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The Ultimate Preowned 996 Buying guide.

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Old 03-04-2008, 11:50 AM
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Chads996
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Default The Ultimate Preowned 996 Buying guide.

With prices dropping down to right around reasonable for the preowned 996, I decided to prepare a write-up about finding one and what to expect. The first thing to remember before even thinking about buying a Porsche 996... ...understand that the 996 brand new was a $70K to well over $100K vehicle. Parts and repairs ARE and can be quite expensive. After all, this is not a Camry. With that said...

...I hope this helps folks out there find their dream car.

The 996 Buyer's Guide:

So...you are interested in finding a 1998-2004 996 911 Carrera. Since there are many of these out there, here are some factoids and things to note when finding your car. Before you begin reading, understand this was written by one enthusiast for another. I did my best trying to find accurate information, but more is always available. I will be updating if new information becomes available in the future.

Start here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Porsche_996


The model line-up:

Since this is a non-turbo forum list, we will keep it that. Normally aspirated. Here are the cars that fall into this category:

U.S. Cars:
1998-2001 MkI 996 Carrera 2 & Carrera 4 (3.4L flat six motor with 296hp-300hp)
2002-2004 MkII 996 Carrera 2, Carrera 4 & Carrera 4S (3.6L flat six with 320hp)
2004-2005 MkII 996 Carrera GT3 (3.6L flat six with 380hp)

Side note: Some Special Edition 996's were created. The 2004 40th Anniversary is an excellent example as is the 2000 Millenium Edition. Special models often bring higher prices due to the short production runs. Also, consider that some options are more difficult to find than others. Sunroof delete (only 3 cars known at this point in the U.S.), limited slip differential, and the X51 powerkit (2002-2004 only) are good examples.



Common Model Options to Look For:

1. Tall folks - If you are not into tracking your future 996, look for the following interior - Supple leather seats with full power. These seats have a slightly bit more depth to them due the softer, more plush materials. Believe me, I have tried everything.

2. Full Leather Interiors - Many found the early interior materials to be inferior. The factory's remedy was the Full leather interior. And I have to tell you, these interiors are simply stunning. This option was available on all MY's of this car. Every surface, including the A-c pillars are covered. It is truly worth every penny. HOWEVER - upkeep on this interior is substantially more work. The leather must be protected from drying out and cracking. If you are up for the challenge it is worth it.

3. Limited slip - It is out there, but will take some searching as there are not that many out there. The 996 C2 was the last model in which you could get a limited slip differential on the standard 911. Presently, you can only get the LSD on the GT3 / GT3RS model.

4. Sunroof delete - I am one of the lucky ones with this option. This is extremely rare and hard to find. It took me 6 years to find mine and in that 6 years, it is the only one I found. There are indeed others out there, but truly a tough one. In my opinion....worth EVERY penny.

5. Sport Seats - A very nice addition to any interior. The sport seat offers perforated leather and a wider back rest. They are very comfortable and offer a bit more support. Early versions have manual sliders and powered back rest. Later versions come in all flavors.

6. Tequipment options - The list of Tequipment options is quite substantial. From custom leathers, woods, Carbon fiber, these are all quite desirable to many, not so much to others. Each item adds some flair and value to your purchase. Keep a sharp eye for these.



The Factory Option Codes Sticker:

The options list is a sticker applied by the factory to the 996. It contains all the factory installed options to the car and can be located on the underside of the front bonnet. It is white in color and is usually exactly under the front badge. These options codes can be translated at various places on the internet. Here is one of my favorites:

http://www.kindel.com/porsche/options.asp



Myths about the 996:

1. Engines regularly blow up. - Well, what do you say? Partly true? False? No one is certain. One thing is...negative information has a terrible tendency to be more viral than positive. There have been a few out there that have posted their troubles on the forums. I will caution those who read these posts to understand that some of these cars were purchased without a proper PPI. These problems could have potentially been avoided with a proper inspection of the car. Even with that said, the numbers (based on owner reports) thus far show that the numbers are VERY few when viewed on the total cars produced. Do we know the total number of failures? No. Is one engine more likely to go over the other? No. Owners have reported failures in both the 3.4L & the 3.6L. Personally speaking, I am inclined to believe the failure rate is rather low. But that is simply my opinion. Besides...as we all know, problems occur with mass produced products. There are always lemons. Maintenance is the key. Remaining vigil and staying on top of the repairs, and oil changes, etc. How is that different from any other Porsche?

2. The RMS (rear main seal) issue is a deal breaker. HECK NO! Repairs are available, and are not bad in terms of cost. HOWEVER, make sure that the RMS issue on the car you are looking at has been addressed. If oil is literally running out of the car and owner had no intentions on fixing...walk away. Good chance things will be a lot more worse that just an RMS.

3. The 996 is a maintenance nightmare - false. The 996 is one of the easiest cars to work on in Porsche's history. As a result, repairs are less in costly than that of previous 911's.

