First of all, there’s no need to loose sleep over IMS failures!
There is no quick or easy fix. Like with many aircooled engines, many get torn down and rebuild BEFORE an engine failure so that engines can get upgraded. Short of a pre-emptive rebuild, the best preventative measures that can be taken are to be religious with your maintenance schedule. But keep reading, there’s more that you can do.
What can be done is to change your oil more often. For street cars, we recommend oil changes for the M96 and later engines (as we do for air-cooled engines) every 5,000 miles or 6 months. If you drive short distances frequently or in cold climates, more frequent changes every 3,000 miles or 3 months is advisable.
Use a higher viscosity motor oil. There are several Porsche approved oils that are 5w40. We use and recommend Motul 8100 5w40, which is an excellent Porsche approved lubricant. We recommend Joe Gibbs DT40 for vehicles outside the factory warranty. For track use, we recommend Joe Gibbs Driven XP9.
By no means should you use any oil thinner than a 0w40 – do not use 0w30, 5w30, or 10w30 viscosities! Also, use of a low SAPS oil (has less Zn and P) isn’t recommended for longevity.
Also, make sure you drive your Porsche as it was intended to be driven! Keep the engine’s RPM above 2500 rpm – your IMS bearing will thank you! The faster you spin the IMS bearing, the longer it will last less it will wear, and less lubrication it needs.
With proper lubrication through use of an open bearing exposed to oil in the sump, more frequent oil changes, and spirited driving, longevity of your original IMS can be greatly extended.
For those with MY06-08 intermediate shafts that cannot have their bearings replaced, we recommend to remove the grease seal from the existing ball bearing, which allows for engine oil to lubricate the bearing, but only when doing another procedure like a clutch, flywheel, or rear main seal replacement.
There are a few simple things that can be done next time you’re having your Porsche vehicle serviced to give you some peace of mind before you take the plunge and have an IMS Retrofit™ kit installed on your car.
When doing an oil change, check the filter for any debris whatsoever. Same with the magnetic drain plug. Any sparkly metallic (magnetic) debris means you need to stop driving your car and plan to install an IMS Retrofit™. Even if there is only one piece, it’s a good bet your bearing is failing. It is advised that you pull the oil sump plate to check the sump for additional debris. Here is what IMS bearing debris looks like in the filter once there has been an IMS bearing failure.
Timing is everything. If you wait too long, a catastrophic failure may preclude the ability to replace your IMS bearing with an IMS Retrofit™ kit. Remember, often there is little warning of an impending IMS failure. Bare minimum, you need add a magnetic drain plug and our full-flow filter adapter to ensure that 100% of the oil is filtered and contaminants cannot reenter the engine. This makes for easy inspection for IMS debris at time of performing an oil change.
The magnetic drain plug, spin on oil filter adapter and IMS Retrofit products are all available from the LN Engineering online store.
Any oil leaks at the rear of the engine should be checked out immediately – it is common to think you have a RMS leak, but in fact, a failing bearing can cause the IMS flange seal to leak or center bolt to break.
Lastly, any technician who knows what a failing water pump or idler belt bearing sounds like should be able to use a stethoscope to listen to the IMS for similar problems from the general vicinity of the IMS bearing. If there is any noise that may be IMS related, remove the serpentine belt to isolate idler pulleys, power steering pump, alternator, and even water pump noise. These engines also suffer from cylinder problems that can manifest in noises that can be mistaken as lifter noise, so identifying engine noises is critical to preventing engine failures.