Saturday, March 18, 2017

Porsche Cayman Camera Mount

I bought a Garmin VIRB Ultra 30 action camera for recording in-car video in my 2006 Cayman S (987.1).  This camera uses the same mounts as GoPro cameras and many other action cameras. I found a good windshield suction mount that works great but sometimes its nice to get an in-car perspective.  I searched everywhere for a good mounting system.  I bought a clamp that I could use on the bar behind the seats, on the engine compartment.  However, the clamp was not rigid enough. It was also lower than I would like.
Camera clamp 

I kept searching for better options. I found one for over $400 and it still did not look great.  At this point I decided In would build one.  I went to the hardware store and bought about $35 worth of 3/4" aluminum square tubing, some 8mm all-thread, wingnuts, and washers.  I cut the tube into a 22" and 2, 5" lengths.  I removed the factory bar and installed the all-thread  into the bolt holes the original bar bolts were in.  Here is what I ended up with.

No special tools were needed.  Just a drill and saw.  It seems very rigid.  Road test coming soon.

I plan to just use this for track days and other events.  Its very simple and quick to swap the original bar back in as this camera bar is built for utility, not looks.

Here is a photo taken from the VIRB in the mount.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Owning a Mercedes E350 4matic

We bought a used Mercedes Benz E350 4matic in September of 2015.  It is a 2010 (W212) model and it had 34k miles on it.  Our daughter is off to college which is over 500 miles to drive each way.  We have made this trip many times.  The car already has over 77k miles as of this post (December 2016).

The good

This car handles very well for a luxury sedan.  Of course I said the same about the Jaguar XJ8L we had before it.  Seems that luxury cars are no longer the bouncy boats they once were. This is a great car for long road trips.  As I mentioned above, we often take this on long trips and the driver fatigue is the lowest I have had in any car.  It's very stable and it inspires confidence while also being very comfortable. Once while driving through central Missouri a car quickly veered into me as I was passing.  I had to take immediate action to avoid a collision.  I had to steer quickly to the left, using all remaining pavement, possibly even dropping the edge of the left wheels off the pavement.  We were doing over 70mph.  I was easily able to control the vehicle with confidence and we avoided any damage.  

This car is very easy to enter/exit and to drive.  My wife has RA and she says it is a great car for her since everything about it is easy.  Doors open easy, it shifts easy, etc.  

I like the paddle shifts for the automatic trans.  In this car you need them too.  More on that below.

We like the look of the car, even in silver.  I generally prefer red or blue.  Silver and black are my least favorite car colors, and sadly the most popular on Mercedes.  I don't mind it so much on this car though.  

The entertainment system is very good.  I am shocked however that is does not support Bluetooth A2DP (music streaming).  That seems ridiculous for a 2010 model.  Especially when it supports everything else.  I do mean everything too.  It supports 6 DVD/CD, PCMCIA expansion, Satellite radio, AM/FM, weather radio, and it has a connector in the glove box where you can connect USB, video, and audio.  It has a built in hard drive that you can use to store music on as well.  The sound quality is great too.  

So far it has been easy to work on.  I have only done oil changes, spark plugs, and rear brakes but those were all very simple.  The engine compartment opens up to expose the whole engine which is rare these days.  So many cars have the engine tucked under the bodywork making it hard to access the rear of the engine.  Not this car.  Here is a photo with the air cleaner removed.
Engine bay with air cleaner removed
Removing the air cleaner is a few clips and hoses, no tools needed.  You can see all the ignition coils in plain sight here.  Another great feature is that I can reset the maintenance reminders myself with no tools.  It is done with the display and steering wheel buttons.  It is a bit tricky and takes me several attempts each time but at least I can do it which is more than I can say for Volvo and Porsche.

The 270HP engine makes decent power.  This is the lowest power gas engine for this model year.  Still, it's not too bad.  The powerband is broad too for a naturally aspirated engine.  Fuel economy is OK for an AWD luxury car.  I get mid-20's on a road trip and about 20 in town.  

