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How scared should I be of the IMS

Pelicans,

Its been 5 years since I sold my 86 Carrera and I miss having a Porsche. I am being very tempted by the prices of early 986 Boxster S models, but talking to a local Porsche shop they were very adamant that I should find the cash to get a 2006 or newer 987 instead, and said that even the L&N retrofit has to be done very 5 years with the clutch and that would cost $4000 (supposedly this is a relatively expensive shop locally, but I have moved since my 911 days).

So what is the collective experience around these parts with the older Boxsters? I am looking for something to drive into dust over a decade using up every last bit of the car. I am hoping that I can keep maintenance to ~$2k a year if I focus on reliability and safety and let other things go.

Thanks for your thoughts

p.s. What I really want is a ~2006-ish Cayman S but it seems like these are still $25k cars. Its always so hard to tell what the gap is between asking prices and transaction prices really is
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08 Porsche Cayman (base) <- My hands are too big to need to compensate with an S
86 911 Coupe <- WOOT <- sadly gone since late 2014
Old 08-26-2019, 03:37 PM
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I just did the IMS bearing on my '99 with 73k on the clock. The bearing was as close to perfect as a 20 year old bearing could be. That being said, if you're doing a clutch, the IMS is only a couple extra steps...might as well do it while you're there.
Old 08-27-2019, 01:44 AM
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I believe the reported failure rate is around 10% on the early cars. IMS retrofits seems to be an answer, although as you mentioned, they too need replacement after a while. Check out Jake Raby's website or LN engineering sites as they have links to one of the IMS "cures".

I really liked my 2000 2.7 Boxster. At the time I bought, the IMS issue wasn't well known or reported. There has always been a "hush" when the early 2.5 motors were being quietly replaced by Porsche when they had their issues of D chunkings and slipped sleeves etc. The 2.7 at the time seemed more reliable. Now? not so sure.

They are "cheap" for a reason. Buy one that suits you. Do the preventative maintenance and enjoy.

The 987.1 (2005-2008) motors have a lower failure rate, but they too can fail and the IMS fix for these cars requires dropping the motor and splitting the case.

The 987.2 (2009-2012) motors don't have the IMS. However, there seems to be concerns about cylinder scoring.

Any car that is 10-15-20 years old, regardless of miles, will need money spent unless you get a full account of records. Age will impact the condition of rubber items (suspension bushings, motor mounts etc). With 60K miles or more, waterpump service will need to be done. Tires may have aged out. Always smart to budget 10-15% of purchase price for the fixes that will come up.

Certainly, have a PPI done and ask them to (with sellers permission) to pull the oil filter and cut it open to look for any metal shavings as an early precursor check of IMS issues.
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1978 911SC, 1976 914 2.0, 1970 914 w/2056
Old 08-27-2019, 04:00 AM
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My 1st Porsche was a 4 yr old, 15K mi CPO 01 Boxster S. I was glad it was CPO because it always had something going wrong with it - window regulator, rear wheel bearing, power steering pump, front bushings, etc. And not all of these were paid as part of CPO. Then the IMS scare hit big time. After the CPO ran out, I needed to do something. Normally I'm not that tolerate of a manufacturer with that many problems, but the Porsche bug had bitten, so I traded it in for a new 08 Boxster S Limited Edition. My LE has been one of the most reliable cars I've ever owned. I'm nearing 12 yrs of ownership and the only failures have been a water pump and a temp sensor in 65K mi. I bought an 08 Cayman S Sport almost 7 yrs ago that I use as my DE car and 'winter beater'. It had 7400 mi when I bought it and now has 62K. Water pump has been my only issue.

Bottom line - the two 987s I own have been extremely reliable. I could not say that about my 986. The issues I've documented for my 986 are typical of those cars. YMMV.
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Old 08-27-2019, 05:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tedder View Post
Pelicans,

Its been 5 years since I sold my 86 Carrera and I miss having a Porsche. I am being very tempted by the prices of early 986 Boxster S models, but talking to a local Porsche shop they were very adamant that I should find the cash to get a 2006 or newer 987 instead, and said that even the L&N retrofit has to be done very 5 years with the clutch and that would cost $4000 (supposedly this is a relatively expensive shop locally, but I have moved since my 911 days).

So what is the collective experience around these parts with the older Boxsters? I am looking for something to drive into dust over a decade using up every last bit of the car. I am hoping that I can keep maintenance to ~$2k a year if I focus on reliability and safety and let other things go.

Thanks for your thoughts

p.s. What I really want is a ~2006-ish Cayman S but it seems like these are still $25k cars. Its always so hard to tell what the gap is between asking prices and transaction prices really is
Get the earlier car and install and IMS Solution, which is permanent and never needs to be changed.
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Old 08-27-2019, 06:06 AM
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The most fun car I ever owned was a 2.5L Boxster. She was a blast to drive all the time and unencumbered by modern nannies like TC or PSM. I owned her for 10 years, put 40k miles on her, 100+ track days, and actually had very few repair issues beyond normal maintenance for a car that age. When it was time for a clutch at 95k miles I did the IMS bearing but my original was still quite sound with both seals intact and zero play in the bearing.

