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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Love my '02 986S for all 63K miles but always concerned about engine self-destruction via IMS or cylinder liner failure. Know the '09 Boxster/Cayman/997 engine is a complete redesign but question is about 987/Cayman/997 engine reliability begining in 2006. Can I get more engine reliability, and more sleep at night, by buying a post 2006 987/997/Cayman - either base or S?

Another solution is to stop reading forums about engine problems. Thanks in advance for comments and sorry if this is an old question.
 

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If all these cars are destined to failure, then my only advice is to short VW stock.

With used Caymans holding very healthy values, I would suggest that in the non forum world, they are not losing sleep over the IMS issue.

If it is that much of a worry, buy an extended warranty and drive it like you stole it after a good night's sleep.
 

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Love my '02 986S for all 63K miles but always concerned about engine self-destruction via IMS or cylinder liner failure. Know the '09 Boxster/Cayman/997 engine is a complete redesign but question is about 987/Cayman/997 engine reliability begining in 2006. Can I get more engine reliability, and more sleep at night, by buying a post 2006 987/997/Cayman - either base or S?

Another solution is to stop reading forums about engine problems. Thanks in advance for comments and sorry if this is an old question.
The first run of Boxsters had three main engine problems. Cylinder liner slippage/porous block , Rear Main Seal (RMS) leaks and intermediate shaft seal leaks. The first was a catastrophic failure if it occurred. New engine. Porsche fixed that one. The second, RMS leak, persisted for many years with several fixes until they finally got it right around 2006. I have heard of very few RMS problems since then. The intermediate shaft leak was a less frequent issue and not heard from in quite a while.

The new engine should eliminate all these issues. Then again, it may have a bunch of new problems. Time will tell, but I've heard nothing yet.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks. Have followed the same trends written about early 986 engines and it does seem the problems have gotten better. But, my question is prompted by failures discussed in newer cars - specifically '02 986 with the same mileage as mine. I havn't found a common theme but I think the updated 987/Cayman engines will continue to have the same failure modes as the 986 - though not as often.
 

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Thanks. Have followed the same trends written about early 986 engines and it does seem the problems have gotten better. But, my question is prompted by failures discussed in newer cars - specifically '02 986 with the same mileage as mine. I havn't found a common theme but I think the updated 987/Cayman engines will continue to have the same failure modes as the 986 - though not as often.
If by "updated" you mean the '09 and on engines, or what people have called the "gen 2" family, then I have to disagree. The Gen 2 is a very different engine from the first generation and should not have the same failure modes. If you mean just the engines that were offered in the 987 cars, then I agree, since they are virtually the same as the 986 engines, but with some fixes, mainly the RMS problem though I have never heard just what was done, just that RMS failure stories have become rare.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Concur - but 'update' I'm referring to 987 models. Maybe the same failure modes may appear with more miles. Hope Gen 2 has solved the problems!
 

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If by "updated" you mean the '09 and on engines, or what people have called the "gen 2" family, then I have to disagree. The Gen 2 is a very different engine from the first generation and should not have the same failure modes. If you mean just the engines that were offered in the 987 cars, then I agree, since they are virtually the same as the 986 engines, but with some fixes, mainly the RMS problem though I have never heard just what was done, just that RMS failure stories have become rare.
My take, from reading quite a lot about the Gen 1 987s is that they are quite reliable for most uses. The exception would be lots of DEs with R tires and modded suspensions where lateral G loading is very high very often. The Vapor-Oil Separator on these cars isn't quite up to certain combinations of hard turns. The result can be a lot of smoke out the tailpipe and some really fast oil consumption. In the heat of a track day, one doesn't want to top up oil every session, but if you get smoke, you need to. Letting the level go down while continuing to run hard will result in oil starvation and engine failures.

The Gen 2 engine has a much better oil pickup system and just never pumps air or runs dry. The VOS is also improved, I think. The new Gen2 CaymanSpec racers are proving to be extremely durable and there was a Porsche factory driver out at this R/A Fall DE with a bone stock Gen 2 he'd been all over the country with. He drove every session in that car and drove it hard. No smoke, no problems.

