Reader Question: Potentially Problematic Porsche?

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!

Scott asks: I am looking to purchase a 2003 Boxster. It is in excellent shape, with 51,000 miles. I live in Michigan, so the car would only be driven in the summer months. This is why it has so few miles on it. In my research, it would appear the IMS Bearing is of the greatest concern with these vehicles. Specifically, in the model years 2002 – 2004, this part can go bad in about 1 in 12 vehicles (8 percent of the time).

In your opinion, do I: (a) Realize the part has lasted 17-years, let a good thing be and do not replace it? Or (b) absolutely replace it at a cost of $3k – $4k on a car valued at $14k – eliminating potential future costs? Or (c) don’t even purchase a car with this potential risk? Thank you in advance for any opinion you elect to share on this matter.

My reply: Assuming the price is right – and the car appears to have been treated well and maintained well – the latter being key with these cars –  I’d take the slight risk (51,000 miles being very low mileage for a 17-year-old car) buy it and enjoy it. Why fix what isn’t broken? Maybe the bearing will fail. But it’s ok now. It will probably be ok for some time to come.

A $14k Porsche is a deal viewed from almost any angle – assuming it’s not a rusted out 914!

Even if you end up putting $3-$4k into it, you still haven’t got more in it than would have been the case f you’d spent that sum on a new . . . Corolla.

. . . .

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  1. Scott,
    Have you read the IMS solution page from Jake Raby.
    Here’s a quote,

    “Although a greatly debated subject, most experts agree that more frequent oil changes every 6 months or 5,000 miles is a good first step. Secondly, actually driving your Porsche more often and avoiding higher gears to keep the revs above 2500-3000 rpm is another good step to take to improve the life of the ball-bearing in the intermediate shaft. Although there is limited data, the general trend is that lower mileage vehicles with infrequent oil changes or driven light-footed (as in run at low speed/engine rpms) are most likely to suffer a failure rather than those cars that are driven hard and well-maintained.” That thing is a ticking time bomb.

    • haha, that’s always been my recipe for all vehicles I own/buy. Pedal or throttle (bike) to the stops first time out. People/friends screech at me, “you have to break it in!!!!”.
      No I don’t.
      My dirtbikes have always run better than my peers.
      My cars never burn oil, etc….
      It also fun to do burnouts on a brandy new car/truck and watch people cringe, haha…..
      My roadrace engines (4cyl 600cc) would go on the dyno brandy new, or from fresh rebuild and we would hammer them at full load to redline, a lot. NO way I was getting on that bike at 150+ without that test.
      I also witnessed what they do at the car factories when I was doing a plant tour for college. It was a GM Caprice plant I think in DE, and after the car was put together, it would go on the Dyno and the testers would hammer the thing to redline and back, couple times. I said ahhh-haaa, I was right. Break in my ass.

  2. On an episode of Wheeler Dealer Ant installed an aftermarket IMS bearing that is engine oil lubricated and was done without pulling the engine down.Just removed trans and flywheel.


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