Fearing That The Worst Has Happened…

When something goes wrong, we tend to “think the worse.”  Like “I blew it up…again.”  Sometimes, the damage isn’t that bad.

A long-time friend of 924S944.com has a really nice 944 Turbo S that is a street-legal track car.  He brings it to HPDE events, and more often than not, there is a problem with the engine.  Overheating, misfire, low on power, and the occasional catastrophic failure are the rule.  A few weeks ago at Roebling Road, another not-too-surprising failure.

After a couple of sessions, he was in turn four when smoke came spewing out of the back of the car.  Distracted, he spun the car into the inside of turn five, restarted it and backed it up about ten feet to get away from the edge of the track surface.  When he got out of the car, there was a huge oil spill in the grass that corresponded with the location of the engine when he initially stopped.  Towed back to the paddock, he loaded up and brought the car home.

So yesterday he unloaded the car here at the 924S944.com Global Headquarters.  On the lift, we found that the oil was spattered all over the passenger side of the engine, with a bulk of the oil from the head down.  The header was soaked in oil.  There was little oil in the sump.

We did a few quick checks, including a compression check (cracked/hole piston?) checking the plugs (not wet), looking over the turbo (dry as a bone), and other things to poke around a bit.  Running out of ideas, we decided to put some oil in it, start it up, and see if we could narrow it down a bit more.

Which is what we did.

The engine started right away, and sounded good.  Nor smoke in the tailpipe.  Then a shout to “SHUT IT OFF!”

Just like at Roebling Road, there was a huge oil slick, but this time on the floor under the engine.

With the history of this car and this engine, the owner had contemplated throwing in the towel and going with a V8 conversion.  We even worked up some numbers for it.

With fresh oil dripping off the engine, it was time for a second look.  We had determined that there was good compression, no “rod through the side of the block,” nothing obvious.  So while poking around, we touched the oil filter.

It moved.

Seems like the oil filter had worked its way loose, finally giving way to a massive oil leak.  We removed it, put on a new filter, filled it back with fresh oil, and no more leaking.  Runs great.  The floor was a mess, but the car was fixed.

Since this engine has had a less-than-stellar history, we first assumed the worst case scenario.  Hole in a piston.  Cracked block.  Head gasket.  Generally bad and expensive stuff as has been the case in the past.

No, this time it was a loose oil filter.

So there is another line on the pre-event checklist.  Check the oil filter and make sure that it’s tight.

The V8 conversion is still on the table though.  Could be fun.

Author: Kevin Duffy, Author and Chief Geek

Kevin Duffy is a retired Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at Daytona State College in Florida and a dedicated car guy. He now spends his time with Porsche 924S, 944's and 968's in his backyard shop. He is active in the Porsche Club of America, and he concentrates on 924S and the 924S Special Editions, doing rescues and restorations.

What do you think?