Here's All the Info You Need About the Porsche IMS Bearing (2022)

Written by:Bradley Hayes
Automotive Blogger & Director of Marketing, Autoscope European Car Repair

The Porsche IMS Bearing – Small Component,BIGProblem

Have questions about the infamousPorsche IMS bearing? You’re not alone. By now, most (if not all) Porsche 911 owners have heard about the Porsche IMS bearing issues that have plagued these engines for years. However, if you own or are considering purchasing a 996 or 997 generation Porsche 911 (excludingTurbomodels), or a 986 or 987 generation Porsche Boxster, and aren’t already aware of the “IMS bearing upgrade” then we urge you to keep reading because the information you’ll find here could very well save youthousands.

There are countless forum threads and search results on the web regarding this subject, and many either have conflicting information or just seem to confuse the topic even more. Many readers are still left wondering about the real answers to their questions.“What causes IMS bearing failure?” “How can you tell if your Porsche IMS bearing needs to be replaced?” “Can IMS bearing failure be prevented?” “What is the Porsche IMS bearing failure rate?”We’re here to help clear the air and settle the matter for good. No hearsay, no second-hand anecdotes, and no armchair engineering – just thefacts. You don’t want a dissertation or more dubious speculation; you want to be informed and you want to know how to safeguard your Porsche from premature catastrophic engine failure caused by a failed IMS bearing. So, without further adieu, here is everything you need to know about the Porsche IMS bearing problem.

First things first, a little basic information is in order before we get down to the nitty-gritty…

What Is the Porsche IMS Bearing?

Here's All the Info You Need About the Porsche IMS Bearing (1)

Failed Porsche IMS Bearing

(Video) Porsche 911 997 IMS Diagnosis & Repair | which bearing do you have?

If you read the words “premature catastrophic engine failure” above, your first thought might have been to wonder exactly how such a relatively small component has the potential to lunch an entire engine, instantaneously, and seemingly with no warning. Without gettingtootechnical, we’ll briefly go over what an IMS bearing is and what its function is.

For starters, “IMS” stands forintermediateshaft. The intermediate shaft is basically a geared shaft that runs through and extends out from the front and rear of the engine. By way of those gears, the function of the intermediate shaft is to use the mechanical rotation of the engine’s crankshaft to indirectly drive the camshafts on either side of the engine. The actual intermediate shaft itself, however, is not the root of the now well-known and infamous 996 and 997 IMS-related “engine problems.” The basic design and use of an intermediate shaft was by no means a new development in the then-radical and new water-cooled “M96” engine developed for the 996. In fact, the intermediate shaft has long been a feature of the horizontally-opposed (also known as a “boxer” configuration) flat-six engines for which the Porsche 911 is so famed, as long as the 911 has existed, in fact. Up to this point in the long timeline of the evolution of the 911, the incorporation of an intermediate shaft on Porsche’s flat-sixes, in both concept and practice, had been tried and true. With the advent of the M96 and the early production runs of the later-revised “M97″ engines, the rub (pun intended) is in the sealed cartridge-style ball-bearings that support the IMS, more simply referred to as the “IMS bearings.”

If Your IMS Bearing Fails, You’re Going to Have a Bad Time

The main weaknesses inherent to the factory-original IMS bearings can be attributed to twoglaring deficiencies: 1.) The material the ball-bearings are constructed with is not quite strong enough to withstand the physical and thermal loads exerted upon them, and 2.) the lubrication of the bearings is insufficient.

It has been verifiably documented that some IMS bearings have failed after just 3,000 miles.

(Video) The Truth About Porsche IMS Bearing Failure and How to Fix It

Here's All the Info You Need About the Porsche IMS Bearing (2)

More carnage from a failed Porsche IMS bearing.

There can be many contributory reasons for IMS bearing failure and often it is a combination of causes that ultimately results in bearing failure. The exact rate of failure of these IMS bearings is tricky to nail down with any certainty. Claims of which, especially those made by unqualified “experts” or ones found in the myriad forum threads about this topic, can vary drastically, however, reliable sources have reported the failure-rate of some of these original bearings to be estimated ashigh as an astonishing10%after an average of just90,000miles. Since it has also been verifiably documented that some IMS bearings have failed after just 3,000 miles, while others still have lasted for 200,000 miles or more, the only safe conclusion that can be drawn is thatall M96 and some M97 engines in Porsche 911’s (996 or 997), and all Boxsters (986/987) from 1997 through 2008, are at risk of suffering IMS bearing failure atany time, irrespective of mileage.

Motor wird dann sein kaputt!

Once an intermediate shaft bearing fails, options quickly become few and expensive. The absolute best-case scenario (and least likely) is if only the intermediate shaft and bearings need to be replaced, and even that still involves a complete engine removal, inspection, and disassembly.