Another issue with Gen 1 997s ridden very hard is that the power steering pumps can get too hot and melt plastic parts. This results in leaks that result in more heat that results in failure of the pump. This is also addressed in the Gen 2 cars.

I've put a Motorsport VOS on my car and an extended oil sump. For the power steering, I've installed an underdrive pulley and I'm scheduling an install of a trick power steering oil cooler as well before driving season starts here in Chicago. I want the car to be as bullet-proof as possible before any hard flogging goes on in hot weather. I'm generally a spring/fall DE fan anyway and go out on a two wheeled BMW during the summer.

Again, if you're driving your Gen 1 997 with stock tires and suspension, even at the track, you probably won't generate the sort of forces that can make these failures happen. The power steering would be the only issue to concern yourself with and an underdrive pulley will probably suffice to cure that. It also gives the car better response due to less drag on the engine. You can feel the difference.

Another good idea is to avoid driving near red-line on long caroselle type corners, just upshift a gear. It took me a couple laps at R/A to remember after all these years of doing their carosselle in 3rd, but eventually I started to build the habit. It makes zero difference in lap time because you're not accelerating there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks for the great explanation and detail. I've DE'd my 986 a few times but now use a well modified E36 M3 for track days. Boxster stays cleaner this way!
 

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Thanks for the great explanation and detail. I've DE'd my 986 a few times but now use a well modified E36 M3 for track days. Boxster stays cleaner this way!

I ran an E36 for 14 years. Just sold it for the Cayman S. I had that thing so dialed in it was booring. Needed another 100HP or so...Maybe then it would have been exciting again. I've had long time club racers and car-builders tell me it was the best set-up M3 they'd ever driven. It was a very nice track car and I drove it home...no trailers ever. I learned a lot from tweaking that thing. I'm trying to get the CS to be a fun track car that is still habitable on the street and touring. So I'm walking a reat tightrope. So far my mods have been very stealthy. GT2 contol arms, more negative camber all round, R tires, Pagid Yellow for track use, SS brake lines, Motorsport VOS, extended oil sump, cute little techquipment dual-round exhaust tip. Softronics Flash and plenum.

I may have stepped over some sort of line with the SpeedArt TUV cat-back. Time will soon tell. Anyway, I'm having a lot of fun just driving this car on little adventures around the city. The flat six always did hum along nicely at nearly any speed. I think that's part of the charm of these things.

My M3 was too track oriented to really drive on the street much. It's a shame because the stock M3 suspension was one of the best ride/handling compromises I've ever driven. From memory: K&N intake; Euro air mass sensor, big-bore throttle body, Dinan strut brace, BMW X brace, UU competition shift mount; Adjustable Sway Bars; competition drop links; Bilstein Sport Shocks w shortened bump-stops; H&R 22910 Sport Springs. ; spacers placed in base of struts w/longer HD bolts to increase negative camber. Camber plates also used; SS brake lines; Pagid Orange pads; Fog lights removed, extra brake ducts added; brake duct front backing plates bent back 45 degrees on front brakes; Wing pop-riveted to bent backing plate to add additional air to brakes; TC Kline Roll Bar really stiffened up the chassis; Conforti Chip made for intake and Euro Air Mass sensor..255HP estimated from Dyno @ Kenny Brown on Gasoline Alley in Indy.

I took it in at around 45000 miles. They told me I needed rear subframe bushings. They wear out at 40,000 if you mod the suspension and track the car. You can put hard bushings in, but then it really feels like a race car. That's not what I thought I wanted with that car, though thinking back, I was the only one who ever drove it and that was mostly to and from race tracks.

