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Aluminum Flakes in Oil - Undiagnosed IMS?


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Hi All -

Some sad news today. After having my Boxster in for routine maintenance, the shop called to say there were magnetic aluminum flakes in the oil and oil filter. No problems previously but after some research, I have come to believe this is caused by the infamous IMS malfunction.

At the present point in time, no check engine light, no smoke, no rattles or various noises...

Porsche told the dealer that because of vehicle age (2001), no previous Porsche records (I had all maintenance done by a small neighborhood foreign car shop), since I don't own more than one Porsche, and didn't have original manufacturer warranty, I would be on my own.

Porsche dealer has recommended a new engine. I inquired about IMS but they said it would take $3k to disassemble engine and then even begin diagnosing. Porsche recommended a rebuilt or crashed motor for the "cost-wary".

I called my local shop to inquire. I spoke to them about the upgraded IMS kits using ceramic instead of the aluminum. They said they would look into it but would first need to conduct some research.

So, in a way to look for some advice and in a way to just lament over my once naive love towards Porsche - does anyone have prior experience with the same?

I'm not at all equipped to undergo a IMS swap in my garage and would need a professional to do this.

Ideas? Recommendations?

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Hi All -

Some sad news today. After having my Boxster in for routine maintenance, the shop called to say there were magnetic aluminum flakes in the oil and oil filter. No problems previously but after some research, I have come to believe this is caused by the infamous IMS malfunction.

At the present point in time, no check engine light, no smoke, no rattles or various noises...

Porsche told the dealer that because of vehicle age (2001), no previous Porsche records (I had all maintenance done by a small neighborhood foreign car shop), since I don't own more than one Porsche, and didn't have original manufacturer warranty, I would be on my own.

Porsche dealer has recommended a new engine. I inquired about IMS but they said it would take $3k to disassemble engine and then even begin diagnosing. Porsche recommended a rebuilt or crashed motor for the "cost-wary".

I called my local shop to inquire. I spoke to them about the upgraded IMS kits using ceramic instead of the aluminum. They said they would look into it but would first need to conduct some research.

So, in a way to look for some advice and in a way to just lament over my once naive love towards Porsche - does anyone have prior experience with the same?

I'm not at all equipped to undergo a IMS swap in my garage and would need a professional to do this.

Ideas? Recommendations?

First of all, I'd really like to see some of those "magnetic aluminum" flakes, because there is no such thing. If the flakes are aluminum, they would not be picked up by a magnet; if they are picked up by a magnet, they are not aluminum. There also is no aluminum in the IMS bearing, the OEM unit is all steel. Get a magnet and find out what you are dealing with, because it matters significantly in where you go next.

You next step should be to find out how much metal is in the engine, and its shape (e.g.: flakes or granular). This would be done by dropping the sump cover. Do not even consider having the dealer do this, they have no interest in finding out what is really wrong, they want to sell you a $20K replacement. If there is a substantial amount of metal, you have a serious problem; if there is just some metal in the sump, it may not be serious at all.

If I were in your shoes, I would check the LN Engineering website for one of their certified installers in your area. They would be best equipped to assess the situation before going the big bucks replacement route, and I would move cautiously before declaring the engine toast..........

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I have not had my 996 for very long, but I was aware of the potential IMS failure problem. One of the first things I did was to replace the standard sump drain plug with a magnetic drain plug and do an oil change within the first 1500 miles. I am pleased to say that that there were not any metal particles attaching to the magnet when I removed it. Even small fragments would have signified some sort of bearing break up likely to be from an IMS bearing. I hope it continues this way, but who knows.

I would say that if you were told that were "magnetic aluminium flakes" in your oil the advice must have come from someone who doesn't really understand that aluminium is not attracted by a magnet. Most competent mechanics should know this fact.

