Porsche 911 (996 series) Buyers Guide – carphile.co.uk


Hi I am Adam Caulfield I’m the director of Cavendish porsche, based in Nottingham we are an independent Porshe specialist. I’ve been buying and selling Porsches now for about eight years. I’ve been an avid fan of Porsches since my mid-twenties. The great thing about the 996 right now is that it’s an affordable entry to 911 ownership it’s a great piece of engineering despite some of the things you may have read on the internet. The first thing I always start with is the exterior I walk around the car i look at the general condition of it. How does it look like? What’s the first impression that it gives me? Does it look like a clean example? Then I look a little closer. Are there any signs of of paint work? It might have been painted in the past, which is fine, most cars have had paint at some point in time. However, if it has had it has it been done sympathetically? Are the gaps between the panels, are they even throughout? What’s the tread on the tyres like? Put your finger in, feel for the wear bar. See how much tread you’ve got left on your tyres. Look through the alloys, look at the brakes. Is there a big lip on the disks? Do the pads look heavily worn? All indications of how well the car’s been maintained. It’s important to check the condition of the alloys obviously it’s difficult to see if it’s buckled, you’ll feel this on the test drive but visually, look at the condition of it. Is there any scuffs, scrapes, any corrosion on on the alloys? Are they split rim? Are they polished? Because polished alloys are expensive to refurbish, where as painted alloys are a lot cheaper. If it’s just the faces, you can budget on about 50 pounds per alloy to put it right. If it’s a polished alloy, then it needs to be sent off and diamond cut at a specialist and this can be very very expensive. So make sure you’re happy with the condition of the alloy and make sure there’s not too much corrosion on the alloy as well. The interiors can, funny enough, be one of the marks and things to rectify if they’re in shoddy condition if you’re buying a car but has a light color interior for example such as a gray kerr they don’t tend to wear as well although certainly harder to keep up with so what does it look like? Does it look shabby? Are you happy with it? Are there any scratches? Are there any tears or wear to the bolsters? This can be quite expensive to to rectify. Then once I sit in the cabin I just do some simple tests, some common-sense things really. Do the windows operate? The indicators, the stereo, sat-nav if it has one. Just check the electrics, just go through the car, make sure everything works as it should. check through the service history, check through its book make sure is it an original? Open it up look on the first page see if it’s got the factory sticker at the front. If it has it will have the V.I.N. number clearly printed across it. Check that with the V.I.N. number on the screen then turn to the stamps, has it been serviced to manufacturers specification? If it’s an early 996 it has to have a minor and a major every 20,000 miles or two years, whichever comes first. We do it alternate, but then it needs to have an annual service on top of that. If it’s a facelift, from 2002 onwards, you don’t have to bother with the annual service but it needs to have been serviced at least every two years or twenty thousand miles, whichever comes first. Make sure those stamps exist, because that can have a massive impact on its value. If it has its old MOT’s and some some old service invoices, all the better. Anything that can back up its service history, will help when you eventually come to sell on the car. Mileage on a 996 will have a real impact on its value. I wouldn’t necessarily be to put off by high mileage car as long as there is strong evidence that it’s been well maintained throughout its life and all the things that could wear through time, have been changed at some point. Such as a clutch , suspension components, brakes, tyres. Common-sense items, just make sure that they’ve been done, make sure you’ve done your homework and as long as it stacks up don’t be put off by a high mileage car as long as its price correctly for its miles. A test drive will give a lot away about the car. Firstly, it’s imperative that you test-drive it. Can you get on with the car? Do you like the feel of it? It might be the first time you’ve ever driven a 996 or a Porsche for that matter, but when you do there’s a set number of things you need to be looking out for. Firstly, how does the car handle? Is it pulling to the side? Is it driving nice? Is it driving tight? If it’s a manual does it go through the gears smoothly? There’s no crunching, there’s no notchy-ness. What does the clutch feel like if it’s a manual? Is it biting high? Does it feel heavy? Can you hear at low speeds any knocking or any creaking? Because if you can especially if you go over say speed bumps that’s a sign that could be a problem with the suspension. All these little indicators are telling you that there are issues and there are things that need to be looked out for, need to be