You searched. You looked around. You asked questions. You anguished over the decision. Then you did it. You have a new-to-you Porsche 924, 944, 924S or 968 in the driveway.
First and foremost, realize that these cars are at least twenty-five years old, most much older. While there are a few pampered examples out there, most have been loved, forgotten, resurrected, and repaired over these decades. And most have at some point had a bit of a difficult life. You know that there are flaws, and there will be flaws that are as yet undiscovered…Undiscovered Country. (Long way to go for 1991 Star Trek reference.)
Records are important, but for most of our cars, records are either gone or unreliable. If there are receipts available, go through them and make a timeline of service and repairs, including both dates and mileage. Bite the bullet and run a CarFax on it to determine mileage history, and how the mileage shown on the odometer matches up with the CarFax history. At this age, odometer readings are notoriously unreliable from a historical perspective. At some point the odometer breaks, then a replacement is installed with different mileage, so we don’t really know what the true number might be.
This comes from the list of what we check in a pre-purchase inspection. If you have good records, you may check some of these things off.
- Change the oil and filter.
- Check the air filter.
- Check the PS and AC/Alt belt condition. Their condition may indicate the condition of the timing and balance shaft belts.
- Top it up with fresh fuel, high octane. If the car has been sitting for a while, drain the tank and fill with fresh fuel.
- Check the condition of the rubber fuel lines that are connected to the fuel rail. Look for distress and cracks, replace if needed. This is the cause of too many engine fires.
- Do a complete function check on everything, including all lights.
- Jack up the front wheels and check for movement in the wheel bearings and ball joints
- Note that on Series I 944 and all 924/924S cars with steel control arms the original ball joints are riveted into the control arms. If they have rivets, they are original. If they are bolted in, they have been replaced at some point.
- Check the front sway bar bushings – the right side tends to deteriorate due to leaky power steering.
- Check the condition of front end suspension bushings.
- Check the date on the tires. Here is a great reference for reading the tires.
- Look for any “backyard repairs” including things like cooling fan wiring, wires draped across the engine, under the dash, etc.
- Look at the fuses for any that are not new-looking. They are plastic and copper, and replace any that are nasty-looking, or better yet, change them all. Match the amperage to the owners manual diagram. Keep a few extra in the glove box.
- Consider changing the trans oil. (Often forgotten)
- Look at the brake fluid. It’s supposed to be clear…if not, change it.
- Look at the rotors and pads for condition and wear.
- Check the emergency brake. It is adjustable to keep the handle from coming up too far. Adjustment is next to the seat at the handle. We find it is easier to pop the drivers seat out to make the adjustment.
- Check for leaks in the power steering including the rack, pump and lines. Make sure to put only ATF in the power steering – NOT power steering fluid. It’s too thick and will ruin the pump and rack seals.
- Consider getting the alignment checked.
- Thoroughly clean everything.
Your first impulse is to jump in the car and head out on a road trip. Even the cleanest, nicest-looking car can have hidden problems, and you don’t want to find out what is wrong out on the road.