• Welcome to the new website!
Saturday, 30 September 2017 11:30

Porsche 944 Cam and Balance belt replacement

This is not going to be an article about how to change your cam and balance belt on a Porsche 944 or 968, this subject has been covered elsewhere on the internet and personally, it is one of those jobs where if you have not been trained to do it, are not experienced in doing it, you should not do it.. An apprentice at JMG Porsche is not allowed to change a 944/968 cam or balance belt until they have their basic first two years of training under their belt, after that they are supervised on the first few and on probation for the first 4 years with them being checked... So in short, get a pro to do it, ideally a specialist with in depth knowledge of the 944 and 968 engines.

Over the years I have often been asked how often they should change their cam and balance belt on their 924S, 944 or 968, and my answer is "Every 4 years" and change the water pump, front engine oil seals, belt tensioners and rollers every 8 years!

The following questions and answers are here to explain why I advise what I advise and is actually a cut and paste from a recent answer by myself as a technical advisor to the Porsche Club of Great Britain, as a response to a question on their forum.

To an extent, the same advice applies to any belt, on any car, so a Boxster, Cayman or Cayenne/Macan/Panamera or 911 (996, 997, 981 or even air cooled cars) which as a whole do not have cam belts, but do have auxiliary drive belts which if they fail will at best leave you stranded, but at worst can damage the engine or even the bodywork of the car (belts at high speeds make a mess!)

Other than not having a balance belt, the Porsche 928 advice would be the same advice as for the 924S, 944 and 968 owners. 


What destroys a belt?
From education training and experience
* Entropy (Everything wants to return to its original component materials) - Very slow
* Oxygen (Oxidises the rubber from the outside inwards, forming cracks eventually, which then allow more oxygen deeper into the belt)
* Wear (Accelerated if the tension is too high or too low)
* Incorrect installation
 
Who makes the belts for Porsche?
Over the years I have seen the following belts in Genuine Porsche boxes.
* Dayco
* Gates
* Bosch
* Continental
 
How long can an incorrectly setup or installed belt last?
* As little as a few seconds
* As long as a correctly installed belt
Depends on how incorrectly it has been installed or setup (I have seen many weird things going on in 944 belt covers)
 
What else accelerates belt degradation?
* Contamination from oil
* Contamination from power steering fluid
* Contamination from coolant
* Contamination from dirt/grit
* Contamination from fuel
* Contamination from plastic dressings
* Contamination from sprays such as WD40
* Ionisation of the air in the cam belt cover
 
How soon can a correctly tensioned good quality belt without contamination last?
* Soonest I have seen is 5 years with a missing ionisation cap.
* Soonest I have seen with no visible signs of cause - 6 years
* Oldest belt that I have seen break was 26 years old!!!
 
When would I change the belts on my own 944 fleet?
* Every 5 years without fail and I check inside the cover every year for contamination or issues and always check for leaks every time I drive them.
 
When would I recommend customers change them?
* Every 4 years (as you might not have your belt, oil seals and leaks checked so often as I do)
 
How much damage is caused by not changing them?
* Wrecked cylinder head (Valve contacts and bent/detaching valve heads)
* Wrecked pistons (Valve contact, sometimes with valve heads detaching and bouncing around!)
* Wrecked cylinder block (mushroomed out pistons split the bore)
 
Other advice.
* Change the water pump, tensioners, rollers and front engine oil seals on every second belt change. The water pump can fail through age as well as mileage, as can the seals and tensioners/rollers. Any of these parts can cause the belt to fail.
* Make sure your car has an ionisation cap between the distributor cap and upper front cam belt cover.
This is an important one.
 
When the 944 was designed, it had a hose that ran between the cam belt cover and air box.. This was to bring fresh air through the belt covers, and remove air which had been ionised by the electrical activity within the distributor cap. There was also a plastic cap between the distributor cap and the cam belt cover, to reduce the amount of contamination of the air within the belt cover with air ionised within the distributor cap.
 
In about 1988, Porsche eventually go to the bottom of why so many 944s suffered with hydrolocked engines following driving through deep puddles or crossing a river/ford crossing... It turned out that as soon as water was sprayed around the front crank pulley, or the pulley entered water, the water would go into the belt cover and the balance belt would throw this water directly at the vent port which had the hose to the air box.. Once the air box contained a certain amount of water, or you turned a corner, the water would flow through the airflow meter, and get sucked into the engine... Nasty.
 
Porsche then issued a TSB to say that all Porsche models should have this hose where fitted (important) and a blanking plug fitted (Not so important, I leave them open for ventilation on the advice of my mentor at Porsche).
 
The problem with this deleted hose, is that without it, it is even more critical to have the ionisation cap installed. They are cheap and available.
 
That is all :)

Tuesday, 08 January 2013 14:38

924, 944, 968 Gear shift issues- Part One

The Porsche 924, 944 and 968 have a lot going for them, good weight distribution (good handling), reliability, interesting styling, pop up headlights (cool!) as well as reasonable power levels which allow them to keep up with much more modern Porsche models.

I own over 20 Porsche cars, including everything from a 1980's Porsche 911 Turbo, through to a modern day Porsche Boxster and yes, a few front engined, watercooled Porsche, in fact, one of each model except a 924S. So I can say, hand on heart that these are fabulous cars, and if you have never driven one, I think you should. Just make sure it is a well sorted one, because there are a few items of wear and tear which can really ruin the experience.

One problem is the condition of the gear linkages, which is what this article is all about, 924, 944 and 968 Gear linkages and how a well sorted one will massively change your driving enjoyment.

Ever driven a new car? A race car? or a well restored car? One of the best things about a fresh new car, or a well restored old one, is the tactile feedback. This is especially true of Porsche cars.

Tactile feedback is how the car communicates with you, how the steering wheel, pedals and gear lever feel as you move them, as well as how they comunicate back to you.

With a gear lever, if all the linkages are in good condition the gear selection will be precise, smooth and comunicative. Lets take a look at all those aspects.

Precision.

A good precise gear shift pattern is something to behold. You could lay a laser cut H pattern plate in place of the leather gear lever gator, and the gear lever will move in a precise predictable pattern, the benefit of which is that you will be able to find gears easily, quickly and without fuss.

