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Old 02-22-2016, 09:12 AM   #1
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Boxster IMS Checks

I have paid a deposit on a 2003 Boxster 3.2 s with 63,000 miles on the clock and full service history. I am aware of the IMS issues and intend to have the bearing replaced when I get the car.

I have asked the dealer if he will drop the oil and show me the oil filter with me present to check there is no evidence of the IMS failure. He said the car is fine and they sell many Porsches and they can tell if the IMS is failing. He claims you can hear it. Is this true? Is my request a reasonable one?

What other checks could I make to ensure the car doesn't already have a problem?

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Old 02-22-2016, 09:34 AM   #2
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The request is reasonable and a small price to pay to sell you the car. From my reading on here, if you can hear the noise, the bearing is failing and already putting metal debris into the engine. Anyone, jump in please if I gave him info that wasn't accurate.
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Old 02-22-2016, 10:11 AM   #3
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A thorough inspection to pre-qualify the engine for an IMS replacement would include dropping and inspecting the oil pan after inspecting/replacing the filter.

Anyone not wanting to inspect the filter is doing one of two things:
1. Hiding something
2. Not wanting to have to pay out of used car sales profit center to the service profit center for the removal and replacement of the filter.

Your request is quite reasonable. It also may be useless if, just before they put the car on the lot, the dealer changed the oil and filter.

There are so many tricks to selling cars. Which is why I like to deal with an enthusiast private seller. Or someone whose motive for selling I can verify.
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Old 02-22-2016, 10:15 AM   #4
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And I can tell when the next earthquake is going to happen before it happens.

checking the oil and filter may not help you much if the oil was just changed as most dealers do when selling a car.

Since you are in the UK, there is a similar forum to this one that is based in the UK, boxa.net.
Not that you are not welcome here, you certainly are, but members there may have better info on local things such as the "dealer" you are looking to buy the car from
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Old 02-22-2016, 10:43 AM   #5
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LOL. IMS is not the only reason to check the pan. There may be other bits in there from the engine. If you can hear the IMS going, it's probably already too late to avoid a rebuild. At that point tiny fragments may have slipped into the tight passages that will later block oil flow and take down the engine. The only time to replace the IMS is when the existing IMS is 100% intact.

Buddy you are doing the right thing asking for that from the dealer. Also ask for a leak down and compression test (both). If these numbers come back no bueno, walk to the exit. If the car checks out, along with the IMS you should do the water pump if its still on the original and consider the low temp thermostat (which Porsche later adopted). While you're at it replace the coolant tank. Don't procrastinate with the cooling system on these cars, they are holding your pants up. What were the oil change intervals like as far as mileage and time? And consider upgrading to the spin-on filter, which will make your twice a year oil changes easier. I kept this practice but started going longer between oil changes using a higher quality of oil (Motul) and that was not a good idea. Or perhaps I was using a cheaper oil for too long. I now have expensive to fix lifter issues and there is no way to get the gunk/varnishing out. The oil changes are the lifter cleaning.

Check the rear tires. These are expensive. Call the tire rack or your local tire experts and ask what replacements will run for that tire and if they are discontinued.

Are the shocks original? Mine only lasted 70k miles from a lot of city driving. That's a very expensive repair if not DIY'ing.
I spent more overhauling the suspension than I did buying my autocross Miata. Use the PPI (pre purchase inspection) as bargaining chip to lower final sale price. If you plan to drive this car every day the mileage on the car you are buying is not really a selling point unless it lived most of years in a mild year-round climate.
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Old 02-22-2016, 10:43 AM   #6
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Thanks for the advice guys and for the pointer to Boxa here in the UK JayG. I have joined and requested advice there too.
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Old 03-04-2016, 06:04 AM   #7
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Based on the vin you can determine if you have a single or double row IMS bearing. If a double row starts to fail, you may have a chance to shut it down immediately and save it with a replacement. If you hear your single row bearing failing, there's a good chance that you now own a sports car with an expensive aluminum boat anchor in back!!!!!!
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Old 03-04-2016, 06:59 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bobiam View Post
Based on the vin you can determine if you have a single or double row IMS bearing. If a double row starts to fail, you may have a chance to shut it down immediately and save it with a replacement. If you hear your single row bearing failing, there's a good chance that you now own a sports car with an expensive aluminum boat anchor in back!!!!!!
You are more than a little off base. The VIN numbers on these cars bear no relationship to the bearing styles, but the engine numbers can if they are original to the car. There is no actual "matching numbers" between VIN's and engine numbers in these cars.

