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Reliability of 996 Engines


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The "RMS Issue" is really a non-issue. ... Basically, an $800-$1000 fix and pales to the "fixes" that earlier 911's required...

BTW...do your homework and due diligence in getting it totally looked over (PPI) and checking on its full history. You can do this with the owner/dealer/and PCNA all with the VIN#.

As I have just found out, getting Porsche to assist you in learning a car's (or motor's) history is largely made impossible by Porsche N.A.'s refusal to release any engine or other historical service data if you are not registered with them as the owner of the car (which by definition you are not as potential buyer!)

I tried to get from Porsche information when a '01 996 engine of a car I was interested to buy had been replaced, but they would not budge, and cited privacy issues. I said: This is a car that was auctioned off at a dealer auction two years ago, with no service records supplied! Whose privacy is being protected here? She said: "as soon as you buy it, you will get the information from us".

Great cars, less than stellar customer support, if you ask me.

JM

P.S.: Compare this unreasonable behavior to Porsches' new acquisition, Audi- they have no problem recalling and communicating any and every last filter change that was ever made on any Audi, regardless where and when. All you need to give them is a VIN, and researching a car's service history is a breeze.

Edited by juniormarbles
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  • 2 weeks later...

Ok, you guys have me nervous. I've been lurking here, in addition to my usual Cayenne forum haunt, and some posts have shaken my confidence.

I've been pondering buying another 911 (US 2002 C2 w/Tip), as I sold my seventies 911T a few years ago and would like to enjoy another. It tended to be a money trap after I purchased it used in the 90's, and while I'm better equipped to handle it now I'd still rather avoid any significant post-purchase bills. While a new 911 isn't out of the question, I'm coming closer to retirement and don't feel like eating that much depreciation.

I've asked a few questions of the seller but would appreciate any suggestions beyond "any oil leaks, seals replaced, engine repair?" Your thoughts are appreciated.

thanks, Bob

:renntech:

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Ok, you guys have me nervous. I've been lurking here, in addition to my usual Cayenne forum haunt, and some posts have shaken my confidence.

I've been pondering buying another 911 (US 2002 C2 w/Tip), as I sold my seventies 911T a few years ago and would like to enjoy another. It tended to be a money trap after I purchased it used in the 90's, and while I'm better equipped to handle it now I'd still rather avoid any significant post-purchase bills. While a new 911 isn't out of the question, I'm coming closer to retirement and don't feel like eating that much depreciation.

I've asked a few questions of the seller but would appreciate any suggestions beyond "any oil leaks, seals replaced, engine repair?" Your thoughts are appreciated.

thanks, Bob

:renntech:

i can make a number of suggestions, all of which i followed prior to buying my 2003 996:

- buy a book that specifically addresses issues with purchasing a used 911 (or 996, etc), that covers the year(s) and model you are considering

- look on the other porsche/911 sites both in US and UK for used porsche 'buying guides' that members have posted. There are quite a few...By all means, look on sites in other countries (German, etc) if you speak the language :D

- pay for a Pre-purchase inspection (PPI) from an independent Porsche specialty shop when you find the car you are most interested in/making an offer

- look at the comprehensive Porsche Certified Pre-owned checklist and use this as a guide for your own examination, and/or the work the PPI vendor will do, if necessary

- search the many porsche (and other performance car) web sites for info on the model car you are interested in acquiring

I found the search process to be almost as enjoyable as the purchase itsself.

I would not obsess over the RMS and other "hot" topics like catastrophic engine failure, if you have done your due diligence and are confident the car has been well maintained. You cannot avoid the inevitable. And all the noise on the forums about these issues tend to be from those that have suffered such a fate (and not from those who have never had a problem). My sense is that there are many, many more cars out there with seals and engines that have performed exceptionally, than there are cars whose seals and engines have failed - as is the case with any car manufacturer (with, maybe, the exception of early Skodas!)