Tire life has been very good.  

The not so good

While the seats are very comfortable, I don't like the fake leather they use to make them.  It is much hotter in the summer than real leather.  It also has a bad feel on the skin when wearing shorts.  Much better when you have some jeans to separate you from this material.  It seems very durable and it looks good but it feels bad on your skin.  I find myself missing that fantastic Jaguar leather.

Like most newer cars, the automatic transmission favors the highest possible gear and the convertor locked.  I think the convertor locks as soon as you are moving.  This is all done for fuel economy.  The downside comes when you are merging onto the freeway.  You his a steady speed in the cloverleaf when it is constant radius.  At this point it shifts into the highest gear.  As the ramp straightens out to merge onto the freeway, the car resists downshifting.  You keep going deeper into the throttle with little response until finally it drops about 3 gears and you accelerate away.  Like I said, this is typical of modern cars.  Here is where the paddle shifts come in.  I limit the upshifts to keep the engine above 2,000rpm or so.  I can now accelerate on smoothly.  You can optimize the gear using the paddles until you get to cruising speed.  Then you just hold the upshift paddle until D is selected.   One other issue with this trans happens when going up a steep hill at low speeds.  Again the trans will hold the highest gear with the convertor locked to the bitter end.  When it does finally downshift, it can occasionally be harsh.  

Like most cars this size it is cramped for 5.  You can ride 4 with decent comfort but that 5th person in the middle is a tight squeeze.  This is not just an E-class issue of course.  You need a pretty wide car to fit 3 adults across in comfort.  It's fine across town but after an hour on the road, the back seat occupants will complain.


This car has turned my wife into a Mercedes fan.  It is very likely her next car will be a Mercedes.  She wants to consider an S-class next time for the extra room though.  I like the car too.  I would probably get the E-class again as a like the less big size.  Now they have the E400 which is basically this car with twin turbos.  

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Mercedes E350 DTC's

I have a 2010 Mercedes E350 4-matic.  At about 38,000 miles the "check engine" light came on intermittently.  I scanned it with a generic OBD scan tool and the Torque app.  It returned P0496 and P1077.  It started out setting these DTC's only once in a while, about 1,000 miles apart or more but it eventually happened more often.  I subscribed to the factory documentation and searched for the Mercedes DTC definitions but the documentation did  not show these 2 DTC's at all.  The generic definition is canister purge flow high.  I inspected the related hoses and found nothing wrong.  I searched forums and found some comments that people had fixed this with a new purge solenoid.  I removed and inspected my purge solenoid and found nothing wrong.  I checked to make sure it moved freely and sealed properly.  I noticed an adjustment on the top of the solenoid that was covered with silicone sealer.  I was able to poke the correct size allen wrench into the adjustment and adjust it.  The adjustment changed how far the valve opened when energized.  I ran the screw in a turn or 2.  I made sure the purge valve would still open but at a lower flow rate.  After driving the car for a while to let the monitors run the check engine light returned but this time 2 different codes were set: P0455 and P1085.  Neither of these were covered in the Mercedes documentation either so I checked the generic definition.  Now it said gross evaporative leak.  Interesting.  The DTC's changed so I know I was on the right track.  I turned the adjustment about 1/4 turn out (CCW) and drove the car again.  The MIL went out (so far).

Missing DTC's in the service information is a big industry problem.  I had this same issue on my Jaguar XJ8L.  What often happens is the controls are flashed with newer software which changes the DTC's but the documentation does not get updated.

It is also lame that Mercedes has 2 DTC's trip at the same time for a single detected issue.

I finally fixed the issue with a new gas cap.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Why I love Jaguar cars

Historically I was always a Ford fan.  I had all Fords until I acquired a BMW many years ago. My wife had always loved Jaguar cars.  They were beautiful, however, in the 1980's they were one of them most unreliable cars on the road.  British Layland pretty much destroyed the brand during this period and even today many people love the looks of the car but still remember the Jaguars of those years.

