Independent Mechanic

This is not a paid review. I did not receive any compensation for telling this story.

Like most automotive journalists, I drive a press vehicle as my daily driver. It is awesome driving the latest and greatest, including vehicles ranging from family wagons to super cars. But being a car guy and a track day enthusiast, I have to own at least one car.

A little over 5 years ago I purchased an out of state 2001 Porsche Boxster S with 20,000 miles on the odometer and detailed service records from the previous owner’s local Porsche dealer. Having drank the manufacturer cool-aid, I thought the dealer was the best way to go. So for five years, my baby went to the dealer for regular oil changes, brake flushes, and minor wear and tear item repairs. I knew that I was likely paying more, but I was also getting the free lattes and cookies, a Porsche loaner vehicle, and the piece of mind that the mechanic working on my car should be a Porsche expert… but the later is not always the case.

A month before the annual Porsche Parade (The Porsche Club of America’s National Convention), I noticed a consistent harsh noise every time I made a high speed tight left turn while applying the throttle. This noise was especially troublesome because I was planning to enter my Boxster into the club’s autocross race during Porsche Parade. So I dropped my baby off at the local Porsche dealer in South Florida to be diagnosed and they gave me a shiny new Macan to drive. A week later the dealership’s Service Advisor called me up and said that my issue was related to suspension components. $2,000 later my vehicle was fixed and ready to be picked up. Assuming that my Porsche was in tip top shape, I drove leisurely on the way home and my car sat in the garage for a couple weeks.

Fast forward to Porsche Parade week… it was finally time to test my skills in the autocross competition at Palm Beach International Raceway. Every left turn, my stomach twisted as my car screeched a harsh noise. I instantly knew the problem was NOT fixed. Luckily the Porsche community is an amazing group of individuals, and one of my friends at Parade recommended a local independent mechanic who is experienced with working on first generation Boxsters. I was hesitant to make the jump, but I was disappointed that my local dealer, who should know everything about my car, didn’t fix the problem the first time – especially after having my car for over a week.

The following Monday I visited Foreign Affairs Motorsport and met with Bobby, the owner’s son. You could immediately tell that they are true gear heads, with automotive memorabilia and motorsports trophies on nearly every wall of the front office. Their passion is Porsche, but other European brands were also in their shop: a Lamborghini, a Bentley, and several BMWs. I told Bobby what my Porsche’s symptoms were and the history of the problem. To my pleasant surprise, he asked me to take him for a ride in order to reproduce the noise – the dealer never offered this. We drove the vehicle around the block and Bobby almost immediately had an idea of what was causing the problem – it wasn’t a suspension noise. He then put my car on the rack and conferred with his head mechanic. Two years ago, a Porsche 911 Turbo was experiencing the same problem on the race track. The culprit was that the transmission mounts went bad on one side. How could the dealer have missed that? Bobby brought me into the shop and showed me how with his hands he could giggle the section back and forth. The root of my problem was a $1,000 transmission mount issue versus a $2,000 suspension problem.

During his team’s inspection of my vehicle, the mechanic also noticed that my water pump was leaking and that I had a small oil leak. Without asking, Bobby personally showed me the leaks. My local Porsche dealer never let me into the active shop. While both problems were minor, both could lead to catastrophic engine problems in the future. How could my local dealer have missed this too??? I guess they were too focused on selling me a new Porsche.

After this experience, Foreign Affair Motorsport has my business for life. With that being said, there are two instances where I wouldn’t use them: 1) If I am driving a new car where the parts and labor are covered under a manufacturer’s warranty. 2) If I am driving a vehicle that they don’t service. I.E. American and Japanese cars.

Tips for picking an independent mechanic:

  • Check the shop’s references. Do you have a family member or a friend who has had good experiences with the shop? If not, check the shop’s Yelp reviews.
  • Go to a shop that specializes in your type of vehicle. Do they have similar vehicles on the racks or parked outside? Don’t just look at their website, a mechanic who is use to working on your vehicle will be able to troubleshoot the root of the problem quicker.
  • Pick a shop that wants to educate you. Does the mechanic show you the bad part? Does the mechanic offer preventive maintenance advice in order to prevent major problems in the future.

Battle of the Lightweights: Porsche Macan versus Range Rover Evoque R-Dynamic

Both of these vehicles are the baby of the family. With the Porsche Macan being the little brother to the Cayenne, and the Range Rover Evoque being the little brother to the Range Rover Sport (plus Velar and the full-size Range Rover). I recently deemed that a showdown of Macan versus Evoque was in order since both of the vehicles are in the same compact sporty crossover segment.

Performance

While neither the Macan nor the Evoque are true sports cars, both vehicles are designed to outpace sports cars of yesteryear.

The Porsche Macan with its 7-speed dual-clutch transmission and 248 horsepower inline 4-cylinder has been known to ring in quicker lap times than Porsche sports cars from the 1980s. I found the Macan to be well balanced and extremely nimble for a crossover. The steering was also very precise, especially for turn-ins on a tight course.

The Range Rover Evoque R-Dynamic tackles performance with brute force in comparison. The nearly 300 horsepower turbocharged 4-cylinder presses your head back when you smash the gas pedal. Not rocket ship fast, but it is noticeably more cinematic than the Macan thanks to over 20 pounds of additional torque. Around corners, the Evoque didn’t feel as precise as the Macan and I seemingly experienced more body roll.  Click Here To Continue Reading

Topless In Miami 2019 Winners

For the past 9 years, the Southern Automotive Media Association has hosted an event called Topless in Miami. It is an annual gathering of its members to determine what are the best convertibles on the market. The definition of a “convertible” has obviously changed over the years with the introduction of hardtop convertibles and “convertible like” vehicles such as panoramic vehicles, which are becoming more and more popular. However the spirit of the event holds true now more than ever… soaking up the sunshine is the best way to enjoy the streets of South Florida.