attended to to make the car right. So a test drive can give a lot of way about the car. When the car is up to temperature, so you need to make sure you’ve given it a good old drive, driven it for a while, the coolant guage should be roughly at twelve o’clock. If it’s running any hotter than that then there’s an issue with the coolant. On the oil pressure, when it’s up to temperature and it’s at idle you really want it to be between one and two bars. When you’re at about 4,000 revs you want it to be four to five bars. What you’ll notice when you first turn the car on and the engine is cold that the pressure will run higher, that’s fine, that’s normal it’s because the oil is thicker and it thins off as the engine gets hotter. When checking the gearbox and clutch on a manual vehicle, you always want to check to see it goes into each gear nicely, smoothly with no crunching. The manual gearboxes were prone for synchros two to wear, so particularly check the second gear, make sure that it goes in well. With your clutch, if it’s heavy that doesn’t necessarily mean the clutch is wearing out, it just means it can be old and it’s got a lazy pressure plate. We want to check for how high the clutch is biting as the higher it bites, the more worn that clutch is. Again, you know you’re into eight hundred to a thousand pounds for a clutch replacement so it’s something you really want to do. On a Tiptronic car, obviously there’s no clutch to be concerned about, so that’s one thing that we don’t have to worry about. But make sure again that it goes through the gears ok. Look on the dash because it’s automatic and make sure it goes through all the gears. It’s quite normal to start off from 2nd gear from a standing start it’s not a fault, it’s a characteristic of the gearbox. The tiptronic gearboxes are pretty robust and don’t usually have any major issues but they can be prone to leaking, so again stick your head under the car if you can, have a good look at that gearbox and just see if there’s any leaks there. Because again, that can be quite an expensive repair, depending where the leak is. Another thing to check with a 996 is the air-conditioning. They all have it so check that it chills down, it gets nice and cold. Sit in the cabin, put it down onto its highest setting on the air-con and it should be ice-cold. If it’s not ice cold, then there is an issue that needs remedying. A lot of people tell you it’s re-gassing but it’s very seldom you have to re-gas the system on Porsches, it usually means there’s a leak. Nine times out of ten, not always, the leak exists in the condensers. Now they’re located at the front of the vehicle. There’s two, one either side of the vehicle. What you need to do, is look at the front bumper, look at each corner, look at the opening and you’ll see what looks like a little radiator. That’s your condenser for your air-con. Can you see any signs of fluid? Is it leaking? They are prone to hold the leaves in that area and the leaves rot through the bottom, so you find they leak at the seams. Or stone chips, stone chips can hit the radiators and burst them. If that’s the case, again you’re looking at a few hundred quid to replace the condensers and to re-gas the system. Check the mufflers, the exhaust mufflers at the back of the vehicle in each corner. Because they’re called a clamshell design, they’re essentially welded together and the seams are prone to rotting. So just look at the conditions of the seams, see if have rotted through because once they split and they blow they are very expensive to put right. When looking at a 996 cabriolet and you are checking the roof, you need to make sure the operation works properly, does it open properly? Does the oyster shell lift and as it should correctly Does the roof close properly? When you first unlatch it, do the windows drop? Because sometimes the windows can fail and they don’t drop properly so you can’t shut the door properly. Check for these things, as long as they work properly then all should be well. If you’re buying a 996 targa, make sure the roof works because they can be problematic and if there is a problem with the roof they are expensive to remedy, so just make sure it opens properly. Does the blind open-and-shut correctly? Does the glass slide back all the way? And does that close properly? Are there any funny noises when its opening and shutting and also check when you’re driving the vehicle, test driving the vehicle, for the wind noise, you will get a bit more wind noise than you will with a coupe but it shouldn’t be excessive. When buying a 996 the options that are on that car will reflect in its value, its screen price, the more options, the more expensive the car will be. Now consider are these options that i want? Do i need them? Because at the end of the day you’re buying it because it’s a sports car and it’s a Porsche. Some options, such as sat-nav, cruise control, switchable sports exhaust, sports suspension. They’re very desirable but they will ultimately cost you more money because the car will be of a higher price, because it will be worth more, so do you need them? But options are a big thing with Porsches