In 1989 Ford purchased Jaguar and began resurrecting it.  This took a long time as Jaguar was in bad shape at the time.  I bought my first Jaguar in 2000.  It was a 1994 XJ12.  We had a Ford Crown Victoria at the time and it had over 250k miles on it.  It was time to upgrade.  We looked at replacing it with another Crown Vic but when we saw the XJ12 for sale nearby we thought, what the heck.  We always wanted a Jag so now is the time.  I got the car cheap.  It was under $14k for a car that was originally over $70k.
This was not only my first Jaguar, but also my first (and only) V12 car.  This V12 had been upgraded under Ford ownership to fix all the oil leaks and other issues that had tarnished Jaguar.  We took this car on many trips and really liked it.  We eventually sold the car with 145k miles on it.

For a while I owned both the XJ12 and a 1998 XJR.  The XJR was a fantastic car for its day.  Very quick and fast.  Compared to the XJ12, and most other cars actually, it drove like a sports car.  I seriously considered taking this car to the track.
I still love the look of that XJR.  We sold this car with over 150k on it.

While the XJR was great in my book, my wife preferred a larger car with a smoother ride.  The XJR had firm suspension and wide tires for great handling.  She never used these features though.  So we bought a 2007 XJ8L.

In 2004 Jaguar created the X350 body style of the XJ which was all aluminum.  This reduced the cars weight considerably.  The whole car was redesigned and improved.  It was also larger.  The XJ8L is the long wheelbase version so it is even larger.  The back seat has enormous legroom.  It also has air ride suspension with active shocks.  Our 2007 was the last of the X350 (2008 was a slightly altered X351).

I also bought an X-Type.
The X-Type is really based on a Ford Mondeo. Being a Ford guy I am certainly good with that.  I will say though it is not like the XJ except in looks.  It rides like a Mondeo.  The X-Type and S-Type had heavy Ford influence and parts.  The XJ, XK, and the newer cars have very little in common with Ford.  Jaguar has always made their own V8 engines.  The new Jaguars now don't have any Ford parts.

So, why to we love these cars.  It is actually hard to explain to people.  Each time we were ready to replace our Jaguar, we drove many other cars and always came back to Jaguar.  They have a particular feel that is hard to describe.  The controls  are simple and intuitive.  The ride is really fantastic.  Not the boaty ride of years ago.  Firm yet compliant.  The car does not lean in corners yet it can soften up our nasty Illinois roads.  Acceleration is very good and smooth.  The XJR and XJ8L have a very pleasing exhaust note yet no drone.  People are amazed to hear the fuel economy this 2007 XJ8L gets.  I have done as good as 32 on the highway.  I always get 27 - 32 on the highway, and about 20-22 in town.  For a car this huge I feel very good about that.  The car just glides down the highway, even on terrible roads.  It is very controlled even at high speeds and the driver feels confident going fast.  The occupants are in a serene environment even when it is not so serene outside.

Jaguar has actually won or scored very well in several JD power's awards more recently. Both the quality awards and the APEAL awards.

I do all my own work on all my cars.  Jaguars are not that hard to work on.  