In the worst-case scenario, IMS bearing failure can disrupt the cam timing causing impact between the pistons and valves, resulting in shattered valves, smashed pistons, and other extensive engine damage. The majority of the time then, your only option is to totally rebuild the engine or replace it in its entirety, at not inconsiderable cost for either.

(Video) The PORSCHE IMS Bearing Problem you never knew existed!

Here's All the Info You Need About the Porsche IMS Bearing (3)

Pictured: Worst-case Scenario

How to Know If Your Porsche Is at Risk for IMS Bearing Failure

The IMS bearing for these engines went through multiple design revisions from 1999 – ’06, including both single- and dual-row bearing designs, without ever adequately resolving the issue. Eventually, the M96 and M97 engines were replaced by the “9A1″ engine, the first 911-bound engine to completely dispense with the intermediate shaft system altogether in favor of a system that drives the camshafts directly off the crankshaft. That’s great news if you bought a 911 from the 2009 model year or later which has the newer 9A1 engine, but what can you do if you own a 911 with an M96 or M97 engine to prevent IMS bearing failure? And what if you’re looking to buy a pre-owned 911, how can you protect yourself from falling victim to a failed IMS bearing?

A Porsche Expert’s Professional Advice for Preventing or Avoiding Porsche IMS Bearing Failure

In any case, fear not because fortunately there is a solution. And that solution comes fromLN Engineering in the form of the “LN IMS bearing retrofit” upgrade.LN Engineeringis the largest and most reputable name in the manufacture of Porsche IMS bearing replacement upgrades and they are our exclusive source for the hundreds of IMS bearing upgrades and replacements that we have performed and continue to perform regularly. The design, materials, engineering, and serviceability of the LN IMS Retrofit upgrade virtually eliminates the risk of IMS bearing failure and the consequent gargantuan repair costs.

Advice for Owners

For 911 owners, our recommendation is to find a qualifiedPorsche repairspecialist and have the IMS bearing upgrade performed on your car. We don’t advise rushing out to immediately have it done before putting even one more mile on your engine, necessarily, but it’s probably best to go ahead and do it at the same time another procedure is done, like a clutch replacement, rear main seal, or any other job where there is a lot of overlapping labor involved that you can take advantage of to save money. Planning in this way means you can still enjoy your Porsche without the looming anticipation of imminent engine failure with every squeeze of the throttle. In addition to your own peace of mind, it will preserve the resale value of the car when the time comes to sell. Most savvy prospective buyers won’t even consider purchasing a car that doesn’t have an IMS upgrade in its service history, and if they do, you can and should expect to have to significantly lower the asking price.

(Video) Porsche IMS Bearing Failure Explained

Advice for Buyers

For prospective buyers, our advice is to do your homework beforehand, and proper due-diligence when considering any one car.Alwaysask to see the service history of any pre-owned car you’re considering to buy, but it’s especially critical for someone looking at one of these pre-owned 911’s to ascertain if an IMS upgrade has been performed. If it has, great! If it hasn’t, that doesn’t necessarily mean you should automatically pass on the car but it should be a major consideration to weigh. It’s up to you if you decide to pursue it further and if you do, know that you can reasonably expect a much lower price on the car for having to get the IMS upgrade performed yourself, as well as for the increased risk associated with a car that hasn’t yet had it done. In either case, always find a qualified Porsche specialist to perform a pre-purchase inspection on the car before you buy it. Walk away from any seller that seems hesitant, or flat refuses, to allow apre-purchase inspection. Suspect, too, is the seller who will agree to a pre-purchase inspection but only on the condition that it is performed by a mechanic or shop of their choosing. And as always, be wary of any deal that seems “too good to be true” because it almost always is.

To learn more about the Porsche IMS bearing upgrade or to have one performed on your Porsche 996, 997, or Boxster, give theEuropean auto repairexperts at Autoscope a call orset up an appointment onlinetoday!

© 2015 B. Hayes & Autoscope European Car Repair
All Rights Reserve

(Video) Everything about the Porsche IMS Bearing Failure People Don't Talk About!

FAQs

What year Porsches have IMS bearing issues? ›

The Porsche 911 and Porsche Boxster from model year 1997 to 2005 have a high failure rate of the intermediate shaft bearing also known as an IMS bearing. Its design and construction lead to premature failure of the bearing, which results in catastrophic engine failure.

Which Porsche models have IMS problem? ›

Which Porsche models can IMS bearing failure occur on? Boxsters, Caymans

Caymans
The Porsche Boxster and Cayman are mid-engine two-seater sports cars manufactured and marketed by German automobile manufacturer Porsche across four generations—as a two-door, two-seater roadster (Boxster) and a three-door, two-seater fastback coupé (Cayman).
https://en.wikipedia.org › wiki › Porsche_Boxster › Cayman
and 911s from MY1997 to MY2008 are all at risk of IMS bearing failure, with the exception of Turbo, GT2 and GT3 models. However, the type of bearings used changed over the period and some were more prone to failure than others.