What also happens is they head gaskets break right between cylinders 5 & 6. It probably happened to me but I thought it was a water pump. I paid about a grand to have the car towed to a dealer and fixed. I drove it home from Indy and it felt perfectly strong and good. I had already decided to sell it and like most things I love that I sell, it protested. Anyway, I found a willing buyer who talked me down substantially from my asking price. I liked the guy so I threw in all the original parts and every other spare and accessory I'd ever purchase for it. He drove to Denver in it, at times over 100 MPH for extended periods according to emails. No problems. He takes it to the track and it overheats again. This is how we found out about the head gasket. They break there. And there's a certain brand of german gasket that works well agains this and one that doesn't. If you replace the original with the right gasket, it's unlikely to ever break again. My early1995 VIN was one with the wrong sort of gasket. While they had the head off, they replace the valve thingies...hell, I forget now. It wasn't a huge job. Whole thing under two grand. I gave him two grand off a very fair price and a big bunch of free parts, so I don't feel too bad about this transaction.

It was a great car and I thought it was infallible, but it did need a few things now and again. Make sure you check the internet for engine issues with your year of E36. They are great cars and wonderful on track, but they don't last for ever without some issues.

Nothing like the Cayman as far as cost to prepare. The Cayman is such an addictive street car that I'm really being careful with mods. I don't care if I'm fastest on track. I want a car that will track and be nice on the street. Pretty quick is quick enough and I don't want to destroy the car running so hard so often. It's too fun to paddle around with. I want to keep mine forever.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I bought my M3 from a friend who owns a performance prep auto shop and used to work for Bimmerworld. He knows way more about the car than I do and still works on it. Just fix a coolant leak at the thermostat housing, new overflow tank and hoses too. Head gasket already replaced. Have about 128K miles on it now. Drive it to the track, swap the tires, then drive home. Also drive it to work most days but have to avoid known potholes or steep bridge transitions. I bounced my head off the roof driving down the interstate at 70mph when I went over a particularly bad bridge.

Here is a list of mods:

Power Flex front control arm bushings
Power Flex Rtabs
Ground control front and rear "big" sway bars
24lb injectors + 3.5 maf + custom ecu chip
AFE intake system
Super sprint exhaust
Tein SS coilovers with pillow ball mounts + camber plates
EDFC (coilover controller)
Tein Rear Shock mounts
Ground control sway bar end links
Red line diff and tranny fluid
Group N motor mounts
Rogue Engineering tranny mounts
Dual fuel pump system to prevent fuel starvation
Oil pump nut safety wired and lock tite
Bimmerworld brake cooling kit
Stainless steel brake lines
BBS CH wheels

Now having an E36 for the track, next to the 986 in the garage, and can pick between the two to drive to work - best of both worlds!! Going back to the original post - I worry less about Porsche engine problems this way.....
 

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I bought my M3 from a friend who owns a performance prep auto shop and used to work for Bimmerworld. He knows way more about the car than I do and still works on it. Just fix a coolant leak at the thermostat housing, new overflow tank and hoses too. Head gasket already replaced. Have about 128K miles on it now. Drive it to the track, swap the tires, then drive home. Also drive it to work most days but have to avoid known potholes or steep bridge transitions. I bounced my head off the roof driving down the interstate at 70mph when I went over a particularly bad bridge.

Here is a list of mods:

Power Flex front control arm bushings
Power Flex Rtabs
Ground control front and rear "big" sway bars
24lb injectors + 3.5 maf + custom ecu chip
AFE intake system
Super sprint exhaust
Tein SS coilovers with pillow ball mounts + camber plates
EDFC (coilover controller)
Tein Rear Shock mounts
Ground control sway bar end links
Red line diff and tranny fluid
Group N motor mounts
Rogue Engineering tranny mounts
Dual fuel pump system to prevent fuel starvation
Oil pump nut safety wired and lock tite
Bimmerworld brake cooling kit
Stainless steel brake lines
BBS CH wheels

Now having an E36 for the track, next to the 986 in the garage, and can pick between the two to drive to work - best of both worlds!! Going back to the original post - I worry less about Porsche engine problems this way.....
In retrospect, this is probably a better way to go. Seems strange to track the big car and street the "sports car", especially with Porsche's reputation and racing history.

I only have garage space for two cars for myself. One is the business sedan, Audi A6. Other was the M3, but I wasn't using it much. Kept it on a lift most of the year. I quit changing tires at the track a few years ago. I just drive on them and don't use race tires that are almost gone. With the lift at home, it's just a lot easier. I really like Nitto NT01s and they can be driven on the street pretty easily.