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Why I Love Porsche

I was raised in a Ford family actually.  Growing up our family owned all For and Lincoln vehicles and I really liked them.  The vehicle I drove most after getting my license was a 1972 Ford Bronco.  My first car was a 1968 Ford Mustang and I worked for almost 15 years at a Ford dealer.  However, a few years after high school I began to notice Porsche.  Reading car magazine around this time there was always a Porsche doing something great.  I liked the 911 because it was so different from other cars.  The rear engine design has many advantages for making a car fast.
  • The weight is already over the drive wheels for excellent traction
  • The drive wheels are the rear wheels where it belongs for best acceleration
  • On hard acceleration even more weight transfers to the drive wheels
  • The flat engine design keeps the weight very low in the chassis for better handling
  • The engine being so close to the rear axle helps reduce the moment of inertia when the car changes directions (turns)
  • The car was simple and light.
I guess I was a closet Porsche fan from that point on.  It was not until 2004 that I would actually buy a Porsche, and it was not a 911.  Unfortunately Porsche's are rather expensive.  In my case, my first Porsche was replacing my 3rd car and it is a bit harder to justify a 3rd vehicle.  We had only 2 cars until 2000 when my in-laws gave us their 1984 BMW 318i so I was replacing a car I had acquired for free.  My budget at the time did not have room for a 911.  I found a 1987 944S locally so I drove it.  After a short drive I decided it belonged in my garage.  I owned that car for 10 years.  

Not long after I bought the 944S I joined the Porsche Club of America.  There was a fairly active local region, and the president of that region worked in the building next to where I worked.  We got to know each other.  One day I was complaining that their website was out of date so he appointed me webmaster.  Next thing you know I am on the board of the local region.  

I joined the PCA mostly to attend track days, also known as drivers education or DE.  I had heard about them and really wanted to go.  In high school, and for several years after, I would drag race occasionally at a small 1/4 mile track near my home in Washington State.  Drag racing is fun but you only get a few seconds of fun at a time.  I was ready for a road course.  My first DE was at Blackhawk Farms.  I was a Chicago Region PCA event for novices such as myself.  I had a blast and was hooked.  I attended a couple events a year for several years there at tracks within a few hours drive. 

In 2014 I bought a 2006 Cayman S.  That story is here.  My first track day in that car was a Putnam Park, my favorite track.  Every car brand has a unique feel.  Its hard to describe the feel of each brand, you just have to drive them.  Most people tend to get used to the feel of the brand they drive so other brands feel different.  I think this is much of what creates brand loyalty.  Porches definitely have a special feel to them.  Even the 944S had a special feel, even though it was a front engine inline 4 cylinder car.  The Boxster, Cayman, and 911 are very different than other cars though.  The car is so different than most other cars and you feel it as soon as you push the car.  Typical cars seem to complain when driven hard.  Tires squeal, the car leans and groans in corners, and the engine wheezes under full throttle.  Not the case in a Porsche.  They love it.  The harder you push them, the happier they are.  The engine sings to you as you approach red line at wide open throttle.  It sounds so good that I often hit the rev limiter before shifting.

As I mentioned above, the Boxster, Cayman, and 911 have a very unique layout which has many advantages.  The 911 is the most unique having the engine actually behind the rear axle.  The Boxster and Cayman are mid-engine which is a layout shared with nearly all supercars. The unique thing about the Boxster and Cayman is that they are not only mid-engine, but they use a flat 6 engine in the middle.  Most supercars are a V engine (V6, V8, V12, V16).  The flat engine is much better for weight distribution because it keeps its weight very low in the chassis.

Now the engine weight is not only in the middle of the car, towards the rear where the drive wheels are, but it is also down very low.  This makes it the best handling car you can get really.  It also make for fantastic stopping as the rear wheels are actually providing much of the stopping power unlike front engine cars.  When you look at the layout and features of the Boxster and Cayman, these cars are a bargain even at the fairly high prices they command.  There are not many low priced mid-engine performance cars out there.  If you go back a bit you could say things like the Pontiac Fiero and Toyota MR2 were also mid-engine and were cheaper.  This is true, but they were also cheaper in every way, not just less expensive.  The  modern Lotus cars are probably the closest and they are priced similar.  

Porsche cars are really made for track duty.  You can take any Porsche right from the showroom to a DE, have fun all weekend, and drive it home.  This is not true with most cars.  Usually the brakes just can't handle the repeated heavy braking of a track day.  They will fade or worse, boil the fluid and fail.  Most performance cars can handle it OK if you upgrade the brake pads and fluid.  I ran street pads at Putnam in the Cayman with no fade at all.  

