Piston Slap: The Value of The Mid-Life Crisis

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta

TTAC Commentator HEATHROI writes:

A friend–definitely a friend as I would just buy a new mustang and be done with it–is looking at early 00s 911 (probably the 996) as he has entered mid-life crisis mode. He must have the porker. I know there can be some issues with the drive train. I’d like to see if anybody knows a little more about 996 problems what to look out for and how much he might be looking at. Handy, he is not.

Sajeev answers:

We’ve discussed Porsche IMS failure to no end around here. My brother had a rather choice 996 (of the RUF 550 variety) and it spent a fair bit of time in the shop for non-IMS issues, as it was a turbo. The headlight switch, for starters: apparently a common fail point and a good $150 for the part alone. It’s all kinda down hill from there, but this thread does a good job explaining many of the pitfalls to avoid. Or to know in which to price accordingly during negotiation.

Because when its time to sell, his losses will be in the thousands. Perhaps that’s part of the mid-life crisis game…

So I’m not gonna convince anyone to avoid the 996, as depreciation (most haven’t bottomed out yet) the parts replacement cost, insurance, premium fuel, etc is irrelevant. But buying one without a PPI is pure stupidity of the highest order. If there ever was a poster child for professional inspection before opening your wallet, the 996 has gotta be it!

Odds are he can find a good 996 with a post IMS-failure engine replacement, binders of repair history and a clean PPI report within his budget. Of course, if you really want to mess with him, invite him to a local track day to pick on Vettes, a new Mustang GT, a Miata, etc. with that 996. That’ll make his investment all the more worth it…well, at least for you. And that’s who we are really trying to help here, oh dear reader!

Off to you, Best and Brightest.

[Image: Shutterstock user northallertonman]

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

Sajeev Mehta
Sajeev Mehta

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  • Ccd1 Ccd1 on May 20, 2014

    Upon reading this article, I really identified with the person trying to buy the Porsche. The 911 was the aspirational auto of my youth. So I started to explore the possibility and my enthusiasm began to wane. The object of my desire was a 997.2 Carrera 4S. The earliest version of this is in MY2009. This car would cost me around $50,000, give or take. If successful, I would have a 5-6 year old car with no warranty and miles somewhere in the 50,000 range. I would also have a car with yearly maintenance of around $2,000, assuming nothing major has to be done (or nothing major goes wrong). You can try to justify the cost as getting a $100,000 car for half price. But my reality is that $50,000 can get you a pretty nice new car and a even nicer 1-2 yr old car, both of which will be newer, have far less miles and a warranty (BMW 235i comes to mind immediately). I'd rather have the new (or nearly new) car and pass on the Porsche badge. My emotions just can't overcome the math

  • Niacal4nia Niacal4nia on May 25, 2015

    You have a better chance of getting cancer than an ims failure. My friend's $90000 2003 Mercedes SL500 so far paid $35000 dollars for repairs and services on his car and now it's worth $17000. I know guys with over 180k miles on their 996 with original ims. My 2002 996 has 90000 miles with original ims and clutch. Myths/Fear mongering sells products and services. According to LN engineering a car that has been driven daily in higher rpm using a thicker oil has better chance of survival, they also mention the bearing is sealed so my question is how does a thicker oil and rpm have anything to do with a sealed bearing and why does the upgraded LN kit failed 15000 miles after replacing a perfectly working stock ims?

  • James Hendricks The depreciation on the Turbo S is going to be epic!
  • VoGhost Key phrase: "The EV market has grown." Yup, EV sales are up yet again, contrary to what nearly every article on the topic has been claiming. It's almost as if the press gets 30% of ad revenues from oil companies and legacy ICE OEMs.
  • Leonard Ostrander Daniel J, you are making the assertion. It's up to you to produce the evidence.
  • VoGhost I remember all those years when the brilliant TTAC commenters told me over and over how easy it was for legacy automakers to switch to making EVs, and that Tesla was due to be crushed by them in just a few months.
  • D "smaller vehicles" - sorry, that's way too much common sense! Americans won't go along because clever marketing convinced us our egos need big@ss trucks, which give auto manufacturers the profit margin they want, and everybody feels vulnerable now unless they too have a huge vehicle. Lower speed limits could help, but no politician wants to push that losing policy. We'll just go on building more lanes and driving faster and faster behind our vehicle's tinted privacy glass. Visions of Slim Pickens riding a big black jacked up truck out of a B-52.
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