It goes without saying that the Renntech gurus gave me tons of valuable insight and input.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hello All,

I did not read through this entire post but I would like to share with you my experience with my 1999 C2. I bought the car at 40k miles and at 48k miles, I hear a noise such as a coin in a dryer. A very inconsistant knock that is loud but comes and goes. The car still drove fine. Turns out the problem was the intermediate shaft bearing failed. Originally I was going to try and learn and rebuild this engine myself but I found a local Porsche specialist who sold me a freshly rebuilt 3.4 engine with 1 year warrantee for 6500 installed. The shop is called Strauss auto. I have been to their shop and it seems as they have builted many porsche engine so I went ahead and gave it a shot. My car have been running great eversince (knock on wood). Although 6500 is a pretty large chunk of change for me, I am still not discouraged to drive my porsche. Keep in mind that there are many Porsche engine builders out there that can refurbish our engines for a fraction of the dealer's refurbished one. I believe that in time, there will be even more engine builders and prices of rebuilding 996 engines will drop.

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  • 1 month later...
I agree with hemeoncdoc wholeheartedly. There is NO reason to forgive mediocrety in engine design when a variety of makes ( including American cars I may add) are able to produce high powered , sophisticated engines that easily survive 200K miles without leaks or breakdowns. I also do not believe that only Porsche drivers use their cars the way they are designed. It is also clear that if you are using your car on the track you may shorted then time that engine failures occur but certainly not the same problem over and over again for the last 10 years.

I for instance would definately be looking at a Maserati or a Baby Aston Martin going forward. Or maybe the new Nissan/Infinity supercar...

Also, the reluctance for Porsche to make parts available for gearbox repair etc is rather anti-customer I would say.

I love my C2 but getting the habit of looking under the car every day to check for the RMS or other leaks syndrome puts a damper on my enthousiasm for sure.

Maybe Porsche should outsource their engines rather than their other components. Audi most likely would be doing a better job. Maybe even Jugo!! Consider a 3.8 liter engine with just about 350 HP. That's no longer the pinacle guys!!

Evo X with 2 liters will make 300+ horses with full factory warranty.

Coming soon to a dealership near to you at 35 K or so ( including ALL options)!!

Cheers

HarryR

Noticed this post from a couple of years back. I went from Maserati to Porsche because I was fed up with paying for road tax and insurance for a car that was always in the shop. I hope this info isn't 2 years too late !

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did anybody read the article in December's issue of EXCELLENCE? - about the m96 motors... from 99 right to 2008.... ALSO BY JIM PASHA :clapping:

I guess time really shows how good an m96 motor is....

does anybody know if the 2009 3.4 caymans have an intermediate shaft?

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  • Admin
did anybody read the article in December's issue of EXCELLENCE? - about the m96 motors... from 99 right to 2008.... ALSO BY JIM PASHA :clapping:

I guess time really shows how good an m96 motor is....

does anybody know if the 2009 3.4 caymans have an intermediate shaft?

At this time the specs for the MY09 Cayman (and Boxster) have not been announced.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Thank you everyone for the feedback here. I'm in the market for a 99-00 996 (my first 9 series), and was almost deterred from

buying because of the nighmare stories. The last thing any of us wants is an unreliable vehicle, no matter what the make.

I spoke directly with a very respected independent shop here in Seattle, as I'm planning to have the car I purchase inspected there.

Mark, the service manager said here are the things he has experienced over the years. This shop only works on Porsche's btw.

Clutch- Count on a replacement by 50K miles.

Ignition swith- Make sure car has 2 keys and both work. Common for switch to go out and key can be removed and car will still run.

Coolant tank leak issues.

RMS issues, not especially common, but something to look out for (he said it was a $1000 fix.)

Driver side elec. seats, make sure in good working order, see's issues with them from time to time.

If it has the cassette player, very pricey to swap to CD.

Other than that, he had high praise for the car and engine. He said he see's them as reliable daily drivers, and if properly maintained have shown to be low maintenance cars.

You might argue that he has something at stake here, but others I have spoken with said he is a very straight shooter, so take it for whatever it's worth.

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Thank you everyone for the feedback here. I'm in the market for a 99-00 996 (my first 9 series), and was almost deterred from

buying because of the nighmare stories. The last thing any of us wants is an unreliable vehicle, no matter what the make.

I spoke directly with a very respected independent shop here in Seattle, as I'm planning to have the car I purchase inspected there.

Mark, the service manager said here are the things he has experienced over the years. This shop only works on Porsche's btw.