A worn out linkage is just the opposite, sloppy and inprecise. So much so, that gears can be harder to find and unless you have had a very precise gear selector mecahnism, you will never realise how bad the current one is.

Smooth.

A tight and precise gear linkage will also be smooth, without binding or changes in resistance as you change gear which can make the assembly seem vague and ultimately will reduce your confidence in driving the car.

Comunicative.

As long as the transmission is in good working order (they nearly always are) a good gear selector assembly will not only be a joy to use, but will be another point of contact giving you feedback from the car.

A good assembly or linkage will move by slight or tiny amounts as you come on and off the power, as well as when the power is in or out of the ideal powerband of the engine, so as your hand is resting on it poised to change up or down a gear, you will feel those tiny movements through your hand, connecting you further with the car. Unfortunately, any wear within the linkage can reduce or completely remove this tactile feedback from the driveline.

Not only this, but a good gear selector will also work to allow you and the transmission to work together. This may sound crazy, but when driving hard with a good gear linkage, the transmission will assist pushing the assembly out of gear as you start to move the gear lever out of gear, as well as pulling the assembly into gear as you enter that gear. The result is that you feel as if you are just guiding the transmission as to what you want to happen, the transmission then picks up on these signals and works with you to bring the car out of one gear, and into the next. You loose all this with a worn linkage. 

So lets take a look at the gear linkage and see an overview of how it is laid out and what components are involved.

 

On the left (in red) you can see the main gear lever, at the right you can see the transmission with the rear linkage in blue and in between you can see the main linkage shaft in yellow.

The main linkage shaft is not a problem and rarely suffers from wear. However the main gear lever (or front shifter as it is known) is prone to wear, as is the rear linkage assembly.

3. Wear in the linkages

With standard parts, even within 20,000 miles or just a couple of years the linkages pivot points begin to wear out. As well as wearing out, they begin to rust, which causes tight spots where the linkage binds up or is stiff to operate.

The main gear lever.

In particular at the front of the car, the main gear lever suffers from the main pin wearing, as you can see in this picture. It often wears into the shape of a barrel as you can see here. The pin in question should be a nice fit into a hole in the end of the main linkage shaft. As soon as the pin wears, that allows the front lever to become a sloppy fit, destroying all feedback and precision. Lets take a closer look.

As you can see, the pin has worn into the shape of a barrel, whereas it should have two parallel sides, this uneven wear is caused by a combination of corrosion (which forms because the part is made from mild steel as well as being exposed to damp conditions) and through general wear of the gear lever applying sideways loads onto the pin when selecting 1st, 2nd, 5th and Reverse gears.

Now lets take a look at a standard used rear linkage.

 

The standard factory rear linkage is made mostly of four materials, mild steel, cast iron, cast plastic and rubber. It also has four main components. In the following gaudy image we have colourised the four main components for the next explanations.

In this image you can see the yellow section. It is manufactured from mild steel. It connects to the main linkage shaft via a single bolt, and it passes through the red item which is made of plastic. The problem with this is that in time water enters the gap between the mild steel and plastic, causes corrosion of the mild steel, which then acts as an abrasive against the plastic, the result is the plastic section worn out and loose, as well as in some cases the yellow item can no longer pivot easily inside the red section. If you look in the previous picture, you will notice an abundance of rust where mild steel meets the cast plastic part.

The blue section is what actually connects to the transmission. It is made from cast iron and does not rust. However it has a mild steel pin, which passes again through the cast plastic part (red in the diagram) and causes wear for all the same reasons as with the previous (yellow) section.

Lastly you have the area coloured in green. This section is known as the cross brace. it is made from pressed mild steel, it rusts, however this is not the problem, the problem is that this part is designed to anchor the whole assembly against the transmission, to project the force applied to the assembly into changing gear, rather than into just moving the whole assembly. However, this section is connected to the transmission and the yellow coloured item by the use of rubber mounts. In time, rubber degrades, splits and can even fall away, completely ruining the quality of the gear shift.

So what to do?

Now that you have a good understanding of how the 924, 944 and 968 gear linkage works, and why it is probably not providing the best driving experience to you, what can be done about the issue?

The first option would be to replace the items with new factory items. Which would typically cost about £30 for the front gear lever, and about £130 for the rear linkage assembly for the parts. However, in time, possibly as soon as 20,000 miles or within 5 years the quality of the gear selection will again degrade.

The only other option would be to replace the parts with further upgraded parts which will not be susceptible to wear, corrosion and maybe offer a better design than the original parts... But that is a topic for the next article in this series,,, 924, 944, 968 Gear shift issues- Part Two

Wednesday, 30 May 2012 13:13

944 Buyers Guide

You have chosen to buy a Porsche 944.  Congratulations!  An excellent and widely undervalued sports car.  Probably the best kept secret of the Porsche marque.

This will be a particulary long article because the 944 had a 10 year run of production and the multitude of sub-models and options.  Hopefully it will be helpful in choosing your future Porsche 944.

In the 1970's, Porsche had designed and developed the Porsche 924 with a 2.0 litre engine, and by 1982, Porsche had released the Porsche 944 - an evolution of the 924 with an all-new Porsche 2.5 four cylinder engine, wider coachwork aerodynamically designed for the 924 Carrera GT, and much of the car redesigned and updated.  Like the 924, the 944 enjoys near 50-50 weight distribution which makes it a very stable car that handles like a dream.

Designed by Harm Lagaay of Porsche-AG, the 944 is also a favorite with both Jeremy Clarkson of TopGear and Sun / Sunday Times fame, and Tiff Needel of TopGear and 5thGear fame (as well as touring car racing)/  They both often lament about memories of the Porsche 944 Turbo, which is no surprise - the 944 really is a drivers car, with the turbo having unparalleled performance in its day.

By now you should have read our Porsche Buyers Guide Introduction - if not, read it now, as this article will try to avoid repeating what we have already covered in that article.  Instead, this article will concentrate on the model specific information and what to look for when buying a 944.

