What is That Debris in my 986/996 Oil Filter?
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:
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 a future 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.