2002 Porsche 911 IMS Bearing Repair
Mark: Hi, it's Mark from TLR. I'm here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Vancouver's best auto service experience. What is it? 24 time winners. 24. Best auto repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. And today we're talking about a Porsche 911. How're you doing Bernie in?
Bernie: Doing pretty good.
Mark: So this had the infamous IMS bearing problem. What was going on with this vehicle?
Bernie: So the vehicle got towed to our shop with a sudden, humongous oil leak developed in the vehicle. We didn't know it was an IMS problem, but we did know there was a huge oil leak that had developed.
Mark: Was there any diagnosis you had to do to find the oil leak?
Bernie: Well this wasn't our traditional, there's always a diagnosis of some form, but it wasn't the usual, let's add some UV dye. Clean something, drive it around the block. It was basically as fast as we could pour the oil in, it was pouring out. So there was a pretty severe leak coming from somewhere.
Mark: Either that out of the engine drain is not in there anymore.
Bernie: Well, yeah, that wasn't the case though. So the oil is pouring out in the bell housing area. So either, you know something happened to the IMS bearing, the rear main crank seal had blown out or something catastrophic had cracked at the back of the engine. So we figured pulling the engine out was the next step to the process. So we pulled the engine and transmission together as a unit and separated it and. Proceeded from there.
Mark: What did you find?
Bernie: So we found the IMS bearing had basically broken. There's a bolt that holds the IMS bearing to the collar. It was missing. Gone, and those oil just pouring out of there. So next step of course, is pull the IMS, played out and see if we can replace the IMS bearing.
Mark: So that bearing had failed. Did you replace it?
Bernie: We weren't able to because the bearing had basically grenaded. Just destroyed itself. And this vehicle requires a complete engine. So why are we doing this podcast? Because we're talking about why you should replace your IMS bearing way before there's any issues. That's kind of the purpose. So we can get into some pictures. We can talk some more while we're looking at pictures.
So there's basically what we found. We took the engine and transmission apart with the flywheel off, you can see the rear main crank seal in this area and the red arrow points to the IMS plate. There's a hole in the middle and you can see a sort of a, kind of fresh oil that's run down here. And that is basically where there used to be a bolt and a shaft that sat in there. And that had basically broken off. Very bad thing for that to occur. Next pictures. What do we got?
Again, a close up view of the IMS cover plate. There shouldn't be all that metal laying around in there. Metal in, well, just, just looks like it's been sandblasted and there's still sand in there around this area here. No underneath like where the oil is and just right where your arrow is now.
I mean, that could be dirt. That's accumulated kind of hard to say. I think most of the guck would be inside the engine at this point. Now here's what it looks like with that piece off. I apologize. It's a bit of a fuzzy photo, but that right in this opening here is where the IMS bearing used to be.
And that's sort of, what's left of the outer bearing race that sits in the IMS bearing. At this point, you can't replace it. It's it's too badly damaged. And of course all the debris of that bearing is now circulating throughout the engine.
Mark: Thus you need a new engine.
Bernie: Yeah. Thus we need a new engine or, you know, tear it apart and dismantle it, but it's an enormous task. We're in the process actually right now, trying to find a good used engine for the customer. That's kind of where we're at. I mean, it's either that or you rebuild it, which is a horrendously expensive operation.
There's the plate. This is where the bearing once sat. You can see, you know, a lot of wear and crap around this area too. And then finally, this is what a replacement, LN Engineering bearing looks like. This is an aftermarket solution that works really well in these vehicles, but it's only a preventative maintenance repair.
This is not a after the fact of severe damage repair. This is a repair that you do when the IMS bearing has not yet failed. So that's a solution, a part. It also comes with a different style mounting plate because it's a different design. But yeah, so there's our, there's our picture show.
Mark: So, what does IMS bearing do?