 

Chronology of the Porsche 944

  • 1982 - Launch of the model featuring a 2.5 litre normally aspirated, electronically managed engine, with wide flared arches and 'Cookie Cutter' wheels.  In the UK, the standard car was sold as a "Lux" featuring as standard an electric sun roof, alloy wheels, electric windows, electrically heated mirros, heated rear wipe tailgate with electrical release from inside the cockpit.  In other markets a more basic specification was available.  Power steering, Air conditioning and leather seats were expensive options rarely taken.  Other options such as headlight washers, rear slotted (toast rack) lower valance, box sills and many more were also available;
  • 1986 - Complete face lift to the 944 model, with revised suspension (aluminium arms), electrical system updated and the interior changed to what is known as the oval dashboard.  In the UK, the standard or 'Lux' specification now includes power steering, an antenna within the windscreen, central locking, basic alarm system and basic immobiliser.  Additional options now included Fuchs wheels;
  • 1986 - Turbo model introduced - 220 BHP, rear lower spoiler as standard, single piece front bumper (PU).  Typically fitted with 16 inch teledial wheels;
  • 1987 - All models updated to use different suspension geometry with new suspension arms and shallower offset wheels;
  • 1987 - 944 S Model introduced with 2.5 Litre engine, now with 16 valve cylinder head and similar appearance as 944 Lux or base models.
  • 1988 - 944 Turbo S and Silver Rose models released, 250 bhp, limited slip differential, MO30 suspension, M030 larger brakes as standard, Forged CS wheels, made in Stuttgart rather than Neckarsulm and usually without sunroof (option included to have it).  Non-S turbo version still available and manufactured in Neckarsulm;
  • 1989 - 944 Turbo SE (controversial model) manufactured in Neckarsulm in Germany as with other 944 models version of the 944 Turbo S available.  All other Turbo versions now 250 BHP as standard.  Any car could be optioned to include all Turbo S items. Standard Turbo wheels are now Design 90 type;
  • 1989 - 944 Lux revised to have 2.7 Litre engine, fitted with standard with 15 inch teledial wheels, available with automatic or manual transmission.
  • 1989 - 944 S2 released. Turbo body with 3.0 Litre, 16 Valve engine.  Options include 10 speaker audio, LSD transmission, M030 Suspension, M030 Brakes, sports seats and much more.  Usually fitted with Design 90 wheels, as standard;
  • 1990 - 944 S2 also available as carbriolet version;
  • 1990 - Lux model discontinued;
  • 1990 - S2 and Turbo models now fitted with Bridge spoiler rather than rubber spoiler;
  • 1991 - 944 Turbo Cabriolet available;
  • 1992 - Production of 944 has ended, due to the ecconomic climate and the renaming of the model to the '968'.  Some models were still available unregistered for some time afterwards.

 

Bodywork

The Porsche 944 was galvanised at the factory.  This is a simple coating to the bodywork which inhibits rust formation.  In reality this system has worked very well, but now, some three decades after the launch of the car, the evil rust is begining to become a problem on some examples, so is something to look out for.  In particular rust tends to form in the following locations:

  • rear of sills on the outside.  Often seen as bubbling of the stone chip textured paint coating;
  • Rear of sills on the inside.  Check between the inner sill and the rear suspension beam for a hole forming about 6 inches in front of the rear wheel arch on the inside, easily reached by holding the bottom of the sill and probing with your fingers;
  • Front wing bottoms.  The lower trailing edge of the wheel arch accumulates a lot of road debris, which then causes the bottom of the wings to corrode.  Look for blisters, orange staining and probe this area.  If it makes a crunching noise, it needs repairing. New front wings are expensive, however a good bodyshop can rebuild this area in steel;
  • Front wings where they meet the front bumper.  Not often serious or holed, but it is becoming more common to see some rust blisters forming in this area;
  • Between back bumper and back panel right bellow the Porsche script decal.  I believe that for some reason insufficient paint was applied by the factory in this area, as the inside edge from the luggage area always seems to be fine, but often blisters can be seen between the bumper and the back panel.  These are normally superficial;
  • Around the windscreen, again usually superficial, but for some reason it seems occasionally the 944 can blister around the windscreen trim.
Otherwise, look out for any dents (using "The Dent Finder" tool and our accompanying guide), body filler (take a small magnet and run it around any points on the car which seem to have irregular contours that could be hiding body filler.  Also keep an eye out for uneven panel gaps which could show signs of previous accident damage.

Originally from the factory, the 944 Turbo and S2 had a rear wing under the back bumper.  All models should have a boot spoiler, either rubber (as shown on the red car here) for all pre 90 models, or an ABS Plastic one on on post 1990 cars, known as the bridge spoiler (as shown in the white car here).

Lux and S models have a seperate front bumper and front valance.  The Turbo and S2 models have an all in one front bumper known as a PU.

 

Interior

Early interiors were available in fabric or leather, typically with manual adjustments.  Post-1986 cars more often have electrical adjustment of the seats, however it was an optional extra sometimes only found on the drivers seat.

Early cars also share the same dashboard as the 924, however for 1986 models, Porsche indroduced a new dashboard and door cards to update the appearance of the car.

Later cars have an option for a higher quality sound system, including multiple speakers in the doors under the arm rest area where the door pocket normally resides.

If the interior is fabric, make sure the fabric is not torn or threadbare as replacement cloths to retrim a section - although still available - cost anything up to £1,000 per square metre!

The leather interiors are far more hard wearing, but larger sports seat bolsters do suffer serious wear and can be expensive to repair or replace.

 

Suspension

The later post-1986 models have aluminium suspension arms on the front and rear.  As of 1987, these components were updated to change the wheel offset required and the suspension geometry - this is said to have been to improve handling, although many report that the pre-87 cars are more track biased in handling.

Earlier cars, when requiring ball joint replacement for the front wishbones, are cheaper to replace than the later suspension arms which are a sealed unit.  Once the ball joint is worn, a new wishbone is the official repair.  However rebuild kits are available in the aftermarket, as are reconditioned wishbones.

Ball joint issues usually manefest in a 'clunk' from the front suspension when manovering.

Some post-1989 cars may have sealed non-servicable suspension struts at the front which are expensive to replace, or they are fitted with the optional Koni M030 suspension.  A new alternative for repair of the sealed variety, would be to refurbish the struts with special Koni inserts, or an option for both types would be to upgrade to KW suspension, although it is a more expensive option.  The M030 suspension can be rebuilt, although not cheaply.

944 models do benefit from shock absorber replacement every 50,000 miles.

