The Porsche IMS Bearing –  BIG Problem: FACTS TO KNOWAugust 3rd 2019

by Mike Emery – Perfection Auto Works, Tucson, AZ

Do you have questions about the Troubling Porsche IMS bearing? You’re not alone. By now, most 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 (excluding Turbo models), 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 save you TONS of money.

There are many search results on the internet 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 you understand the problem just a little more. You want to be informed and you want to know how to protect your Porsche from premature disastrous engine failure. caused by a failed IMS bearing. Here is everything you need to know about the Porsche IMS bearing issue.

First things first, a little basic information is in warranted before we get down to the bone.

1) What Is the Porsche IMS Bearing?

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

First, “IMS” stands for intermediate shaft. The intermediate shaft is a geared shaft that runs through and extends out from the front and rear of the engine. With those gears, the function of the intermediate shaft is to use the mechanical rotation of the engine’s crankshaft to 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 not a new development in the then High tech and new water-cooled “M96” engine developed for the 996. 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 famous for, as long as the 911 has existed. Up to this point in the long lifetime of the evolution of the 911, the placement of an intermediate shaft on Porsche’s  flat-sixes, in both concept and practice, had been tried and successful for years. With the advent of the M96 and the early production runs of the later-revised “M97″ engines, the failure is in the sealed cartridge-style ball-bearings that support the IMS.

2) If Your IMS Bearing Fails, You’re Going to Spend BIG BUCKS

The main weaknesses to the factory-original IMS bearings can be attributed to three reasons: 1) The material the ball-bearings are constructed of, are not strong enough to withstand the physical and thermal loads exerted upon them, 2) the lubrication of the bearings is insufficient and, 3) The wrong oil is used on oil changes or not changed soon enough. 

There are many reasons for IMS bearing failure and often it is a combination of causes that results in bearing failure. The exact rate of failure of these IMS bearings is hard to pinpoint with any certainty. Claims, especially those made by Internet”experts” or ones found in the Porsche forum threads about this topic, can vary greatly, however, reliable sources have reported the failure-rate of some of these original bearings to be estimated as high as an astonishing 10% after an average of just 90,000 miles. Since it has also been 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 that all 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 at any time, irrespective of mileage.

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 needs to be replaced, and even that still involves a complete engine removal, inspection, and disassembly.

3) 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 excellent 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 used 911, how can you protect yourself from falling prey to a failed IMS bearing?

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

As a reputable repair shop for over 25 years working on Porsche, Audi, Volkswagen and many other fine automobiles, Perfection Auto Works can give you the information you need to keep your Porsche in great shape and out of harms way. This is only the FIRST step in maintaining your sweet Porsche.
Our FREE 26 point inspection is a great way to get your car checked out.
We test and check oil data for metal transfer on the cars in this article to let you know if the IMS bearing is starting to fail in your car.
And by the way, any time a clutch is needed, you want to look at replacement of the IMS and Rear main seal.                                                  
Call 520-323-8650 for additional information.

Mercedes Timing Chain IssuesJuly 27th 2019

Mercedes information on timing chain issues:
  • Drivability issues: Problems during acceleration or at idle can indicate that your camshaft position sensor isn’t detecting the position of your camshaft correctly. You may experience hesitation, stumbling, vibrations or stalling.
  • Problems starting your vehicle: Your vehicle may take a long time to start or not start at all if the camshaft position sensor is damaged. This problem tends to get worse as time goes on, to the point that your vehicle won’t start at all.
  • Check engine light: There can be many reasons that your check engine light comes on, but a faulty camshaft position sensor is a common cause. As your sensor drifts out of range, your ECU detects a malfunction and turns on the dashboard warning light.

Mercedes-Benz V6 and V8 engines had timing chain problems caused by balance shaft and idler gear failures. Mercedes produced certain models with defective gears in their balance shafts (M272 engines) or with defective idle gears ( M273 engines). These faulty gears wear out prematurely, excessively, and without warning, causing the vehicle to malfunction, the ‘check engine light’ to remain illuminated, and the vehicle to misfire or stop driving. A lawsuit was filed against Mercedes-Benz.

Timing chain failures can cause catastrophic engine damage. Early signs of this problem are the check engine light and engine noise. If the timing chain fails, the pistons can hit the valves and cause severe damage to the engine. Engines with the balance shaft worn sprocket were Mercedes-Benz 350 models (Example: E350 C350 etc. ) that were equipped with the M272 engine. Mercedes-Benz engine is typically labeled as 450 models that have the V8 M273 engine had problems with worn guide idler gear. The parts themselves are not very expensive, but they are very costly to replace.

Please check your Vin number to see if the car you own is part of the issues with the models listed.

Please call Perfection Auto Works Inc. ( 520-323-8650 ) if you need additional information.  Perfection Auto Works is where you will find the best Tucson Mercedes Benz Service.

Maintenance Schedules for Your PorscheFebruary 17th 2017

Porsche service is done a little differently from other brands of cars. Porsche recognizes that their cars may not be daily drivers so the maintenance schedule is divided for those who drive less than 9,000 miles per year and those who drive more than that. This is why it’s so important to use a company like Perfection Auto Works who are experts in performing Porsche repair.

Even if you drive your Porsche less than 9k miles in a year, you should still have an annual service done on your vehicle to make sure there are no larger problems that need to be repaired. Read More »

VW Regular Maintenance ServiceFebruary 14th 2017

It is important to stay on top of the maintenance for your Volkswagen. VW has some special needs when it comes to service which is why it’s important to use a specialty shop like Perfection Auto Works. Your VW dashboard computer will notify you of when it’s time to have the maintenance service done.

