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What is That Debris in my 986/996 Oil Filter?

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Do you own a ’97-04 Boxster (986 chassis) or a ’99-04 911 (996 chassis)?
Do you or your mechanic cut open your oil filter during oil changes, and spread the filter media out to check for debris? If not, you should! If you already do, then you may already know that there’s a higher likelihood of the debris you’re seeing is either IMS bearing material (shiny silver), timing chain material (shiny silver), or plastic timing chain ramp material (dark brown or black).
This oil filter media inspection is something both of our shop locations perform during 986/996 oil changes, because it’s a straightforward way to be alerted to an engine component starting to fail.
Here are two pictures of the worst M96 oil filter debris we’ve ever seen:
IMG_7184 IMG_7182

Note that both metallic (IMS bearing and/or timing chain) material, and plastic timing chain ramp material are easily visible throughout the filter media.
Unfortunately, this client had purchased the vehicle sight unseen, and without a pre-purchase inspection. Since this engine could be hiding too many unknowns deep inside and thus possibly too costly to try to salvage, this client decided that an engine replacement would be their next step.
Here is a picture of an M96 filter with much more debris than we’re comfortable seeing:

Here is a picture of what we more commonly see in an M96 oil filter:

The two upper longer metallic pieces are starting to get larger in size than we’re normally seeing or feel comfortable seeing. The very small round metallic flake is pretty consistent with other M96’s.
While we’d like to see no metal debris whatsoever, even on non-Porsche (i.e. BMW) engines, it’s not uncommon to see very small flakes of shiny metallic debris here and there.
All in all, if you own an M96 engine, we would highly recommend that you make it standard practice to cut open and thoroughly check the oil filter media for any abnormal debris. If you find numerous or sizable pieces of debris, consult a professional Porsche specialty shop for further advice.
In the next tech blog post, I will show different stages of plastic timing chain ramp failure and what that means for your engine.

As always, let us know if you have any specific questions, and/or a topic suggestion for a future technical blog submission.

Jeremy Williams is the Oregon PCA Technical editor. He co-owns Matrix Integrated Inc. (www.matrixintegratedcc) with his brother Justin. Jeremy can be reached at

Watch those low mileage cars

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I was recently at a club event where a new member was asking me what to look for in a specific low mileage Porsche (997 chassis 911). The specific model isn’t critical for this tech article, but what I do feel is worthy of mentioning are a few key technical aspects to keep in mind when searching for a previously-loved low mileage Porsche. While lower mileage specimens can be of higher value, they can be quite a headache and costly if they’ve been neglected.

As I mentioned to the member, if I were given the option of a 10yo Porsche with only 25k on the odometer but no maintenance invoices in the glovebox, vs a 10yo Porsche with 75k on it and at least a small folder of preventative maintenance invoices (some repair invoices are ok, but you also don’t want to buy a lemon), with everything else equal, I’d most often choose the latter. As I’ve mentioned in previous tech articles, if your engine doesn’t achieve the recommended 3500-5000mi non-synthetic or 5000-7500mi synthetic oil change interval within a year, our recommendation is to have the oil and filter changed every year. Brake fluid on a street car should be flushed every 2years regardless of mileage, and every 4years for a coolant flush on the later watercooled cars. This is due to condensation and contaminants which build up in the fluid. One some vehicles, like vintage 356’s, 912’s, and 911’s, the worst thing you can do is let them sit (besides, it’s just not nice to make a Porsche lonely for so long!). This is where a vehicle with ultra-low mileage and no maintenance history can be a vehicle to possibly walk away from based on the cost to repair correctly. On these vehicles, the corrosion which occurs in the brake system due to moisture will cause the brake components will seize up.


As well, seals and other rubber components can often dry up and get brittle due to little/no use, then start cracking and leaking. Thankfully this isn’t as much the case on the newer watercooled cars due to differences and improvements in component technology, however a 10yr old watercooled which has never had the brake fluid flushed could still have corrosion in the brake system. This might mean new brake calipers and possibly brake lines on a newer vehicle, which if properly maintained should never need to be replaced otherwise. As well, the safety/reliability of tires will typically be expired by the 10yr mark so be prepared for 4-5 new tires too. Moreover, the fuel tank will probably have water in it and the fuel has now turned towards varnish, so the fuel tank will need to be drained. The blinker fluid and the gefunkt tank might be comprised as well, so it wouldn’t hurt to have those checked while you’re at it. ;-)




Porsche’s were originally designed to be driven so get out there and exercise them, as well as your own heart!

