A common issue with older Porsches is an InterMediate Shaft (IMS) bearing failure. That sounds like a mouthful, but that doesn’t mean you have to approach the problem knowing nothing about it. We’re here to give you our expert advice on the issue and guide you to the proper help.

IMS bearing failure comes with a load of questions and confusion. It makes solving the problem even more difficult unless you’re an expert, causing headaches for Porsche owners that often suffer from this problem. The solution begins with understanding the problem.

What is an IMS Bearing on a Porsche?

Simply put, the function of the intermediate shaft is to drive your camshaft indirectly through your crankshaft. Because this part must rotate along with your engine’s components, it requires support or a bearing to spin. This is the purpose the IMS bearing serves, and it is integral to the engine’s operation.

Signs of Failure

Once the IMS bearing fails, several different side effects can occur. Keep in mind that because this piece is close to the engine’s core, the deterioration and failure of the component have catastrophic outcomes. Here are a few signs that your IMS bearing has failed:

  • Loud rattling noises in the engine. If you hear this, you will immediately know something is wrong with your engine. With no support from the bearings, the chain which converts mechanical force from the camshaft to the IMS rattles as your engine starts up or accelerates. It can be highly devastating for the engine if the chain somehow skips a tooth and falls out of alignment while your engine is running.
  • Metal debris in your oil filter. Once the bearing’s metal balls fall loose, they can make their way into the oil system of your engine. Over time, the bearings will end up in your oil filter or other sections of the oil line that runs throughout the various components of your Porsche’s engine. This is why IMS bearing failure is so destructive.
  • Engine Failure. The worst-case scenario for any Porsche owner is total engine failure from a faulty IMS bearing. Because the IMS directly impacts cam timing and throws off the piston firing sequence, resulting in piston heads slamming against the intake and exhaust valves, the outcome is destructive for the entire engine. If you’ve already encountered the two symptoms above, you should consider bringing in your Porsche for repairs. You do not want to pay for an engine rebuild.

How common is Porsche IMS bearing failure?

Porsche IMS bearing failure is common among older models. We don’t see many problems from models made after 2009. When buying older Porsche models, it’s likely for potential buyers to ask if the owner has replaced the part or upgraded it. If not, then it’s almost inevitable that the engine part will fail so buyers beware, and be proactive about this component.

Bearing failure is expected in earlier Porches because the bearing the designers selected can’t withstand prolonged exposure to the elements. Instead, these bearings were intended to operate under dry conditions. The engine of a Porsche can only stay dry for so long until condensation makes its way up into the engine parts, which causes the frequent failure of this component in the models designed with this type of IMS bearing.

IMS Bearing Failure Prevention and Maintenance

The easiest way to prevent IMS bearing failure is to swap out the component as soon as possible. Like we mentioned before, many buyers interested in older Porsche’s will often ask if the IMS bearing is a replacement piece or the original factory component. It’s so crucial that pricing will vary significantly on whether or not a pre-2009 Porsche has this piece upgraded already.

Porsche Owner Mechanic Discussion

If you’re concerned that your Porsche’s IMS bearing is failing or will fail, then you should only turn to the most certified technicians in California. Dieter’s Porsche & BMW Service is the leading European auto shop in Chula Vista, Coronado, Downtown San Diego, Mission Valley, and Point Loma, CA. We’re pros at what we do and have deep experience switching out old IMS bearings for upgraded versions designed precisely for your Porsche’s year and model. Give us a call today, as we are ready to keep your Porsche in top shape.

* Porsche Car image credit goes to: Gti861.

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