While some may consider Porsche an exotic, they can really be driven daily too.  I would not put Porsche in the same group as Ferrari or Lamborghini for instance.  They cost far less to own and maintain than those cars.  They are also much more reliable.  Porsche has many JD Power quality and APEAL awards.  You often see Porsche's with well over 100k miles on them.  It is rare to find a Ferrari or Lamborghini with high miles.  I drive my Porsche to work every day when there is no salt on the road.  I used it for grocery shopping, runs to the hardware store, etc.  It is my daily driver.  Porsche does make real exotics though.  The 959, the Carerra GT, and the 918 for instance.  These cars often outperform those other exotics.  The 918 still has the track record at the Nurburgring Nordschleife.

While these cars are a joy to drive everywhere, you can't fully enjoy a Porsche just driving it on public roads.  You really need to spend some time driving one at speed on a real track.  Only then can you fully experience the difference.  

Everything in life is a trade-off decision. For many a car is simply a transportation appliance meant to move people and things from place to place.  They look at a car much like I look at a washing machine.  You find one that will do the job for as cheap as you can while maintaining reliability.  Many such as myself however, view cars much differently.  They are a thing of both visual and audible beauty.  They excite your senses.  The driver and car combine to make an athlete.  Those shopping for a transportation appliance generally look at these priorities.
  • Miles per gallon
  • Cupholders
  • Utility
  • Seating capacity
  • Reliability
  • Purchase cost
  • Smooth ride
I have these priorities.
  • Smiles per gallon
  • Power and acceleration
  • Handling
  • Braking
  • Lap times
  • Aesthetics
  • Feel and sound

I do not consider myself a badge snob.  I would be more than happy if everyone could own a Porsche.  Exclusivity is not something I am into at all.  Sadly some do buy Porsche for this reason alone and it tarnishes the brand a bit in my opinion.  People get the wrong impression of Porsche owners.  

Thursday, June 4, 2015

How to start using a new Android device and get the best experience from it

There are many Android devices out there today.  This article will focus on tablets and phones.  Android is an operating system, similar to Windows or Linux.  However, Android does allow a significant amount of customization by the manufacturer who are creating an Android build for a device the sell.  Unfortunately device manufacturers can't seem to leave a good thing alone.  They put what is called "skins" on Android that make it look and act very differently.  Some of these include:

  • Amazon Fire OS
  • HTC Sense
  • Samsung Touch Wiz

For the most part, these modified Android versions are much worse than the proper Android which leads to a poor user experience, crashing, delayed updates to new operating systems, and inconsistency between devices.  I have been an Android user since the very first Motorola Droid came out in 2009.  I also had one of the first official Android tablets the Motorola Xoom.  When I try to use a Samsung or LG device, I have a hard time finding things.  The settings are all different.  Too much just looks and works differently.  As an app developer, I have also run into many issues caused by the customs versions of Android.

In addition to the custom operating system, they also create their own custom apps for email, calendar, phone dialer, contacts, file backup, device backup, etc.  None of these work nearly as well as the Google apps.  In the case of devices branded and sold through a cellular provider (the vast majority) it gets even worse.  Far worse.  Now the cellular provider really pollutes the device with a bunch of really awful software like their own versions of device backup, app stores, file storage, etc.  This adds yet another layer of terrible software on top of terrible software that really hurts the user experience and makes updates drag on for eternity, if ever.

So, how do we make things better.