Best regards,

Jeremy Williams, ORPCA Tech Editor, Matrix Integrated Inc.,

What is that pink fluid?

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For those of you who own a watercooled Porsche, have you ever seen a brighter pink fluid underneath your vehicle, and wondered what it is? More than likely it’s not bubble gum flavored sugar water from your grandkid’s sno-cone, although it may smell sweet like such. It could be leaking engine coolant/anti-freeze, and if it is, you’ll want to have the leak diagnosed and repaired sooner than later.

The most common formulation of coolant uses ethylene glycol as a base with anti-corrosion additives mixed in. The ethylene glycol part of the formula is what smells sweet, and has a syrupy consistency. It provides crucial anti-freezing characteristics and the additives deliver the anti-rust and anti-corrosion capabilities. We recommend using the OEM Porsche coolant(bright pink in color), mixed 50/50 with water(use distilled water if you have hard water in your area). The water is actually the main media which transfers the heat away from engine components.

From what we see come thru our shop, the most common culprits for coolant leaks are;
#1 coolant reservoir’s cap
This is a common issue. We often see these caps seeping or leaking when vehicles come in for service, and we replace them at that time. Porsche has an updated cap for 986/987 Boxster/Cayman and 996/997 911’s; part # 996-106-447-04/01.

#2 water/coolant pump
This is another common issue on 986/987’s and 996/997’s. There was a terrifically informative Q&A article about M96 and M97 water pumps and cooling system failures in the May 2014 Excellence magazine. A reprint of the article called Anxious Pump Watcher can be found starting on page4 here;
The two most common water pump issues we’ve seen have been from either the water pump seeping/leaking, or the water pump’s impeller shaft bearing failing and causing a rattling sound(which can then lead to leaks as the water pump starts coming apart). The water pump failure can be the most catastrophic of the three common culprits listed here.

#3 coolant reservoir
This is a less likely issue, although we’ve seen some slooooowly seep over time, constantly producing a very very faint whiff of sweet coolant smell. This seep/leak can be difficult to locate since the coolant reservoir is often stuffed in the engine bays of these vehicles. Often a retractable mirror helps pinpoint the issue.

So if you see pink coolant under your vehicle or smell a sweet nectar from your vehicle, locate the source and/or have a professional inspect the issue right away. As always with these fine German machines, proper proactive preservation prevents poor performance.

If you have any questions regarding this topic, please feel free to ask. There are no silly or stupid questions.

Best regards,
Jeremy Williams, ORPCA Tech Editor, Matrix Integrated Inc.,

Bringing your baby out of hibernation

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 Bringing your baby out of hibernation

As I’m typing this I’m staring out the window at sunshine and bluebird skies. It’s apparent spring is arriving early this year (did we even have a winter?). Many of you have already begun to take your pride and joy out of hibernation, but many of you haven’t yet. This month I wanted to share a few tips on the preferred way to get your Porsche ready for spring driving as Porsche’s are supposed to be driven you know!

#1 Depending on where you’ve been keeping the car in storage, possibly under a car cover, as you remove the car cover, make sure that furry rodents didn’t leave any deposits or small tokens of appreciation for you. If they did, this could be a bad sign; rodents love insulation, whether it be fabric-based or wiring insulation. You would then want to fully inspect your vehicle for signs of rodent nests and chewed electrical wiring. If the wiring needs attention, get it taken care of first.
If the rodents are still around the premises, whatever you do don’t leave rat poison out for them. We had a client do this once; the mouse ate the poison, then crawled into the deep recesses of her car between two body panels and perished. Mr. Mousy was so far in there we couldn’t extract him, so she had to live with a bit of stench for awhile. Ick. This is why placing mouse traps are the preferred method.

#2 If you haven’t changed your brake fluid in over a year, it’s recommend to check the moisture content. Anything over 2% moisture is too much and the fluid should be changed. Brake fluid is hygroscopic which means it absorbs moisture from the air. Moisture sitting in the brake system over the winter can lead to corrosion within the brake system. This can certainly lead to other brake issues; spongy brake pedal, poor braking performance, even a potential clog in a brake line from rust particles. Porsche, along with all auto manufacturers, recommend changing the brake fluid every 2years maximum (if you’re participating in auto-x or HPDE, that duration drops to at least every 1 year).

