Sales debate: Is a 997.1 worth the risk over a 996 with IMS upgrade?

In recent months, 996 Carrera values have spiked upwards to the point where a good 996 sits at a similar price to the newer first generation 997. The former’s IMS problems have been serially discussed by owners, specialists and internet experts alike.

Yet the 997.1’s M97 engine is not without its own problems. Is the newer 911 worth the risk over an 996 with an improved IMS, though?

Charles Navarro, co-owner of IMS bearing specialist, LN Engineering, has “always advised potential purchasers to buy as new a car as possible with as low mileage as possible.”

His ideal car would be a “2005 997 with the single row 6204 series bearing that could be retrofitted with the IMS solution.” This is due to the larger diameter 6305 series bearing on 2006 to 2008 model year cars that removes the possibility of safely replacing the bearing.


Navarro points out though that, in lieu of an IMS retrofit, it is possible to “remove the grease seal” from these later 997s’ bearings. “If the bearing hasn’t begun to fail this should be enough to ensure it lives,” he explains.

IMS is not the only problem for the 997, though, as Navarro points out that on his “perfect candidate” 2005 997, a bearing replacement would also be complemented by the fitment of a “genuine Porsche water pump and a low temperature thermostat.”

The LN Engineering boss says, “Pulling the sump and inspecting the oil filter should be the bare minimum that is done to qualify a vehicle for purchase.”

This is a view shared by UK specialists Autofarm (a firm that does its fair share of IMS work). “The problem with 997s revolves around piston damage and bore scoring,” explains proprietor, Mikey Wastie.


“We see more 997s here at Autofarm with cylinder issues than IMS problems,” he continues. That’s good news for those that are worried about IMS issues on the M97 engine but, according to Wastie, it’s still not good news for your wallet.

“The issue is, a lot of the 997s we see at Autofarm have already had repairs but they’ve usually only had one cylinder repaired previously, not all six. We always propose fitting all six,” Autofarm’s manager explains.

“Cutting corners always ends up costing more in the long run.” It’s for this reason that Wastie would rather “go for a repaired 996.” The 997 is the better car in his eyes but “there is that risk of problems if it hasn’t been sorted.”

Whichever route you decide to take, it’s imperative that you carry out a proper pre-purchase inspection, and factor in some extra money in your budget for repairs and maintenance in the long run.

For market advice on any generation or style of Porsche 911, check out our full selection of sales debates, where we ask the 911 experts the pertinent market questions so you don’t have to.

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