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Old 03-15-2019, 01:30 AM   #1
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IMS - First Time Buyer Question

Hi guys. I promise I am not rushing to asking the question without having done some research but I can't find the exact answer I'm looking for.

I am about to bite the bullet on buying my first Porsche. 986 Boxster S - 2003 - 110,000 miles but well cared for and full service history etc.
I have enquired about the IMS and was told that the clutch was replaced about 18 months ago and at the time the IMS was inspected and was fine so they didn't replace.

My question is, is that enough? Is it the bearings themselves that were faulty and I can be confident that after 110,000 miles when the bearing was checked and found to be OK that I can relax? If it was faulty or going to explode would it have shown signs by now?

Personally I would have insisted on replacing it when the clutch was being done, given the potential for damage and the fact that - well it was just there, change it.
But that ship has sailed.

So, I guess my question is, the cars that this affected (I think I read 8% in a few places) is that 8% as a result of the bearing itself, driving style, too far between oil changes etc etc. The cars that haven't been affected, when can you consider it safe and that it won't be a problem in that car.
Can I be safe in the knowledge that the bearing was found to be OK 18 months ago and its not something I need to be concerned about?

Thanks in advance for any replies.
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Old 03-15-2019, 02:23 AM   #2
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For what it is worth, I went through the same process this past Fall. I passed on several Boxsters I was really interested in and perhaps were better deals. I read too much about IMS failures! Of course my luck in life has never been wonderful either. In the end, I settled on a 2000 S that the owner recently had the rear seal replaced and the LN solution installed. Gave me some peace of mind, but I settled on a Boxster with an auto vs manual which I am having a hard time adjusting too. This was the only Boxster that I could find in my area of search that had the IMS issue addressed. If I had it to do over, I would still be looking, but I would not buy any older Porsche in which the IMS issue had not been addressed. Look at recent forum posts!
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Old 03-15-2019, 02:31 AM   #3
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Thanks for your reply. I agree that for peace of mind I would much preferred to have heard that it was replaced but I'm wondering is the fact that it was inspected and found to be OK only 18months ago, can I consider that "addressed"? Basically after 110,000 miles, the original IMS bearing is still OK.
I don't want to lose out on what is a lovely example of this car from being overly concerned about an issue that affected 8% of vehicles. All signs are that the one I'm looking at is one of the other 92% that wasn't affected - am I being too optimistic? :-)
I live in Ireland, and there aren't too many of these cars in the country. So I don't have a whole lot to chose from.
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Old 03-15-2019, 03:14 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by AlanR View Post
I am about to bite the bullet on buying my first Porsche. 986 Boxster S - 2003 - 110,000 miles but well cared for and full service history etc.
I have enquired about the IMS and was told that the clutch was replaced about 18 months ago and at the time the IMS was inspected and was fine so they didn't replace.

My question is, is that enough? Is it the bearings themselves that were faulty and I can be confident that after 110,000 miles when the bearing was checked and found to be OK that I can relax? If it was faulty or going to explode would it have shown signs by now?
Not sure how they can "inspect" the IMS bearing without removing it, and once it has been pulled it's junk. Unless they meant they cut open the oil filter and didn't find anything in there.

For what it's worth, I have 120,000 miles on my '04 2.7 and the filter was clean on the last oil change - another coming up in May.
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Old 03-15-2019, 03:38 AM   #5
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Just add $3,000.....

.....to the price of the car and have it changed.

Just know that your Boxster will cost $3,000 more than the asking price. Negotiate a lower purchase price due to your well founded research and explain that to the seller.

Good luck.
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Old 03-15-2019, 04:07 AM   #6
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Not sure how they can "inspect" the IMS bearing without removing it, and once it has been pulled it's junk. Unless they meant they cut open the oil filter and didn't find anything in there.

For what it's worth, I have 120,000 miles on my '04 2.7 and the filter was clean on the last oil change - another coming up in May.
Thanks again for reply. When I was told they checked it I presumed they could physically see it and check it for play when they were replacing clutch.
Would this not be the case?
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Old 03-15-2019, 04:08 AM   #7
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Just know that your Boxster will cost $3,000 more than the asking price. Negotiate a lower purchase price due to your well founded research and explain that to the seller.

Good luck.
Yes, if I found a car that I liked and the IMSB wasn't already done, I'd buy the car and have the IMSB replaced. My '04 has about 47,000 miles and I plan to have it done later this year with the LN IMS Solution.

