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I took my wife's '05 Carrera in for its first alignment this week at 49+K miles (trying to get everything checked out before end of warranty). The work was done by Steve Alarcan at Johnson's Alignment in Torrance. He noted one of the front shocks was wobbly, but not leaking yet. His recommendation was to replace shocks all around with Bilstein HDs, which he said were quite a bit better than stock (even for a car like this which is only driven on the street - no plans to track, ever). The dealer said shocks are a wear item and not covered by the 50K mile warranty. Since the car is still under warranty, the dealer will probably work some kind of deal. OEM shocks have a 2 year parts warranty; the Bilsteins have a lifetime warranty.

Does anyone have any comparative experience with the OEM and Bilstein HDs on a plain 997 tip, no PASM, driven on the street? Are the (more expensive) Bilsteins noticeably better? Car is stock height and will stay that way, so PSS9s would be a total waste of money. If I go with OEM, I would only have to replace the front shocks, but if I go with Bilstein HDs, I'll probably have to replace front and rear. Of course, the dealer only knows about what Porsche sells, so no useful input from them regarding shocks (and I do like my dealer)

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Ask him what he means by "wobbly"? The struts on these cars last for a long time and unless it was leaking or noisy I wouldn't bother replacing anything just yet. I would say save your pennies ... smells fishy to me. Or possibly take it to another dealer and ask their opinion. I'm almost positive the struts are covered under the factory warranty and the dealer should replace it...that is if there is anything wrong with it in the first place.

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"Wobbly" as in the shock mechanism is loose, which I took to mean the shock piston has some side-to-side play.

I'm starting to find that something as simple as OEM shocks isn't so simple. Nobody seems to replace the stock shocks with the same or the Bilstein HD ones - or at least never post anything about it. I also posted on rennlist and 6speedonline, and received conflicting responses. A call to Bilstein tech support gave me the same information I could get from their web site - they make the stock Porsche shocks, but no idea how the HDs differ from OEM in terms of ride, performance, handling, comfort, etc. The comment most consistent with what I've heard multiple times in the past is that the original shocks can wear out by 50K miles sometimes. Steve Alarcon and Johnson's Alignment, where I took the car, have a sterling reputation and he wasn't trying to sell me anything.

I hope to get some time later this week to get the car in to the dealer before the odometer rolls over 50K miles, to have everything checked out before the warranty ends. I was already planning to have the dealer service take a look, and see what they say about whether shocks are a warranty replacement item or just a wear item like tires and brakes. If they confirm it's worn, I need to call board-sponsor Sunet for their price on OEM shocks, and see how that compares to the shox.com price ($949 for front and rear for the Bilstein HD).

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Side to side play of the piston? The only real way to determine that would be to remove the entire strut assembly and disassemble it. Then you would have to measure the side to side play and compare it to a spec Porsche doesn't even publish. I say definitely get it into the dealer and repeat to them what your indy told you. I almost gaurantee they wont replace anything.. which is saying something because if your car is under warranty they have almost free reign to replace anything. I've never heard any reputable source say Porsche struts wear out at 50k miles. Does that number seem funny to you... OH thats when your warranty runs out. Just in time for your indy to swoop in and save the day.

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Side to side play of the piston? The only real way to determine that would be to remove the entire strut assembly and disassemble it. Then you would have to measure the side to side play and compare it to a spec Porsche doesn't even publish. I say definitely get it into the dealer and repeat to them what your indy told you. I almost gaurantee they wont replace anything.. which is saying something because if your car is under warranty they have almost free reign to replace anything. I've never heard any reputable source say Porsche struts wear out at 50k miles. Does that number seem funny to you... OH thats when your warranty runs out. Just in time for your indy to swoop in and save the day.

hi

my car is also about the same km. 42000. and after letting the service check all the front suspension shock etc, and it has been diagnosed that the front shocks worn out although there was no leak. (i believe it caused a loose steering feeling at high speed turns etc...) and so i decided to go with the OEM replacement. each PASM shock costs about 1200 usd. will let you know after replacing them later this week

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  • 3 weeks later...

A status update: I took the car in the other week to let the dealer diagnose the problem. The mechanic's diagnosis was the right front strut bearing had excessive wear (why is it always the right side that wears?), so they replaced both side strut bearings under warranty and realigned the suspension. The dealer reported the rear alignment was "in the red" - camber at -2. I'm still waiting to get a printout from my service advisor, and Steve at Johnson's Alignment said to bring it back and they would look it over again and let me know if the shock still appears loose. Alignment was street use for better tire wear.

I have no complaints with the work from either Johnson's Alignment or the dealer. The car drove quite a bit better after Steve did the alignment, and even more better when my dealer service advisor (another Steve) finished the strut bearing replacement.

More to come after I take it back to the alignment shop...

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  • 2 weeks later...

More update: I took the car back to Steve at Johnson's Alignment yesterday. They put the front up in the air, he took a look, then called me over to check it out. I put my fingers around the chrome center rod of the right front shock and pushed, and the shock wiggled around. The left side didn't move nearly as much. I guess shocks aren't supposed to be loose like that.

Supposedly Bilstein is having a 4 for the price of 3 sale in the April timeframe. I may just get new shocks then. Still need to talk to the dealer to see what they say, or at least get them to note the problem in their files. I am expecting that shocks are a wear item. Steve's recommendation was the Bilstein HDs will ride better than stock. But he pointed out there's no need to rush and replace the shocks, as nothing is leaking at this time, so no sales job

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More update: I took the car back to Steve at Johnson's Alignment yesterday. They put the front up in the air, he took a look, then called me over to check it out. I put my fingers around the chrome center rod of the right front shock and pushed, and the shock wiggled around. The left side didn't move nearly as much. I guess shocks aren't supposed to be loose like that.

