A tidy Porsche 996 can be had for the price of a family hatchback
8 March 2010

A tidy Porsche 911 can be had for the same money as a family hatchback - but if you're buying one here's some tips on what to look out for.

Our expert guide is Paul Stephens, an independent Porsche sales and servicing specialist based on Essex.

See the Porsche 911 buying guide pictures

"The early 3.4-litre cars are more frail than the post-2001 3.6s," he says. "The engine's the problem. They develop cracked cylinder heads, dropepd cylinder liners and cracked intermediate driveshafts, all completely unpredictably.

"I've heard of scrapped engines at as little as 15,000 miles. And replacing an engine is a £10,000 job, unless you can find a crashed donor car. The only way to be sure you are buying a car with a good engine is to have it inspected."


Don’t buy a 3.4 before you’ve had it inspected. Rear main oil seal and intermediate shaft seal also have a limited life; those are £540, every couple of years. Air mass meters and ignition coils are troublemakers, too.


Leaf build-up inside any 911’s air intakes is to be avoided; it causes the radiators to corrode, and they cost £505 for a pair. A new coolant reservoir will cost you £293.

Air conditioningTry the air conditioning in the car you’re looking at. If it doesn’t blow cold, you’ll probably have to fork out for a new air-con condenser - and it’ll cost you a painful £570.


If your car is creaking, it’ll probably need new front suspension wishbones; Porsche calls them coffin arms, and charges £546 for a pair. A regularly used 996 will need new ones every three years or so.

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Brakes, wheels, tyres

Brake discs can crack and warp, and four new ones will set you back £622. A set of pristine alloys are worth paying a £500 premium for; they’re often symptomatic of a cared-for car. If the front wheels look like they’re running too much negative camber, the car will need new coffin arms.

Which version to buy?

At this age, mileage and condition determine price, not the model. Don’t necessarily pay more for a C4 than a C2, or for a convertible over a coupe. Manuals cost more than Tiptronics, but new clutches are £1000 a pop. If you’re buying a convertible, remember that the hard-top should come included; don’t be conned into paying extra for it.

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8 March 2010

[quote Autocar]"The early 3.4-litre cars are more frail than the post-2001 3.6s," he says. "The engine's the problem...[/quote]

Some of the points mentioned here make me wonder why Porsche have a reputation for good reliability - unpredictable major engine failures and new suspension wishbones every 3 years?!?

I realise a Porsche is a more highly tuned piece of machinery than a common or garden family hatch, but we're not talking Ferrari levels and there are Honda's and others which shame this.

I'd still like a nice 993 though!

8 March 2010

That sounds unnaceptably fragile, and yet the media makes a big fuss over toyota sticky throttle pedals which are unimaginably small occurrences, but they dont fuss over hugely expensive engines that can fail after 15k miles...and wishbones that certainly will fail.

have all the porches been recalled to fit new wishbones? why not?

the USA needs to invade germany to kill all Porche workers and management.

Makes me want a toyota.

8 March 2010

Ah, a buying guide for the masses...

But what a great guide. It could be simply summarised with: don't buy a pre-2001 Porsche.

8 March 2010

Both 996 and 997 model Porsches are inferior in terms of production quality compared to the air cooled cars. Mass production and cost cutting means that even new cars can suffer from RMS failures, and Porsche are not very good at fixing this fault. The only cars that are exempt are the Turbo models. Most owners have to fork out for a Porsche warranty every year as insurance, this can cost almost £1400 pa if your car qualifies for the warranty.

8 March 2010

Some people seem to be slightly missing the point of this article. It is not saying this will happen to alll 911 3.4s. It is highlighting the potentially problematic areas. If one reads a buyers guide on any high-end sports or even luxury car, the articles nearly always read like this one. I recently read a Ferrari 355 buyers guide, it sounded terrifying yet strangely irresistable.

However, I am fully aware that the 996 was not porsche's best moment in terms of build quality. Just pointing out that it is not a delorean either.

8 March 2010

but it does say the wishbones WILL fail regularly on the car.


9 March 2010

Not sure where this guy got his information from. I have had a 1999 C4 3.4 for nearly 4 years covered 20K miles, currently the car has done 56K miles no issues at all.

Also I was not aware that the car engine has liners as described and that the main shaft cracks.

The radiators can be a problem, however most good garages simply vacuum out the leaves during normal servicing, thereby avoiding the problem.

If somebody is thinking about a 996 3.4 just visit all the related websites where you will get a more accurate assessment of this particular model.

9 March 2010

So 4 years without any wishbone issues? Not even advisory on MOT?

9 March 2010

[quote ryaner]

However, I am fully aware that the 996 was not porsche's best moment in terms of build quality. Just pointing out that it is not a delorean either.


Hey, the DeLorean wasn't actually that bad when you put it into the context of it's development time/overall budget/workforce experience and number of units produced. Plus the fact that other than body panels, most parts cost peanuts compared to Porsche prices as lots of greasy bits were pilfered from bread-and-butter cars anyway.

I'd still have a 993 like a shot if I had the disposable income to run one, but seeing as I don't I'll settle for that other shining beacon of unreliableness, my Peugeot 307 HDI SW.

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