Does it need to be a $3,000? No. There are lots of options available to replace the bearing at varying costs. I think that in Ireland you may have a hard time finding a shop that has experience with the IMS Solution, but I think that the EPS bearing is a fairly common fix there.
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Old 03-15-2019, 04:46 AM   #8
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Thanks again for reply. When I was told they checked it I presumed they could physically see it and check it for play when they were replacing clutch.
Would this not be the case?
No. You can't see it unless it's removed.
You have more reading to do.
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Old 03-15-2019, 05:00 AM   #9
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I am old...

....and in my time, no repair ever came in on budget.

I always add a bit to the figure.

YMMV.

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Old 03-15-2019, 05:22 AM   #10
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The demise of the IMS has been greatly exaggerated.

This is just my opinion, of course, but because I'm a DIY-er, I do a lot of reading, and I research everything I read. Sure, there are lots of "experts" who'll tell you one thing or another (for instance; this week we've heard on this very forum, from someone who has an "expert Porsche Technician" who says you can't track a Boxster without losing the motor. This is demonstrably false) These "Experts" come with varying degrees of experience and qualifications, and you need to remember that, when assigning a value to their opinions. You also need to understand the agendas which sometimes lie behind their statements. DO NOT DISCOUNT THE AGENDA of pride; Those who have spent a LOT of money for an IMS Solution to gain "peace of mind" are sometimes (not always) threatened by those who think that might be a little overboard, or even foolish, on a car that isn't worth $10k in resale.

I replaced my IMS bearing when I did the clutch. I honestly wish I hadn't. with 147k miles on mine, it was still PERFECT. But as another member commented: once removed, it's junk. But I took out a KNOWN-TO-BE-GOOD bearing and replaced with a giant question-mark. (Yes, there are some instances where the replaced IMS, and even the "solution" have failed)

MY daughter bought an '08 Subaru Legacy last year, with 80k miles. After 9 months of driving, she lost a head-gasket and overheated. The damage was catastrophic to the motor: chunked a cylinder. She put a USED motor in it, to the tune of $6k. Yup: a USED motor couldn't be had for less than $3500. Turns-out this is incredibly common on the NJ25 motor. My point? ALL USED CARS HAVE A CERTAIN RISK OF FAILURE. And most used cars have COMMON failures.

Ultimately, you need to decide what the car is for? IS this for FUN? Then forget about the IMS and go have fun. Elsewhere on this forum is the GREAT advice: Drive More, Worry Less".
Is this car for INVESTMENT? then you picked the wrong car. HARD Pass on it. The Boxster is not an investment car.
If the car has some sort of sentimental value to you, or represents a "bucket-list", or whatever, and you plan to keep it forever, and pass-on to posterity, then YES, do the IMSB. This is the only instance in which I think it makes sense.

Again: just my opinion, based on my own experience and all the reading / investigation / research that I've done.
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Old 03-15-2019, 05:45 AM   #11
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(Yes, there are some instances where the replaced IMS, and even the "solution" have failed)
I have never heard of a confirmed IMS Solution failing...…………….
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Old 03-15-2019, 05:57 AM   #12
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The demise of the IMS has been greatly exaggerated.

This is just my opinion, of course, but because I'm a DIY-er, I do a lot of reading, and I research everything I read. Sure, there are lots of "experts" who'll tell you one thing or another (for instance; this week we've heard on this very forum, from someone who has an "expert Porsche Technician" who says you can't track a Boxster without losing the motor. This is demonstrably false) These "Experts" come with varying degrees of experience and qualifications, and you need to remember that, when assigning a value to their opinions. You also need to understand the agendas which sometimes lie behind their statements. DO NOT DISCOUNT THE AGENDA of pride; Those who have spent a LOT of money for an IMS Solution to gain "peace of mind" are sometimes (not always) threatened by those who think that might be a little overboard, or even foolish, on a car that isn't worth $10k in resale.

I replaced my IMS bearing when I did the clutch. I honestly wish I hadn't. with 147k miles on mine, it was still PERFECT. But as another member commented: once removed, it's junk. But I took out a KNOWN-TO-BE-GOOD bearing and replaced with a giant question-mark. (Yes, there are some instances where the replaced IMS, and even the "solution" have failed)

MY daughter bought an '08 Subaru Legacy last year, with 80k miles. After 9 months of driving, she lost a head-gasket and overheated. The damage was catastrophic to the motor: chunked a cylinder. She put a USED motor in it, to the tune of $6k. Yup: a USED motor couldn't be had for less than $3500. Turns-out this is incredibly common on the NJ25 motor. My point? ALL USED CARS HAVE A CERTAIN RISK OF FAILURE. And most used cars have COMMON failures.