  1. When you first get your new device make sure you log into it with your Gmail account that you create, preferably ahead of time.  Do not log into the cellular provider backup or file storage accounts.  Skip those steps.  Do not have the cellular store try to copy your contact in either.  They generally make a mess of it.  Their generic contact converters seem to always mess up copying fields from your current contacts.  If you have a non-smart phone you can use BitPIM to extract your old contacts.  Then upload them to Gmail using a PC and clean up any issues.  Use the PC to add new contacts as well.  Once you have your Gmail contacts correct, they can sync to the phone.  You can then manage them on the phone or the PC.
  2. If your phone or tablet has a confusing home screen and interface, install Google Now Launcher right away.  I recently bought a Lenovo tablet and the first thing I noticed was the terrible home screen.  Installing Google Now Launcher made a huge difference.  
  3. Disable and uninstall all the bloatware and terrible device manufacturer and cellular provider software that you don't want or is redundant with the Google apps like mail, calendar, backup, etc.   You do this by going to Android settings, finding "apps" in the list and selecting it.  This should list apps on the device.  Be careful to ensure you are seeing all apps, not just the ones you added.  You do this by scrolling to the right.  You will see the tabs change from "downloaded" to "running", to "all".  Make sure it is in then "all" tab.  Scroll down to the apps you don't want and select them one at a time.  For each app, click the "uninstall" button if it is available.  If "uninstall" is not available but "disable" is then disable.  
  4. Now install the right apps.  I prefer all the Google apps for most things.  
    1. Google Calendar
    2. Google Maps
    3. Google Drive and the related Docs and Sheets 
    4. Google Photos
    5. Gmail or Google Inbox
    6. Google Hangouts
    7. Google Translate
    8. Google Play Music
    9. Google Play Newsstand
    10. Google Play Movies & TV
    11. Google Play Books
    12. Google text-to-speech
    13. Google Camera
  5. Now disconnect all the older bloatware apps and connect the Google apps instead.  Start with calendar.  The other calendars are mostly junk as you store much of your calendar locally and they often don't connect or sync correctly with Google calendar.  Open Google Calendar and make sure you are logged in and that the local calendar is not the default calendar.  Use your google calendar for all appointments.  This way everything in synchronized in the cloud and you can manage it both with a PC and the phone.  You can also easily connect to other calendars such as school, clubs, etc.
Another option of course is to just buy a Nexus device to begin with and all of this is already taken care of for you.  I prefer Motorola devices.  The newer (Google ownership and after) are much cleaner than most so it is as close to a Nexus you can get short of a Nexus.  Now you can get the Nexus 6 which is both Nexus and Motorola.  Motorola finally started bypassing the carries all together.  Now you can get the 2015 and up Moto-X and other models direct from Motorola, unlocked, and bloatware free.

One other issue with the user experience is push notifications.  I guess this is a personal thing but there are very few push notifications I want.  Nice thing about Android is you can block apps from pushing notifications to your notification bar, beyond just the settings in the app itself.  There are several apps I do block because they misuse it.  In order to block an app from notifying, go to settings, then apps, then select the app of interest.  This is the same place we were above to disable and uninstall.  This time though just un-check  "show notifications".  That app can no longer put stuff on the notification bar.  Great feature.  

I actually don't have Facebook app installed.  Facebook is the kind of app that abuses push notifications and it has other issues.  I do use Facebook however.  I just have a shortcut on my home page that is a bookmark to the website.  Most people cant even tell the difference.  My home screen button looks the same as the app.  When you click the shortcut the website loads a mobile optimized page that looks nearly identical to the app.  The beauty of this is that Facebook cannot run in the background chewing up battery and data, and it can't pester you. Chrome browser added the ability to do push notifications in web apps in 2015.  However, when you first load the page the web app will ask if you want push notifications.  You can say no here.  To add a web app to your home screen in Chrome (on Android or desktop) use the menu and click the "add to homescreen".

Believe it or not Microsoft of all companies have made some good Android apps and services lately.  Some of these may rival Google.  In some cases I have both.  I use both Google Drive and One Drive for instance.

I started using Waze for navigation.  It has a fantastic crowd sourced traffic data that is unrivaled.  It is also owned by Google by the way.

The new Google Photos includes free backup of all your photos (up to 16MP) and videos (up to 1080p).  That is the best deal out there.  They also have a PC app to back up everything from your PC too.  You do have the option to backup larger photos and videos but that will cost Drive space.  16MP and 1080p is very good size, and happens to be equal or larger than most phones will shoot anyway.

