The Generation Gap

Let’s talk about engines. In my last post I wrote about a 996 that I test drove and rather liked until the PPI turned up a long list of mechanical problems with the engine. This put me off the idea of the earlier watered cooled 911. Oh well it was a good learning experience. So moving on the next car on my list, the Boxster 987, and … the same engine. Crap.

Plenty has been written about the problems of this vintage of Porsche engines. But here is short version for the uninitiated. The biggest problem is the “IMS bearing” deep in the engine; sometimes it just stops working and trashes the entire engine without warning. And even if that doesn’t give up the ghost there are several smaller problems that can crop up. For example here is an excerpt from the PPI for the 996 that I test drove:

VEHICLE NOTES AND NEEDS: OIL LEAK FROM REAR MAIN AND OR INTERMEDIATE SHAFT SEALS, OIL SEPARATOR (LEAKING OIL), SPARK PLUG TUBE SEALS (LEAKING OIL), COOLANT LEVEL IS LOW (NO OBVIOUS LEAKS), OIL LEVEL IS TOO HIGH.

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Fun stuff. But there are a few bright spots. First the IMS issue can be addressed for a few grand, second if you don’t want to replace parts that statically a unlikely to fail soon you can buy a warranty from a place like CarMax, and third the 2009 and later MY 987's do not have the IMS problem at all and generally seem to be holding up quite well. Keep in mind that I was looking for a 30 Year Car so the 2009 MY boxster (also called the 987.2 or 987 gen 2) already seemed like a better fit. But let’s talk about that CarMax Warranty and the relative pricing for 987.1 and 987.2 cars.

When I was looking around 987.1 cars were listed in the 21k to 24k range and 987.2 would be in the 27k to 30k range; these prices are for the non S version. Roughly speaking there was a 6k difference between the 987.1 and the face lifted 987.2. YMMV. Besides the engine and transmission the two generations are basically the same. Besides buying a gen 2 the other option was a CarMax warranty, here is the pricing I got for a 2006 987.1 with 50K miles.

Mileage / Deductible $50 $150 $300 $500
75,000 $2,999 $2,699 $2,399 $2,199
100,000 $4,199 $3,699 $3,199 $2,899
125,000 $5,799 $4,899 $4,199 $3,699

Once again you could easily spend close to 6K on avoiding catastrophic engine failure. The question is how much are you willing to spend on your piece of mind? My gut said that no IMS bearing was going to last 30 years; so for me it was worth it to pony up for the 987.2 .

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