Ultimately, you need to decide what the car is for? IS this for FUN? Then forget about the IMS and go have fun. Elsewhere on this forum is the GREAT advice: Drive More, Worry Less".
Is this car for INVESTMENT? then you picked the wrong car. HARD Pass on it. The Boxster is not an investment car.
If the car has some sort of sentimental value to you, or represents a "bucket-list", or whatever, and you plan to keep it forever, and pass-on to posterity, then YES, do the IMSB. This is the only instance in which I think it makes sense.

Again: just my opinion, based on my own experience and all the reading / investigation / research that I've done.

Thanks for taking the time. I really appreciate it. Kinda thinking along the same lines as well, but I don't want to be foolish either.
Way I look at it is if the failure rate is around 10% - that means that I have a 90% chance of everything being OK :-) I'll take those odds.
Been doing a lot of research on this and I have come across a few comforting points of view that express much the same as you - And with what I am paying for the car I am finding it hard to justify going and spending almost a 1/4 of what its costing me to buy it just to do this one upgrade, that might not even be needed.
Its not my daily runner, so if it went south I wouldn't suffer any down time. And then I could just try and source a second hand engine or donor car, which would cost more but I'd have a fair chunk of change to put towards it from what I saved by not getting the upgrade done.

Having read a lot of forums and posts at this point one thing starts to come across strong - I don't remember one post where anyone that had it changed said that it actually needed changing - in fact many make the point that the original was "Pristine" - but now they had peace of mind.
And there also a few youtube vids of guys that had them replaced and they still failed as they weren't fitted right or whatever. So you take a risk either way! And as I'm in Ireland I'd doubt many mechanics here have much experience doing this type of upgrade, the roads aren't flooded with Porsche's due to astronomical road tax for big engines, so I'd be nervous that it's been done right.
I'm also not sure if any of the solutions offer a lifetime guarantee for their upgrade.

I liked this guys comments I read somewhere else:
"So far, of everyone posting in this thread that has done the replacement (of whatever version) all have said their bearings were “pristine”. Mileage doesn’t seem to matter. I’ll do mine when I do my clutch. Currently, everything is fine and it is hard to justify spending the $$$ up front when to do the whole thing right should be IMS, Clutch, Flywheel, RMS. Otherwise it is almost pointless to take the trans out to just do one, or a lessor combo at the end of the day. I’m not big on replacing parts that don’t need it. I suppose I’m playing the odds, but they are stacked WAY in my favor. If my engine goes boom, then it gives me an excuse to do a 3.6! :-) "

I think I'll go with that. Drive it on, don't worry about, if it happens it happens - any car can have any problem at anytime. I'll keep an eye on oil filter when its being changed and whenever the clutch needs doing I'd consider one of the upgrade options at that point.


For anyone else interested - this guy seems to do a decent explanation of why they fail, although he is promoting one of the fix options at the end of the vid. But even he admitted that when he removed his to do the upgrade, his was pristine also.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hzUq2DFpeKw
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Old 03-15-2019, 05:59 AM   #13
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I have never heard of a confirmed IMS Solution failing...…………….

I came across a few comments of replaced ones failing and this video also.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O_IeP_iShxA
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Old 03-15-2019, 06:13 AM   #14
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If it were me, I'd budget the cost of replacing the IMS bearing, just for peace of mind. I paid a paltry amount for my 2002 2.7 with high miles (146K at the time). I had no service history with the car, and I ended up worrying about it quite a bit after reading all the horror stories about IMS failures.

When the clutch started slipping, I went ahead and had the bearing replaced (LN) at the same time, and was amazed at how much less stressed I am about driving it now.

BTW, my original bearing was also in perfect shape, but the grease was almost completely gone; there was just a slight brown residue left on the balls and races. So it was a good decision on my part, it was just a matter of time before it failed.

Once you replace the bearing, you can drive more and worry less. <- I've used that twice in less than a week!
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Old 03-15-2019, 06:14 AM   #15
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Hi Alan,

It sounds like a nice car but you really should consider a pre-purchase inspection (PPI) by a qualified Porsche specialist. The car is old enough that there could be plenty of other things that may need attention and blow your wallet and budget if you only find out after you buy it and weren't planning for it. I agree that there is no way to inspect an IMSB and call it good.