The CS gets more street use, but the problems with tracking it are difficult to overcome...and even then you're never sure. The fact that I want to keep it nice makes it a compromise on the track. I don't care if I'm not fastest, I do want something that feels right out there...balanced and poised at the limit, etc, whatever that limit turns out to be...and I want it to be a solid machine, not a time bomb. I think I'm nearly there. I've been a track junkie for about 25 years. I'm tapering down to a few schools per year anyway. Not trying to compete for top warp speed among instructors anymore.
 

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Love my '02 986S for all 63K miles but always concerned about engine self-destruction via IMS or cylinder liner failure. Know the '09 Boxster/Cayman/997 engine is a complete redesign but question is about 987/Cayman/997 engine reliability begining in 2006. Can I get more engine reliability, and more sleep at night, by buying a post 2006 987/997/Cayman - either base or S?

Another solution is to stop reading forums about engine problems. Thanks in advance for comments and sorry if this is an old question.
I had a base 2002 Boxster and had the same worries. The RMS on my engine had been changed once under warranty. Then it leaked again. I put the final rear mail seal version in the car and that 4th generation of seal is supposed to be (obviously) the seal that gets these cars dry. However, I didn't keep it long enough to see how that seal held up.

Also, my car had a leak from the intermediate shaft flange bolts. If you have your RMS fixed, insure that you change out these bolts.

The IMS flange seal can also leak. Do that seal too when you do the RMS.

Finally, if you are really worried about the IMS failure, you may wish to invest in some of the aftermarket solutions that replace the weaker bearing used from 2000 to 2005 with these more robust bearings that the aftermarket is now using. $1000 in labor (+ or -) to remove the transmission, a few hours to pull the old IMS bearing and replace. For probably $2,000, you could update your car with more robust aftermarket components. More if you want to replace the clutch and flywheel. Less if you can DIY. Even if you pony up for a new clutch, new flywheel, IMS update kit and the labor to do all of that, the $3,000 you spend is a lot less than what you would spend on a new motor if the IMS detonates. Plus, you'd probably not have to open up the motor ever again until you wear out that new clutch.

One aftermarket source claims that changing the oil much more frequently (like every 5,000 miles) than Porsche's recommended oil change interval will help with longevity of the IMS bearing.

On the flip side, the aftermarket IMS bearing replacement kits have not been time tested either. These update kits are only maybe a year or so old. Time will also tell as to how these kits hold up. They do seem to be engineered with longevity in mind and with sound engineering principles.

Finally, Porsche updated the Intermediate Shaft and associated bearing for the 2006 model year. I'm not sure when this update actually occured. Maybe someone can chime in.

It's only my opinion, but I bet that with the new updated RMS and updates to the IMS and it's bearing in 2006, the '06 to '08 987 platform may prove to be the most robust of the years. It remains to be seen how the new 2.9's will hold up. I think everyone is hoping for the best since it's such a changed design.

However, to answer your question, I think yes, you may get more sleep at night with a 2006 or newer M96 motor. However, due to Porsche continuing to updated the rear main seal itself, the RMS leak is now a non issue other than the cost of removing the transmission and the IMS bearing failure is still relatively rare even though we read quite a bit about this issue. If you run the car regularily and drive it the way Porsche designed it to be driven (don't baby it too much nor abuse it), your motor should last quite awhile.

Good Luck,

Jay
08 987
90 964
84 911
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Jay,
Thanks and I agree. I had got my car with 18K miles on it and had the RMS replaced under warrantee right away. Dealer changed it again just before the warrantee expired at about 25K miles. However, think they may have seen some revenue slipping away and not sure it really needed another RMS. Not so concerned about the RMS; as one comment read "its just an oil leak". It's the IMS that has me spooked.

Have read about the aftermarket fixes to replace the IMS bearing and may consider it when it's time for a clutch. Don't think I'll make that investment just for prevention and not convinced of the fix. My shop guy - also a friend a trust - convinces me I can find a used motor for "$3500" - plus labor - if and when I need one so it's kind of a trade-off.