Clutch- Count on a replacement by 50K miles.

Ignition swith- Make sure car has 2 keys and both work. Common for switch to go out and key can be removed and car will still run.

Coolant tank leak issues.

RMS issues, not especially common, but something to look out for (he said it was a $1000 fix.)

Driver side elec. seats, make sure in good working order, see's issues with them from time to time.

If it has the cassette player, very pricey to swap to CD.

Other than that, he had high praise for the car and engine. He said he see's them as reliable daily drivers, and if properly maintained have shown to be low maintenance cars.

You might argue that he has something at stake here, but others I have spoken with said he is a very straight shooter, so take it for whatever it's worth.

HMMMM

I think your mechanic missed the most important tests:

1. leakdown test

2. compression test

if *any* variance here... especially in leakdown test... walk away from it.

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Thank you everyone for the feedback here. I'm in the market for a 99-00 996 (my first 9 series), and was almost deterred from

buying because of the nighmare stories. The last thing any of us wants is an unreliable vehicle, no matter what the make.

I spoke directly with a very respected independent shop here in Seattle, as I'm planning to have the car I purchase inspected there.

Mark, the service manager said here are the things he has experienced over the years. This shop only works on Porsche's btw.

Clutch- Count on a replacement by 50K miles.

Ignition swith- Make sure car has 2 keys and both work. Common for switch to go out and key can be removed and car will still run.

Coolant tank leak issues.

RMS issues, not especially common, but something to look out for (he said it was a $1000 fix.)

Driver side elec. seats, make sure in good working order, see's issues with them from time to time.

If it has the cassette player, very pricey to swap to CD.

Other than that, he had high praise for the car and engine. He said he see's them as reliable daily drivers, and if properly maintained have shown to be low maintenance cars.

You might argue that he has something at stake here, but others I have spoken with said he is a very straight shooter, so take it for whatever it's worth.

HMMMM

I think your mechanic missed the most important tests:

1. leakdown test

2. compression test

if *any* variance here... especially in leakdown test... walk away from it.

Also I wouldn't say that a clutch will only last 50k miles. My last clutch was at 72k and stilll had a lot of life. It just depends on how you treat your clutch. I totally agree with Pete on the leakdown test......

Edited by phillipj
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Thank you everyone for the feedback here. I'm in the market for a 99-00 996 (my first 9 series), and was almost deterred from

buying because of the nighmare stories. The last thing any of us wants is an unreliable vehicle, no matter what the make.

I spoke directly with a very respected independent shop here in Seattle, as I'm planning to have the car I purchase inspected there.

Mark, the service manager said here are the things he has experienced over the years. This shop only works on Porsche's btw.

Clutch- Count on a replacement by 50K miles.

Ignition swith- Make sure car has 2 keys and both work. Common for switch to go out and key can be removed and car will still run.

Coolant tank leak issues.

RMS issues, not especially common, but something to look out for (he said it was a $1000 fix.)

Driver side elec. seats, make sure in good working order, see's issues with them from time to time.

If it has the cassette player, very pricey to swap to CD.

Other than that, he had high praise for the car and engine. He said he see's them as reliable daily drivers, and if properly maintained have shown to be low maintenance cars.

You might argue that he has something at stake here, but others I have spoken with said he is a very straight shooter, so take it for whatever it's worth.

HMMMM

I think your mechanic missed the most important tests:

1. leakdown test

2. compression test

if *any* variance here... especially in leakdown test... walk away from it.

Also I wouldn't say that a clutch will only last 50k miles. My last clutch was at 72k and stilll had a lot of life. It just depends on how you treat your clutch. I totally agree with Pete on the leakdown test......

Thanks for the clarification. I didn't mention these important issues in my post as I was referring to the main issues that my (future) mechanic has seen working on the 996's. Of course the compression test would be done for the pre buyers inspection. I believe what his take was that he has not seen an alarming number of cars with this issue, or something that would say to him...major defect, count on this happening (bad compression) that seems to be a rather over riding theme here. Of course if this HAS happened to you, you will certainly be hyper-sensitive to this issue, and scream it from the rooftops, as I most likely would as well.

