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First year of 996 ownership - an odyssey


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I've learned a lot this year.

I've done some refurbishment work on my cars so I didn't mind getting into some cosmetics and minor mechanical work. I figured that I could bring a car up to snuff over a couple of years. I just didn't want to deal with major engine issues. I had read about IMS issues and was scared but not really knowledgeable enough to assess the risk level (not high for a dual row IMS model with high mileage).

I found a 2000 C2 6 speed in the LA area with no history and just under 100k on it and eventually paid $14,800 for it. I had a local independent do a PPI and later learned that some of what they told me was incorrect and that some items they should have found were missed. I should have researched my PPI provider better but I was in a hurry and in an unknown city.

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The short of it is other the last year I've spent about an additional $18,250 on deferred maintenance, upgrades, a new roof and an engine rebuild. I have heard there is no such thing as a cheap Porsche and my experience bears that out. I've spent $33k plus a lot of work for a car with a value of $20-25K ish. I was feeling a bit bad about this until I realized that I have spent more on every single one of my cars than it's worth. I also now own a car that is in a known state of repair and has a 12mo warranty on it's engine. We will see what the next couple of years give me in return. If you want the full details of the first year of ownership read on...

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After driving the car back to Arizona I parked it in the garage and started my own inspection. I pulled the oil filter and dissected it to find evidence of a very small amount fine of metallic dust.

I decided that I could not replace the IMS soon enough and ordered a IMS kit from Pelican that would replace either single row IMS or dual row. This was ideal for me as I did not yet know for what type of bearing my car had. While dropping the transmission I decided to also drop the sump to get a better idea of what was going on. What I found was a couple very small metal particles (a very reasonable amount), but a bunch of plastic from wearing chain guides and crumbling cam guides.

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I proceeded to replace the IMS bearing, the AOS and all three chain tensioners. This left my engine making a nasty whining sound. I was not sure which change may have caused this or even for sure if it was a new sound with this set of repairs.

A call to our local independent Porsche mechanic with a good reputation responded that it would cost $10K to replace the chain guides. The person I spoke to didn't bother to explain what would be included at that price and I was a bit too much in shock to ask. He also said that I should not drive the car. For $10K I discovered that I could get a used or refurbished engine so continued to drive the car even though I knew there was some amount of risk. (the engine never failed on me)

I continued on getting the basic mechanical systems up to snuff. I replaced the clutch and the flywheel bearing, air intake box, MAF, had an alignment done to spec so the car would drive straight, new gas cap, new fluids and fixed rear regulators that worked in reverse form normal operations. I also started changing the (to me) bland gray interior to black and gray. I replaced the ripped and worn seat covers with black perforated leather covers and painted the center console, bat wings, console binnacle and other assorted bits mat black.

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Then in August my wife said that for my 50th Birthday in November I could fix up my car or trade in on a 997. :thumbup: Given the cost difference I decided to fix up my 996. To that end I installed a new Robins roof with glass window, defogger and headliner, white gage faces, replaced the right and left roof support brackets. I replaced the convertible top compartment motor cables, the window washer pump, the left side convertible top flap. The black Carrera badge was replaced with a silver badge, and clear side markers went on the sides.

The biggest piece was having UFO MotorSports in Long Beach rebuild my engine for me. I am still in my first 1000 miles but have been very happy with their service and am very happy with the results so far. Jason and Tim were very knowledgeable, helpful and professional. During the rebuild they discovered that the engine whine was due to the single row and spacer in place of the dual row IMS bearing was allowing the IMS shaft to float further in or out causing the chains to whine as they did not line up exactly with the IMS spocket. The flaw was either due to the bearing system design or due to my installation. (My money is on "due to my installation"). If doing the IMS install over again I would have waited until I knew what bearing type I was dealing with and install the correct LN engineering Bearing. UFOs time and budget estimates were right on track and they ended up throwing in some parts inclusive of the cost rather than nickel and diming me. The rebuild came with a 12mo warranty. I'll post with an update when I've run it a bit longer. I researched how to rebuild a 996 engine myself, the procedures and the tools needed. In the end I was very confident that based on my other repairs I could rebuild one successfully on the second attempt. In short, I was very happy to give these guys my business.

When I got the car home from Long Beach I used a Sylvania headlight restoration kit on the headlights and put on new headlight seals. I put in a Pioneer AVIC150 2 din navigation system, a rear view camera and VW center dash cup holders under the navigation unit. Nice, but getting it all to fit and work in the space available made the install anything but clean. I hacked up several of my center dash brackets and much of it is held together with sticky tape (fortunately? the brackets were already hacked by the previous owner so not a real loss). I replaced the broken passenger seat folding lever handle installed black rear seats after a failed attempt to dye my old gray ones black. Installed black carpet in the rear seat area and behind the seats. I had a second key cut and programmed by the dealer.

I installed 997 turbo II style wheels, a sports steering wheel, and 997 shifter, a new premium leather shift knob, a black brake lever with brushed aluminum, replaced the front brake pads and disks and painted all of the calipers in two part red with Porsche decals embedded underneath the clear coat.

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I have had limited experience as a mechanic prior to this and no experience with Porsches. What I've been able to accomplish has been due to this forum and a few others like it. I'm pretty much finished repairing and upgrading the car (well, I'm sure there will always be something that could be upgraded.. :) ). I am still searching for a power seat adjustment switch cap (the one for fore, aft, up and down). They are not sold individually so I am hoping that I might find someone who could sell one from a broken controller. I love driving the car. We live in a mountain area with lovely twisting roads and I have driven it for about 3000 miles in the first year. Was it worth it? Yeah, it was worth it.

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