Porsche IMS Bearing Failure » Company of Cars

If you own a Porsche then you’ve probably heard about the dreaded IMS bearing?

As a Porsche owner or a future Porsche owner, you’ve probably already heard some horror stories about Porsche IMS bearing failure. The good news is that you can take steps before a catastrophic failure to help ensure the smooth operation of your Porsche.  A little time and money spent now could save you a painful situation later – let us explain…

The idea of your Porsche 911 or Porsche Boxster experiencing a catastrophic Porsche IMS bearing failure has achieved campfire horror story status amongst Porsche enthusiasts and casual Porsche fans alike….but how likely is it?

This problem affects all Porsche M96 and M97 Engines from 1997 through 2008. They all have the potential for failure of the Intermediate Main Shaft (IMS) bearing.

Early models of Porsche 911 (996 & 997) as well as early Boxster 987, and Cayman 987’s experience a common failure of the IMS (Intermediate Main Shaft) bearing, which can cause a complete failure of the motor and a vast repair. The models that can be affected are Boxsters, Caymans and Porsche 911’s that were manufactured between 1997 and 2008, except for Turbo, GT2 and GT3 models. Although the type of bearings used changed from 1997 to 2008, and some are more prone to failure than others, all of these bearings, unless replaced are susceptible to failure.

The statistics suggest that the versions used for model years 2000 to 2005 are most susceptible to failure in the 996 version of the Porsche 911 and the Boxster 986  while the chances of IMS bearing failure on a Boxster 987 or Cayman manufactured after a stronger bearing was introduced in late 2005 are actually very low.

There may not be many obvious symptoms for this problem until you hear a loud rattling noise when starting the engine or pressing the accelerator. At this point, there may already be very expensive damage occurring in the engine.

In the early stage though, if there is any metallic debris in the oil filter or used oil – which can be found when changing oil and filter, it might mean that the bearing is failing. It’s probably time to have a professional facility with knowledge Porsche engines and their repair have a look.

It’s possible that when there are oil leaks from the engine they are coming from the IMS flange seal. So it is better to get this checked and confirm the real causes just in case.

Whatever you do…Do not drive your Porsche if you suspect the IMS bearing may be failing!

The IMS bearing is a sealed unit with permanent lubricant for the ball bearings. Although it is difficult to know exactly how and why the failure occurs only in some engines, it appears the seal erodes over time, which allows engine oil to enter the bearing and flush out the permanent lubricant. This results in inadequate lubrication of the bearings. The bearings corrode over time and eventually release metal shavings into the engine oil. This is a simplified explanation, but if the problem is caught at this stage, it can be repaired. Because this is all occurring internally, the only visual sign of the problem is those metal shavings; the used oil and oil filter should be inspected when they are changed. If the problem goes on too long, the engine will need to be rebuilt or replaced.

Let’s start with the cars in the first group, all of which are at least 20 years old. The possibility of the IMS problem occurring appears to diminish with miles and time; if the Porsche you are considering has average mileage (6000-8000 per year), most problems would almost certainly have occurred. That said, it is still good to keep the problem in mind when buying and/or maintaining a Porsche. Make sure any car you are considering has full-service records and, if an IMS failure occurred, that it was properly resolved. More frequent oil changes than suggested by the factory are a further precaution that can protect against failure.

As mentioned, there is greater risk with the 2001-05 cars. However, considering these Porsche are at least fifteen years old, the chance of future failure is relatively low. If you are considering the purchase of a Porsche that has more than 40000 miles, and a review of the maintenance records shows it has been meticulously maintained, the risk is very low.

The risk for the third group, 2006-08, is similar to the first group in terms of the likelihood of failure except these cars are newer and haven’t had as many miles on the road. Still, all of these cars are at least 12 years old and should have logged enough miles to flush out most of the problems. You may also be able to purchase an aftermarket warranty, which could be a wise decision if you are troubled by this potential problem.

Aftermarket IMS bearings are available and some mechanics recommend installing one as a preventive measure. The cost of a replacement bearing and labour for installation is usually more than $2,000 but can be done in conjunction with the clutch. This is a small investment compared to the cost to rebuild or replace an engine but it should also be balanced against the low risk of the IMS failure happening in older cars. If you coldly calculate the likelihood of a future failure and measure it against the cost of a replacement bearing, you may decide it is worth the risk. But if your concern for the failure of the IMS bearing affects your enjoyment of your Porsche, or keeps you from driving it, then this preventative measure may well be a worthy expenditure.


Our service team has experience with this repair. And We can save you thousands of dollars in repair costs over the dealer. While the vehicle is disassembled we can also inspect and repair other possible issues with the clutch, flywheel or throw out bearing.

This repair can be done in conjunction with repairs like oil leaks at the front timing covers, valve covers, VANOS or variable timing solenoids, internal water tube and vacuum pump. These repairs can also be done at a fraction of the dealer cost.

Give our service department a call today and get a free quote to fix  Porsche IMS bearing failure!

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