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Thinking about buying a 996

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Hi all,

Been looking around here and found some great information, thanks for all you all do.

I am looking at getting into a 1999 996 with 89,XXX miles. It is not in great cosmetic shape and anyone who has looked at it has passed on it so far. The current owner is selling for a friend (whose girlfriend drove/maintained it, apparently, supposedly) and does not know much about the car, so I have had to scrounge around placing calls to many different shops/dealers for information.

What I know:

Car had 85k service: clutch, plugs, oil, air filter, pollen filter, brakes. I need to dig deeper to find more information but not sure I will find anything.

Car had engine replacement in 2006- I think I've found the dealer that at least sold them the engine (though I believe the work was done at an aftermarket shop that has since changed hands) but the dealer wouldn't tell me when it was purchased/installed due to the 'privacy act'. Ha.

I have not run a carfax yet but I'm sure it's got a few pages of info, looking to run that tonight or tomorrow. I obviously plan on getting a PPI at a local shop prior to any money changing hands.

The car has been neglected cosmetically, but it's all stuff I can fix and/or have fixed:

Front bumper paint is cracking beneath the clearcoat.

Headlights need new fog light bulbs. They are very faded, plastic/gaskets look terrible, probably would change.

Taillights- one bulb on 3rd (4th?) light needs replacing. Main lights need new housings as the plastic is starting to deteriorate.

Dent in roof just above windshield

Driver's seat does not move, leather is completely ripped.

Rear spoiler skirt is completely shredded/missing.

Ignition is funky.

Rims need serious refinishing around the lips.

Interior coin tray is broken in open position.

I have researched most of these and know the cost and whatnot associated with them. I know this car will never be a show-stopper, I'm hoping to get it into 'good' condition for a 12yr old car, it will be kept outside and under cover, not in a garage.

All that said (if you've made it this far, thanks!), I'm fairly sure I can get the car for $9500-$10000.

My questions are, is there anything I should be looking for? I've searched and read several articles regarding the IMS, cylinder sleeves, etc- and 2006 seems to be the last year they put in the little corrections and might have gotten it almost (knock on wood) right.. yes no maybe? I know that's a loaded question!

Any help or advice you can offer would be fantastic!

Thanks in advance and thanks in retrospect for all I've already learned from your site.

Edited by mookarma
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For $10K it could be OK if it passes PPI - depends how many miles on that engine and how well it was really taken care of - you need to look at cost of '99 with similar miles and good condition with service history to compare (i'm guessing closer to $20K). If it had new engine in '06 - and it was a Porsche Factory engine with less than 50Km on it since then - maybe this is good. (where did the engine come from ? If it was a reputable rebuild , that maybe OK too - if you have list of parts that were replaced)

How often was oil changed ? (what does condition of oil look like right now ? ) - I guess if changed at 86K that is good - but what about before that ?

Run the carfax - you might get some more of the service history

When they did clutch did they look at condition of IMS/RMS seals ? Are there any oil stains / leaks on the bottom of the car ?

What about tire condition ? (plan to spend at least $600-$1K to replace)

If you do PPI - make sure you do it at Porsche specialist - not just generic german auto shop

Remove and repaint front bumpers should not cost too much - make sure they clean radiators when they do that (guess <$1K)

Bulb replacement is easy

Not sure about Gasket change - check the price of headlight assembly - that can be $1K to $1.5K each if the whole thing needs replacing

If roof dent is small and not too near edge should be easy for dent doctor to pull ($200 or so)

Not sure about cost of seat motor replacement - could be fuse if you are lucky - check with upholstry shop if they can match and how much to recover

(never done that, but could be expensive to do well)

Ask dealer about cost to replace spoiler skirt

Ignition funky ? If ti is bad switch, which seems common, that is a cheap and easy part to replace

Refinishing RIms (about $200 each - or you may want to budget for new RIMS - check tirerack for OZ or look at Victor - they start around $300 each)

Coin tray is probably cheap and easy to replace - check with Suncoast or oemporscheparts.com


Biggest cost on these cars is if engine blows due to IMS bearing failure - maintenance neglect seems to be biggest issue there - but if it was '06 factory engine you might be better than with original one.