I use Hangouts for SMS, MMS, and Hangouts IM, voice calls, and video calls.  It works great and free all over the world (except China where nothing Google works).  When I travel in and outside the US I can connect WiFi at my hotel and call home for free.  Very nice.  I have all my messaging in one place too.  Skype will do about the same except for SMS/MMS so it is another good option.

I like both Google Play Newsstand and Google News & Weather.  I read the news on both these apps every day.  With Newsstand, you can even connect to subscribed papers and magazines.  I subscribe to the Wall Street Journal via Newsstand for instance.

Google Play Music is also a great app.  It lets me use my music library both in the cloud and on the device to create instant mixes.  This is great for long trips where you don't want all kinds of strange music you don't like from a Pandora or the like since you can have Google Music use only your music for the mix.  It also has ad free streaming if you want it.

I use My Tracks to track my bicycle rides.  The only issue I have with it is the calorie estimator.  So, I also use Cardio Trainer.  I run both apps at the same time on the same device.   The only issue is you can only connect your heart monitor to one of them at a time.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Porsche Cayman S grilles

I have a 2006 Porsche Cayman S.  From the factory there are no grilles for the radiators so they collect leaves, rocks, bugs, everything.  The stuff gets sucked in and has no way out.  This is an issue on the 987 (Cayman/Boxster) and 997 (911). The plastic bars in the openings are plenty big enough for all this trash to get in but not really big enough to get your hand in there to clean it out well.  If you push and struggle, you can reach some of the bigger stuff.  The only way to really clean it out is to remove the nose of the car.

There are aftermarket grilles available.  Most cost around $300.  Some pop on from the outside and others install behind.  After looking at some of these options I decided to just get stainless grille mesh from Amazon and make a set of grilles myself. The grille material comes in a 6" x 36" flat piece which was perfect to make these grilles.  I wanted very good airflow so I selected a mesh with at least 80% open area.  It cost $18.99.  My goal was to keep the larger debris out.

The nose of the car is not that hard to remove really.  However, it is not obvious how to do it either.  You need to read the manual.  There are a few options to get the manual.  You can go to to get the factory service information for any 1996 or newer car or truck.  The manufacturer works with the government to determine pricing for subscriptions.  In Porsches case, they have a rather undesirable pricing scheme where you can buy $10 access or $100 access.  Of course the stuff you generally want in just over $10 it seems so you have to opt for the $100 access.  Instead, I thought I would give AllDATAdiy a try.  I think it was under $40 for a year of access.  I have used it many times now and while its not as good as the factory info, it works.  Basically there are screws in top, in the wheel wells, and along the bottom you can readily see.  Then there are 2 clips you access from under the front trunk area.  There is also a large wiring harness you disconnect behind the right headlight area and a washer hose behind the left headlight area.  From there you slide the whole thing forward.

Here are some photos showing the nose removed.

Nose removed showing the air ducts over the radiators and condensors

The nose off the car

Looking behond the nose of the car at the air openings

You can see the slot to the right of this headlight where the clips goes behind to hold the nose.

The electrical connector is in here, accessed from the wheel well above the radiator

I had already cleaned most the debris out when this photo was taken. You can still see the leaves packed above the condenser though.

New grille in place, held in with small black zip-ties

After removing the nose and air ducts I loosened the condensers and cleaned the debris from the radiators and condensers.  I also used compressed air to carefully blow back through the radiators and condensers to remove all the smaller debris and bugs while being careful not to bend any of the cooling fins.

Here is what it looks like now.

I actually wanted black grilles but I did not want to use metal that would rust.  Aluminum would have been either too weak or too bulky. I could have painted these grilles, which was my original plan, but I was concerned the paint would not bond well and if they chip you would see the bright stainless under it which would be much worse.  So, I left them unpainted stainless.