The power and non-power steering racks are usually trouble free, however the power steering pumps can leak.  Recommended repair of the power steering pump would be to exchange your old unit for a rebuilt one, and is an inexpensive exercise.  A tell tale sign of the pump leaking would be groaning on tight turning of the suspension, and the front anti-roll bar bush on the drivers side swelling (as the power steering fluid tends to attack the bush).  The bush is not expensive to replace, but should be checked as it is a good indicator of a leaking power steering pump.

 

Brakes

As standard the non-turbo and S2 versions of the 944 are fitted with single piston calipers all round, with vented brake disks.  These are usually trouble free, although they can require attention as they age.

The standard 944 Turbo and S2 brake calipers, as well as the M030 brake calipers fitted as an option, are made by Brembo and can be expensive to service and repair.  In particular, they can suffer from slider plate lift, which then can cause issues with binding brakes and problems changing the brake pads.  Ask any vendor of a car you are looking at if the slider plates had been replaced.  They typically need it every five to ten years.

The MO30 brake disks are very large at the front and are more expensive than the normal ones to replace, although this should not put you off buying an M030 equipped car.

All types of brakes should stop the car without very much fuss.  ABS equipped models have a very compentent ABS system which works well in both wet and dry conditions.  This ABS system is usually trouble free and not difficult to repair.

If the brake disks look to be scored or have a lip around the outside edge, it is recommended the the disks and pads are replaced.  Most models also feature pad wear sensors which should illuminate a warning lamp on the dashboard when they require replacement.

 

Engine

The 944 engines all use an aluminium block, using a technology called Alusil.  The engines have aluminium bores, which are very hard wearing, but can be suceptable to scoring which can cause oil consumption, although this is usually a sign of another problem and is not common.

The engines were available in several configurations as follows.

  • 8-Valve 2.5 Lux engine
  • 16-Valve 2.5 S engine
  • 8-Valve 2.5 Turbo engine (different pistons, con rods, head and valves as well as of course a turbo!)
  • 8-Valve 2.7 Lux engine
  • 16-Valve 3.0 S2 Engine
Typically the 8-valve engines require routine maintenance of regular servicing, cam and balance belt replacement every 4 years, and relpacement of the front engine oil seals, belt tensioners, belt rollers, water pump and thermostat every 8 years.
 
The 16 Valve engines require also that the small chain between the two cams is inspected whenever the cam and balance belt is replaced, along with its tensioner pads.  We would also recommend that the small cam chain is replaced, with its slipper pads, every 8 years.
 
All engines should have their engine oil and filter changed every year, regardless of mileage.  The turbo should have the oil and filter changed every 6 months - failure to do this can result in failure of the turbo. 
 
Typically these are reliable engines and have been seen to have over 300,000 miles traveled without needing a rebuild.  Who knows how long they really can last!
 

Transmission

The standard Lux, S2 and Turbo transmissions are very reliable and can cover massive mileages.  It is recommended that they are serviced every 48,000 miles and that you check the output shaft flanges every year for excessive wear.  Luckily the transmissions are relatively cheap to buy in used condition, however a full rebuild could cost around £3,000*.

The Turbo and S2 transmissions were also available with an LSD and oil cooler option.  These transmissions are also relatively reliable and should not provide problems.

It is reasonably normal to hear a slight rattle from a 944 transmission when idling.  This is due to a modification to the transmission housing to allow the use of a 5th gear, adding a new section which produces the 'rattle' side effect.  They will also have a slight whine when driven - this is normal, but it should not be loud or distracting.

While checking a prospective car, you should look at the transmission and check for leaks. During a test drive, whilst taking up drive, you should listen for abnormally loud whining and clunks, and ensure that the car enters gears smoothly.

Loose play within the gear change mechanism is unlikely to be anything serious, more likely requiring just replacement of some wearing components such as the front lever pin or the rear linkage block which are affordable to replace. 

 

Electrical system

The 944 electrical systems tend to be trouble free and quite robust.  Every component should be working correctly when you buy the car, so do not be fobbed off by a vendor saying "they all do that" because it really is not true.  Every electrical system in a 944 should be working fine.

The sun roof can be complicated to setup and repair, but should be fully functioning.  Check that the sun roof opens and closes smoothly, and without any unusual noises or clicking sounds.  The electric windows should move smoothly without issue, as should every electrical motor, such as the wiper motors (front and rear) as well as the headlight mechanisms.

Make sure you check every switch, every knob that every item works as it should, sometimes a 944 may have been neglected and so multiple electrical issues may be evident.  In these cases walk away from the car, even though repairing those systems should not be complicated or expensive, it could be a sign that the car has been neglected as a whole.

 

Wheels and Tyres

Cookie Cutters - These wheels were used on the very first 944 models in 1982, until the introduction of the facelift model towards the end of 1985.  These wheels are reasonably good wheels, but it is becoming hard to find them in a good condition.  Refurbishment of the cookie cutter wheel will cost anything from £100 to £200* per wheel, unless you want a DIY project for yourself.

Fuchs (15 Inch - Deep Dish) - The Most expensive optional wheel to be offered for the 944 is the Fuchs wheel.  As used on the 3.2 Carrera as standard and optional equipment, this wheel is light in weight and probably the one wheel that everyone thinks of when someone says "Porsche wheel".  To refurbish properly will often cost up to £300* per wheel, they are not cheap to maintain or repair, but they are a classic wheel and very sought after.  Often fitted in 7J and 8J, these wheels were available on other models in 6 and 9 inch widths.

Teledials (15 Inch - Deep dish) - The early 1982 to 1985 teledial wheels were available in 15 inch, usually 7 inches wide on the front and rear. Also used on some 911 and 924S models,.  These wheels are also available in 6 inch and 8 inch widths, although they are quite rare.  Refurbishment of these wheels could cost between £50 and £100 (at date of article) per wheel.

Teledials (15 inch - Shallow dish) - These wheels were fitted between 1986 and 1989 on the 944 2.5 Lux, 944 S and 944 2.7 Lux.  These wheels are relatively common and cost a similar amount to an earlier teledial to refurbish.  Often available in 7 and 8 inch widths.

