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August 12, 2006

Engine failed

Driving along, suddenly no power, runs rough, then a small black poof of smoke followed by the biggest white smoke cloud you ever saw from the engine. It looks like an F1 engine exploding. Pull over and the engine shuts down all by itself after every light on the dash came on. Run out of the car. The smoke clears slowly and I realize it's not on fire. A little smoke continues to come out of the right exhaust.

I opened the engine cover and it looks really clean which is no surprise as it's just been steam cleaned. Engine looks perfect visually. Looks like there is coolant in the engine oil though and the coolant tank looks empty.

After a couple of hours, you can see a waxy coolant in the engine oil. I brought it to the dealer who tore it down and the cylinder wall has broken off and "It's the worst we've ever seen!". So, the warranty company looks like they will pay for a new engine which is around 15k.

So, looks like I have a new car now, new transmission, new DME, and new engine. But, the whole reliability thing is beginning to get on my nerves, this is a Porsche not a Ferrari.

Don't know what I'm doing, I may sell it or not.

I did a little research around the web and it looks like the 996 engines and trannies are suspect. They were never raced and as a result are not 'developed'. The GT3 and turbo engines are supposed to be overengineered and very reliable even on the track. The normal 996 engines seem to be lacking in terms of engineering and durability if you drive it hard.

August 12, 2006 | Permalink


I've read your blogs over the last year, and I have enjoyed a somewhat parallel experience to yours in terms of making what I thought were well-considered changes to my 996. These included PSS9s, GT3 swaybars, B&M shortshifter, BBS RSGT 18" wheels, Pilot Sort Cups, GT3 seats, six-point harness, numerous alignment changes, frequent oil changes, timely brake fluid and brake pad changes, and the installation of a hot-lap timer. I finally thought I had arrived. After 15 driving events I was becoming fairly competent in my lovely '02 996 C2 at Willow Springs Raceway. Then, during my first session at the track the other day, out of the blue came the huge billowing smoke clouds. The engine, with 45,000 miles on it, had failed catastrophically. I was totally unprepared for this. I had been told that a dry sump engine was better than a wet sump engine for track longevity, but virtually every "expert" I spoke with said my 996 was made to run at the track and could easily withstand for years any stress I would put on it at occasional DE events. Fortunately, I too have an extended warranty which will cover an engine replacement, although there may be a struggle over "remanufactured" vs "used".

But it's kind of devastating. I expected so much more out of my engine. If I had the money, I'd trade up for an '04 GT3. What have you decided to do?

Thanks for all your interesting posts, by the way.

Posted by: Juancho | Dec 3, 2006 1:39:21 AM

I also just lost a 996 (2001) engine. I have never raced the car, nor have I done any "performance" driving with it. I was going 35 when the engine light and a lot of smoke came on. I am under warranty as the car was certified pre-owned. I understand it is a 20k failure. I am not sure what to do as I don't want the liability when the car is off warranty, but I like the car. Do you have an aftermarket warranty? What do they run?


Posted by: mike colbert | Dec 17, 2006 2:13:56 PM

I do have an aftermarket extended warranty with no deductible. It cost me $2700. I received a new remanufactured engine that, including labor charges, would have cost me $12,000. Buying the extended warranty was one of the smartest things I've ever done.

Posted by: juancho | Dec 28, 2006 2:09:28 AM

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