How can you tell if the IMS bearing is bad? ›

The most obvious one would be knocking or grinding sounds coming from your motor. If you are experiencing this, your Porsche may be in IMS bearing failure. Other signs include oil leaks or oils with metallic shards in the oil filter, signs that something has broken off inside of your car.

How much does it cost to have an IMS bearing replaced? ›

THE SOLUTION

The cost of a IMS Retrofit replacement bearing and labour for installation is usually more than $4,000 but can be done in conjunction with the clutch. This is a small investment compared to the cost of rebuilding or replacing the entire engine.

How common is Porsche IMS failure? ›

According to information published about the Eisen IMS Class Action Lawsuit, the single row IMS bearing used in 2000 through 2005 model years is reported to have an 8% failure rate, versus less than 1% with the dual row IMS bearing which has twice the load capacity of the single row bearing used by Porsche.

What causes IMS bearing failure? ›

Each failure is usually caused by many different issues, but the most common cause of IMS failure is due to a lack of lubrication and high load, which will lead to overheating. The overheating will, in turn, fracture the steel leaving a pit.

What years did Porsche have engine problems? ›

Most Prominent Porsche Engine

Porsche Engine
The Porsche flat-six engine series is a line of mechanically similar, naturally aspirated and turbocharged, flat-six boxer engines, produced by Porsche for almost 60 consecutive years, since 1963. The engine is an evolution of the flat-four boxer used in the original Volkswagen Beetle.
https://en.wikipedia.org › wiki › Porsche_flat-six_engine
Failure Point

The IMS bearing failure is commonplace on the M96 and M97 flat six-cylinder engines found in 911s, Boxsters, and Caymans
Caymans
The Porsche Boxster and Cayman are mid-engine two-seater sports cars manufactured and marketed by German automobile manufacturer Porsche across four generations—as a two-door, two-seater roadster (Boxster) and a three-door, two-seater fastback coupé (Cayman).
https://en.wikipedia.org › wiki › Porsche_Boxster › Cayman
, spanning from 1997 to 2008. However, the most prominent IMS bearing failures occurred up to 2006 in the 996 era Porshe 911s and the 986 Boxsters.

What happens when IMS fails? ›

What Happens When the IMS Bearing Fails. Generally, after an IMS bearing fails, the internals of the engine are contaminated with debris due to the failure, thus requiring the engine to be stripped and rebuilt or replaced.

What does IMS failure sound like? ›

While we would hope that it wouldn't come to this, if the IMS bearing failure has progressed significantly, you will likely hear loud rattling noises when starting the engine or pressing the accelerator.

What causes Porsche bore scoring? ›

A lack of cylinder & piston lubrication is the major cause of wear or bore scoring. The minimum grade gasoline for all street production Porsches is 91 octane.

Do 997 have IMS problems? ›

Porsche has been at the center of a recent controversy due to IMS (intermediate shaft) bearing failure in some 997 production cars, but recent data shows that there may not be as many problems as initially thought.

Does 2006 Porsche 911 have IMS issues? ›

The incidence of IMS failures in 2006-2008 Porsche Boxster, Cayman, and 911 models with the M96 or M97 engine is very low.

Does the IMS bearing need to be replaced? ›

Any IMS bearing replacement is intended to be installed as a pro-active measure in preventative and regular maintenance. Once an engine has suffered a failure, replacement of the intermediate shaft bearing is no longer an option.

Was Porsche IMS bearing a recall? ›

In 2009, Porsche eliminated the IMS and its bearings altogether, so cars built after that move are not affected at all.

What is the IMS solution? ›

The IMS Solution equates to a permanent fix to the IMS bearing issues and should last the lifetime the engine. The IMS Solution provides a comprehensive systematic approach to the IMS bearing replacement plus a desperately needed upgrade to the oil filtration system of the engine.

Where is the IMS bearing? ›

Technical Information on IMS Bearing

The Intermediate Shaft (IMS) in the M96 and M97 engines is an internal engine part and is supported by the front console on the front end of the engine and then by a roller bearing on the back end, and sits directly below the crankshaft.

What is RMS in Porsche? ›

The rear main seal is located at the end of the engine where the crankshaft comes through to meet the clutch and gearbox. The seal is there to stop engine oil leaking through around the crankshaft.

Why is 996 the best 911? ›

The major change that the 996 brought was the addition of water cooling. Among other things, this meant that the 996 could produce more power from smaller displacement. Earlier models had the 3.4-liter M96 flat-six with 296 horsepower (221 kilowatts) and 260 pound-feet (350 Nm).