Here are this year’s winners and why I think they deserve the title:

Convertible Of The Year: Mercedes AMG GT C Roadster

This Roadster deserves a home run with classic Roadster styling, a knockout exhaust and racing inspired interior. It not only looks and sounds fast, but it rockets from 0 to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds thanks to 550 horsepower bi-Turbo V8 engine.

This vehicle also won the luxury convertible of the year award.  Click Here To Continue Reading

Meet the Panamera 4S, a Porsche with few compromises

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I have been a Porsche purist since I was 6 years old. I saw a red 1992 Porsche 911 coupe at my kindergarten graduation and instantly fell in love with the perfectly sculpted headlights, the shape of the fenders, and uniquely positioned rear engine. After the graduation ceremony, I asked my great grandmother if she would buy me my first car when I turned 16. She replied “of course” and asked what kind of car I wanted… My response: “a Porsche.” Ten years later, I didn’t get a Porsche for my 16th birthday, but I have been a fan for over two decades.

In 2002, when Porsche introduced the Panamera, I thought it was silly. Porsche is the creator of high performance sports cars (and an SUV called the Cayenne). “The two vehicles could never live up to deserve the Porsche crest.” Boy was I wrong! The Porsche Panamera 4S is all Porsche, but with few compromises. Behind the wheel, your adrenaline kicks in as you hug corners with precision and then aggressively accelerate on the straightaways. But in the backseat, the kids, the family pet and your luggage are safe and sound.

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The Porsche Panamera 4S is almost two feet longer car than the 911, but it doesn’t feel like it. Looking forward you would think you are behind the wheel of a 911. The car is so well balanced, you forget the longer wheelbase and the fact that you are driving a front engine car. The car handles beautifully. The advanced all-wheel drive system delivers most of the power to the rear wheels, while giving just enough to the front wheels to keep you perfectly alined.

When you step on the gas pedal, you are instantly pushed to the back to your seat while 420 horses propel you from 0 to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds. The model I tested includes Porsche’s PDK (dual-clutch transmission). With it, the Panamera 4S shifts as fast as you can push the paddles on the steering wheel. The feeling is absolutely incredible! The PDK transmission also makes the car three tenths of a second faster on and off the track. If you have the need for speed, the Porsche Panamera 4S is rated for 177.7 mph on the track.

Three drive modes are available: Comfort, Sport, and Sport Plus. Each one can be tailored to your driving preferences. In Sport mode, the car opens up the exhaust, stiffens the suspension, and changes the gearbox timing. I drove in this mode 90% of the time during my one-week test. The car was aggressive, but comfortable enough for everyday driving. Sport Plus mode intensifies Sport mode by giving you an even stiffer ride, more direct steering, and harder shifts. It also lowers the height of the car to improve aerodynamics and lower the car’s center of gravity. Sport Plus mode isn’t for everyday driving – The car maintains high RPMs, which causes the car to jerk while shifting at slow speeds and it rides extremely rough. With that said… Sport Plus mode is a must for racing enthusiasts.

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The adjustable quad-exhaust on the Porsche Panamera 4S brings out the car’s true colors: In Sport and Sport Plus modes, you can hear the turbo-charged V6 engine roar as you step on the gas; it also increases airflow to deliver peak performance. In Comfort mode, the engine volume is suppressed to give passengers a quite ride.

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The Porsche Panamera 4S combines luxury and performance into one sleek package. Inside the car, you feel as if you just stepped into the cockpit of a fighter jet – the car is filled with airplane themed toggle switches and buttons. The leather wrapped steering wheel, leather seats, and brushed aluminum trim add to the sporty look.

Comfort is a priority with the Panamera 4S, you will find heated and cooled seats for the front and rear passengers, as well as multiple climate zones. You can easily fit four adults in the car without having to adjust the front seats. If you want a surplus of legroom, an executive version of the car adds an additional five inches to the rear.

The Porsche Communication Management (PCM) system featured a 7-inch touch screen display for controlling the radio, navigation system, and apps. It also comes with a special performance display to view, store and evaluate lap times. Using the system is intuitive, but it will take a while to get use to the controls. To my surprise, I found a handheld phone in the center console. By placing a SIM card into the PCM system, you can activate the car’s built-in cell phone. This was an awesome feature back in the 1990’s because it offered handsfree calling through the car’s sound system and improved cell reception, but its completely unnecessary in an age with Bluetooth technology. Calling friends and family over Bluetooth using my iPhone worked great!

The Porsche Panamera 4S car is ready for a cross country road trip or a day at the track. It is equally suited for both tasks.

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The Perfect Car…

The Porsche Panamera 4S gives you the experience of a 911, but with the practicality of owning a four-door sedan… In essence it is the perfect car. So the question is: For $98,000, should I buy the Panamera 4S or buy the equally priced 911 Carrera 4S? If you are buying a daily driver, get the Panamera. If you are buying a fun weekend car, buy the 911. Both are amazing cars.

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A special thank you to Porsche North America for loaning me the Porsche Panamera 4S for a week.

Photography by Kyle Coburn and myself.