My own car is a 2003 S that I purchased new. It now has 77,600 miles on it and I just took it home from the shop with a rebuilt engine 2 days ago. I had the original IMSB replaced with a ceramic unit as a proactive measure a few years ago when the car had 42,000 miles. I still have the original IMSB, the seals are intact and it still drips engine oil into the ziplock bag it sits in on my workbench. I don't know if the original IMSB would have failed or not. I can feel a little bit of play in the bearing but I don't know if that is normal or not. The ceramic bearing I had my shop install failed last July. No one can say why it happened, but it did. A timing chain paddle on the back of my engine also broke, who know what happened first. The interior of my oil pump housing was also gouged and had to be replaced. But other than those items, there was no other significant damage and my engine was rebuildable. There aren't a lot of failures of the ceramic IMSB upgrades, but it can happen. The 2003 and 2004 model years have a single row bearing which, supposedly and according the Eisen Class Action Settlement, have the highest failure rate, 8% I think. If the engine fails, it is a 3 chain engine as opposed to 2002 and earlier which are 5 chain engines, so there are less of them around to purchase a good used one. And if yours fails, it could be catastrophic leaving you with an engine that isn't rebuildable. In any event, the cost of a rebuild will likely be a lot more than the fair market value of the car. If you purchase the car and decide to replace the IMSB, I would recommend the IMS Solution, that is what I went with in my rebuild. And the IMSB isn't the only thing that can happen, which is why you should look into a PPI as a final step on the car you are ready to purchase.

They are great cars and I'm sure you'll enjoy it if you purchase it. There is a lot of knowledge here and if you can and like to do things yourself, there are plenty of things you can do yourself from simple to more difficult. I don't want to scare you away, just want to share my experience so you can go in with your eyes wide open.

You need to decide your comfort level with the IMSB and whether or not you want to upgrade it.
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Old 03-15-2019, 06:34 AM   #16
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I have never heard of a confirmed IMS Solution failing...…………….
I'm sure LN would agree with you...

in my opinion it's a cost/benefit analysis.
what's the cost/benefit of having it replaced? it may certainly be worth your money to have the work done again.

OTOH, some will say a high mileage car is less likely to fail than a low mile car.
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Old 03-15-2019, 07:02 AM   #17
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I have never heard of a confirmed IMS Solution failing...…………….
"confirmed" being the qualifier, I absolutely agree. There are the occasional, anecdotal "stories", but they are just that. I weight them as such. They are just as likely driven by their own agendas; whatever they may be.

But hey, if somebody said it once on the internet, then it's true, right? :-)

I've owned a lot of used cars in my lifetime, and I've never had one that wasn't prone to some sort of common-failure. Some types of failure are worse than others. Some with greater frequency than others.

If you want a used car with the lowest likelihood of common catastrophic failure, look at a Mercedes. Your dollar goes much further there than with any other mfr, in my experience.
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Old 03-15-2019, 07:25 AM   #18
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"confirmed" being the qualifier, I absolutely agree. There are the occasional, anecdotal "stories", but they are just that. I weight them as such. They are just as likely driven by their own agendas; whatever they may be.

But hey, if somebody said it once on the internet, then it's true, right? :-)

I've owned a lot of used cars in my lifetime, and I've never had one that wasn't prone to some sort of common-failure. Some types of failure are worse than others. Some with greater frequency than others.

If you want a used car with the lowest likelihood of common catastrophic failure, look at a Mercedes. Your dollar goes much further there than with any other mfr, in my experience.
We have seen IMS Solution equipped engines that spun bearings, and one that even broke the crank, and the Solution survived every time. A couple of them even reused the IMS Solution in their new engines, something that no other retrofit can do.
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Old 03-15-2019, 07:28 AM   #19
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OTOH, some will say a high mileage car is less likely to fail than a low mile car.
There have been multiple high mileage IMS failures, mileage is not an exemption from the risk. We had a customer lose his factory IMS at over 150K miles.

Personally, I really don't care what LN says, I care what my customer's performance history tells me.
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Old 03-15-2019, 10:15 AM   #20
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I replaced my IMS bearing when I did the clutch. I honestly wish I hadn't. with 147k miles on mine, it was still PERFECT. But as another member commented: once removed, it's junk. But I took out a KNOWN-TO-BE-GOOD bearing and replaced with a giant question-mark. (Yes, there are some instances where the replaced IMS, and even the "solution" have failed)

What did you replace it for? Just curios..

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