The Porsche 944 S2 inspection list

Porsche944S2-1I had a Porsche 944 S2 inspected a few weeks ago and I’m still thinking about whether or not to pursue the car.

Here are the findings of the report with what I consider to be an appropriate priority level assigned to each item. Some of the ‘high’ ones would need to be done immediately and others I would want to do within the first six months of owning the car.

There are a few notes at the bottom that expand on some of these items.

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Interior etc

Glove Box stays not holding, alloy ones needed – Low
Clock illumination inoperative – Low
Odometer inoperative – High
Tool kit bag in poor condition – Low
Spare wheel badly flat spotted – Medium
1 x horn inoperative – High
A/C fitting ports caps missing – ??
A/C compressor still leaking – Medium

Body / Seals / Wipers etc

Rear hatch seal sucks in exhaust fumes – Medium
O/S door seal torn – Low
O/S window belt line weather strip cracked from sun – ??
O/S door hinges worn (door dropped) – Medium
Rear hatch lock barrel seal – High
Wiper blade assembly needed – ??

Brakes / Wheels / Tyres

Front discs below spec – High
Rear discs well below spec – High
Front tyres near bald – High
Rear tyres not far behind & same age – High
3 x centre caps need repainting – Low
NSF rim gutter damaged (mild) – Low
Brake hoses old and OSF dangerous (due to power steering fluid) – High

Suspension and Steering

Power steering rack noisier than normal (hydraulic noise) – Medium
OSF lower ball joint excessive play – High
NSF lower ball joint boot torn in half and play in joint – High
NS steering tie rod excessive play – High
Steering shaft (lower) uni joints worn – new shaft – High
Front shocks way too soft (original 1990) – High
Front shocks bump stops broken and gator boots torn – High
P/Steering oil leaks from (text incomplete) – High

Driveline / Transmission / Clutch

Clutch hydraulic reservoir almost empty (hydraulics overhaul) – ??
Gear stick mod needed – ??
CV boot torn + 3 others almost – High

Engine and Cooling system

Cam and cam gear cover badly corroded – Med/High
Timing chain old – High
Timing chain guides – old – High
All front engine oil seals leaking – High
Rear main seal leaking – High
Sump gasket (and head gasket) – old – High/Med
Expansion tank in poor condition – Medium
All rad & heater hoses – poor to very poor – Medium
O/S radiator fan inoperative (need pair of fans) – High
Distributor cap and rotor stuffed – Medium
Hall effect sensor falling apart – High
Intake manifold flexible connector sleeve shrunk – Medium
Both engine fuel hoses old and need replacing – High
Accelerator cable ready to break – High
NTC II sensor very old – ??
Starter motor slow (old) – needs replacing – Medium
N/S engine mount from 1989 – ??
O/S engine mount sagged – ??

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Notes

  • The odometer malfunction would normally be a major red flag but it seems to be quite recent. I’ve got printed service history for the car and the mileage varies on those documents.
  • The horn is listed as a high priority because having a working horn is essential for passing a roadworthiness inspection.
  • The wiper blade assembly finding wasn’t properly explained. Need more info on what’s actually wrong with it but I haven’t sought that information yet.
  • I’m told the power steering rack is normally slightly noisy in these cars. There was a problem with the rack previously, as evidenced by fluid having leaked onto the brake lines, but it’s since been fixed. The brake lines do need replacing, however, due to damage caused by the fluid leak from the rack when it was malfunctioning.
  • “Gear stick mod needed” – this is an indicator, perhaps, that the inspector is aiming for his ideal condition of the car (which from talking to him, is concours condition). In other words, he might be emphasising things that an ordinary person could live with. Perhaps.
  • The cam gear cover is made from magnesium alloy and is prone to corrosion if left unpainted. Porsche painted the cover at the factory but its common to see the paint stripped away due to excessive use of alkaline cleaners (which are OK on normal paint, but not OK used on the paint that has to be applied to magnesium alloy). It’s common to see discoloured cam gear covers on these cars as not many are aware of this. How big a problem is it? I’m told that if left untreated long enough, holes can eventually appear. That’s what I’m told.

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As mentioned before, the items marked ‘high’ are all things I’d want to do reasonably quickly. Some are needed for basic vehicle safety. Some are needed as important near-term maintenance to prevent major malfunction. Some are highly desired to make sure the 944 S2 driving experience is what is should be.

Items marked ‘medium’ are mostly restoration or preventative maintenance items, many of which I consider I might actually be able to do myself.

I’m trying to keep in mind that the guy who inspected this car has extremely high standards and is very judgemental of anything that doesn’t meet those high standards. He’s very black-and-white about these things. An items is either in fantastic condition or completely f#@ked (his words, not mine). There’s very little in between.

Obviously you want a vehicle inspector to be thorough – especially with a car that’s expensive to repair like a 944 – but you’ve also got to temper the findings with a small dose of perspective. I can live for a while with an original coolant expansion tank if it’s slightly browned for example.

To pursue or not to pursue – that’s the question. Bear in mind that the seller is asking $20,500 for this car, which is around the mark for an S2 in Australia. Also bear in mind that the engine’s internals all seem to be very good, the interior was one of the best the inspector’s seen in a decade and the exterior was described as quite good.

