Piston Slap: Porsche Customer Service Doesn't Stink?

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
piston slap porsche customer service doesn t stink

Sam writes:

Hello, can you tell me what ever happened with the Porsche IMS concern? At 18K miles, an IMS bearing failure has caused a catastrophic engine failure in my Porsche 911. My Porsche dealer (who has done all of the Porsche recommended service on the car since new) just told me that there is nothing that they or Porsche can or will do, and that it is an isolated incident. I have since been doing research online, and I find out that an IMS bearing failure is not at all a rare occurrence.

I am not a litigious person and I am not out to tarnish the Porsche name. But with a repair cost of $19k, I cannot afford to get my car fixed. I am looking to get Porsche to step up and address what would appear to be a bearing design defect.

The problem exists in Carerras, Boxsters and Caymans, and Porsche has redesigned this bearing 4 times and have even designed the IMS completely out of the newest 997 direct injection engines. I need some help please and would be sincerely grateful for any help you can give me.

My Porsche dealer here at first told me that only the stud on the Intermediate Shaft had broken, and that they had caught it in time to prevent catastrophic engine damage. They quoted me on a $2000. repair in which they would install an aftermarket-3rd party bearing manufactured by LN Engineering. They told me that they have installed as many as 6 of the LN Engineering bearings in cars brought in for Porsche authorized service. Then 3 days later when the aftermarket bearing arrived and they went to remove the IMS from my car they discovered that the damage had been much more severe than they had initially thought and thus would only be able to proceed using a Porsche factory rebuilt engine at a cost of $19K. Even if the failure rate is I will not be able to get mine repaired as I do not have that kind of money). It is very telling that an authorized Porsche dealer would be installing non-Porsche manufactured bearings in Porsche engines unless of course…….it is because they know that there is a problem with the OEM bearing design.

While I do not want to see the dealer get into trouble with Porsche Corporate (call me selfish since I only want my car fixed and not some class-action lawsuit) I think that this is significant.

Respectfully yours,


Sajeev answers:

Your assessment of the situation is complete and seems even more accurate. Yes, the IMS bearing is junk and they fail on many Boxsters, 996s non-turbos and even 997s…except for the latest DI motors which silently resolved the problem. My question to you, at what year of ownership did this happen? Because at 18k, any late model 911 is under warranty and they are legally obligated to fix it under that warranty.

Reading between the lines, many Porkers run out of warranty because of time, not mileage. Such is the life of a play toy. And in that case, I fully understand your situation and I wish you and your 996 (probably) the best of luck.

Months later, Sam updates:

Mr. Mehta: Porsche came through for me in a big way. My 2003 now has a new engine and my feeling is that they went above and beyond for me. I will be buying Porsche again as they stand behind their Products.

Sajeev Concludes:

Maybe Porsche isn’t the only one, but they are in our scope for now: this Piston Slap shows that a loyal customer gets the treatment they deserve, warranty or not. And those who deviate from the dealership’s paper trail tend to not get what’s coming to them. And heaven forbid you put your Porker on the track, accidentally hit the rev limiter (Big Brother is Watching) a couple times, put a K&N/cat-back exhaust and get your service work done elsewhere. My argument hinges on your statement:

“My Porsche dealer…who has done all of the Porsche recommended service on the car since new.”

Congrats Sam, I will consider you one of the lucky ones. Best and Brightest, your thoughts???

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com . Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

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2 of 112 comments
  • DenverMike DenverMike on Dec 28, 2011

    Heck no I wouldn't waste 20K on another junk Porsche engine. Good thing about Porsches is you can always swap in an LSX engine like it's sandrail. Kits are available that make it a virtual plug-N-play operation so you're not breaking any new ground here. Full telemetry, AC, ABS, emissions with the same center of gravity and looks 100% stock. Then you can drive the ballz off it without a care.

  • Bobby b Bobby b on Dec 30, 2011

    "Comparing a house to a Porsche is an apples-to-oranges comparison . . . " - - - True. At least in a good windstorm, my house is mobile. My Porsche seldom was.

  • Inside Looking Out This is actually the answer to the question I asked not that long ago.
  • Inside Looking Out Regarding "narrow windows" - the trend is that windows will eventually be replaced by big OLED screens displaying some exotic place or may even other planet.
  • Robert I have had 4th gen 1996 model for many years and enjoy driving as much now as when I first purchased it - has 190 hp variant with just the right amount of power for most all driving situations!
  • ToolGuy Meanwhile in Germany...
  • Donald More stuff to break god I love having a nanny in my truck... find a good tuner and you can remove most of the stupid stuff they add like this and auto park when the doors open stupid stuff like that