in respect of how much the car is worth. If you see anything on the vehicle that you think is aftermarket ask yourself you okay with that? It might be that you are, it might be that they’ve upgraded the sat-nav, because they’re not the best if I’m being honest with you, and they may have put an aftermarket sat-nav in. If you’re okay with it fine, you’re buying the car at the end of the day, but make sure it works and functions as it should. Ask the customer if they have the the original part, because if they do, it’s quite nice to include that as part of the sale because one day you might want to sell this this car too and if you, at least you’re giving your future buyer the option of taking the car back to factory if they want to. If you’re serious about buying a 996, you’ve probably already done some of your homework online and read a little bit about IMS failures. An IMS failure is essentially a baring, that over time through oil seals failing and oil contaminating the grease in the baring causes the steel barings inside the baring to collapse. It’s very difficult to detect an IMS problem because the IMS either fails or it works. Simple as that. The good news is, there are a lot of solutions out there that can help alleviate the problem with the IMS. Such as ceramic bearings, oil-fed IMS solutions. They’re all very well documented on the internet. But to put it in perspective, the amount of IMS failures we see a year are probably 1 to 2 and we see a lot of cars. The other potential issue is bore scoring. Again like the IMS the bore scoring, it is an issue, its thankfully something that can be remedied should it happen but again like the IMS, there’s a heck of a lot of 996’s out there that never ever have an issue so please put it in perspective. With bore scoring there are a few things we can check for, or that you can check for without needing a specialist. Things like can you hear a ticking noise? A low end ticking noise, which is what you’ll get with advanced bore scoring. Look at the back of the tailpipes, look at the left side bank. Is it sootier than the right side bank? If it is, chances are it’s picked up on a cylinder or two. If you want to be really belt and braces about it, take it to a specialist, they can check those things for you that i’ve already mentioned plus they can do a borescope at your request to see if any scoring exists. Another important point to make on bore scoring, is that on the 996’s, on the GT cars and turbos they don’t suffer from it because it’s a completely different block. You’ve probably read about RMS leaks, now they’re not dangerous to the car, the car’s not going to blow up or do anything silly but a leak is a leak and it needs attending to. So what you need to be doing is, stick your head underneath the back of the vehicle and try to locate where the gearbox meets the engine and where the two meet they have a seal between them that’s the RMS, the rear main seal, that’s what it stands for. Is there an excessive amount of oil at that point? If so, that’s something that needs attending and it can be several hundreds of pounds to put right. If there’s a little bit of misting, in all honesty it happens and it’s typical of all Porsches, you’re just looking to see how bad that leak is. Always ask the question if it has its spare key because a spare key on a Porsche is very expensive. You have to buy the head, the blade and then you have to have it coded so you can easily into well over 200 pounds to have a replacement key. When you’re looking at a Carrera 4 there isn’t a great deal of difference, when you first look at it to a Carrera 2. A Carerra 4S is easy because it’s a wide-body so you look at it, you can see the difference straightaway. But the differences are subtle. How do you know the seller hasn’t just put a 4 badge on the back of the car because people do that. Well there’s a few things to look for. Open the front bonnet and have a look at the size of the boot it’s considerably smaller to a Carrera 2, because it needs to make room for the front diff. Also look at the calipers, the calipers should be silver. Familiarize yourself with the front of the Carrera 2, look on some of the websites to see what a front bumper looks like on a Carrera 2, because on a Carrera 4 it’s a slightly different style and of course the obvious is check the logbook or what you could do is you could call Porsche, ring any Porsche dealer and give them the VIN number and they will give you the the options and the make, model, and year of the vehicle. We get many customers that come to us it happens day in and day out, where they’ve gone and bought a car and then they’ve asked for us to inspect it. And then they are surprised to find that there are things that need to be sorted. So you don’t want to do that. Really the key is, put your hand in your pocket, spend a couple of hundred quid, find a local specialist, local to where the car is. Get the car to them, don’t get them to the car, because they can do a lot more by getting that car on a ramp. Have it inspected and it’ll save you a lot of money in the long run doing it that way, rather than the other way around.