I'm just saying that it has not been a prevalant issue to THIS service manager, servicing many of these cars over the years. Again, for whatever it's worth. If you want to take the issue up directly with him, his name is Mark, and is at www.gerbermotorsports.com. He seems to really know his stuff, and I have seen his posts in here before. I have no affiliation, just as an interested 996 prospect looking for a clean car.

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I find it remarkable how wide the range in longevity and failure - reading here and other places.

I was hoping to hear "get upgrade kit xxxx-x" or "to date all the fixes are...", but the plot thickens.

I think the poster who said the aftermarket will likely know all soon is right...

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  • 1 month later...

Hey all!

This is my first post to the forum and I'm glad to be here! I used to post on the 986forum, since I previously owned a 2001 Boxster. However, when taking that car into service, which had big problems with the entire illumination display not lighting($1300 to replace) and since I've been doing biz at Pacific Porsche, I decided to trade in and look around. Lo and behold, I found a 2004 911 Anniversary Edition, a rare breed with 23,000 miles on the odometer. Since the economy is tanking, they (and I) virtually took this car for even (at least) for $42,000, though it's worth at least $50,000 on the general market. But they knew me since we have already done years of service and maintenance (at least $6000), and they wanted to make a good offer. After all the wrangling, we went with the $42,000. Then they wanted to press me about the APR rate. Since I knew that the starting price of this new to me 2004 911 Anniversary Edition was $50,000, I made my move to offer 5.5% financing. Then the salesman (a good guy, I know him) said "Well you got good financing then, but now it's 7.5%, best offer. I said to him "Hmmm not sure, since I just paid off the other car, we need to work on this number. So I get to the financing department, and after I said "I can call the bank right now, they know I'm good for it!" When the deal was done, the finance gal went back to check the rates and I got 5.5% financing. Who says banks aren't willing to lend? :)

I'm really happy with this car, all the perks, everything really. My purpose in this post is to state that 2004 911's are really reliable, according to Consumer Reports for that year. If you follow CR, you know that their Annual Auto Issue details consumer complaints about particular years, and in this year they shined. Other years are mixed, which includes issues like RMS leaks, but this car is top notch, and I would think that any post 2004 (even after redesign) will make a fine, trouble-free ride for years to come! I will let you all know if anything changes, of course!

Regards,

teacher

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  • 2 weeks later...
Not all of these fail!! 113,000 miles on a 2002 c2 dailey driver. No unusual oil consumption and no RMS issues. I have had the car since june of 07 & purchased it with 87,000 miles. At that time , bone stock the engine made 341 HP.

get a full aftermarket warranty...doesn't cost too much :)

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Many of us read and quote Excellence Magazine. In this month’s issue, May 2009, Bruce Anderson’s technical answer column, addressing a question about the design of the M96 engine, contains the following information.

“When the Boxster and 996 were relatively new cars and the M96’s problems were not yet understood, rumors suggested that up to 50% of the cars were going to experience failure. Porsche addressed the problems and, today, I am hearing the number of cars that have had or will have a problem is closer to 20%, or one in five.”

It is good to see that “Porsche has addressed the problems”. So those who have a Boxster/Cayman/996/997 with an M96 engine know that you have an 80% chance of not suffering a catastrophic engine problem.

Make sure that PCNA has your current address and vin so you won’t miss the updated component install recall.

:clapping:

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Make sure that PCNA has your current address and vin so you won’t miss the updated component install recall.

First I've heard of that. Tell me more, or refer me to some posts/websites. Thanks.

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Sorry, completely sarcastic comment about recalls. I did not mean to raise false hope.

After 10+ years of the company line, “There are no inherent design problems with M type engines” Most of us have given up on expecting a repair/retrofit/recall to address the alleged problems.

You might think that with all of the engineering and financial resources that Porsche has they could at least equal the successes that the aftermarket has had addressing the M engine’s explosive weaker points.

Wouldn’t it be nice to see our favorite car company step up and at the very least offer a line of “Severe duty” replacement parts that address these M-type engine weaknesses?

Edited by fpb111
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Sorry, completely sarcastic comment about recalls. I did not mean to raise false hope.

Silly me for biting.

The M96 is after all, a high stress motor extracting lotsa bhp for its displacement, and the one in mine make's it a blast (hopefully not literally) to drive, so I can't be too hard on Porsche AG.

