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Old 08-27-2011, 03:56 PM   #1
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Metal Flakes Found in Oil Filter

I recently changed the oil in my 1997 986 with 67K miles after about 5K miles and discovered several tiny flat metal flakes in the oil filter. The attached photo, shows most the larger flakes that I was able to pull out of the filter, using a magnet. There were about a dozen or so smaller flakes, that were much smaller, which I did not bother to include in the photo. Unfortunately, I did not think to check my last filter as thoroughly as I did this one, but do not remember seeing any metal fakes. I did not find any other debris in this filter, besides these tiny metal flakes.

My question is, how concerned should I be by this discovery? Is this a possible indication of an impending IMS failure or something less severe? Should I drop the sump to look for any additional debris? Is it safe to drive or should I just pony up and replace the IMS, as well as the clutch and RMS, while I am at it?

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Old 08-27-2011, 04:41 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ubii
My question is, how concerned should I be by this discovery? Is this a possible indication of an impending IMS failure or something less severe? Should I drop the sump to look for any additional debris? Is it safe to drive or should I just pony up and replace the IMS, as well as the clutch and RMS, while I am at it?
I don't have a crystal ball, but from everything that I have learned on this forum, if you keep on driving it after finding metal particles in the filter, you will soon be shopping for a new/rebuilt engine.
I would think that most will tell you to contact Flat 6 Innovations, or someone else with Boxster engine expertise for their opinion ASAP.
There are only a few places in the engine that will produce metal debris, none of them are good.
If I were to guess the source, the IMS bearing or the timing chains, would be where I would put my money. Catch it early and you can save the engine. Let it go and you can upgrade to a 3.4-3.6 and have a lot of fun.

BTW, you aren't that far from Cleveland, GA.
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Old 08-27-2011, 05:00 PM   #3
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I would contact my dealership or mechanic and let them have a look at the pieces. Those are larger than what I would ignore. Do you have any unusual noises, sounds or concerns? If you are changing your own oil, do you always inspect the oil/filter? Ever found it before?
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Old 08-27-2011, 05:27 PM   #4
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I would contact my dealership or mechanic and let them have a look at the pieces. Those are larger than what I would ignore. Do you have any unusual noises, sounds or concerns? If you are changing your own oil, do you always inspect the oil/filter? Ever found it before?

I do have an extremely faint knocking sound at idle, which has been there since I bought the car about a year ago. My assumption was that it was lifter or injector related and I recently changed from Mobil 1 0w-40 to Castrol Syntec 5w-40 and ran some Techron through engine, which has seemed to help it quiet down a bit, but that could be my imagination. I have only done two oil changes since I bought it and the first time (about 5K miles ago), I checked the filter, but not as thoroughly as this time and did not see any metal flakes. Normally, I do all of the wrenching on my car, but I might break down and take it to a local independent Porsche shop, who happens to be a LN Engineering dealer. I guess I will call them on Monday and get an estimate on how much it will cost to install the LN IMS retrofit kit, a new clutch, and RMS. I was planning on doing this next spring anyway, but it sounds like it is not safe to wait that long. Anything else, I should look at doing at the same time?
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Old 08-27-2011, 05:52 PM   #5
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I wouldn't start the motor, but definitely pull the sump plate and see if there are any bigger pieces that you (or your mechanic) can identify.
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Old 08-27-2011, 07:42 PM   #6
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+1 on pulling the sump cover and doing some more exploring. Post pics of what you find.
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Old 08-28-2011, 04:26 PM   #7
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+2 on pulling the sump and NOT starting the engine.
Nothing ferrous in your filter can be good news.
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Old 08-29-2011, 07:20 AM   #8
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I did not get an opportunity to pull the sump cover this weekend, but will do so in the next couple of days and take a few photos of what I find. Obviously, I will not drive or even start the car and will drive my Rover instead. I did call Bob Hindson Racing this morning, who is an LN Engineering dealer here in town, who said that they could install the IMS Retrofit kit, clutch, and RMS for $2400 (this includes all parts, fluids, and labor). These guys have been around for 40 years and are probably the most trusted shop in town. I think regardless of what I find in the sump, that I am going to do this anyway, just for piece of mind.
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Old 08-29-2011, 09:53 AM   #9
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Garage
that's not bad

BHR quoted me a lot more than that a year or so ago for my '00S for the same work. I'll have to call them again.

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Old 08-29-2011, 10:08 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ubii
I did not get an opportunity to pull the sump cover this weekend, but will do so in the next couple of days and take a few photos of what I find. Obviously, I will not drive or even start the car and will drive my Rover instead. I did call Bob Hindson Racing this morning, who is an LN Engineering dealer here in town, who said that they could install the IMS Retrofit kit, clutch, and RMS for $2400 (this includes all parts, fluids, and labor). These guys have been around for 40 years and are probably the most trusted shop in town. I think regardless of what I find in the sump, that I am going to do this anyway, just for piece of mind.
Are you sure about that price?
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Old 08-29-2011, 11:11 AM   #11
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Porsche specialists up here in the expensive North East charge about $90-100 per hour. IMS upgrade, clutch, RMS is about $1800. No extra labor charge if the flywheel has to be replaced.

