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jan73
jan73, Auto Service Technician
Category: Car
Satisfied Customers: 532
Experience:  ASE certified, 7 years of european high-line car experience
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1988 porsche 944: test drive..completely shut..light lit on the dash

Customer Question

hi, I'm looking to buy a 1988 porsche 944. I went out to test drive the car. After a while the car completely shut off, and a light lit on the dash. Overheating? The seller says the problem is the cooling fan relay. What should I believe and could any major damage be done to the car by this sudden shut down? Thanks.
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Car
Expert:  jan73 replied 5 years ago.
The car will NOT shut down if the cooling fan relay is bad. Does it still overheat when you drive?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
The seller is telling me that the fans do not switch on, but that the fan does work. His conclusion is that the fan relay is bad. During the test drive, the car shut down. He said that the car overheated and that was the reason for the shut down. Furthermore, the reason for the overheating is because the fans do not switch on. What could be the matter? Coolant temperature sensor (which he said he replaced), cooling fan switch, water pump, thermostat, or something else entirely? I really don't know much at all about cars, but those are some of the things I have read about on online forums related to this kind of issue, of course to some degree taking the sellers words at face value. Thanks.
Expert:  jan73 replied 5 years ago.
Well, here is the deal. He will tell you anything that will get the car sold, right?
Overheating will not make that car shut down unless, it overheats to a degree where the engine looses compression and stalls. In that scenario the head gasket blows-the car may re-start and drive but will exhibit all sorts of problems (loosing coolant, spitting coolant from the coolant reservoir). You want to walk away, the repair will be a good few grand.
If the car overheats while driving, it does not have anything to do with the fans...it may have a clogged radiator or maybe there is not enough coolant in the system.
I will advise you to be careful. These cars get really expensive too fix even if it's a smaller issue...
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
The car was left idling for a good 10-15 min. before we took it out. Then I drove it for about 20 minutes, took it up to 65 a few times. No problem as far as cooling was concerned, I think, I mean the gauges looked good— though the shifting felt a bit rough, especially down shifting into second. We brought it back, turned off the car, and then I had my friend drive the car. He drove in the car maybe 50 feet, and when he attempted to shift into second gear it stalled on him. Considering the fact that the car was not being driven very far when it stalled, does that still sound problematic? Also, what kind of repairs will I be incurring here? Thanks again, really helpful!
Expert:  jan73 replied 5 years ago.
OK, I am sure this stalling is not because the cooling system, there must be a different issue.
It is really hard for me to tell you what the problem could be. Could be fuel or ignition related...
Can range from a few hundred to thousand bucks...
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
This is really helpful. By the way, this is my first time using this service, how do I pay you for your time?

Could you please explain to me why you are sure this is not a cooling system problem? Thanks!
Expert:  jan73 replied 5 years ago.
I am not saying there is not a cooling system problem, if the car overheats(overheated), there is something going on.
If there is ANY problem with the cooling system, that won't make the engine stall, unless (as mentioned before) it overheats to point where engine damage occurs...


Customer: replied 5 years ago.
OK, I think I understand. The stalling might be because of another issue, unless of course there is good reason to believe that the engine overheating (in that moment when it stalled?) caused engine damage (blown head gasket, etc.--enough damage to cause a loss of compression, etc.) How can I tell if that was the case?
And if it is the case that the engine stalled because of this damage, it will be very expensive to fix. What would be involved in a repair like that? Would I be able to save if I did the repairs myself?

Expert:  jan73 replied 5 years ago.
If there is engine damage, there may be unusual noise from engine, pressure building up in cooling system, loss of coolant over time.
It would be expensive to fix, $2000-3000.
If you're not an experienced technician, I would not recommend doing it yourself.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Now if it isn't the overheating/blown gasket scenario that caused the stalling, what is the worst case scenario in terms of price to fix it? Also, if I did those repairs myself, would I be able to save some money on those repairs. In other words, would it be a job for someone with some very limited experience (rebuilding a pontiac 1969 GTO).
And could a novice do the repairs to fix the damaged head gasket, etc.? How much would that cost in terms of parts prices would you say? Thanks.
Expert:  jan73 replied 5 years ago.
That is a good question, and frankly it's not possible for me to determine. Could be from a few hundred to few thousand bucks, depending on the problem and diagnostic involved.
If you knew what the exact problem is, you might be able to do.
As I said in my last answer, I would not recommend to repair a blown head gasket if you are a novice.
(See earlier answer)
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
yes, sorry about the repeat question.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
OK, now down to the brass tacks. He is asking 3900 for this car. 1988 Porsche 944 base model. You are experienced in this field, what would you say now that you know exactly as much as I know? Would it be worth my while taking it to a shop beforehand? Buy, walk away, or make a lower offer? Porsche dealer or another mechanic— I can't take it to my usual guy because the seller is a couple hours away. Thanks.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
This is really the most obvious major problem with the car. The body is in perfect condition. 93000 miles. the muffler is making a rattling noise. the engine, I think, sounds good— no knocking or ticking... that was before the car stalled of course. Nothing obvious is wrong under the hood. a few cosmetic things are wrong with it like the motor in the driver side mirror. and of course, the shifting is a bit rough— new clutch? perhaps transmission, I just don't know. Thanks thanks thanks.
Expert:  jan73 replied 5 years ago.
Just remember, EVERYTHING on that cost $$$. I know it's used but you have to be careful!
The price seems a bit high to me, considering the issues.
If it was me, I would probably walk...
jan73, Auto Service Technician
Category: Car
Satisfied Customers: 532
Experience: ASE certified, 7 years of european high-line car experience
jan73 and 18 other Car Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Hey, you've been really terrific. Thanks so much, I can't begin to tell you how much this has helped. So much time I could have saved just coming to you instead of toiling around on the forums. All the best, Michael.
Expert:  jan73 replied 5 years ago.
Thanks Michael, anytime.
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