4. The 3.4L engine is problematic and should be avoided at all cost - False. While the 3.4L's seem to have experienced a good amount of failures, the numbers are still quite low. The engines can be made more reliable with minor oiling modifications. In addition, it is widely known within the Club racing tech circles that the 3.4L motor can be a wonderful racing motor as the shorter stroke can give higher revs and can be quite powerful when tuned properly.



Items to check on with each year:

1. Rear Main Seal (RMS) - 3.4L & 3.6L models have issues with leaking seals. Have these checked. The factory does have updates for this item.
2. Intermediate Shaft bearing. This is located directly under the RMS on the crankshaft. The factory does have a bearing replacement and modification to the shaft. If having the RMS checked, do this as well.
2. Front steering rack and boots - are they leaking?
3. Coolant tank and cap - These have been updated. If they are leaking, replace them.
4. Transmission. Does the car shift smoothly. 2nd gear syncos have a tendency of going bad in cars that are abused. While not a prominent item, it is something to be aware of.
5. Brakes - how much wear? Do they need pads? Rotors?
6. Clutch - if abused, this will wear VERY quickly. A 3rd gear test (from a stand still) is a good one to check for slippage.
7. Electronic gear - some switches have been known to wear out. Higher mileage cars may have a couple items to replace.
8. Window regulators - Higher mileage cars could potentially have worn out power windows. Be sure to check the operation of them.
9. Regular maintenance schedule - Has it been maintained? Oil service in particular.
10. Have your inspection shop scan the OBD Computer for Type II over-revs. Type II over-rev is the bad kind. Meaning the engine was in an over-rev condition off throttle. (shifting down) If the engine has rev's to the limiter no big deal, IMO. That's what the limiter is there for. To prevent damage.

Overall, these are great cars. There are quite a few owners on the Rennlist with mileage well over 65K. However, as a reminder please note this is a 911. And this mean Porsche has a significant markup on parts and service for these cars. Maintenance on these cars is by no means "cheap." A properly maintained 996 will give you many years of enjoyable driving. Not keeping up with maintenance schedules or fixing small problem, could lead to costly repairs down the road. As a general assumption, always buy the newest model Porsche you can afford. The factory made improvements to the model every year of production. So, unless you have your heart set on a particular year, buy as new as you can afford (assuming condition, of course).

For more information on these cars a wonderful FAQ was written about modifications and general items:

https://rennlist.com/main996faq/faq.htm



Tips to Consider When Buying a Preowned 996:

Side Note: This is my personal preferred method of buying a Porsche. I am sure there are others out there doing this method differently. With, five Porsches under my belt with only the 1st one being a problem (lesson learned ), this method has worked extremely well for me over the years.


1. My first, and most important advice - find a dependable, skilled Independant Porsche Specialist to perform a PRE-PURCHASE INSPECTION or PPI near the car you have selected. This will be the BEST money you ever spent. Be sure to have the shop perform a solid checklist and have them send it to you. This will document the inspection and provide you with a detailed list of items that may need to be addressed. I do NOT advise on using the Previous Owners shop. Pick one on your own and work out the details with the owner. I will often use smaller items like tires or light maintenance as a bargaining tool. If the tires needed cost $1000, take a $1000 off the price.

Most Previous Owners are happy to bring their car in. If they balk at the idea...I would walk from that car. My preferred method is to send a $500-1000 deposit that is contingent on the PPI. If the car fails the inspection - I cancel the check and walk. Simple as that.

2. Use your head and not your heart when buying a Porsche. I know this is often easier said than done. Do your very best to listen to your gut. Research and learn everything you can to get yourself acquainted with these cars. Knowledge is a great tool for negotiation as well. The more you know, the better chance you will have at getting a good deal and a great car.

3. Finding cars. There are many 996's located across the U.S. I always look for my car's all over the country. Many of my best finds have been in remote locations. As an added bonus, my wife and I have had some great adventures driving our new car home from across the country. If you do not wish to drive, shipping cars is quite easy as well. Be sure to search out a recommended, quality carrier.

4. The previous owner. I ALWAYS like to talk to these people. Are they car enthusiasts? Do they know about their cars? Or, is this guy a poser who simply knows nothing? These questions will tell you if the car has been taken car of. My personal choice is to buy a car from a PCA member or a full Porsche enthusiast. These folks love their cars and it truly shows.

5. Buy from a dealer? My personal preference is no. Why? Often the prices are inflated and the car may simply be an auction car with an obscure history. HOWEVER - there are some VERY reputable pre-owned dealers out there who offer CPO cars and good pricing. If you are comfortable with that direction, that is your discretion. However, I advise checking out the dealer before purchasing. That "Buy here, Pay Here" dealer is NOT the place to buy your Porsche.

