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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
For the past couple years I've been considering purchasing a used Porsche. It would be strictly a weekend and fun car since I already have three utilitarian vehicles in the family.

I had been looking for a 2006 Cayman S, but find the price more than I wanted to spend for a 4th, fun car. Out of curiosity, I searched for 1999 911 Carreras and found some low mileage vehicles with asking prices in the mid 20K's. I really want a coupe over a soft top (I had considered an older Boxster) and really appreciate the Cayman S as a "driver's car", but I find the "GT"-like features of the Carrera attractive.

I'm aware of the risks with buying any pre-owned Porsche, but am I exposing myself to greater risk with a 996 than waiting for Cayman prices to reach my discretionary target?
 

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RMS (rear main seal) problems, which actually constitute an umbrella of issues some of which are related to the intermediate shaft, are very well known. Prices on the 99s are very attractive as you noted. A good PPI done by a competent Porsche mechanic can detect most of the serious RMS related issues. A low mileage replaced engine wouldn't be a bad thing IMHO. I personally don't like the 996/986 interiors. I had a 2.5L 99 Boxster and the poor quality/design of the interior became an irritating issue for me over time. On a positive the the A/C was excellent, fully up to our S. FL heat.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Would you say that the frequency of RMS issues with the 996 are greater, about the same, or less than the 987?

For a car this old and one I wouldn't have a lot of money invested, I would be looking for an independent mechanic rather than taking work to the Porsche dealer.

I've read complaints about the cheap plastic in the 996 interior. However, the simplicity is attractive to me. I really hate the "soon-to-be obsolete" nav and audio systems dominating the center stack of practically all '05 and later models.
 

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The design of the M96 motor evolved over time, so the worst oil leak problems were the 1997 2.5L Boxster motors w/ porous cases while the "best" of the M96 engines would be from the 2003-2004 end of the line 986 Boxsters and 996 911s that had improvements based on problems learned from the previous years. Failed engines were routinely untouched by the dealers and sent back to Porsche in Germany for teardown. There's no way around a thorough PPI when buying one of these cars by someone who knows what to look for. For instance, low miles can be deceptive since the engine was used lightly an impending problem may have gone undetected by the original owner, whereas a car w/ higher mileage may have already had the engine replaced.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I would definitely get a PPI before buying. If I got a good deal, I could handle an RMS incident. I just don't want to experience a blown engine.
 

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I've said it before and here I go again. I LOVE ALL THINGS PORSCHE, HOWEVER - My least favorite model is the 996. My admittedly subjective problem is mostly design, the RMS problems have already been mentioned. I think the 996 body style is a little too....what's the word? "flat"? Don't much care for the front lighting fixtures. IMO the interior is very un-Porsche. ALL of these (subjective) short-comings were addressed in the 997 which I think is one of the best 911 versions to date.

Having said all that the 996 is still a Porsche and an awesome car. I guess if I were shopping for a car I would bite the bullet and step up to the 997 or reconsider the 987.

Don't hate on me. I still love the 996...it's just my least favorite Porsche.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Well the market tends to agree with you since pricing on the 996's is so much more attractive. A 2004 Boxster S (987) is about the same price as a 1999 996.

My favorite exterior is the 993, but I hate the interior of all pre-996 911s. It's as if it hadn't been updated since the 60s. Materials, notwithstanding, I find the 996 interior a step in the right direction. But you are right, the 997 is definitely the nicest complete package.
 

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+1 what Ken said. I would look at the 2002 models, better interior, better looking front end and a 3.6l to boot. The 3.4 has had a lot of issue's, most of the people I talked to when i was shopping for a porsche, said steer clear of the 3.4. That is the reason why I bought my 2007 Cayman S, i started looking at 2002+ 996, which were around the same price as the later model Cayman S, took one for a drive and was hooked...
 

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Be sure to check for the infamous 2nd gear pop-out on the 996s. The PPI might not catch it. Do a search on "2nd gear pop-out" on 6speedonline.com, there is tons of information. Good luck.
 

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Compelled to add my 4 cents on this.
I currently own a '99 996 C2 coupe. I have owned this one since 2004. I bought it with 7,200 miles and it now has 56,000 mi. I have never had a leaky RMS, or IMS failure, or D-chunk. LOTS of track events and lots of highway and lots of stop-and-go city commuting.
This is my FOURTH 996. The previous 3 were a '99, an '01, and an '03, all purchased new. I went BACK to the '99 (not the same car as the first '99) because of many factors, but including that my taste is not for headlights that look like droopy Basset Hound eyes (later 996's and 996 Turbo's).

I drove all the the previous cars at least 30,000 miles before trading, and I NEVER experienced any of the major complaints so often listed for the 996. Yep, those problems are well documented. But almost 100,000 996's were built so there would be a ton of cars out there that MIGHT experience a problem. If it was even as high as one car in 20 (a huge percentage!), then there are still 95,000 996's that WON'T.

The latest thinking is that a car that has been driven MORE is LESS likely to experience the the RMS problem, because the early seal required vacuum to keep it in place and that garage queens did not provide that constant vacuum.

Now, the best advice has already been given above. Get a PPI. A car with a COMPLETE, DOCUMENTED mechanical history is what you are looking for. And do a search for the Carfax. Carfax is not a perfect history, but it is better than NO history. It may show you something not brought to your attention by the seller.
 

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How about a Boxster with a hard top? That was what I was looking for before I came across a Cayman I couldn't pass up...
 
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