Teledials (16 inch - Deep dish) - These are very rare wheels, normally only fitted to the 1986 944 Turbo, as such they are sought after by owners of 86 Turbo's as well as owners of earlier 944 models.  These are typically 7 and 8 inch widths. Cost of refurb would typically be between £50 and £100 (at date of article) per wheel.  Value of the wheels second hand can be very high.

Teledials (16 inch - Shallow Dish) - These wheels were optional extras on the 1987 to 1989 Lux models, typically they are not sought after, but are a nice original feature or upgrade to a 944 Lux.  Cost of refurb would be the same as with other teledial wheels

Forged CS (16 Inch) - These wheels were the original wheels used on the official Porsche 944 Turbo S and an expensive option for the later Porsche Turbo's, and were typically not offered after 1989.  These are a rare, tough and very lightweight option.  These were originally anodised rather than painted, so refurb can be very expensive unless you are happy with them being painted like other Porsche wheels.  These are 7.5 and 9 inch widths.

Forged Disk (16 Inch) - This wheel is quite unusual, an option on 1988 944 Turbo's.  A forged wheel again (although a cast version was available) very similar in design to the CS wheel, but rather than triangular cut outs it has slots.  Again available in 7, 8 and 9 inch widths.  Just like the CS wheel, some were anodised from the factory, however some of these were painted silver or platinum.  To have them re-anodised would be expensive, however refurbishing the wheels could be from £50 to £100 (at time of article) if you are happy to have them painted. Also interesting is that these wheels were available for the 928S4 and known as the CS wheel, although they are a different wheel to the 944 CS wheel.

Design 90 (16 Inch) - This is the standard wheel used on the 944 S2 and Turbo after later in 1989. Available in 7, 7.5, 8, 9 and 9 inch widths, (as well as 6 inch on 911 models) this wheel is the typical £50 to £100 to have refurbished.

Tyres

When Porsche buy in tyres from manufacturers they test to see which ones give the best performance, driver comfort and speed of wear. Once they have selected a tyre, they then approve that manufacturer and allow them to display the tyre as N-Rated, also that manufacturer offers a discount to the factory. When a Porsche is new, not using N-Rated tyres can invalidate your warranty and actively encorages owners to use the N-Rated tyres, which is part of the deal with the manufacturers who supply the tyres. Once a Porsche is out of warranty, there is no reason to use N-Rated tyres, the non N-Rated version of a Pirrelli Tyre (for example) is exactly the same as an N-Rated one. Likewise, since any Porsche model has been released, the European standards for tyres improve, as do materials and production techniques. So do not be put off if the tyres on the car you are looking at are not N-Rated.

Future Values

Over the last few years (2005 to 2012) the value of 944's have stayed pretty much at the same point, regardless of economic downturn or with the passing of time, which means that the 944 is in a phase just before values begin to appreciate.

When a Porsche is new, its value depreciates every year, eventually it reaches a price where enough have been removed from circulation, as well as renewed interest by people who were young adults when the car was released reaching an age where they can afford one, causes the price to level out and stop depreciating anymore. Eventually, as examples continue to be removed from the market, due to accidents or export, the value begins to climb.

This very same process has happened to the 356, 912, early 911's and even the Carrera GT (gone from worth £13k in 2008 to £23k in 2012), and so the same thing will continue to happen to the 944. So when buying a 944 for the long term, buy a good example and provide good care of the car, unlike any other car it will not depreciate in value, it will increase in value and every penny you invest in its purchase and maintenance will eventually be repaid with interest in years to come.

Good luck with your hunt for the right 944 for you, once you have bought it, why not pop into the garage and tell us about it!

Tuesday, 29 May 2012 12:26

Porsche Buyers Guide Introduction

So, you're thinking of buying a Porsche? you may have already chosen the model for you, you may even have looked at some. What this article aims to provide is the background information and tips for buying a pre-loved Porsche.

We say Pre-Loved because that is the kind of Porsche you want to buy, it needs to have previous owners who have looked after the car well, one who's servicing is up to date, has been serviced by a specialist or a main dealer and one which is the very best example you can find.

What you want to avoid is one where the servicing has always been minor, performed perhaps by a normal all makes garage, that is less than perfect, has issues and is cheap. There is a well used expression that I in particular like to quote, which is "There is nothing quite as expensive as a cheap Porsche". This means that although you might get what seems to be a bargain, but often it will cost so much to repair, maintain and bring up to scratch, that you would have been better off buying the one you thought was overpriced but was in great condition, with a good history of maintenance and has obviously been loved.

Do not buy a fix-er-upper, unless you are doing it because you want to work on a car and restore it, more than you want to drive it. If you are buying one to fix up, you are probably better off buying some books on car repairs and restoration rather than reading these buyers guides.

So, buy the very best one you can find, and before you buy it, make sure that you have read not only this article, but also the one specific for the model you are buying, perhaps also print them out and take them with you when you view a Porsche.

One last word of warning before we begin. Ebay, be very careful of buying a car from ebay and do not look at the ebay prices and decided that those prices are what the cars are worth. Ebay is typically a car vendors (private or trade) last avenue to sell a difficult to sell car.

Lets start at the beginning, finding the car.

There are lots of places to find a Porsche for sale, you might see it parked on the side of the road, you might even see it advertised in a local paper or other publication that you read. Which is fine, but before you buy one, or even go looking, I would like to recommend some places to look.

Specialist and main dealer websites.

Yes it is a good idea to check out what we have at JMG Porsche, or what our customers are selling. But as an unbiased article, I need to also advise you look at what other reputable Porsche specialists have for sale. Henry at 911 Virgin always has good cars, as does Jonus at JZMachtech and the guys at Strasse in Leeds. Check out all these sources, what they have and use them as the yardstick as I know that they, like me, take a lot of pride in their cars and will stand by them if there is an issue.

There are also a new breed of Porsche specialists, who will often advertise in the Porsche publications but are not of the same school and level of experience, so sometimes you need to be careful which specialists you trust.

TIPEC

The independent Porsche Enthusiasts Club (Tipec) is exactly what it says in the name, visit their forum, put the word out that you are looking for the model you have chosen, and see what comes up. Its not often that a true enthusiast will sell their pride and joy, but when it does happen, its often a good car. But also the members in the forum may be able to help you with your search, as well as they may know of some of the cars you are looking at and what is wrong with them.

