So you have found a nice 944 or 924S that needs a little rescue/restore. You got a good deal, but it isn’t quite where you need it to be…okay, it’s a mess. So what do you do first and what do you leave until last? Here are some tips that may help you.
First and foremost, make a list. We tend to use Microsoft Excel, but a legal pad with a pencil will also work fine. Do an inspection and list everything that it needs, including the small stuff. You will use this list to organize your tasks from URGENT to MEH.
For almost every rescue/restore you need to look at the primary systems to ensure that it is safe and won’t get any worse. That means belts, hoses, fuel lines, brakes and lights at a minimum. Let’s look at each one of those.
- BELTS. Timing and balance shaft belts should be changed at a minimum, and you may as well do the alternator/AC and power steering belts at the same time. Even if the previous owner said that the belts didn’t have a lot of miles on them, just sitting in one position for a while can cause bends that weaken a belt. Better safe than sorry. Belt service also normally includes replacing the rollers before one of them fails. And while we normally do a water pump when doing the belt service, that’s not a bad idea, and be sure to include a new thermostat.
- FRONT ENGINE SEALS. The shafts that extend out of the front of the engine each have seals – Crankshaft, Camshaft, Balance Shafts. The seals keep the oil in the engine where it belongs, and that job takes its toll on the seals. If you got to the point where you are looking at the seals, replace them.
- HOSES. A blown radiator hose will leave you on the side of the road, so change them – including the little elbow on the water pump to the heater tube above the header. Use new clamps. Again, not being used can weaken the rubber, so while you’re doing the belts, replace the hoses.
FUEL LINES. The rubber fuel lines that come up from under the car and supply the fuel rail are getting old. Replace them with one of the many aftermarket kits available. Also look at the rubber lines that goes to the fuel damper and the fuel pressure regulator. The fuel pressure regulator attaches to the smaller of the two rubber lines and is attached with a hose clamp from the factor. The other slightly larger line attaches to the fuel dampener, and it should be attached with a factory-looking connector, not a hose clamp! If the dampener has a hose clamp on it, you need to replace it with a proper hose and connector right away! An engine fire is not something that you want to deal with.
- BRAKES. Rotors, pads, caliper rebuild and new rubber hoses are not all that expensive. Add a master cylinder if it has been sitting for more than a year. New high-quality fluid should be there, too. Also, the clutch master and slave suffer in a car that has not been driven. Replace them, too.
TIRES. When you buy the car, assume that it has not been maintained, including tires. Don’t count on “plenty of tread” as an indicator that the tires are sound and safe; all tires manufactured since 2000 have the week and year that the tire was manufactured melted into the sidewall (“5107” means that the tire was manufactured during the fifty-first week of 2007.) Tires older than four or five years should be replaced.
- LIGHTS. Check the function of all lights and replace burned-out bulbs, flashers and other components as needed. This is also a good time to think about LED conversions so that you can be seen.
- LEAKS. Check the underside of the car for fluid leaks. The power steering pump area is almost assuredly going to have small (or large) leaks – typical. Look at the bottom of the front of the engine to see if there is an oil leak that would indicate engine front seal failure. Look for oil seeping out at the bottom of the bell housing that would indicate a rear main seal leak. Check the area under the transaxle for thick or dripping oil on the bottom of the case. Look for coolant leaks under the radiator and engine that would indicate the need to replace the water pump, radiator or hoses.
Now you have an engine that won’t break a belt, brakes that work and all the lights work. In the process you have replaced the brake fluid and the coolant. Now change the engine oil with a high-quality filter, and change the oil in the transaxle. Make sure to use the right grade oils. (A note here – just because a 2020 911 GT3 uses a thin synthetic oil doesn’t mean that you should do the same for your car. We have always used 20W50 “dinosaur oil” (non-synthetic) in our 944 series cars.)
Now you have a lot of very valuable information from which you can make some decisions. If the engine is running well and it drives as it should, you can turn your attention to other things.
Now it’s time to add things to the list that are not critical to the operation of the car but still need attention. Do the windows go up and down smoothly? Do the gauges seem to work? Are the seats in good order or is the driver’s seat in need of attention? Is the steering solid or does the wheel move up and down slightly, indicating a need to replace the plastic bushing in the column? Do the stalk switches work as designed? Do the mirrors work as designed? Does the hatch open and close smoothly? How about the sunroof operation? Do the headlights go up and down as designed? How about door handles, latches and locks?
From your list, prioritize your repair schedule. Safety is always first. Using the prioritized list, figure out your budget for parts and outsourced labor to get things fixed up. You can also use that list to do your research on “how-to” and the to find the parts that you need at the best prices.
You may also use some of this information during the purchase process to set the fair purchase price. Knowing what needs to be repaired, what that budget would be and the time required to make the car drivable and useable again will give you a negotiating advantage. Finally, don’t let emotion get in the way. Fall in love with your Porsche AFTER you make the purchase!
Have one in mind and have questions? Give us a call at 386.547.9625.