Get Your Kicks in a 996


Written by The Staff of Motorsport Marketing

From the May 2016 issue

Posted in Buyer's Guides

Lou Verdiales
Aero Dynamics
213 Cessna Blvd
Port Orange, FL 32128
(386) 304-0380

First, before buying a 996 it’s absolutely essential that you be willing to pay to have a professional inspect the car. Make sure you pick someone who has lots of experience with the 996. Having a service history that your professional can check is also a plus.

Once you’ve verified that the whole car is up to snuff and have it in your garage, we recommend first turning your attention to the suspension. Original components like shocks and bushings are typically completely worn at their current age. Other than the basics, you can install lowering springs and stiffer shocks to match for an even sportier feel. Also keep in mind that a good alignment makes all the difference in the world on these cars. It’ll make the car much more fun and safer to drive.

The second most common upgrade is typically replacing the stock exhaust with an aftermarket setup. Many owners enjoy the better sound and roughly 5-to-6-horsepower gain that can result depending on what system you buy.

Combine that new exhaust with an ECU flash and you could see gains of more than 10 horsepower. That doesn’t sound like too much, but the biggest difference the flash makes is in the torque curve. It also reduces the “throttle-by-wire” lag between the pedal and the stepper motor, which makes for a much more responsive feel and more power gains lower in the rev range. Although the ECU flash is probably the best overall bang-forthe- buck upgrade, it’ll set you back about $1000. There are quite a few companies who provide them, including FVD and Softronic.

If you’re planning on driving your 996 hard, you’ll want to expand the car’s oil capacity by adding the deep sump. Some companies offer a metal spacer that lowers the stock unit; if you use the original sump, make sure to remove it and inspect the inside. The rubber oil-control flaps are mounted to a cast-metal extension with rivets, which have a tendency to disintegrate and clog the sump.

Some owners modify their cars’ intakes. We specifically do not recommend changing anything in this area of the car. Modified intakes have a tendency to have trouble getting cool air, killing performance. They also often cause problems with how the air is directed through the air mass meter. A modified intake might sound better, but the factory system works best and doesn’t cause as many problems.

These cars represented a quantum leap in complexity over the previous model, meaning more sophisticated ABS, traction control and other systems. However, these more capable systems also come with an Achilles’ heel: They require additional maintenance and can lead to higher repair bills than previous generations such as the 993.

As for maintenance, rear main seal leaks are common. There’s a revised seal available that has a Teflon lip instead of the traditional rubber-andspring setup. These seals are the same type found on Cayenne and are much more effective.

As you may know, the 996 was the first generation of Porsche 911 to sport a water-cooled engine. If the water pump hasn’t been changed yet, it should be.

Belt rollers tend to fail. You’ll usually hear a squeaking noise coming from the engine before any catastrophic failure. Locate the roller that’s squeaking and replace it.

Replace the coil every 50,000 to 60,000 miles. While you may not feel a misfire or observe a check engine light, a diagnostic scan may reveal a misfire code. It’s better to replace the coil at this point before the car starts running noticeably worse.

The most important maintenance item is changing oil more frequently than the factory recommends. Oil change intervals of 12 months or 6000 miles are necessary to avoid the somewhat common intermediate shaft failure. You should also check the oil filter elements every 12 months–and before the car goes on track–for metal particles that may hint at this condition. Cars driven harder and more often typically fare better than garage queens.

If your car is running with an original air-oil separator, that’s another item that should absolutely be changed before the car sees a track. It’s a $125 part.

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Reader comments:

markwemple SuperDork
Oct. 13, 2016 10:44 a.m.

Wow, I wish the writer spoke to real owners first. The 996 is by far the cheapest 911 to own with regards to maintenance. To say anything else is ludicrous. Secondly, the oil pan thing is nuts again. Get an X51 pan. It has a better design to prevent oil starvation on track days. Remember these still carry a lot of oil, almost 9 qts. I can go on and on.... I agree with the garage queen analysis. Also, with regards to the pulley and water pump, do those as you would any other car, when they show actual signs of failure. The pulley can be removed and tested for noise and play and the wp, well again, check for bearing noise, leakage, etc. Common sense. The air-oil separator will give you a sign when there is smoke. The coolant reservoir is a PITA to change but should be done every so often. That IS a failure part. ....

Mike Dork
Oct. 13, 2016 9:46 p.m.

Doesn't hurt that a 996 Carrera Coupe for $12k has almost exactly the same curb weight, horsepower and 0-60 as a 718 Cayman.

Huckleberry MegaDork
Oct. 13, 2016 10:04 p.m.

"Oil change intervals of 12 months or 6000 miles are necessary to avoid the somewhat common intermediate shaft failure."

I like how he doesn't bother to mention that the "somewhat common failure" is a tad catastrophic, requires careful monitoring over the life of the car it's the entire reason folks like myself can buy a nice 996 for Yaris money.

markwemple SuperDork
Oct. 13, 2016 10:16 p.m.

A nice 996 is still 20k. More like a high end civic. But, yeah, very cheap for what it is. Remember, though, I'm so is about 5%. Head studs on an air cooled 100%. Non pressure fed tensioners 100%, although, you can drive on them for a little while after they fail. I'm living proof. So is my 76.

markwemple SuperDork
Oct. 13, 2016 10:17 p.m.

Oh and oil changes try 5k and 6 months.

Vigo PowerDork
Oct. 14, 2016 8:57 a.m.
Mike wrote: Doesn't hurt that a 996 Carrera Coupe for $12k has almost exactly the same curb weight, horsepower and 0-60 as a 718 Cayman.

Yes, but... i think midrange turbo torque would honestly make my $12k 996 feel a lot more special. I am spoiled by turbo cars at this point.

singleslammer PowerDork
Oct. 14, 2016 9:01 a.m.

In reply to Vigo:

And Hybrid power, the turbos of the future!!

Mister Fister
Mister Fister New Reader
Oct. 14, 2016 1:28 p.m.

I've had two, they're wonderful. Maintenance was not as bad as the horror stories you hear. Parts are a bit more expensive but if you keep up with routine work (which can almost all be performed on your own with hand tools) you shouldn't have many problems.

Crazy value cars right now.

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