Water pump is relatively cheap and easy to replace

AOS is other common preventative maintenance at this age - easy to do when you do clutch I think - but lots of labor cost if you have to do separately

Window regulators die (not too expensive to fix)

Column switch (indicators) - again <$600 including labor

Pull diagnostic codes when you do PPI

Get the seller to pass smog

Yes - it is possible this is good deal - good luck !

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Likely ~10K is fine, but it depends on your own personal finances - If 10K isn't a big deal and you want a project car, I say get it for 7-8 and go for it. If it completely blows up sell it for parts... If you've been saving for 3 years to buy a car and this is you choice, probably not such a good idea. Just saying...

As the other poster says, a lot of things are easy to fix yourself and these cars are relatively easy to work on - emphasis on 'relatively'....

Maybe another poster can verify, but the engine serial number should have a suffix stating it's an upgraded engine.. know mines does. I think it might be an 'X" character... You can see this number by looking at the bottom of the engine under the car, it's on a small machined area.


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From their words it is a factory replacement engine. I don't know if this is true, but I do know that the housing is not coated in whatever the grey factory coating is, rather it is a shinier metal. From what I have read on this, the shiny metal indicates that it is indeed a replacement engine.

I forgot that the indicators don't work (they stay stuck on) but am fairly confident I could fix that. Tires are in good condition, but nothing fancy. Nexens I believe.

I didn't notice any smoke when starting the car and it pulled nicely (but what would I know?!) but I was not able to test if the steering tracked properly as the wheel was so close to my knees due to the broken seat.

I'm looking to put in about $500 for new seats (pulled from a wreck) but unsure if they come with a motor and how memory seat controls (which the 996 has) function with a different seat.

Ideally I'd wait on an ebay deal to replace the front and rear lights/casings, if I can clean the existing lights that's desirable too!

My thought has been that if I can get a mechanically sound car with a low mileage replacement engine that has been mechanically maintained I can fix the cosmetic/light mechanical issues as I go. It's never going to be in 'excellent' condition, so that's kind of a bummer but so long as I can get it cheap enough and nothing blows up I think I can drive it for a year and not lose to much reselling it.

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If you have the VIN, you should be able to run that through any Porsche service center and get some history. If motor was repaired/replaced under factory warranty it will show up. They should be able to give you a printout of all work done at any Porsche dealer/service center.

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I tried that.... My local dealer tried and was unable to pull up anything other than the sale specs. Another dealer said they could only find service details if the service was performed at their dealership. The dealership I believe the engine was from said they couldn't release any information about the car due to privacy laws. sad.gif

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They should be able to. I got info on my car from 01-05. Showed some emmisions recall and other service. No personal data of any kind was associated with it. Just car info. I got this through my local dealer. Car was serviced in another state and dealer entirely. Any Porsche dealer is supposed to have all that info at the stroke of the keyboard. The dealer I used was Porsche of Colorado Springs. I would just call around to Porsche dealers and see if they can help you out.

Here is what they mailed me back:

Vehicle Id..... WP0CA29931S654293 Delivery Date.. 7/02/01

Model Year..... 2001 996310 Carrera Cabriolet Preowned Date..

Repair Mileage Dealer Rpr Ord Wty Damage Code Damage Code Description

Date Number Code


8/22/02 1487 132 Niello Porsche 107586 R A209 099 000 2 Fuel Cap - Recall Campaign

Recall Campaign

8/22/02 1487 132 Niello Porsche 107586 2 L2A1 072 240 1 Jungle green metallic

discolouration / polished areas

2/27/04 6580 132 Niello Porsche 135007 2 6924 040 000 2 Front belt lock


2/11/05 7769 132 Niello Porsche 153140 2 2706 088 000 2 Battery

Towed-In / Jump Started

2/11/05 7769 132 Niello Porsche 153140 2 9141 020 000 1 Front loudspeaker


2/11/05 7769 132 Niello Porsche 153140 2 5316 015 000 1 Closing cross member


2/11/05 7769 132 Niello Porsche 153140 2 6122 020 001 1 Front seal


2/11/05 7769 132 Niello Porsche 153140 2 6912 010 000 2 Three-point belt, rear


10/14/05 16207 132 Niello Porsche 011541 5 6924 040 000 2 Front belt lock


11/30/05 17645 132 Niello Porsche 012168 5 9457 040 000 2 Control module f. gas disch.


