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IMS Bearing Design in 2005 Boxster S

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I'm new here and am frantically researching everything I can in anticipation of purchasing my first Porsche (a Boxster S) I have separetly sent this as a message to Loren, as he appears to be the ultimate guru here - but I welcome the collective expertise of the board:


I am a prospective Porsche Boxster buyer, and have found one with which (at least from the ad) I have fallen in love.  Here is a link to the vehicle:  https://porscheofcliftonpark.com/inventory/Porsche+Boxster+Mechanicville+New+York+2005+Midnight+Blue+Metallic+772769


I welcome any comments, thoughts, or suggestions.


However, my specific question is with regard to the IMS bearing.  From the information that I've tried to force-feed myself over the last few days - I understand that the early boxsters (up to MY2004) all included a serviceable (without engine teardown) IMS bearing. The later  (MY2006-2009) included an IMS bearing that was not serviceable (without tearing down the engine).  


From what I understand, MY2005 is a bit of a middle ground, and that some engines could have the earlier design and others have the later design.


Applying my engineering intuition (for whatever that's worth)  - I believe that I would *much* prefer to have an earlier 2005 engine (with the serviceable IMS bearing). 


Perhaps to the extent of foregoing this 2005 S and looking for a 2004 S or earlier - I'd certainly welcome any comments on the comparison of the two as well.


I understand that the certain way to determine which bearing is in an engine is to pull transmission and look.  I also understand that another way *might* be to look at the Engine (not VIN) number. My internet research so far hasn't found specific clarity on this matter, however.


I have a few questions that would benefit from your expertise:


1) Do you agree with my intuition?  Is it foolish to focus upon purchasing a Boxster with the "early" bearing design that is serviceable? 

2)  Do you know/Can you advise about the ability to determine which bearing is used via Engine Number?  (How certain is this method? What is the specific Engine Number cutoff above or below which a specific design is known to be used?)

3) Since it's being sold by a porsche dealer, I would expect that they *should* have access to the specific configuration information for the engine.  Is there a specific request that I should make of them (a particular way to phrase the question).


I thank you from the bottom of my heart for any clarity you can bring to this and help me decide if this 2005 is a good purchase decision for me.

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Loren: Many Many thanks for your immediate response!!  


Actually, this one was slightly above my budget, so my focus will have to be upon 2004s - and considering the status of IMS bearing replacement/retrofit.  As always, the wallet drives the bus!  

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For the collective benefit of others that may be in the same dilemma, here is Loren's PM response:


1. Yes, for the most part. Any 2005 year normally aspirated Porsche is potentially a IMS failure.

I would suggest you keep looking and perhaps a newer car that fits your budget and likes.


2. No real way to tell from engine number as a good number of engines have been replaced and or retrofitted.


3. No dealers are still subject to taking what the factory delivers. We have former Porsche factory employees that are moderators here. They will tell you that at that time there were mixed parts used for engine assembly - so they built what they had. That is part of what makes 2005 and early 2006 cars a crapshoot.

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eric1234, FWIW I have a 2004 base with 30k miles when I purchased it. I had Porsche do a PPI (Pre Purchase Inspection) that cost $350 - I highly recommend doing this. While no serious issues were found, I knew I was going to replace the IMS for any non-fixed car I ended up with.


For the LN Retrofit single row IMS I paid an independent $1800 for the part and labor one year ago. That's a steal! This independent does 10-15 IMS bearings a year and work mainly on Porsches and other German brands. I've got 5k miles on new bearing and the engine runs very smoothly. I requested that they give me my old bearing so I could discern its condition and found that the shaft can wobble about 1/16" which is a lot considering it shouldn't be able to wobble at all !


While things were torn apart I also had them do the normal other stuff as a "might as well" sort of thing. Rear main seal, Air Oil Separator, Plugs and any routine maintenance figuring the amount of elapsed time on the car.


Hope this info helps. Good luck hunting!

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Thanks ttocs.  Based on your and Loren's comments, I guess that 2004 S is going to be the way to go.  I had my first test drive last night: a 1999 Base.  I loved it. It was a great deal, and may be where I end up.  However, I'll be driving a 2002 S tonight, and a couple of 2004Ss over the weekend.  I believe that going as new as possible is probably the best.  Some of these have already sorted out the IMS - I agree.  I wouldn't proceed without having this done.


However, I really liked the pictures of the 2005 interior - it looked much more modern than the 2004.  (Not that there's anything wrong with the 2004 - the 2005 just looked "fresher", and the materials a bit more "premium" than the 2004).  But, the IMS bearing design is a no-go for me.  If only I could find a 2005 in my price range that was assured to have the older, serviceable bearing design...


I think it'll be a 2004 (or older) for me...


Glad to hear that 

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  • 4 months later...

The 987 is a nicer looking car IMO - I had a 2003 3.2S before and although the later 03/04 986's had the clear headlights, glove box, etc I always preferred the style and interior of the 987.  This said, if you can only afford a 986 then find one that has been driven and serviced regularly.  Annual oil changes instead of the mandatory 2 yearly are much better for the car.  I fitted an IMS guardian to mine which is also something you could consider to give you early warning of an IMS failure  

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