Not everyone was so fortunate and plenty of cars lost their IMS and took out their motor with 986 S models at the highest risk. Many struggled with little annoyances like a top that did not function properly or CEL codes. Mine was a rare jewel I think. Finding one like this is probably a dice roll.

Several years ago I sold the Boxster and got a 2009 Cayman. More power, much nicer interior, PDK, and nannies that are fine for the street but annoying on the track. I have 65k miles on the clock, 50 track days, and this car is dead nuts reliable. Nearly as bulletproof as my Lexus. Just zero repair issues beyond setup for the race track and normal fluid changes. The car looks good, is confidence inspiring, and a lot of fun to drive if not quite as tossable as the Boxster. All of the prior 986/987 mechanical issues have been engineered out, and motor failure is essentially non-existant throughout the model series unless it is being raced in a championship series. These cars were built during the deep recession so not a lot were sold and availability is low.

If you want a great car for not much $$, and don't mind doing a significant amount of preventative maintenance to keep her healthy, get a 986 Boxster or 996. They are very available and dirt cheap right now.

If you want dead nuts reliable with zero chance of a failed motor, spend $30k on a 987.2 Cayman. It's a more refined, better engineered car but made in fewer numbers. The Base car is roughly the performance of an early 930 Turbo and the S model is quicker still.
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Last edited by Cajundaddy; 08-27-2019 at 08:06 PM..
Old 08-27-2019, 06:59 AM
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I have a conundrum. One of the local boxsters is pretty cheap (asking $6.5k) and its a 99 with the 2.7. It had a clutch replacement just ~2k miles ago (I have a copy of the work order) but the IMS was NOT done (why the hell not but it is what it is).

So do I roll the dice on the IMS lasting another 20k miles or do I have them drop the engine just to do the IMS and thus negate the low price. It seems like a waste to open it up again so soon but ... grenade.
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Old 09-03-2019, 10:34 AM
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Ah but the 99 came with a 2.5 with the dual row bearing. Are you sure about the 2.7? How about an engine serial number.
Old 09-03-2019, 11:45 AM
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My mistake, its a 2000, 2.7L. 120k miles. At 118k (2 years ago) it got a new clutch (including flywheel pressure plate, transmission linkage), a short-shift kit, valve guide sleeves, battery, spark plugs & tubes, brake flush. Then in May of this year it got oil change, new battery. Roof was replaced "1-2 years ago". No visible oil spots under the car. Registered and smogged (CA) in July of this year. Dark red metallic with grey leather interior (not my favorite colors but acceptable).

Haven't taken it for a PPI yet (possibly next week) but cosmetically its good-ish. Some sun-damage to paint (rear view mirrors and rear bumper) and the usual paint chips on the front bumper. The drivers outer seat bolster is torn. Most distressingly it has an 'S' added after the boxster script on the tail. Its not an S so that will go first thing if I do buy it.

Current owner has not done the control arms or water pump (will ask about that at the PPI if I get to that).

If it had had the IMS done with the clutch I think it would be a no brainer to grab it up, but without that, I may still need to either live with the uncertainty or budget 3k to pop in the oil-fed replacement.
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08 Porsche Cayman (base) <- My hands are too big to need to compensate with an S
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Old 09-03-2019, 04:33 PM
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Tedder, the car in question sounds like its going through "puberty". Lots of issues/replacement parts going on here. I would bet that trend continues and that is why the owner wants it gone. Tired of being picked to death every few months with another issue. It sounds like you will be in for it for another 3-5k worth of work. Suddenly, the $6500 Boxster is a $10K boxster!

I actually like what I assume is the Orient Red over Gray color combo.

Years ago (early 2000s), we used to tease, that all 911SC/Carreras are $20K cars.. whether you buy one at 8k and throw money at it or find one "sorted" out at $15k. At the same time, 944's were all $10K cars.. but could be found for 2-3K, then just start throwing time and money at them.

Seems early boxsters have a similar issue. They are all $12-15K cars.. just depends how you want to get there
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1978 911SC, 1976 914 2.0, 1970 914 w/2056
Old 09-04-2019, 04:16 AM
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Racer, I think you are probably right. There don't seem to be many that are in decent shape for less than 15k in my area, but those also tend to have <60k miles. I was hoping to find something like my 911 was, high miles but well cared for with documentation for a reasonable price.

Its a bit of a race against time as we need another car in the house within a couple of months (aside: lease return on a chevy spark EV, a great little car except for its range. 295 lbft of torque in an econobox and cheap as dirt) so its whether a decent porsche pops up before I have to just grab a used mazda or civic or something else that is plentiful and easy to buy quickly.
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86 911 Coupe <- WOOT <- sadly gone since late 2014
Old 09-04-2019, 06:07 AM
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p.s. 10k would be OK if its had IMS dealt with and is good to drive without another 2k dropped into it first
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86 911 Coupe <- WOOT <- sadly gone since late 2014
Old 09-04-2019, 06:08 AM
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So a 2000 which means the single row and most problematic bearing.