H

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I don't like the sound of the diagnostic approach taken by your shop. Aluminum flakes can come from the block and aren't a sign of IMS trouble. Though they can get into the IMS and cause it to fail, the IMS isn't the original cause of the failure but rather wear somewhere within the block. Now metalic steel magnetic flakes are a sign of possible IMS failure and if they are circulating within the motor, other troubles will surely follow if the engine isn't rebuilt right.

Which leads to my next concern, the experience level of the rebuilder, his reputation and exactly what is he going to do for the $6500 quote. There is an enormous difference between the expert and what he'll do (and he won't even work on it if it isn't to be done the right way) and the guy who just claims to know how to rebuild an engine. Ask how many M96 engines he has rebuilt, what he is going to do to assure that all the debris is out of the engine and not lurking to cause another problem. And if he doesn't know all about the LN ceramic bearing, run like heck to someone who does before you let him touch your engine because he can't be an expert and not know.

Edited by mikefocke
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An oil analysis is the only way I know to tell what is going on in the engine. True - aluminum is not magnetic and would not stick to a magnetic drain plug. Very iron small particles might not show up at a mag drain plug. Or for that matter in a chip detector like LNE's Guardian. Copper indicates rod or main bearing wear or near failure. Aluminum also might be same sign. Get thee oil to an analyst. Flat6Innovations or LNE as next best. Not Blackstone.

I know from experience. Jake Raby caught my near fatal engine-icide and fixed it BEFORE the IMS failed and the engine grenaded. He also told me to park my 986S and get it apart ASAP. So I shipped it to him. Thank Goodness. The rod bearings were shot and the cams scored. Oil was in the IMS but it had not yet failed.

This with non-Mobil mucho expensivo primo full syn oil/filter at 5k or one year. No short trips. Etc. etc. In other words perfect maintenance and ZERO sign of a problem. Even had dealer 45k service just prior. But collected oil sample. To my horror and relief later.

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As I think about it I'd run from anyone who even mentioned "magnetic aluminum" particles. Also check the oil filter for particulates in bright sunlite. I recommend and use the LNE screw on filter. Regardless you should check the innards of the filter for particulates.

Mike Focke is right about the experience of the mechanic/technician. I'd want one with lots thereof.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have a. 2000S.Bought it with 22500 miles.After reading all the talk about IMS failures I started cutting the oil filter looking for metal fragments.At 27500 miles I noted scattering of metal particles in the filter.I tried to see if they were picked up by a strong magnet.They were so small I literally could not tell.I talked to a Porsche independent shop and they said you must replace the IMS bearing.Well Ihad that done by replacing the IMS bearing with the LN engineering on.Guess what?The removed bearing looked like it just came from the factory.There is so much info.about the IMS bearing you have to really be careful.By the way I agree totally if it was aluminum you have a different issue.Zorat8

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I talked to a Porsche independent shop and they said you must replace the IMS bearing.Well Ihad that done by replacing the IMS bearing with the LN engineering on.Guess what?The removed bearing looked like it just came from the factory.

Which independent shop did you work with for you LN IMS retro fit? And if the IMS was not the cause of the metal in your filter, have you determined the source of the problem?
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  • 2 weeks later...

I have a. 2000S.Bought it with 22500 miles.After reading all the talk about IMS failures I started cutting the oil filter looking for metal fragments.At 27500 miles I noted scattering of metal particles in the filter.I tried to see if they were picked up by a strong magnet.They were so small I literally could not tell.I talked to a Porsche independent shop and they said you must replace the IMS bearing.Well Ihad that done by replacing the IMS bearing with the LN engineering on.Guess what?The removed bearing looked like it just came from the factory.There is so much info.about the IMS bearing you have to really be careful.By the way I agree totally if it was aluminum you have a different issue.Zorat8

I have not determined where the minuscule particles came from.The car works beautifully and since the IMS bearing is new I am not concerned about the source of the tiny particles.The shop I used is Louden Motorworks in Dallas.I have known Louden for many years and they have always done a great job.
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