Q – I am thinking about buying a Porsche that I have been told it has a failed IMS bearing. The price is right and I wondered if you can determine how bad the problem is before I buy it. The owner said that he shut it off as soon as he heard the noise and he has not even cranked the motor over since. Should buy it or not? –Frank

A – Anyone buying a later model Porsche with the well-documented IMS issue should take that cost into account when deciding to buy or not. I recommend a Carfax report be obtained. Many reputable shops report to Carfax including dealerships, body shops and independent repair shops. A clean Carfax report is a worthwhile document to a prospective purchaser but one should not consider it the gospel. The Porsche official service records are even more important in my opinion. The history of a car is tracked by the VIN number by Porsche and if you can gain access to these records, they really tell the story of the car from day one. I cannot tell you if everything is in the history but it is worth a try.

As far as buying a car that you were told has a failure, no one can tell you how bad the problem is until the transmission is removed and the area exposed for inspection. If the price is low enough, and if you can budget for a replacement engine and still come out ahead, go for it! One caution…it is tempting to go for a “good used” engine for price considerations, but if you take into account the labor needed to put any engine in a car, you’d be better off spending more for an engine that carries a better warranty. A rebuilt engine from a reputable supplier will give you much more peace of mind.

Porsche used to supply a “turn key” engine assembly that involved taking the entire assembly out (unplugging it) and installing a whole unit, ready to go. That was a relatively easy swap especially since (I am told) it was a common service. When you purchase a used engine, odds are it will not be complete. Accessories and components will often need to be transferred from the old engine to the new and this can take hours. The other issue with a used engine is that the car it came from could have been wrecked or damaged enough to be considered a total loss by the insurance company or owner. Concealed damage caused by the “event” might come back to bite you during the swap and this can be disastrous if not merely annoying.

As the guy writing the check, I paid for hours of wasted time spent installing a “good used engine” for a client. If you get the impression that I am a little burned about it, you are doggone right. I did receive a credit back from the provider which covered a fraction of my cost so if you can learn from my mistake, good for you. MC