PCGB

Porsche Club of Great Britain is much like TIPEC above, and also has some very helpful members.

Pistonheads.com

Pistonheads is a great resource for buying a Porsche. Whatever model you are interested in, simply because it has such a selection being advertised by both traders and enthusiasts. Which is the important point, enthusiasts! A community like pistonheads is filled with enthusiasts, enthusiasts generally look after their cars, which are just the kind of cars you are looking for. Like anywhere though, you will notice that their are cars there that are advertised at a lower price, and some at a higher price. Always start looking at the highest price cars first, there is usually a reason why some are so much cheaper than the rest.

AutoTrader

When selling a Porsche, a normal non enthusiast may advertise it via AutoTrader and it may not be listed in the forums or on Pistonheads. Although Pistonheads tends to have more Porsche examples than Autotrader, it is often worth taking a look to see what is around.

You have the short list

Once you have a list of cars to start looking at, things are going to get serious. There is the usual advice to call the people advertising as private vendors and say "I am calling about the car for sale", if the vendor says "Which car?" you know he is a trader and not a legitimate private sale. But everyone knows that, don't they?

When calling about cars, the important information to gather is....

  • Has the car got a service book? Is it showing a complete service history without gaps?
  • Does the car have any original MOT's over the years? (This can help prove mileage)
  • Does the car have any known issues? (Sometimes vendors will not tell you about any faults until you get there)
  • Are there any blemishes on the paintwork or any corrosion or damage?
  • Has the bodywork ever been repaired?
  • Is the interior in perfect condition?
  • Has it had any major jobs completed why they have owned the car?
  • How long has it been for sale and have many people viewed it?
  • How negotiable is the price (always ask this, after they have had to list any bad points!)
  • If so, how low would be their lowest price? (You will be able to go lower than this, even if they say it is the lowest price)

Once you have gathered this information, you will have a reasonable idea of how good or bad the car is, as well as a starting point for your negotiations after, and only after you have seen the car, test driven the car and have identified any additional issues with the car.

When you arrange a viewing, tell the vendor not to start the car that day before you get there, you need to make sure the car starts well and without smoke. Make sure the vendor is aware of this requirement.

Viewing the cars.

OK, so you are now going to look at some (hopefully) excellent examples of the Porsche model you are interested in. Take a pad and a Pen, so you can record details about the car and leave your humanity and love of your fellow human being, you are now a car buyer. Put on your best poker face and prepare to buy a car.

When viewing the cars there is one important piece of paper to take with you, a bodywork inspection card. There is an article on this website showing how to use one as well as how to make one. This is an important tool to find every single dent on a car, even the ones you usually only find after buying the car and washing it for the first time. Every dent you find can effectively devalue a car by £40, which is what many paintless dent removal companies will charge to remove a dent without breaking the paint.

Look for stone chips. I personally prefer to see some stone chips on the front of a Porsche I buy, it shows that the car has not recently been re-sprayed, which may be due to accident damage. You seriously would not believe how many Porsche for sale have recently suffered an accident.

The next job is to use our buyers guide specific for your intended model of Porsche, read the article before you view the car, but also read the article and follow its directions while you look around the car.

Chassis numbers.

Check the chassis numbers. Car's since the mid 90's have a chassis number in the windscreen. Older cars have them in various other locations. Check this matches the chassis number in the service book, on the log book, on the option sticker in the car, as well as other locations. The locations are also listed in the buyers guides specific for each model. But make sure they all match. If you end up interested in the car, you also need to check the chassis number matches the HPI report on the car, as well as the chassis number matches the specification of the car that has been advertised (read our chassis number reading guide) as you can learn a lot from the details hidden inside the chassis number. If all the details match, hopefully you are looking at a good honest car. If they do not, or they look like they have been tampered with, be cautious about the origin of the car.

Wheels and tyres.

Are the wheels fitted to the car the ones you would expect to have been fitted from the factory? If not, why not? and are the original wheels available? Many people want a Porsche with the original wheels, even if you are not bothered, the next owner might be.

Are the wheels damaged at all? Any curbing on the wheels is not only a sign the car has not been cared for as it should, but can also be a sign that the wheels have been structurally damaged. When viewing a car, make sure you point out any damage to the owner and negotiate the price accordingly.

When examining the wheels, check the tyres. How much tread do they have? Are they all the same make? How old are they (Tyres should be changed every five to six years, even if they have not worn out as they get hard and begin to crack after that amount of time. Missmatched tyres can be a sign of poor maintenance, especially if the two tyres on the same axel do not match, as tyres should be replaced at very least in pairs.

You also do not want to be test driving a car with poor tyres, bald tyres can cost the driver 3 penalty points and a fine for each defective one, a car with a bad set of tyres can cost you your licence!

Before the test drive.

Before you test drive the car, check the engine is cold to the touch. If it is warm, especially after telling the owner to not start the car that day, they might be trying to hide a fault with the car not starting easily when cold, a battery issue or even a puff of smoke as the engine starts, which could be a sign of a worn engine.

Check the engine bay for leaks, any leaks can be expensive to repair. A good engine bay will be dry of fluids other than the reservoirs that hold them.

If you see any fluid or damp patches, in the engine bay or under the car, here is a small rule of thumb for indentifying the cause.

  • Blue, green, pink or orange fluid with a consistancy of water, could be anti freeze.
  • Red or pink fluid with an oily touch, could be power steering fluid on pre 98 models, or transmission fluid on an automatic model.
  • Clear fluid is usually brake, clutch or in post 98 cars power steering fluid or sometimes automatic transmission fluid.
  • Black or golden fluid is typically engine oil or transmission oil in manual cars. Transmission fluid often smells bad, a little like cat pee (if you know what that smells like)

So there are no leaks? What else to check? Pull off the engine oil filler cap, look on the underside of it, as well as bellow it. Look for any signs of a thick creamy substance that has a coffee colour, any sign of this can be an early sign of head gasket problems. Although it can be a sign that the car has not been driven often and moisture is building up inside the engine, possibly still not a good sign and may require professional inspection.

Next you should pull off the coolant cap, is there any dry signs of evaporated coolant around it on the header tank or on the cap? It could be a sign that the cap is either faulty or the cooling system is building up too much pressure. In any case, its not a great sign and may require professional testing.