Edited by 355bhp
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Sorry, completely sarcastic comment about recalls. I did not mean to raise false hope.

Silly me for biting.

The M96 is after all, a high stress motor extracting lotsa bhp for its displacement, and the one in mine make's it a blast (hopefully not literally) to drive, so I can't be too hard on Porsche AG.

Unless it blowed up one day...... :cheers: (just playin)

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Sorry, completely sarcastic comment about recalls. I did not mean to raise false hope.

Silly me for biting.

The M96 is after all, a high stress motor extracting lotsa bhp for its displacement, and the one in mine make's it a blast (hopefully not literally) to drive, so I can't be too hard on Porsche AG.

My Honda F20C that's a 2.0 liter pumping out 240hp (120hp/liter) with a ~9K redline is "high stress" and has proven to be supremely reliable since the very beginning for many users. There is little to no talk about "remanufactured" engines or an engine swap program at Honda. Same goes for my other ex-car the S54 pumping out well over 100hp/liter.

Porsche gets poor grades with the M96. It's a sweet, sweet engine when it works, but I would never recommend to anyone to buy a 3.4 original factory motor 996 MK1. I'd say don't do it unless you're ready to cash out $15K and not feel like you got bent over. $15K buys you some very nice vacations wherever in the world for two people. Spend it on a replacement engine where the original should've always worked just fine for many, many miles of pleasure in the first place or take a nice 2 week Hawaii getaway in Lanai with your loved one in the Dolphin suite overlooking Manele Bay? The 3.4 engine is unreliable and has a good chance of self-destructing on you at any given moment. The 3.6 less so, but even then I'd still insist on a reman motor 911 that was replaced under factory warranty. There are enough out there to pick from.

I was just at my indy shop today. Not a big shop. Two M96 911s getting engine transplants. ***** poor form, Porsche.

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for what your paying ... M96 engines suck... 3.4 and 3.6... that's why they had to do a complete re-design for 2009 ..

HUGE FAILURE FOR PORSCHE

especially when Honda s2000 is bulletproof... S54 engines fall into the same category as M96 engines... lots of issues with them as well.. especially if your tracking...

the S2000 has got to be the most reliable bang for the buck out there for weekend trackers not looking to buy new engines cause the engineers where sleeping when designing the original... !!!

Sorry, completely sarcastic comment about recalls. I did not mean to raise false hope.

Silly me for biting.

The M96 is after all, a high stress motor extracting lotsa bhp for its displacement, and the one in mine make's it a blast (hopefully not literally) to drive, so I can't be too hard on Porsche AG.

My Honda F20C that's a 2.0 liter pumping out 240hp (120hp/liter) with a ~9K redline is "high stress" and has proven to be supremely reliable since the very beginning for many users. There is little to no talk about "remanufactured" engines or an engine swap program at Honda. Same goes for my other ex-car the S54 pumping out well over 100hp/liter.

Porsche gets poor grades with the M96. It's a sweet, sweet engine when it works, but I would never recommend to anyone to buy a 3.4 original factory motor 996 MK1. I'd say don't do it unless you're ready to cash out $15K and not feel like you got bent over. $15K buys you some very nice vacations wherever in the world for two people. Spend it on a replacement engine where the original should've always worked just fine for many, many miles of pleasure in the first place or take a nice 2 week Hawaii getaway in Lanai with your loved one in the Dolphin suite overlooking Manele Bay? The 3.4 engine is unreliable and has a good chance of self-destructing on you at any given moment. The 3.6 less so, but even then I'd still insist on a reman motor 911 that was replaced under factory warranty. There are enough out there to pick from.

I was just at my indy shop today. Not a big shop. Two M96 911s getting engine transplants. ***** poor form, Porsche.

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Yeah, the S2000 is no doubt a highly respectable and reliable machine, but it's kinda ugly and soulless too. And 240 bhp ain't 355. The 3.8 M96's bellow reminds me of a '55 300SL's. Nope, sorry: we're talking apples and oranges here. And don't even mention the baubles from Modena and Maranello; they're not in the same league either. My little green monster is my daily driver and grocery-shopping car as well.

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