From what I was told, two hours to take down the trans, two hours of labor to extract old RMS, install new items, two to put it back together. And the obligatory oil change to flush out any debris left over. Maybe add another two hours to service the rear axle boots (if torn) while everyting is apart.
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Old 08-29-2011, 11:17 AM   #12
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by the way, how many miles did you actually put on the car and how long have you owned it? If there was a previous owner did the car see mileage habits change dramatically from one owner to the next? In other words is this a case where the original owner barely drove the car 4-5K miles a year and then a new owner started driving a lot more frequently?
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Old 08-29-2011, 01:02 PM   #13
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I called and spoke with Bob Hindson Racing (BHR) again and was able to confirm that the $2400 does in fact include all parts, fluids, and labor. I guess I will hold off dropping the sump cover, as BHR is going to do that anyway to look for debris. I will see if they will take some photos of what they find, once they tear everything apart and ask to keep the old IMS as a souvenir. The shop is about 40 miles away, so I will get the car towed there next Tuesday and they will start working on it either Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday morning. I wish that they could get to it this week, but I guess I can live without it for a week or so.

Perfectlap: To answer you question, I have had the car for a year now and have put about 10K miles on it, which is why this was only my second oil change. I am the fourth owner and looking at the Carfax report, it appears that the first three owners averaged between 3-5K miles per year. So, I put 2-3 times more mileage this past year than what the car has typically seen, in the past.
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Old 08-29-2011, 02:18 PM   #14
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That's exactly what I imagined. When a car has very low miles the parts tend to sit dry for long periods of time. The seals around the IMS become weak and brittle, add the the vibration that a dramatic increase in driving will uncork and voila your IMS seal is literally disintegrating as you drive the car. Probably the same for the other vital engine components that are made of plastic. I'm no expert on those other parts but I'm sure my suspicion is spot on. Folks were complaining about this when Mobil 1 changed their formula and it was "said" that the new blend provided insuficient lubrication.

Put it this way, with the prices of the Boxster falling into hands of drivers who look for a low mileage car and then promptly start driving them on daily basis or close to that, the number of IMS failures is going to sky rocket.

Luckily you were astute enough to look in the filter. Most people probably take it to the dealer and I wonder what they say to the customer when they find that debris. "sir...it appears that our oil interval suggestions were inadequate, or our oil recommendation wasn't the right fit or we failed to alert you to the hazards of insufficient running time and now you'll be requiring a $2K repair or $1200 if you want do it on the cheap. If you don't spend this money you're engine will self detonate at any momment. Would you like to have us change the wipers?".
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Old 09-07-2011, 07:40 PM   #15
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Ouch, my wallet!

Well, I dropped off the car yesterday afternoon and got a call back from the shop today. They dropped the sump cover and did not find any metal debris, but did find what appears to be fragments of either the chain tensioner paddles and/or ramps, as seen in the photos below. This probably explains the noise that I heard the last several times that I started the car, prior to discovering the metal flakes in the oil filter. They plan on pulling the engine, so they can inspect both and then replace whatever needs replacing. Obviously, this will result in much more labor than what was included in the original estimate. The revised estimate is now about $5500, assuming that they need to replace both the paddles and ramps, as well as the IMS bearing, RMS, and clutch. This is worst case, as the labor will be a lot less if they only need to replace the paddles and not the ramps. Anyway, I am just curious how this compares to what others have paid for this work, in the past.
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Old 09-07-2011, 08:32 PM   #16
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It's up to you, of course, but the chain guides are constantly loosing pieces. It's their job. Finding the flakes in the oil is totally normal and doesn't mean they need to be replaced.
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Old 09-08-2011, 02:25 PM   #17
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I agree with Blue on this one. Little pieces of plastic in the oil filter are fairly normal, I get them all the time.

What you are doing is the conservative thing to do, but if it were me, I'm not sure that I would dig into the engine assuming it's an imminent IMSB failure just because I found a couple of bits of ferrous metal and a couple of bits of plastic in the oil filter.

If the engine is not making any noise, the first thing I would do is check the camshaft deviation with the Durametric scanner or the Porsche factory scanner. Camshaft deviation is an early warning sign of a bad IMSB. If there is no camshaft deviation, I would monitor the engine. After 500 miles, I would take out the oil filter and see if I was still getting any ferrous metal in it. If not, I would check it again after another 500 miles. At the same time, I would again check the camshaft deviation.
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Old 09-08-2011, 02:48 PM   #18
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The original plan was that if we did not find any obvious signs of an IMS failure, when we dropped the sump cover, that we were going to install a magnetic drain plug, new oil filter, and oil, then drive it for 500-1000 miles and see what we find next time. But between the plastic bits that were found and the fact that the car has recently started making a noticeable rattle for 2-3 seconds upon startup, the new plan is to take a look at the chain tensioner paddles and/or ramps to see if they need to be replaced or not. The car is ready for a new clutch anyway, so I am going to have them install the IMS retrofit kit, just for piece of mind.
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Old 09-08-2011, 03:13 PM   #19
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Rattle at start up is common in these cars, its usually worn chain tensioners making noise until they get pumped up by oil pressure. Newer tensioners have a spring that eliminates the start up rattle.
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Old 09-09-2011, 07:14 PM   #20
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Waiting sucks :(

My car is still in the shop and I am hoping to get it back on Tuesday. When they dropped the sump cover, they did not find any metal debris, but did find plenty of brown plastic chunks. The chain tensioner paddles were all ate up, so they replaced them. The IMS bearing was showing signs of failure, as there was bearing debris present, when they removed it. The clutch was pretty much toast, so they replaced it as well. I decided to have them install a LN Engineering 160F low temperature thermostat and a RSS lightweight underdrive pulley. I had previously planned on installing these myself, but since they already had everything torn apart, I just had them do it. Once the last of the parts arrive on Monday, they will start working on re-installing the engine and transmission.

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