Lastly, check the brake and clutch fluid levels, they should be between the minimum and maximum level.

You can start the engine.

Any Porsche should start without the need to tickle the throttle. Make sure the car is not in gear, the handbrake is fully applied and that the drivers window is wound down. If it is a newer model, you may need to depress the clutch or press the brake peddle while you start the car, this can be normal if the vendor says you need to do it.

Once the car starts, get out of the car and look at the exhaust, there should be no blue smoke, if it is cold there should maybe be a small amount of visible white water vapor, but no smoke as such.

After observing the car running for a few minutes, you can proceed with the test drive.

The test drive.

You need to take the car for a reasonably long test drive, at least 30 miles. This should include stop-start town driving, country lanes as well as motorway cruising.

During the test drive the car should be taken very close to the rev limit on acceleration at least a few times, occasionally checking the mirrors for signs of smoke, which if blue, can be a sign of engine wear.

Also during the test drive it is important to at least once hold the car in gear at high rpm, let off of the throttle and coast to a lower rpm under engine braking and then accellorate hard. If you get a puff of blue smoke seen in the rear view mirror, it could be a sign that the valve guides are worn and require a top end rebuild.

The rest of the test drive should be spent listening to the engine note, searching for squeeks, rattles, vibrations or knocking noises which seem to be abnormal. They could be an issue with the suspension, engine, transmission or trim, but if you experience any, it will be best to ask whoever you get to perform a pre purchase inspection (PPI) to look into these.

If at close to 40 mph a rhythmic, deep humming noise can be heard, this is often a sign of wheel bearing issues.

It is during the test drive that you will reap dividends in experience from test driving more than one car. You will become familiar with what is normal, what is a quirk of the model, as well as what is most definitely not normal.

All Porsche models should have a relatively easy gear change (some older 911's may have a slight awkwardness) and a reasonably light clutch, in particular the later Porsche models after 1988 should have a clutch which is no heavier than a normal domestic car.

While in the cockpit, check the odometer digits are straight, sometimes (but not always) the digits not being level can be a sign that the mileage has been tampered with. Check the rest of the interior seems to match the same mileage. A car with only 30,000 miles shown, should not have a worn out gear knob, steering wheel and pedal rubbers!

Likewise a very low mileage car should not have worn out seat bolsters or carpet.

Once back after the test drive, I recommend you leave the engine running for at least 10 minutes while you make some last checks. You need to be sure that the engine does not overheat, the oil warning lights do not illuminate (except for some very early 911 models) and that the exhaust is not blowing. Also, once you switch the engine off, watch the car for 10 minutes to make sure the car does not begin to leak coolant or oil.

Now the test drive is over, it is time to check the paperwork.

The service record should have a stamp for each service, often with ticks or notes to say which service was performed. Look for the mileage not being sequentially rising after each service, it would not be the first time that I have seen the mileage of a car go down in one year, which can be a sign that the mileage has been tampered with.

If there are old MOT's in the paperwork, check through them and make sure they mileage ties in with the service history, you are asking the vendor to be patient while you check the paperwork, so it is worth thanking him before you start and explain that you are checking everything is in order. Most honest vendors will have no problem with this.

In an ideal world, there will be stacks of receipts with the car. However, if the car has been owned by a business at some point, there is a chance that the receipts are not with the car because they have been archived as evidence of the business accounts. So do not be too alarmed, as long as there is some record of servicing, even if it is just the book. If there is a pile of receipts, it is a bonus.

Negotiation.

If you are interested in the car, but want to try some more, it is worth telling the vendor this and negotiating the price. It is worth trying a low offer, perhaps 60% of the price you know they will accept. This may seem harsh, but sometimes a vendor is desperate to sell, so you may get a bargain, if not, at least you have started at a good point to negotiate upwards, as the vendor negotiates downwards. But if you are interested in driving more, please do, even if the negotiated price is good. It will still be good tomorrow, even if the vendor says the price is if you buy it right now, ask yourself why would it change to a higher price tomorrow? Don't fall for this.

Before you pay any money for a Porsche, I would recommend a pre purchase inspection by a recognised Porsche specialist, yes it costs money, but so does buying the car and a professional pair of eyes can often save you a fortune or at least give you some ammunition to negotiate the price downwards further. I would also recommend you have a HPI report produced for the car to ensure it has no finance outstanding, is not stolen and has not been a total loss or a category A, B, C or D. Cat C and D should not be an issue if there is a valid reason, it is quite normal after an accident for an owner to refuse a repair from an insurance company if they are not prepared to pay for a authorized Porsche repairer, or Porsche specialist to make the repairs, which can result in the insurance company to list the car as not inspected, which can result in a cat-C or cat-D marker being placed on the HPI history, some investigation may be required to find the reason, and the car should be discounted by up to 25% to reflect this.

My main advice in closing would be to recommend the following.

  • DO NOT buy the first example you see or test drive.
  • DO NOT be soft on the vendor just because he is another human being.
  • DO NOT trust the vendor just because they are a business.
  • DO thoroughly check every car you consider.
  • DO have a pre purchase inspection performed by a Porsche specialist on any car you consider.
  • DO pay for a HPI check on any car you consider.

Happy Porsche buying and remember, please read the buyers guide for the model of Porsche you are interested in.

Monday, 30 April 2012 13:38

924, 944 and 968 Servicing and repairs

924, 944 and 968 Servicing tailored to your requirements

With its roots stretching back to the original 924 in the mid 1970's which evolved into the 924 Turbo, Carrera GT and 924 S, the 944 was released in 1982, featuring the new 2.5 Litre engine with a complicated belt arrangement requiring specialist attention. Later a Turbo model was introduced, 16 valve variants and capacities of 2.7 and 3.0 Litre also evolved. Eventually in 1992 the model was replaced with the 968, featuring variocam variable cam timing and a new body design. Each model of 924, 944 and 968 requires its own attention to detail only available from an experienced specialist. If looked after correctly, there is no reason why this model should not last forever and provide the same driving experience as they did when new.

At JMG Porsche we are familiar and equipped to deal with with both the earliest 924, 944 through to the last 968. This includes the 924, 924 Turbo, 924S, 944, 944S, 944S2, 944 Turbo, 968 and 968 Club Sport. We are even experienced with the more unusual 924 Carrera GT, 944 Turbo Cup, 968 Turbo S and 968 Turbo RS.