11/30/05 17645 132 Niello Porsche 012168 G 9457 040 000 1 Control module f. gas disch.


11/30/05 17645 132 Niello Porsche 012168 5 9457 018 000 1 Control module f. gas disch.


Edited by dryslick13
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Personally I would pass - an owner (or series of owners) that neglects their car cosmetically probably neglects it mechanically as well.

But if you're still incline to investigate - have a good look into that 'new' engine ('new' as in new for that car, or 'new' as in just off the Porsche assembly line?). Get the engine number off the car - that at least will tell you what the manufacture year was.

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I bought a 2003 911 C2 last year for the purpose of resale. The women I bought it from sent me all the paperwork including an invoice from a Porsche dealer in Colorado that stated a new engine was installed in 2006 at no charge. The engine was overnighted from Germany. When I carfaxed the Vin there was no mention of the new engine installation. Talked to my local Porsche dealer in Dallas and he said Porsche does not like to mention the problems with 996 engines. When you carfax the car your interested in, see if the new engine install is listed.


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Porsche replaced a lot of engines in MY99 and MY00 cars. The engine number is struck into a vertical flat spot just above the sump cover on the driver side of the block just below the exhaust header nearest the front of the car. I cannot read it by kneeling down and looking. The car has to be on a lift or I was able to photograph it and read it easily by sliding the camera under there--I ruined my watch crystal in the process.

The 2006 m96 replacement motors that I have seen have the letters "AT" in the code. Like this: M96/04AT66Y*****. The 2006 motors are 3.6L and sound better and pull harder than the original series one 3.4L--in my opinion.

According to the experts I have spoken with, the replacement motors are not compatible with the LN Eng IMS upgrade. ~2005 and later motors have a larger IMS bearing that cannot be extracted without engine R&I and tear down ($$$). According to LN Eng, the only way to know for sure is to pull the transmission and measure the IMS bearing nut. This goes beyond the typical PPI!

Edited by j_beede
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This goes beyond the typical PPI!


Haha I'll say!

I'm looking at an '02 Carrera 4 cab with a blown air oil separator this week, hope to have it PPI'd and purchased in the same day (it's in LA and I'm in San Francisco) if all checks out. Approximately 70,000 miles but in good condition with a clean carfax and service records. Supposedly. Pretty excited!

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Another noobish question, just looking for input and advice-

The 2002 is claimed to have a broken air-oil separator and back registration/minor issues that the owner simply can no longer afford. Obviously I'm concerned that there is something bigger hiding behind the AOS, and wanted to know if a PPI will turn out any other issues? Will a shop be able to perform a suitable PPI on a car with a broken AOS?

Thanks so much

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Speaking from personal experience (replacing an engine right now and the Warranty company are trying to side step their liability), I wouldn't touch a neglected 996 with a ten foot pole. I bought mine through a high line dealer in Chicago and the previous owner kept it in storage 7 months of the year (minnesota), just disconnected the battery and left it. Didn't take care on the inside, let the kids walk on the console, etc.

My pont is, these cars are exotic and even without neglect can be a money pit, but with neglect are a disaster to own. I paid $33k 2 years ago, have spent $8k in essentials and preventative maintenance and still coughing up $20k for a replacement engine. To think I almost bought the 2006 997 as well, but thought the money was better in the kid's college funds for something I only drive 3-4k miles per year (Yep, I've done <8,000 miles for the $60k it's cost me so far).

Having said that, looking forward to getting it back and will have renewed faith in it with a Porsche remanufactured engine (hope I haven't spoken too soon).. Just be careful, there really aren't any bargains in the Porsche used car market.

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