The M96 engine was first introduced with the 1997 Porsche Boxster and featured many innovations which allowed Porsche to provide an exceptional balance between performance and price. 
The M96 platform was used successfully through the 2008 model year and was featured in all Boxster, Cayman, and 911 models, with exception of the GT3, Turbo, and GT2.

The 986 and 996 and later 987 and 997 vehicles are a great value and even better vehicles. Taking care of your investment and performing preventative maintenance is key to the longevity of the M96 and M97 Engine. If and when an engine failure occurs, RND Engines offers rebuilt engines addressing the key trouble areas of the M96 and M97 engine, but even then, proper maintenance is required.

To better understand these engines and the RND Engine Program, it's best to educate yourself about these engines with the goal of preventing engine failures and their costly consequences.
The Intermediate Shaft Bearing Issues.
With the great success of the Boxster launch came a few shortcomings of this platform. Most notably, the IMS issues were a stain on Porsche's image once it came to the media's attention with the class action lawsuit for these failures. With the introduction of the M97 engine, the IMS was redesigned with a new, larger bearing that thankfully has proven to be very reliable with one easy modification. Regardless of which IMS bearing you have, there are steps that must be taken before you have a failure to prevent catastrophic engine failure.

There were three versions of the IMS offered and detailed in IMS 101:

1997-1999: Boxster and 911 received a dual row bearing. The early dual row bearing has a long service life and it's common to see these bearings go 100,000 miles or more without issue.

2000-2001: Boxster and 911 could have received either the early dual row or newer single row bearing. In these two years, Porsche used both the more durable dual row bearing and smaller, single row that is prone to failure. As it is impossible to tell which bearing you have without pulling the transmission first, it's a toss up which bearing you have and how much risk there is involved in not changing out the IMS bearing.

2002-2005: Boxster and 911 received a single row bearing. These model years are most prone to sudden and catastrophic failure, so replacement of the ims bearing is highly recommended.

2006-2008: Boxster, Cayman, and 911 received a larger single row bearing (non-serviceable). This final version is the most reliable of the factory bearings and replacement is not necessary.
All three versions were sealed conventional ball bearings. Had the original bearing been an open bearing, it is common belief that the added lubrication from submersion of the IMS in oil would have prolonged the life of the bearing or eliminated IMS failures entirely.

To further complicate identifying what IMS your engine might have, replacement new or remanufactured engines would have received whatever bearing was currently being used in production. So it is possible to have a 2.5 Boxster engine, built in 2006, with the later non-serviceable ims bearing. However, it's easy to identify if your engine is not original. If there is an X or Y in the engine serial number, it's been replaced, and a dealership may be able to tell you when it was manufactured.

Porsche has never offered a replacement IMS bearing nor supplied tools or a specified service interval for changing the IMS bearing. For most vehicles, servicing the IMS bearing involves 10-14 hours of labor and a handful of parts. Typically when changing the IMS bearing, it's best to install a new water pump, low temperature thermostat, clutch and dual mass flywheel, RMS, and an AOS, as well as address any other issues such as the Variocam wear pads on 1997-2002 Boxster and 1999-2001 911 engines. Servicing a Tiptronic car is no different and IMS problems are just as common with these models.
IMS Retrofit
Thankfully, there are many choices for IMS bearings.

RND uses in its remanufactured engines either an LN Engineering Single Row Pro or Classic Dual Row IMS Retrofit, both of which feature dual row ceramic hybrid IMS bearings that are rated for a 6 year or 75,000 mile service interval.

Learn more about IMS Retrofit
RS Roller Kit
For those wanting to utilize a roller bearing alternatively or on a budget, RND also employs a roller bearing kit that features true thrust control and expanded load range (using additional rollers over normal bearings this size) which has a recommended service interval of 4 years or 48,000 miles.
IMS Solution
Lastly, the IMS Solution backdates the M96 engine to an oil fed plain bearing that has no service interval and is the only permanent fix to the IMS problem with no moving parts to fail.
Both the LN IMS Retrofit and RND Roller Kit use bearings without grease seals. The M96 and M97 engine are wet sump, meaning the engine oil is stored in the bottom of the engine, submerging the intermediate shaft and providing substantial lubrication to the IMS bearing at all times. Forced oiling is not required for these bearing types when an open-bearing (unsealed) is employed.
However, the IMS alone is not the sole cause of problems with the M96 and its later M97 iterations - leaky rear main seals, cracked or scored cylinders, failing water pumps and cracked heads, air oil separator failures, and oil starvation issues all plague the M96 and M97 Engine. Thankfully, many of these issues, including the IMS, can be minimized or prevented.
First and foremost, changing your oil every 6 months or 5,000 miles is highly recommended using an A40 approved 5w40 full synthetic oil rather than the factory 0w40. Other performance lubricants are available for street and track from Motul, Driven, and Millers among others, so there are many choices available to ensure proper lubrication.