As to the past maintenance, sounds like it was being looked after which is good but stored outdoors.

A new seat from a wreck could be had or a auto upholstery shop. Ignore the cosmetics.

There are two maintenance philosophies. Pro-active and as-needed plus the basics. The first can be an endless money pit if you try and fix every item that could fail. I frequently suggest finding a great water-cooled Porsche mechanic first, then follow the advice you get from the PPI.

I did and had 5 years of no hassle no failure enjoyment. It did cost me money upfront. Tires, alignment, brakes, 90k service. We didn't know as much about the IMS at the time or I would have done that, but then I kept putting it off. The car has gone through 2 owners since me and last I heard was still on its original IMS. I got lucky. I also had another car, a high risk tolerance and enough assets that I could replace the motor without a great deal of hurt.
Old 09-05-2019, 10:41 AM
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Quote:
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So a 2000 which means the single row and most problematic bearing.

As to the past maintenance, sounds like it was being looked after which is good but stored outdoors.

A new seat from a wreck could be had or a auto upholstery shop. Ignore the cosmetics.

There are two maintenance philosophies. Pro-active and as-needed plus the basics. The first can be an endless money pit if you try and fix every item that could fail. I frequently suggest finding a great water-cooled Porsche mechanic first, then follow the advice you get from the PPI.

I did and had 5 years of no hassle no failure enjoyment. It did cost me money upfront. Tires, alignment, brakes, 90k service. We didn't know as much about the IMS at the time or I would have done that, but then I kept putting it off. The car has gone through 2 owners since me and last I heard was still on its original IMS. I got lucky. I also had another car, a high risk tolerance and enough assets that I could replace the motor without a great deal of hurt.
Mike, duck your head down there in hurricane alley.

The latest numbers on IMS failures, from the magazine Excellence about two months back, place the latest failure rates on the single row IMS bearings at 12.6%, and suggested that it would continue to grow as the cars aged. It is all a matter of how you feel about that risk level.....
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Old 09-05-2019, 12:04 PM
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Folks, drove the red one (and another) and like it a lot. Felt tight and strong. Does need front tires (not urgent) and I am trying to arrange a PPI for next week.

Is there any way to determine if IMS work has been done if the PO doesn't know? Short of dropping the engine there really isn't anything is there? Would such a repair show up on a carfax report, or if there are just shops listed is it likely they would tell me if I called with the VIN?

Still struggling with whether to walk away and wait for another to become available or to grab this one which is cheap, does have the rails and the new clutch, but with the big IMS question mark hanging over it. Adding $2500 for an IMS I might find one in a few months. The ask is 6.5k but he is motivated to be rid of it. I don't know how much I'll get him down but I doubt its the full IMS 2.5k
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Old 09-07-2019, 11:57 AM
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No one else knows your situation or personality. Or this specific car.

Can you verify why it is for sale? I bought both of mine knowing why they were for sale (change in family (3 kids) and change in job requiring 4 seats)
Old 09-07-2019, 12:30 PM
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Yes, the seller's dad upgraded and is giving him his old 200? AMG C63 coupe but there are no parking spaces left at his house so its either get rid of the boxster or empty all the stuff from the garage. Since he has 2 kids (14,8) he doesn't get to drive the boxster much because he doesn't like bringing them and can only bring one (at a time).

As for the situation, yes, you are absolutely right. I just want to make sure that in the absence of documentation there really is no way to know what has been done short of pulling the engine out for a look-see.
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08 Porsche Cayman (base) <- My hands are too big to need to compensate with an S
86 911 Coupe <- WOOT <- sadly gone since late 2014
Old 09-07-2019, 12:45 PM
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FWIW you dont need to remove the engine. IMS replacement should be sub 15 hrs, more like 10-12. Checking camshaft deviation regularly should be on list if you are concerned about the IMS.

Tons of these cars out there, get the right one for you. Good luck.
Old 09-07-2019, 02:22 PM
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If the IMS was done with a LN branded bearing (by far the most common kit), there could be a serial number sticker usually applied on the drivers door jam.
Old 09-08-2019, 09:39 AM
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So I walked on that one but I am setting up a PPI on another, this time with full history from 2008/55k though now (2019/118k).

2003 Boxster base, midnight blue over tan with a blue top.

2 owner car since new. It had the L&N bearing installed at 117k along with a new clutch, brake rotors & pads, cv boots and other work I have forgotten. At ~95k it had an AOS. At 65k it had a water pump. Definitely needs front tires, rears are more recent. Lots of rock chips on the front and some paint from another car and a crease at the drivers rear fender. I think it may need rear shocks (bit of a clunk when right rear hits a bump) and the spoiler doesn't sound happy moving up and down. Buying (I hope, PPI dependent) from the family after the owner passed 6 months ago.

Hoping I can get a PPI before the weekend.
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08 Porsche Cayman (base) <- My hands are too big to need to compensate with an S
86 911 Coupe <- WOOT <- sadly gone since late 2014
Old 09-12-2019, 02:41 AM
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