Supposedly Bilstein is having a 4 for the price of 3 sale in the April timeframe. I may just get new shocks then. Still need to talk to the dealer to see what they say, or at least get them to note the problem in their files. I am expecting that shocks are a wear item. Steve's recommendation was the Bilstein HDs will ride better than stock. But he pointed out there's no need to rush and replace the shocks, as nothing is leaking at this time, so no sales job

If thats the case, thats scary. I would love to see pictures of that strut after its removed. For the piston rod to be loose enough to be moved by hand something is really wrong. There should be zero movement there. Are you sure all of the oil didnt leak out already? Lol. Are they making any noises at all?

:??

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More update: I took the car back to Steve at Johnson's Alignment yesterday. They put the front up in the air, he took a look, then called me over to check it out. I put my fingers around the chrome center rod of the right front shock and pushed, and the shock wiggled around. The left side didn't move nearly as much. I guess shocks aren't supposed to be loose like that.

Supposedly Bilstein is having a 4 for the price of 3 sale in the April timeframe. I may just get new shocks then. Still need to talk to the dealer to see what they say, or at least get them to note the problem in their files. I am expecting that shocks are a wear item. Steve's recommendation was the Bilstein HDs will ride better than stock. But he pointed out there's no need to rush and replace the shocks, as nothing is leaking at this time, so no sales job

If thats the case, thats scary. I would love to see pictures of that strut after its removed. For the piston rod to be loose enough to be moved by hand something is really wrong. There should be zero movement there. Are you sure all of the oil didnt leak out already? Lol. Are they making any noises at all?

:??

When checking out the movement with Steve, he indicated it wasn't all that bad. Shocks were fully extended, and according to him not leaking yet. Since he does a lot of Porsche race cars (I think he's very active in the race community, based on what I've heard), he said the pistons on early versions of most race shocks wobble a lot more, and eventually the manufacturers figure out how to beef them up (he rattled off a few brand names he saw that did this). My dealer said to bring it back and they would put it up on the rack and have me show the mechanic what I was shown so they can figure out whether to do anything about it. When I get back in town next week and take it to the dealer, I'll post another update

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  • 2 weeks later...

Another update: Took the car back to the Porsche dealer today to have a mechanic look at it. The car has one month left on the factory warranty and odometer reading when I got to the dealer was close to 49,900. Service writer and I pulled in to the mechanics area, and drove the car up on the rack. Mechanic asked where I took the car for alignment, and after I told him, said he knows Steve Alarcon, and Johnson's Alignment does good work. Pushed on the extended right front shock and it felt pretty solid. Mechanic asked if I was sure it was the right side? Mechanic removed both left and right front wheels, then pushed on the extended shocks. Sure enough, the right side has a little side-to-side movement, but the left side doesn't. The dealer will replace under warranty :D then redo the front alignment.

The mechanic said they rarely replace Porsche shocks - they seem to last a long time. PCA tech section on their web site says Porsche shocks often wear out by 50K miles. Not sure what the right answer is after this experience, but I'm happy with the outcome.

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Hmm...

After about 28k i replaced my stock springs for Eibach Pro-Kits springs, drove that for about 2k, and installed the Bilstein SP shocks because i didn't like the combination of the OEM shocks with Eibach springs. Now, at 33k i want to reinstall the complete OEM suspension, because the ride is WAY to hard! But after reading this, i don't know if it is smart to put the original shocks back, or purchase a new set. It would suck that after 10k i have to change it all out again...

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Hmm...

After about 28k i replaced my stock springs for Eibach Pro-Kits springs, drove that for about 2k, and installed the Bilstein SP shocks because i didn't like the combination of the OEM shocks with Eibach springs. Now, at 33k i want to reinstall the complete OEM suspension, because the ride is WAY to hard! But after reading this, i don't know if it is smart to put the original shocks back, or purchase a new set. It would suck that after 10k i have to change it all out again...

This is my wife's daily driver, so nothing firmer than the stock suspension is in the future. No track time. She got 28K miles out of the original rear tires, if that give you any indication of how competitive she drives. Definitely don't want a lower or stiffer ride

Steve Alarcon at Johnson's Alignment recommended the Bilstein HD shocks over the OEMs. More comfortable ride and better handling for the stock suspension. As long as the other shocks are OK, and the loose one is being replaced, I don't need to spend $ upgrading (or just changing out) shocks. Supposedly Bilstein is going to have a "4 for the price of 3" promotion in April. shox.com looked like about the cheapest source when I started looking at options.

I had the ROW 030 suspension installed on my Boxster, there's an equivalent for the Carrera. OEM and designed as a system. Lowered the car to Euro specs, rides great. Not much firmer than the stock US suspension, but handles a lot better. One of the best upgrades I've done. There's also an OEM X74 suspension for the 996, not sure about the 997. And there's also the Bilstein PSS10s. All of those are options you might want to look into if you want better handling without sacrificing ride quality before reverting to stock.

Based on what I saw on my Carrera, the original shocks should easily be good for over 50K miles

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I was under the impression that OEM shocks are Bilstein to begin with.

Yes they are , but a budget version for the mainstream manufacturers. The aftermarket options are better materials , hence the longer warranty period.

And if one wants to remain stock, will a Bilstein replacement (non-OEM) behave the same as stock, with the same PASM behavior?

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