How many miles will a Porsche Boxster last? ›

A Porsche Boxster will last about 200,000 miles on average if it's properly maintained although they can last must longer, some have even lasted over 300,000 miles. If you drive 15,000 miles a year, you can get 13 years of reliable service out of it before the frequency of repairs becomes too expensive and impractical.

Does 2008 Cayman have IMS issues? ›

The incidence of IMS failures in 2006-2008 Porsche Boxster, Cayman, and 911 models with the M96 or M97 engine is very low.

Does 2008 911 have IMS issues? ›

Interestingly enough, IMS bearings in Porsche engines isn't a new thing with the 996s. In fact, every 911 from 1964 through 2008 had an IMS bearing.

What years did Porsche have engine problems? ›

Most Prominent Porsche Engine

Porsche Engine
The Porsche flat-six engine series is a line of mechanically similar, naturally aspirated and turbocharged, flat-six boxer engines, produced by Porsche for almost 60 consecutive years, since 1963. The engine is an evolution of the flat-four boxer used in the original Volkswagen Beetle.
https://en.wikipedia.org › wiki › Porsche_flat-six_engine
Failure Point

The IMS bearing failure is commonplace on the M96 and M97 flat six-cylinder engines found in 911s, Boxsters, and Caymans
Caymans
The Porsche Boxster and Cayman are mid-engine two-seater sports cars manufactured and marketed by German automobile manufacturer Porsche across four generations—as a two-door, two-seater roadster (Boxster) and a three-door, two-seater fastback coupé (Cayman).
https://en.wikipedia.org › wiki › Porsche_Boxster › Cayman
, spanning from 1997 to 2008. However, the most prominent IMS bearing failures occurred up to 2006 in the 996 era Porshe 911s and the 986 Boxsters.

Does 2006 Porsche 911 have IMS issues? ›

The incidence of IMS failures in 2006-2008 Porsche Boxster, Cayman, and 911 models with the M96 or M97 engine is very low.

Do 997 have IMS problems? ›

Porsche has been at the center of a recent controversy due to IMS (intermediate shaft) bearing failure in some 997 production cars, but recent data shows that there may not be as many problems as initially thought.

Is Porsche 997 reliable? ›

The majority of the car is generally reliable and has a near timeless look. With the launch of a new 992 platform, prices for the 997 have been driven even lower. This is a super value for money, everyday super car that has excellent reliability.

Which Porsche is most reliable? ›

Porsche 911 Carrera

This is one of the few Porsche models that are relatively free from consumer complaints about performance and reliability. Throughout its long and storied history, The Porsche 911 Carrera has been voted the most reliable car that the automaker has produced to date.

What is considered high mileage for a Porsche 911? ›

Porsche 911 engine mileage can be rated at 100,000 miles and 10 years. Like any vehicle, Porsche 911s last longer with proper and routine maintenance and care. Most Porsche vehicles will last you up to the 150,000-mile marker and beyond.

What does IMS failure sound like? ›

While we would hope that it wouldn't come to this, if the IMS bearing failure has progressed significantly, you will likely hear loud rattling noises when starting the engine or pressing the accelerator.

What happens when IMS fails? ›

What Happens When the IMS Bearing Fails. Generally, after an IMS bearing fails, the internals of the engine are contaminated with debris due to the failure, thus requiring the engine to be stripped and rebuilt or replaced.

How common is Porsche bore scoring? ›

While cylinder bore scoring has been an issue on a relatively small percentage of 996 and 997 models, it isn't a universal problem.

What causes Porsche bore scoring? ›

A lack of cylinder & piston lubrication is the major cause of wear or bore scoring. The minimum grade gasoline for all street production Porsches is 91 octane.

Is Porsche 997 a future classic? ›

The Porsche 997 will become a collectible car in the future, but is not currently considered to be one.

Are Porsche expensive to maintain? ›

On average, a Porsche costs about $1,192 per year for standard maintenance. Keep in mind that your own Porsche maintenance cost will depend on the specific model you own.

Why is 996 the best 911? ›

The major change that the 996 brought was the addition of water cooling. Among other things, this meant that the 996 could produce more power from smaller displacement. Earlier models had the 3.4-liter M96 flat-six with 296 horsepower (221 kilowatts) and 260 pound-feet (350 Nm).

Videos

1. Episode 4 - IMS Bearing
(Charlie's Foreign Car Service)
2. PCA Spotlight: Types of IMS bearing retrofit kits
(Porsche Club of America)
3. How Does My Original IMS Bearing Look After 95,000 Miles??
(FunAhead TV)
4. The IMS Solution versus Everything Else | IMS Bearing - Porsche 996, 997, 986, 987
(Rennvision)
5. Pawlik Automotive - 2002 Porsche 911, IMS Bearing Repair
(pawlikautorepair)
6. PCA Spotlight: The four stages of IMS bearing failure
(Porsche Club of America)

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