Your info about the '06 IMS update is really what I was looking for. Besides I could trade the 986 for a CS just for the extra horsepower and justify it with the IMS! I do drive the car regularly (though not at the track anymore; since my E36 M3 joined the family) and change the oil at about 7K miles now.

Thanks for the help.
Phil
 

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Phil,

It's also my understanding that if the RMS leak gets to a point that it's really leaking, that leak can take out the clutch in short order. But, after seeing the guts of my car with the transmission out, I think it would really have to be gushing oil to splash enough to ruin that clutch.

Here's a shot of my leaking RMS and IMS flange bolts.



A couple things to note on my car is the deteriorating RMS seal at the bottom of the crank area. Since my car sat around a lot before I bought it, it makes me wonder if all that sitting didn't distort that RMS. Also, I've been told that if oil is leaking from around that IMS flange, that IMS bearing may be ready to implode. That leak seems to have to be a very dark and heavy oil leak as an indicator of potential IMS bearing failure. My car did not have that sort of leak, it was just leaking from the flange bolts. Fresh motor oil leaking is probably the RMS or flange bolts (which I had).

Also, resale value can really tank if the car is leaking. It's not uncommon for some of the dealers around me to take the potential trade in and put it on the rack to check for that RMS leak.

I've also researched that Porsche used a relatively robust IMS bearing from 1997 to 1999. Then, for "field serviceability", they switched to a smaller IMS bearing from 2000 to 2005. But, according to my trusted dealer, there is no factory fix for this '00 to '05 bearing design. Porsche finally went to the most robust IMS bearing for model year 2006 and continued that bearing until 2008 when the M96 motor platform was discontinued. My bet is that Porsche new darn well that the IMS bearings on 2000 to 2005 cars were failing too much and redesigned that whole IMS bearing area.

I personally did not trust the aftermarket fixes since they were very, very newly released when I had to rip my car apart to fix the oil leaks. I didn't know if the force needed to remove that IMS bearing would weaken the case or if the aftermarket design was tested enough to prove to be a long lived fix.

Again, I'm NOT an expert at these things. I'm just reporting what I've researched and what I experienced when repairing my '02.

Jay
 

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"Another solution is to stop reading forums about engine problems."

This is the best advice you can give yourself because all you're going to hear about on forums are the problems. You will not read about the owners who have driven for years and miles who have not experienced any of these issues.:cheers:
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Think you're right; don't expect a post to say "I just rolled over 75,000 on the odometer with no problems!!". Especially in the 'complaints' forum. But there are lots more Boxster/Cayman motors than there are Planet-9/PCA/Rennlist bloggers. Certainly many failures that go 'unnoticed' by the forum crowd.

Maybe I will be the guy who announces the 75K milestone!
 

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"Another solution is to stop reading forums about engine problems."

This is the best advice you can give yourself because all you're going to hear about on forums are the problems. You will not read about the owners who have driven for years and miles who have not experienced any of these issues.:cheers:
Exactly what the Service manager at my dealer just said to me. He said he has been the manager there for 3 years and has only seen one boxster come in needing a new engine.....never seen a Cayman.

I do think these forums can really magnify a problem and make it seem much more wide spread than it really is. People love spreading the word when they have a bad experience.......
 

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I do think these forums can really magnify a problem and make it seem much more wide spread than it really is. People love spreading the word when they have a bad experience.......

Most of them are whining about getting Porsche to pay for their repairs. Then there are the people selling aftermarket solutions, to which there is very little problem, trying to scare us.

As for me (on my second Boxster in 11 years) I'll just continue to enjoy driving it.
 

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I had no problems smoking with my 00 Boxster S but major smoking with my 06 CS. You would think things would get better not worst. I had to do the Motorsport VOS to control it. Works great but cost like $1500 to do.

Power steering problem doesn't seem to have been improved either. Mine started leaking after one track day. Did pulley and insulated line but probably still need to add a good cooler the system.
 
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