From 1997-1999, the engines carried dual row bearings; 2000-2001 was a transitional period where the engine could have either a dual row or single row bearing. Unfortunately, the only proven way to know which one is in the engine is to pull the gearbox, clutch, and flywheel and have a look at the bearing flange. From 2002 to 2004, these engines carried a single row bearing. Starting in 2005, Porsche mixed both single row and the third design non serviceable oversized bearing in the production, so again you are forced to take the car apart and look, only this time you are looking for a 22MM center bolt, which was only used on the over sized bearing.

From 2006 until the IMS was designed out with the start of the 9A1 engines, all carried the oversized bearings. Now the real problem child: After 2004, all factory reman engines used the oversized bearing, regardless of the year of the car they were installed into. So a 1999 car could have the non serviceable bearing in it if it had a new engine installed. Fortunately, all factory reman's carry the letters "AT" (for Austauschmotor, or reman engine), and their date of assembly can be decoded from the rest of the number sequence. If the engine is a 2004 or later, it is the oversized bearing, regardless of the model year of the car.

As for saving any style IMS engine once it starts to fail, that is a total crap shoot. Perhaps one or two out of a hundred engines with failing IMS bearings can be saved; so they are vastly more the exception rather than the rule. Once the IMS starts to go, it fills the entire engine with fine metal grit which chews up every moving part and is nearly impossible to get out of the engine without total disassembly, so standard practice for knowledgeable shops that handle IMS retrofit's is to pull the sump cover and look for traces of metal, and if it is found, decline to go further as that metal will ultimately chew up the new IMS as well as the rest of the engine, quickly leading to a failure. We have seen DIY attempts to save engine's already in failure mode to end up with the engine tearing itself to scrap in as little as 50 miles after an IMS retrofit and an abortive attempt to flush the metal out, so spending the time and money on doing a retrofit on an engine already with metal in it usually ends up being a total waste.
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Old 03-04-2016, 09:13 AM   #9
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See the above.......
The VIN list in the class action lawsuit Eisen v. Porsche Cars North America, Inc. a few years back excludes some cars. My sources presume that the excluded cars are double row bearing cars as there is reduced likelihood of a catastrophic failure. It's not a perfect method of determining who is most at risk, but better than nothing. I'm living with it.

And, it is not uncommon to have little pieces of metal from internal parts get into the engine. The oil filter and perhaps a magnetic plug pick up most so they can't get into the pumped oil and recirculate. A bearing failure is a whole lot bigger problem than parts of a chewed up seal or retainer falling out of place.
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Old 03-04-2016, 09:43 AM   #10
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Your presumption has been proven wrong. We tracked our database of dozens retrofitted cars VIN's against what bearing we found in the cars when retrofitting them against the lawsuit's "exclusions" and found no relationship to the style of bearing that was in the car and if it was excluded or not. There is no discernable or statistically sound relationship between the two. To date, no one has been able to demonstrate why the lawsuit excluded certain cars.

As we do this for a living, I am well aware of what is found in the oil sumps of these engines. The big difference is the type of metal found; all engines produce very fine ferrous metal grit, usually so fine that it can actually pass through the oil filters. When an IMS bearing begins to shed metal, however, the size of the ferrous grit suddenly becomes much larger and profound in volume.
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Last edited by JFP in PA; 03-04-2016 at 09:49 AM.
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Old 03-05-2016, 09:12 AM   #11
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I just picked up a 2003 Boxster S with 119k on it and oil debris/failing IMS bearing was my prime concern. Draining the oil and removing the filter took me 10 minutes, and I had to do it on the ground. With a hoist, it's even less time.

If they don't do this for you, walk away, or at least have them put it in writing that there is no issue - after all - they sell Porsches all the time so they are obviously confident in what they're selling.
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Old 03-05-2016, 01:13 PM   #12
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The standard Porsche oil filter setup allows the bypassing of the filter on startup and certain other conditions.

An aftermarket filter adapter (see LN) and the appropriate filter no-bypass together with the magnetic oil change plug can help.

But as JFP says above, once failed and contaminated, you are throwing good money after bad.

Only sure way to know what IMS your engine has is to pull the transmission and inspect the IMS cover. Once you are there ....

The standard "do I have a failing IMS" test is drop the filter and pan. Cut the filter open. Inspect with a magnet at the ready.

There are sellers who have just changed the filter and oil to mask a problem. Amazing how many cars fail within 100 miles of purchase. Some actually prefer dirty oil for the inspection.

Last edited by mikefocke; 03-05-2016 at 01:17 PM.
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