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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

Monday, 30 April 2012 13:38

924, 944 and 968 Servicing and repairs

Your 924, 944 or 968 is in the best of hands at JMG Porsche, where even with servicing we go beyond the factory schedule.

The factory schedule for many models called for a service every two years, which was fine when the car was new and to make the car last beyond the factory warranty without issue. However we strongly recommend that all models are serviced annually, alternating between a minor and a major service each year. Click here and read our article for more information.

 

 

Here is a breakdown of our servicing.

 

Minor servicing £149.20

  • Pre service test drive (JMG Additional included item)

  • Fault code analysis (models after 1988)

  • Replacement of the oil filter and engine oil (Porsche approved oil)

  • Factory specified inspection of - the vehicle under side, engine compartment, coolant hoses, coolant (level and condition), radiator or radiators, air intake, brake system, brake hoses, brake lines, drive shafts, tyres, locks and latches, electrical equipment, horn, windscreen wiper washing system, power steering and fluid level, lighting system check (including headlights and indicators)

  • JMG Inspection of additional items which are common issues as this model ages (JMG Additional included item)

  • Final test drive to check all major safety, comfort and mechanical systems for correct operation.

  • Final fluid and levels check

  • Courtesy interior vacuum and wash (JMG Additional included item)

Major servicing £275

All items from minor servicing, plus...

  • Replacement of the air cleaner element

  • Check condition, lubricate and adjust if required - fuel system, parking brake, clutch, steering gear, tie rod ends, axle joints, running gear, exhaust system, suspension, seat belts, throttle actuation and auxillary drive belt.

  • Numerous additional JMG Specific inspection and adjustments which are model specific, added as the car's get older.

All services are performed with Porsche approved oil and genuine OEM filters.

Upgrade your service to premium Mobil engine oil for only £49.95 extra

 

The importance of routine annual servicing.

Routine annual servicing will benefit your car from being inspected by an expert every year, which will certainly mean that many problems are spotted long before they turn into an expensive problem, a simple seal for example, costing only a few pennies, could be all that needs to be spotted and rectified to avoid a complete engine failure.

Beyond this, on more modern models where the servicing is specified by the factory for every two years, there is evidence that that has decreased the long term reliability of components. A good example of this are the engine oil hydraulic components on a Porsche 997 being the same parts as used in a Porsche 996, yet the 996 rarely suffers from variocam solenoid failures, but those of the 997 are frequent and can cost thousands of pounds to repair, just for the sake of regular yearly servicing and oil changes.

Some people only cover a few miles per year and therefore believe their car will not need regular annaul servicing, however this also can cause problems.

 

Repairs.

We have many menu prices for Porsche repairs of each model which are usually likely to cost more if performed with our hourly rate, call us for a price.

For anything else our repairs hourly rate is £79.95 per hour.

 

Menu price diagnostic appointment - £149.20 (Two hours)

Porsche cars are especially sophisticated and complicated cars, therefore diagnosis needs to be performed by expert Porsche specialist diagnostic technicians, the cream of the crop, even for what might seem like very simple faults.

With all faults, there will be a problem, such as a bad relay for example, as well as this there will be a cause, perhaps this cause would be what caused the relay to become faulty, which in itself could be abstract or unusual, or could be as simple as age, but it is still important to be reasonably sure of the cause, before new parts are installed, otherwise the new parts will also swiftly expire!

Even with the most expert technicians it is impossible to predict what the fault may be, until we have spent some time both diagnosing what is faulty and what has caused that item to be faulty, so to be professional at what we do, in some cases we may need to spend a longer duration of time with our investigations.

Unfortunately, this can mean that diagnosis can be very time consuming and therefore expensive, as well as difficult to schedule in our busy workshop.

With this in mind we have developed a clinic system for diagnostic visits, where we charge £149.20 for a two hour appointment. During which the following will happen.

  • The customer will be able to talk to the diagnostic technician in person to explain the fault.

  • The diagnostic technician will endeavour to recreate the fault to experience it in person, perhaps including a test drive with the customer.

  • The diagnostic technician will then begin tests to narrow down the fault, which may include using the Porsche diagnostic computers, or even our special diagnostic equipment not available elsewhere, studying the engineering documentation, technical service bulletins as well as running manual tests on or off of a vehicle lift.

  • In the case of the problem being simple, it may even be possible that within this phase the problem may be found, the cause clear and perhaps even a repair made.

  • Once complete, before the two hour appointment is exhausted, the technician will spend time with the customer explaining what he has found, as well as what additional diagnosis may need to be performed, how long that may take, and what potentially could be the causes of the problem, concluding with an appointment made for when the further diagnosis or repairs can be made.

Between the end of this visit and the appointment for continuation of the repairs or diagnosis, the car can be taken away, or left with us by mutual agreement.

   ALL PRICES ARE PLUS VAT

 

 

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.