VW 10k Mile Service

AdBlue Fluid: Check fluid level and add additional fluid if needed
Airbag system: Perform visual inspection (This should also happen every 1 year regardless of mileage)
Change the oil and replace the oil filter
Check cleaning functionality of the rear window (if applicable)
Reset the service computer interval display
Rotate tires, front to rear
Check the thickness and brake discs and the condition of the brake pads on the front and rear brakes
Check for damage and function on windshield washers, headlight cleaning system, and wiper blades. Check fluid level and add if necessary

Perfection Auto Works has an online appointment form to schedule your maintenance. We also can schedule your VW repair by telephone – 520-323-8650.

 

Mercedes Benz Schedule A ServiceFebruary 6th 2017

About Service A

Mercedes Benz has grouped the types of maintenance your car needs into two service groups. They are referred to as Service A and Service B. Each service is the chance to catch any repairs for your Mercedes before the issue becomes serious. Service A is the more basic service and B is more extensive. The computer in your Mercedes dashboard will remind you of Service A at 10,000 miles and every subsequent 20,000 mile interval.

Service A Includes

Change engine oil and filter
Check the warning and indicator lamps and horn for functionality
Check the windshield/headlamp wiper and washer systems for functionality and fluid levels
Ensure that seat belts are functioning correctly
Inspect tires and check tire pressure (including the spare tire)
Inspect brake pad thickness and disc condition
Check and correct all fluid levels
Reset your vehicle’s Flexible Service System (FSS) counter

Cabin filters

In all SLK, CLK, C-Class, and E-Class models, the interior cabin dust filter should be replaced.

BMW Inspection IJanuary 26th 2017

BMW Service Inspections

BMW has set regular service intervals for their vehicles. The range from a basic oil, lube and filter check to what they refer to as Inspection I and Inspection II. In this page we will talk about what is involved with the BMW Inspection I service.

Your car’s dashboard computer will notify you when it’s time for service. This is what an Inspection I covers and points out the areas where maintenance or repair are needed for your BMW.

Undercarriage

Change engine oil and Oil Filter, check engine at is at normal operation temperature.
Check transmission for leaks.
Check rear axle for leaks.
Visually check fuel tank, lines, and connections for leaks.
Check condition, position, and mounting of exhaust system. Examine for leaks.
Check power steering system for leaks.
Check overall thickness of front and rear disc brake pads.
Examine brake disc surfaces.
Clean brake pad contact points in calipers.
Grease wheel center hubs.
Check steering for absence of play, condition of suspension track rods, front axle joints, steering linkage, and joint disc.
Check front control arm bushing for wear.
Check brake and clutch system connectors and lines for leaks, damage, and incorrect positioning.
Check for free movement of the parking brake cables. Adjust parking brake if necessary.
Check all tire pressures (including spare). Correct if necessary.
Check condition of tires (outer surfaces (left/right)), tread wear and pattern; In case of uneven tread wear readjust wheel alignment if required.

Engine Compartment

Read out diagnostic system with BMW scanners.
Check engine cooling system/heater hose connections for leaks.
Check coolant level and antifreeze protection level; add coolant if necessary.
Check level of brake and clutch fluid in reservoir; add fluid if required.
Check windshield washer fluid level and antifreeze protection. Fill up and/or correct if necessary.
Check air conditioner for operation.
Reset Service Indicator.

Body/Electrical Equipment

Check battery electrolyte level and add distilled water if required.
Perform batter load test.
Check lighting system, i.e. headlights, foglights, parking, backup, license plate, interior (including map reading lights), glove box, flashlight, illuminated makeup mirrors, luggage compartment lights.
Check instrument panel and dashboard illumination.
Check all warning/indicator lights, check control.
Check turn signals, hazard warning flashers, brake lights, horns, headlight dimmer/flasher switch.
Check wiper and washer system(s); wiper blades, washer jet positions.
Check condition and function of safety belts.
Oil hood, trunk/tailgate, and door hinges.
Grease hood, trunk/tailgate and door latches. Check operation of all latches.
Check central locking/double lock.
Replace microfilter or Acc. Cabin Filter.
Check heater/air conditioner blower, rear window defogger.
Check rear view mirrors
Visually examine the SRS airbag units for torn cover, obvious damage or attachment of decals, decorations, or accessories.

Final Inspection

Road test with check of brakes, suspension, steering, clutch/manual transmission or automatic transmission

It’s almost HalloweenOctober 29th 2016

With Halloween and all of the other holidays approaching, don’t forget to schedule your car maintenance appointment.

There will be many scary pumpkins this season. We don’t want this one to be yours! Read More »

Autumn Car Repair in TucsonSeptember 12th 2016

The staff here at Perfection Auto Works celebrates the cooler temperatures we’re about to experience as autumn arrives in Tucson. The change in weather gives a minute to focus on how car repair differs from our typical hot summer. Read More »

Mercedes Car Care TipsJuly 5th 2016

Perfection Auto Works is the first place you want to go for all of your Mercedes repairs, but did you know we also can give advice on other ways to care for your car? Read More »

BMW 3 Series Common Repair IssuesJune 9th 2016

BMW repair is one of our specialties at Perfection Auto Works.  We see a lot of BMW’s so it is almost second nature when it comes to diagnosing the problems that can crop up with the various models.  Today we will focus on the BMW 3 Series. Read More »