You Can’t Always Believe What You Read

by Paul Kramer

I remember hearing a story by comedian Steven Wright.  In a deadpan voice, he said, “I was just driving along when a cop pulled me over.   So, I asked the officer if there was a problem.   The officer asked if I saw the stop sign a mile back.  I said sure.  He asked why I didn’t stop.  I told him that you can’t believe everything you read.”  This sums up  how I feel about the Internet.  The Internet is a great tool…possibly the greatest invention of our time.  However, it is certainly not the gospel.

The Internet is a resource that we can use to help us find a car, fix it, and connect with other enthusiasts. However, the ease of access to the Internet means that we need to heed that age-old saying: “take it with a grain of salt”.  Keep in mind that it’s easy for a person to pontificate about any issue when he can remain anonymous on the Internet.  Too often, I have clients telling me that they read something online and now they are concerned that their car may blow up.  This is a slight exaggeration, but the point is that we sometimes place too much importance on things we read online.  For example, imagine meeting a complete stranger at a car show and discussing the types of cars each of you drives.   Now, knowing what car you drive, he tells you that your engine is going to fail in the next 10,000 miles.  Would you believe him?  Maybe.  However, I’m sure you would at least get a second opinion and hopefully check with a professional (i.e. a reputable mechanic).

A recent online epidemic has begun.  It is called the “IMS failure”.  IMS stand for Intermediate Shaft.  This is a bearing that times the internal components of an engine.  If it fails, usually by loosing oil, the timing goes off and the engine can be permanently damaged.  Initially, this sounds horrible and I guess it is.  However, you have to read beyond this.  This failure has occurred in only an extremely small percentage of Porsches.  There are claims that it affects 10% of all Porsches built from 1997-2005.  If that number were even remotely close, I’m assuming there would be a huge number of class action lawsuits against Porsche.  It would be worse than the recent Toyota recall fiasco.  Remember, the people crying online about this problem are typically the only ones we hear from.  Nobody goes online and says, “I woke up today, got in my car, started it up, and my IMS worked flawlessly all the way to work”. Of course not. That would be ridiculous.  The Porsche forums tend to be therapy sessions for antisocial people who may be bitter and feel slighted by a rare mechanical device failure.

As more and more people began discussing the IMS issue with me, I started asking several of our local Porsche mechanics about it. I found out that the percentage of failures was incredibly low.  In fact, one mechanic said that he has yet to see one fail.  The good news is that the fix is easy. It can be done at the same time a new clutch is installed for approximately $500-$750.  If you properly and regularly maintain your car, your mechanic should be able to alert you to an impending problem.

Fortunately, the shelf life of misinformation found online is very short.  As quickly as some new issue becomes the latest buzz, it is already being replaced by something else.  It can be overwhelming.  But, there is really no need to worry.  Simply build a good relationship with a mechanic you trust and schedule regular maintenance.  That’s it!

Porsches are great cars.  They are a blast to drive and are very well built.  However, they’re not perfect.  No car is.  Yet, with each new model year, Porsches get better and better.  They do more and last longer.  Many of us grew up in the age of 100,000-mile cars.  What I mean is that no one expected a car to last more than 100,000 miles without major repairs.  I truly believe we are at the dawn of a new era.  I think we are going to see Porsches last half a million miles and beyond.  That will be the new norm.  Just imagine seeing a Porsche listed for sale and advertised as being low miles with “just” 250,000 miles.   Remember, Porsche is a young company only a 60 years old.  How long before we see 8-digit odometers on Porsches?