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How to Deal With IMS Bearing Failure in a Porsche

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If you own a Porsche, you have probably heard the term “IMS Bearing Failure.” IMS stands for Intermediate Shaft (Bearing) which supports the intermediate shaft on the flywheel side of the motor. They work to drive the camshafts indirectly off the crankshaft and by using this intermediate shaft, it reduces the speeds of the chains and prolongs their life. The IMS bearing has become a standard build for Porsche’s horizontally-opposed flat 6 engine.

What Models are prone to failure?

Not all models with IMS Bearings are prone to failure. For instance, the water-cooled Turbo, GT2 and GT3 models have the same internal setup as the earlier air-cooled engines and their bearings will rarely fail, or at least not in a way that would result in catastrophic engine failure. At worst, the engine will develop a slight knocking.

However, if you own one of the following, you should probably be on the lookout for an excellent European auto mechanic like the ones at Euro Plus Automotive.

  • Any 986 Boxster models.
  • 987 Cayman & Boxster models up to engine number 61504715
  • Any 996 models (except for GT and Turbo models, as mentioned above.)
  • 997 3.6ltr with M96/05 up to engine number 6950745

What goes wrong with Porsche’s IMS Bearings?

Most cases of IMS bearing failure in Porsche occur due to multiple causes that focus in on the eventual breakdown of the bearing. Normal wear and tear is part of this, but it is not the most common cause. One of the most significant reasons for bearing failure in the IMS is when a high load combines with a lack of lubrication, which causes overheating. The overheated metal in the bearing causes friction and fracturing, leaving pits behind in its wake. These pits accelerate the cycle of wear and tear exponentially, causing premature IMS bearing failure.

The Worst Case Scenario

In the worst of cases, a failed IMS bearing will throw your cam timing off, which will then cause contact between the valve and piston. If this happens, you will have to purchase another core. Otherwise, you will pay a continually increasing core charge from Porsche beyond the cost of the replacement engine.

If you have experienced an IMS bearing failure, there is no turning back. Repairing it requires complete engine disassembly and replacing the intermediate shaft. It often needs a complete rebuild or engine replacement as well. Do not ignore your IMS bearings.

What can you do to fix this problem?

Porsche Emblem Prevention, early detection, and replacement of your IMS bearing before failure are your best options to save you the cost of engine failure. A service technician skilled in European vehicles can help you detect and replace your IMS bearing before it is too late.

There is only one measure to take to prolong the life of your IMS bearings. If you have a model 2006-2008 engine, the grease seals can be removed from the factory IMS Bearings to improve their lubrication and cooling. The only other option is to tear down the engine and install upgraded IMS bearings. If you have an older model (1997-2005), the IMS bearing is accessible without tearing down the engine.

It is important to note that any IMS upgrade you do to your engine must be preventive maintenance. Once your engine fails, replacing the IMS will no longer work. You have to rebuild or replace the entire engine. Otherwise, the new IMS bearing will become contaminated, causing further damage to your engine.

What are the warning signs?

Look for these three warning signs to indicate IMS bearing failure:

  • Metallic debris in the oil filter during an oil change
  • Oil leak at the rear of the engine
  • Knocking and metallic sounds coming from the back of the motor.

Tips to Deal With IMS Bearing Failure in a Porsche

Your IMS Bearing does not have to be an expensive fix, but if you wait too long and ignore the signs, it will be. If you notice any of these signs, call your trusted local Porsche mechanic immediately to get your car checked out. If you are in the San Fernando Valley, Canoga Park, Woodland Hills, or the greater Los Angeles County, CA, check in with Euro Plus Automotive for excellent service on European specialty models.

* Porsche Emblem image credit goes to: tomeng.

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