Most independents recommend changing the water pump with a genuine Porsche water pump every 3-4 years or at most 50,000 miles to prevent cracked cylinder heads, which are common after water pump failure as the impeller pieces get lodged in small coolant passages in the heads, requiring cylinder head replacement to correct the resulting intermix (water and coolant mix).

High operating temperatures, both coolant and oil, shorten the life of engine components. Along with ensuring your radiators are clean of debris and back-flushed at least once yearly (requires removing the front bumper cover), adding an LN Engineering 160F low temperature thermostat   helps the cooling system regulate temperature changes better and allow for overall cooler operation year-round with no emissions or hvac issues.

For those who take their car auto-crossing or to the track, oiling issues are prone to the M96 and M97 engine. Many do not know that this engine is not dry sump like its predecessors. Combined with high oil temperatures and inadequate scavenging of oil from the heads, high G forces pull oil away from the oil pickup and result in aeration and loss of oil pressure. Use of a boutique 5w40 synthetic or race oil can help with this problem, but adding an LN Engineering 2 quart deep sump in addition to improved baffling of the wet sump almost eliminates these issues.

The rear main seal is an issue that can be checked for with a specialty tool coupled with installation of the newest genuine Porsche PTFE rear main seal and should be replaced every time the clutch or IMS is serviced.

The AOS, which stands for air-oil separator, applies a vacuum to the engine internals, helping with ring seal and controlling blow-by. When an AOS fails, the vacuum ends up sucking oil mist into the intake, resulting in copious amounts of white smoke out the tail pipe. Many an AOS failure has been misdiagnosed as a simple AOS failure, which is easily correctible with installation of a new genuine Porsche AOS and cleaning of the intake manifold.
Last but not least, the cylinder issues that plague the M96 and M96 engine are a big issue.
The two most important things to do to minimized these problems is change your oil and install a low temperature thermostat as recommended above. There are three main modes of failure for cylinders:
  1. Scored cylinder. Scored cylinders are the most common in the 2002 and later 3.6 and 3.8 engines and to a lesser extent with the 987 3.4 S engines that are fitted with factory forged pistons.
  2. Cracked (D-chunk). Most common to 996 3.4 engines but can occur to any 1997-2008 M96 and M967 engine.
  3. Slipped sleeve. Limited to engines built in or around 1998 and 1999 where the factory had the blocks sleeved to correct a casting issue and is most common to the 2.5 Boxster engine.
The process RND Engines uses features LN Engineering Nickies cylinders which have been offered for over a decade and is the proven solution to all cylinder related issues providing superior cooling, strength, and longevity with an aluminum cylinder that is optimal.
RND Engines are sold by SSF Auto Parts through a network of professional independent specialists nationwide and are backed with a 1 yr, 12,000 mile warranty offered by SSF Auto Parts, which has been the leader in the industry since 1976. 

RND Engines is the result of a cooperation between the industry's leading European repair specialists and leading European parts supplier, SSF. This combined knowledge and expertise in engineering, rebuilding, and parts distribution is what sets RND Engines apart in the aftermarket. The mission of RND Engines is to supply the aftermarket the most updated, reliable, and absolute highest quality M96/97 exchange engines at a fair price. RND Engines are built for the car owner passionate about their vehicle, and an owner that wants to keep their vehicle operating at the highest standards. With no corners cut or details overlooked, RND engines simply offer a high-quality alternative and ultimate peace of mind.

To learn more about the RND Engine Program,
please visit
125 Gladiolus St. | PO Box 401 | Momence, IL 60954 | Phone (815) 472-2939 Fax (413) 280-9041
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