Bernie: So what it does is it basically holds the intermediate shaft in place. And what the intermediate shaft is, the purpose is basically it's an overhead cam engine. There's timing chains that run from the well, no, on a lot of engines, they run directly from the crankshaft to the cam shafts.
But in this case the engineers at Porsche decided let's run an intermediate shaft, which slows the speed of the timing chains down to the cam shaft, cuts them in half. So it seems like a pretty neat idea. Unfortunately in the design of this bearing, this bearing is not lubricated by engine oil. It's a sealed bearing. So it only has a limited lifespan. Of course they don't tell you that. It's not part of the maintenance because they never designed it that way. They didn't think about that that far.
There was actually a class action lawsuit that occurred a long time ago about these bearings. And I don't know much more about it, but it's out there. So they had these things fail under warranty as well, but now anyone who owns one of course is left holding the bag and you need to replace it yourself. But that's basically what the IMS shaft, you know, what the purpose is.
Mark: So does it matter whether it's air cooled or water cooled, because there was a change somewhere in there with Porsche?
Bernie: Air cooled engines have, they have a lubricated bearing, like as kind of standard, I guess you know, a standard type of bearing that's lubricated with engine oil. So there's no problem with that. And when we get into the newer models, probably 07 and newer, they solved this issue. They either eliminated it or did something that this bearing is not a sealed bearing unit anymore. So really your problem years are probably from around approximately 97 to around 2005 or six with apparently the years, 2000 to 2005 being the worst issues.
So and that's 911s and Boxsters because they both use the same design.
Mark: So was there any warning signs for this 911 owner?
Bernie: No there wasn't and we just did a service I think, a month or two previous to this, changed the oil, there was no, you know, we generally look at the oil. There was no debris or particles or anything to be found in the oil. I mean, we didn't cut the oil filter apart, perhaps we should have. Maybe we would have seen something, but many times these bearings will fail internally. You know, the bearing will start wearing out and collapsing and then they'll just suddenly give out all in one kind of puff, I guess. Exactly. Yeah. They just kind of explode. So that kind of thing happens.
So you can get magnetic drain plugs, oil, drain plugs, which are a good thing to see if there's any metal debris forming. Really a lot of times there's just no warning. We did have a Boxster once where there was a screeching noise in the engine and we did actually, a bearing was in pretty bad shape. We did actually replace it. The engine seemed to survive, but it wasn't like this where it completely blew apart.
Mark: So what's the way to prevent it from happening from having the grenade explode?
Bernie: You basically need to replace this bearing. I mean, it's that simple. If you don't know when it's been done, get it done. This LN Engineering, they have a couple of different options. They also have a solution where you can actually get a bearing this lubricated with engine oil, which is a more expensive option. I don't know if it's necessarily worth doing, but I'd say it was my own car, I'd figure, you know what I do it. And then if I was going to keep it long enough, I'd say within 10 years, I'd replace it again. That's kind of the way to go. It's a maintenance item and you just got to treat it like that. So if you don't know when it's been done and you can't find any hard evidence that has been done, I would just go ahead and do it. It's expensive, but way cheaper, a fraction of the cost of replacing an engine.
Mark: So little hidden surprises for the 911 and Boxster owners of a certain vintage. How are 911s overall for reliability?
Bernie: Super reliable vehicles. I mean, this is the only thing really that in my opinion, it's really bad about these vehicles. Other than that they're excellent .For a sports car, they run well. They just need some basic service. It's a great car, really overall not that expensive to maintain for what the kind of car it is.
You need some service for your Porsche in Vancouver, give Pawlik Automotive a call. You can book online on the website at pawlikautomotive.com or call ahead. Check when they're actually open. You gotta call and book because they're busy. (604) 327-7112. Or our YouTube channel Pawlik Auto Repair, close to a thousand videos on there all makes and models and types of repairs. Thanks so much for watching. We really appreciate it. Thanks Bernie.
Thanks Mark. Thanks for watching.