100 comments

Finally a 996 correct review! no emotional criticism, "just" a pure mechanical key points! Excellent work. Thank you.​

This is the most informative 996 video I have seen on YouTube! As someone looking for their first Porsche I have favorited this video and will use it for reference! Cheers from the US!

Not paying $3,500-4,000 for a new clutch and IMS upgrade is insanity!…..the initial price of purchase for the car is VERY reasonable!!

Outstanding! Thanks you for posting such a helpful Buyers guide! Another vote for a 997.1 and .2 guide in the future

For all of us concerned about the Porsche IMS Bearing issue – I found a very informative article from Autohaus Hamilton in Australia about the IMS.  The article also lists all the models and engines (with engine numbers) that are affected.  To read the article just type in “Autohaus Hamilton IMS” into google.  The Porsche models that are prone to IMS failure and should be replaced are: – All 986 Boxster models. – 987 Cayman & Boxster models up to engine number 61504715 – All 996 models (not including: GT and Turbo models) – 997 3.6ltr with M96/05 up to engine number 6950745

Good video for a checklist of things to look for, but not hugely specific to the 996…could have used the same script for most other vehicles. Check the mufflers…..check the paint, check stuff works etc…if its a targa check the roof works…..pretty obvious.

A lot of the advice in the beginning of this video is quite standard as far as checking out a car for purchase goes. It does make up for it with more specific advice towards the middle and end. I've heard tell that Porsche dealers include checking the IMS Bearing during Pre-Purchase Inspections. The 996 I am looking at is 100 miles from the nearest dealer. How would I (or how would I instruct a shop to) check the IMS Bearing?

I purchased a 2001 996 Cab recently. One owner, Florida car, garaged with 28K. All service records and obvious pride of ownership. Not a parking lot type dent anywhere. I couldn't be happier with the purchase. I went from a Boxster, which, for the money, is a great entry level sports car. That said, the difference between the 2 vehicles is substantial. I paid 26K for the 996 which I thought, given it's pedigree, was a reasonable price. This video was, in my view, excellent and I believe represents a series of important things a prospective buyer should be aware of. Many thanks for a professional production. I look forward to watching more of your videos.

Truly excellent video with some invaluable information and tips. Thank you so much for this. It is very helpful.

damn this is very very informative, this guy knows his stuff. I will use this video if I ever have the opportunity to buy a 996

This is absolutely excellent. Just wish I was in the UK so I could use you guys. Or, rather, I wish you were in here in Florida in the U.S. 🙂

Adam, Armed with your comments I have a dilemma. I would like your opinion. Is it worth the extra money to purchase a 2004 Porsche 911 Turbo Cabriolet with or without X50 option? The car will not be tracked. Just enjoyed. Thanks! Phil

This is a very informative guide for someone looking to buy their first Porsche. Thanks so much for posting. Cheers from the USA.

Honestly I absolutely love the porsche 996. I am too young to drive yet but am already dreaming of owning one 5 to 10 years down the road. It is the perfect good looking sports car that can be (somewhat) daily driveable.

Wow, this was incredibly informative- the only thing is I just still cannot tell the difference on the front clip from C2 to C4

Excellent advice. I would add to the tire inspection, not only looking at the tread depth, but the brand of tire (known or knock-off) and correct sizes.

Exhaust studs!!! If you need or want to change the exhaust system these need to be undone, they usually break and it's a much harder job than the IMS…I know I did both. If I buy another M96 car I will ask for those to be undone in my presence. Change them to Stainless asap.

Excellent video and very well presented – went directly to search for Cavendish afterwards. …..

Kudos!… Excellent video and very informative. Thank you for taking the time to make it. You have a new subscriber!

This was really great video from 996! Thank you very much. The rhythm of the speech was perfect, and it was easy to stay focused for this complete length.

Nice job… Well done putting the IMS and cylinder scoring into perspective. So true!
And, now I can start saying "Porsh" instead of pronouncing it as a 2 syllable word. I guess I have been pronouncing it wrong for so long!

An absolutely superb buyers guide video which covers everything I could think of. I would certainly not hesitate using Cavendisk Porscha Ltd having seen that video. Great job and thx!

Do not buy the first car you test drive of that model.
If you are looking for a 996, make sure to drive a couple of them so you have a frame of reference.
It's no use driving one and thinking it feels good, because your daily driver is a ford focus and obviously even a slightly worn 996 will feel good in comparison.

Must drive a few comparable cars, same model to get an idea of condition.

great video and an even better buyers guide review (liked and saved). im planning to get my 1st porsche in about a year and doing researches on the 996, 997, 987 and 981. since this will be my 1st porsche, im leaning towards 987 first and see how i like it long term.

What a brilliant, clear, no nonsense overview. I have subd I hope you’ve done the same for the BOXSTER ranges. Thank you. Brilliantly done

Great video. Good tips for buying any car, not just the 996.

I bought mine site unseen lol. Basically just found the cheapest manual coupe I could find. Luckily it only had a minor collision
The (second hand) dealer I bought it from told me it hadn't been in an accident, but there's clearly been a repair made in the front facia and radiator support. Somehow it seems like the radiator itself was unharmed, but it damaged the radiator fan ballast? And that disabled the high speed functionality? That's what the Porsche dealer told me, not sure how that works.
Although the car had a drivetrain warrantee, they did not cover the misfire that existed on 5 of the 6 cylinders and having no written warrantee, there was no way I could prove it should be covered under their warrantee, but after 2 weeks of arguing with them, They agreed to replace the RMS? Not sure why, but hey, free work is free work.
It had a suspension squeak, but no big deal, I was planning to get coilovers anyway… $2,600 later… and around $1,500 for misc maintenance. Now I have a pretty decent car I think.

Moral of the story, If you can get a warrantee, get it on paper.

Great tips for us looking to buy a used 911 for the first time. Thank you for an awesome video!!! Very informative.

Thanks for this Adam, I've just bought a 996 C4S and your advice and knowledge really helped me to make an informed decision 🙂

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