#3 This step may be a bit controversial as there are many different schools of thought. Once you disconnect the battery charger from your vehicle…

A. IF you had already changed the engine oil before you put your Porsche into hibernation, before you start the vehicle, take a moment to have a look around and make sure nothing looks out of the ordinary, fluid levels are correct, etc. Make sure you don’t have any major fluid leaks/puddles underneath. If no major leaks, one possible method of starting the vehicle for the first time in months is; pull the fuel pump fuse (find it’s location in the owners manual), crank the key for 30seconds or so to get oil pressure/lubrication to the furthest valvetrain components. Then reinstall the fuel pump fuse and start the vehicle.
B. If you DIDN’T change the engine oil before hibernation, you have a choice to either change it before you start the engine or to start the engine, get the oil up to temp, and then change it. Due to the contaminants and condensation now in the old engine oil, the first school of thought is that changing the oil before starting the engine doesn’t allow the contaminants to cycle through the engine as much. The second school of thought is that possibly more contaminants are leeched out of the oil once the oil gets up to proper temperature and then is drained. The decision is up to you.

#4 Once the engine is running, make sure all of your lights and signals are functioning correctly.

#5 On your first spring drive, take it easy at first, ensuring the brakes are functioning, shifter is shifting smooth, etc. Make sure to get the engine oil (and coolant if you have it) up to normal operating temps. Go out and really drive your machine for at least 30 minutes or more, letting the wind blow through your hair (if you’re lucky to have any left, unlike me). One of the worst things you can do during or after hibernation is simply start the engine up and let it idle in your garage, or drive the car only around the block. This will not allow fluids to get up to proper temperature and burn off those contaminants.

#6 Most of all, remember to wear a smile on your face when driving your P-car; they’re too fun to drive otherwise!




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Your Porsche – A school bus?

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Is your Porsche sounding like a school bus or garbage truck when coming to a stop?


This can happen if you do a considerable amount of slower speed city driving, or stop-and-go driving in traffic, especially when using lighter brake pedal pressure. What commonly occurs is that a glazing layer will build up between the brake pads and brake rotors, due to a lower amount of friction/heat being present during the lower speed braking. This squeaking or screeching is a completely different issue than grinding, and can occur with any street brake pad compound—from factory/OEM to performance pads. One way to remedy this squeaking or screeching noise is to completely re-bed the brake pads and rotors, as this introduces a high amount of heat/friction which will help burn the glazing layer off of the brake components. We suggest following the brake component manufacturer’s recommended bed-in (ie brake bedding) procedures. After proper bedding, your brake squeak should subside (until you get stuck in stop-and-go traffic again, at which time the squeak may or may not return).


You will know when the bedding is complete when the rotor has an even shine on the rotor surface. Any spotting or blotting on the rotor surface is an indication that the pads are not yet fully bedded. Repeat the bedding procedure until the rotor surface is even.


An example of a bedding proceedure


Another potential cause of brake squeak can be brake dust which has built up considerably between the brake pads and brake rotors. Washing out this brake dust with a hose can help minimize this annoying squeak.


If you hear a grinding noise from your brakes, then it’s possible that you either have a small rock stuck between your pad and rotor, and/or your brake pad material is worn down to the pad’s metal backing plate. If the latter, then you will need new brake pads and rotors installed, as now the brake rotor(s) is grooved from being scored by the metal backing plate.


If you have any questions regarding this topic, please feel free to ask. No question is a silly question.

Jeremy Williams, ORPCA Tech Editor, Matrix Integrated Inc.,

Feeling the pull?

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Is your Porsche pulling to the left or right, or have you noticed uneven tire wear? If so, read on to find out what might be taking place…

If your Porsche is pulling or veering to the left, you might have an alignment issue, a faulty tire, or low tire pressure.

If your Porsche is pulling or veering to the right, you might have the issue(s) noted above, or you could be driving on one of Portland’s notorious crowned roads(crowned for water runoff). Also keep in mind that US vehicle manufacturers design a very slight bit of right-veer into the alignment so that if you fall asleep at the wheel, you veer off into the weeds vs veering left into oncoming traffic.

If you have noticed uneven tire wear left to right(yes, you should be inspecting your tires when you fill them with proper air pressure, ideally every other week), then it’s certainly possible the toe spec of your alignment is off. The incorrect toe setting, along with Porsche’s infamous negative camber settings(which are engineered for optimal performance of course!), can combine to heavily and oddly wear the inside shoulder of your tire. This can lead to chords showing and possibly a blowout; very dangerous!!

Ideally, you should have your alignment checked/adjusted at least every year in order to provide safe handling and enduring tire wear.

If you have any questions regarding this topic, feel free to ask.

Jeremy Williams, ORPCA Tech Editor, Matrix Integrated Inc.,