Selecting the correct service for your Porsche can often be a confusing task for those who do not deal with it every day, more so if you only cover few miles per year, so we tend to recommend that when you need servicing ask us for our advice, we will be more than happy to ask you a few questions and reply with the ideal service for your Porsche.  If on the other hand you are sure which service you would like performing from the factory schedule, we are also more than happy to do so.

As part of the service your car will be inspected beyond the usual items listed by Porsche to be inspected. Should we find any problems, we will try to call you so it is important to make sure you are available by telephone and if you are unable to answer our call, to call us back as soon as possible so we can discuss the issues and if need be, so you can authorise any additional repairs.

We are probably more experienced at maintaining, repairing and modifying these models than anyone else in the UK and possibly the world. Our chief technician and managing director, Jon Mitchell is also the author of books on the subject and the technical advisor to the Porsche 944 registry of the official Porsche Club of Great Britain. Beyond this we have experience of building some of the most powerful 924, 944 and 968 turbo and non turbo Porsche in the UK and possibly the world. In short, we probably know more about these models than Porsche do!

 

Minor service - £199.20*

Major service  - £329.20*

Brake fluid replacement - £59.10

Including all parts and labour

 

Repairs at a reasonable hourly rate of only £79.95 per hour for cars over ten years old

 

Porsche Models over ten years old are considered as classic cars and as such in our ongoing commitment to keeping older Porsche cars on the road, we discount their hourly rate to what you see above.

* Servicing includes all parts and labour except for the cost of additional fluids which are only specified to be topped up in the factory service schedule, such as screen wash, or for additional parts or labour not usually required to complete the service, due to corrosion or other damage.

All prices are plus VAT at the standard UK rate.

 

Interesting service and repair information for the Porsche 924, 944 and 968 models.

Service interval - Even though the service book specifies six monthly and yearly services. We would strongly recommend that all Porsche models are serviced at least yearly or every 10,000 miles if more than 10,000 miles are covered per year to avoid expensive repairs and to potentially catch issues early, where they may be less expensive to repair.

Engine failures - Not as common as you would expect, we at JMG Porsche have never had to replace one of these engines due to wear, however we have had to replace many due to insufficient servicing and maintenance, but there are still worthwhile ways of avoiding unexpected large engine rebuild costs. One of which is proper servicing by a real Porsche specialist, which may not need cost as much as you think. There are also some ways to avoid unexpected bills by following some of our other advice bellow.

Brake fluid - Did you realise this should be changed every two years? Not doing this can cause problems with expensive parts within your car, such as the ABS pump or any part of the brake hydraulics due to water contamination as the brake fluid actually sucks moisture out of the air (hydroscopic), so even if the car is not used, the brake fluid must be changed every two years!

Water Pump - Often thought of as a part which fails with age, mileage and quite suddenly, leaving you stranded, our expert technicians are used to inspecting these during services, and so may spot tell tale signs of failure long before they become an issue, so saving you from the indignity of being broken down at the side of the road. A 944 and 968 Waterpump is also part of the cambelt drive mechanism, so it failing can cause serious damage to the cylinder head and engine as a whole.

RMS - Rear main seal - Something else you might see horror stories on the internet about, these used to be a real problem and Porsche re designed the part several times to arrive at the current design which is the only one we at JMG Porsche use. Like an IMS Bearing replacement, this is best performed during a clutch change, however on tiptronic models or on cars not needing a clutch, they can be changed at any time.

Transmission services - Not clearly noted by Porsche for when the transmission should be serviced and this vital expensive part of your car should not be overlooked. Just like your engine, the transmission is filled with oil/transmission fluid, which over time degrades. Not only this, but not many realise that many Porsche transmissions also contain a filter, which becomes clogged over time and can starve your transmission of lubrication, causing expensive repairs. We recommend all Porsche transmissions are serviced every 4 years or 40,000 miles, whichever comes soonest.

Diagnosis - Long has gone where cars had limited electrical equipment and a wiring diagram could be found in a manual from Halfords. Now the Porsche models have multiple separate computer systems, which all talk via networks, and many sensors to feed those computers with information about the world around it all tied together with many hidden wiring looms of thousands of wires and connectors. This can mean that in the event of your Porsche suffering an electrical issue, it is important that a Porsche specialist auto electrician is available, as we have at JMG Porsche. It is also important to understand that sometimes, finding the fault will not be as simple as plugging in a computer.

Drive Belt - Many of you may have had cars where a drive belt, timing belt or cam belt needs to be changed at a regular interval. Your Porsche model has a belt which should be changed every 4 years. Failure to do so can cause instant overheating, loss of power steering and damage to the engine very suddenly. We recommend you have this changed at least every 4 years.

Cam and Balance belt - The 924S, 944 (ALL) and 968 (ALL) have a cam belt and balance belt, which has to be set to a very precise tension and run across various pulleys, tensioners and rollers to function correctly, if these are not maintained with a new cam belt and balance belt every 4 years, and a new waterpump, tensioners and rollers (as well as front engine oil seals) every 8 years, the consequences can be catastrophic to say the least.

Brakes - The Porsche 944S2, 944 Turbo and all 968 models are fitted with Brembo callipers, which overtime suffer from corrosion build up which can cause the pads to stick and bind up within the callipers or even make it difficult to fit new pads. When this happens the calipers require a service rebuild of the slider plate mechanism, which needs to be performed by a specialist with the right experience, techniques and tools to make the repair more than a very temporary one.

Heavy clutch? - A heavy feeling clutch which is stiff to use is not normal on a Porsche and often a sign that the clutch has almost worn out. Ignoring this can cause further damage, such as to the dual mass flywheel and clutch fork.

Alarm system - At JMG Porsche we are experts of all Porsche security systems and have reverse engineered all the various control units. This not only means we can program new alarm control units and keys to your car, just as the main dealer can, but in some cases we can repair your old alarm control unit and keys, or in some cases recover your old keys to be used on the new alarm control unit, which is a service unique to JMG.

Alarm system causes - In most cases the cause of alarm control unit failure is water damage, we can perform modifications to your Porsche model to help mitigate the chances of this happening to your Porsche.