6. Mileage. This is often debated. My preference is to find a lighter to middle mileage example. Nothing less than 25K and nothing more then 50K mile on the odometer. Why? Anything less than 20-25K leads me to believe the car has been sitting. (again speak to the Previous Owner) Letting a vehicle sit is one the the worst things that can happen to any machine. Condensation, oxidation, the elements and time will ruin many of the internal components. I learned this hard lesson on my 1st Porsche. It was a 1988 944 Turbo that sat for 5 years in a conditioned garage. $4000 in maintenance costs later, the car was back to shape. Don't make that same mistake I did. On the other side, cars with higher mileage have a tendency to be properly maintained and "fresh." Please note - it is my personal preference to buy performance cars that are less than 50K miles. While there are some excellent examples, previous experience has taught me to look for the car with miles in the middle. 30-40K is my magic number for me.

6. Take your time. Don't be in a rush to find that car. There are plenty out there. Pick your color and the primary options you want and go hunting. I have often found the hunt to be as fun as buying. My present car took me 6 years to find. Be patient. It will be worth your time.

7. Enjoy yourself. After all, you're buying a Porsche. Not many people in this great world can afford to do that. Enjoy the experience.

Lastly, I am sure I could keep adding things to this list. The points above are my basic "Porsche Bible" for buying a used performance car. Everyone has had their share of bad experiences. Myself included. Learn from those, take these points and go find that perfect car.

Enjoy your Porsche and keep the shiny side up.

best,
Chad


Information Resources:

www.pca.org
www.rennlist.com
www.wikipedia.org
www.renntech.org
1998-2004 Porsche 996 Carrera 2 Workshop manuals
www.porsche.com/usa/
"Porsche: The Essence of Performance" ę2000 Publications Intl.
"Excellence" Magazine - Bruce Anderson's Market Report
Porsche 996 The Essential Companion - by Adrian Streather

Last edited by Chads996; 05-18-2008 at 10:47 AM.
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Old 03-04-2008, 12:04 PM
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Folks: Please add any other items to look for if I missed some. I will update the list as needed.

C.
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Old 03-04-2008, 12:33 PM
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I'd add - ask the owner where the car was serviced last by Porsche - call the dealership and ask the service manager for the full service history on the car - tells you a whole lot of useful stuff you'd want to know...

Comes in pages like this

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Old 03-04-2008, 12:37 PM
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i will scan the 2 page porsche ppi report when i got home tonight.
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Old 03-04-2008, 12:37 PM
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When were the coolant tanks updated. I have an 03 that leaks. Thanks.
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Old 03-04-2008, 12:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Trj View Post
When were the coolant tanks updated. I have an 03 that leaks. Thanks.
Cap was replaced early on, but the tanks all have the split/leak issue I believe
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Old 03-04-2008, 01:03 PM
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Not sure of this board's protocol...but if there is a way to "pin" this to the top of the board.....I would like to request it.......this is good stuff that will only get better as the "experts" add to it.....thank-you so much.....
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Old 03-04-2008, 01:11 PM
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nice....

'05 C4S is a 996 MKII as well.

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Old 03-04-2008, 01:11 PM
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Thanks for this post. Insight appreciated!
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Old 03-04-2008, 01:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Slakr View Post
Not sure of this board's protocol...but if there is a way to "pin" this to the top of the board.....I would like to request it.......this is good stuff that will only get better as the "experts" add to it.....thank-you so much.....
the mod is missing for years in 996 forum
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Old 03-04-2008, 01:25 PM
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Originally Posted by cdodkin View Post
I'd add - ask the owner where the car was serviced last by Porsche - call the dealership and ask the service manager for the full service history on the car - tells you a whole lot of useful stuff you'd want to know...

Comes in pages like this

Since most cars are now being maintained by Indy's, I think requesting the maintenance records applies to this. Even with my own cars, I have always kept a the shop records...even from Porsche Dealers.

This would likely apply to newer cars. However, I stand by my recommendation of buying a car that has paperwork with it.

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Old 03-04-2008, 01:38 PM
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Wasn't the first year 1999 in this country?
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Old 03-04-2008, 01:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Chads996 View Post
Since most cars are now being maintained by Indy's, I think requesting the maintenance records applies to this. Even with my own cars, I have always kept a the shop records...even from Porsche Dealers.

This would likely apply to newer cars. However, I stand by my recommendation of buying a car that has paperwork with it.

C.
Agreed, however, any warranty work done on the car can be accessed from any Porsche dealership - this could be critical when looking at earlier model years, as they may have had warranty engine replacements, RMS, IMS etc etc, and this would still be on file.

Even if the owner has no paper records to view.
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Old 03-04-2008, 01:42 PM
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Originally Posted by VGM911 View Post
Wasn't the first year 1999 in this country?
Yes...technically. I believe there are a couple 1998 models from press runs that are floating about.

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Old 03-04-2008, 01:44 PM
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Originally Posted by cdodkin View Post
Agreed, however, any warranty work done on the car can be accessed from any Porsche dealership - this could be critical when looking at earlier model years, as they may have had warranty engine replacements, RMS, IMS etc etc, and this would still be on file.

Even if the owner has no paper records to view.
Agreed. However, I do still advise: No records, no deal.

But this will also fall onto how the PO acts. Use discretion and your knowledge.

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