I’d want to pay around $16,000 if I was going to buy it. Your thoughts would be welcome.

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25 Comments

  1. That is a fairly lengthy list. Nothing too bad, but some things are certainly a bit of a surprise. Beware the price of Porsche parts. They have a reputation for expense that is well deserved.

    1. It’s a huge list!
      I don’t understand how a car could have regular servicing and still run up a list like that. It’s way overpriced if you cost in the repairs. I would want to chat to the servicing workshop about the car to learn why so many matters have been neglected.

  2. Add the cost of the repairs , High 1st , safety issues 1st then the expected cost of the Mid items , go to the book value and subtract total cost of repairs , proper tires can be pricey , and alignment front and rear and see what the car is worth . A great body can be a big plus , mechanical can be repaired but at what cost ?
    Sounds like you have a good mechanic there listen closely , would he buy it ? somedays we as men think we know cars genicly however he does it as a profession . Just my 2 cents , Dave

  3. Oh and one last thing Oil change records at least every 5 K with full synthetic , again just my thought , I have never hurt a car by changing the oil . But sludge is an evil thing . Dave

  4. I agree, the list is long, but nothing so big to be a deal breaker—-with the exception of the asking price.

    I guess it comes down to what is important to you. I already have a complete list of the SAABs that I wish to have in my collection and I take my time in finding the best possible examples to start with. For some of my SAABnut friends, it is all about doing it yourself, so that you are absolutely sure of what you have and getting the pure enjoyment out of your labor.

    I have saved a lot of time and even more money being patient and selective.

    Best of luck.

  5. I think you’re entering MG repair territory here πŸ™‚ On a more serious note, if the transmission needed replacing I would say forget it, but the only warning sign to me is the sump and head gasket (unless you’re getting someone to fix it for you) as I think I recall seeing a video that it’s not the easiest or cheapest thing to do on a Porsche.

    1. Not a cheap job, indeed. Around 8 hours labour involved.

      I should mention that nothing was reported to be wrong with the sump or head gaskets, just that they were noted as being the original ones on the car. He recommended that at least the sump gasket be done after all this time (I mentioned he’s pedantic, right?).

      I wouldn’t normally consider it except that the car would also benefit from other bits being done while that was being done (e.g. saggy engine mounts). If you’re going to do it, do it right.

      1. My notion is that unless you’re taking a long trip (many uninterrupted hours of driving), a sump gasket failure isn’t likely to be a car killer.

        Head gaskets, on the other hand…

  6. I had a 1990 S2. It was a nightmare. Ended up selling it to another guy who used it to keep his going. A parts car. Transmission, clutch were horrible.

  7. It’s been stated before, to get this car right, will cost a serious amount of money, with a fair chance it will overshoot the actual value. If you’re ok with that and wish to enjoy the car fine. If cost is a factor that matters, walk away from this one, there’s just no cheap way to run a Porsche.

    1. Yep. This is going to have to be a labor-of-love project for sure. Been there…done that.

      I purchased a one owner 1990 5-speed 9000T SPG (yes, SAAB made them) in 2004 for USD$2,500.00, that had been sitting for 5 years.

      Put over USD$12,000.000 into it fixing all of the items that had been neglected by the first owner…and sold it in 2007 for USD$3,500.00.

      http://i1366.photobucket.com/albums/r764/tsn48/9000SPG_2_zpsb59ca922.jpg

      It also had a long list of “must do” items which had to be attended to immediately, and an equally long list of other items that were addressed shortly thereafter.

      Really should have kept IT, and sold one of the two 1990 900 SPGs I still have, after sinking so much into it…but didn’t. Oh well…hindsight is always 20-20…isn’t it? πŸ˜‰

      Caveat Emptor Steven. πŸ™‚

  8. My 2 cents.
    The car is going to be 25 years old very soon, the list is just the beginning of (expensive) repairs to come.
    I’d buy a really cheap project just to play around -and drive close to home- for a while or a car that isn’t from the late 80’s. How about a low milage MY98< 996 if you really want a Porsche that can be taken out on longer journies as well. It will also have some trade in value after a few years unlike the 944. Performance cars that cost ”only” 15-20.000 are usally the worst and most expensive IMO unless you are a mechanic yourself.

  9. A Porsche was never a cheap proposition to begin with. Keeping an old one on the road will certainly be even more expensive. I remember a guy wanting a spare key for his 928 Andrew guy behind the counter said $800. Seriously.

  10. It’s a neglected car. The owner cared more about looks than about function.

    You will be paying for maintenance twice. Once when you give the current owner money for maintenance that wasn’t done, and again when you do the maintenance.

    If you’re not in a hurry, and you still want the car, you should explain the facts of (automotive) life to the current owner and make an offer per your maxim (value of a good car minus cost of repairs to get there). $4000 will not cover the most critical needs (tyres, brakes, engine).

    I really doubt that the car will sell at asking, so you need to wait for the current owner to come to the realization that the car isn’t what it pretends to be.

    Is the “Gear stick mod” a short-shift kit? 944 short-shift kits only work in one direction. I believe that side-to-side motion is shorter, but front-to-back is unchanged.

  11. It sounds like the owner was right when he said much was original on the car. (Some things a little too original.) I certainly don’t have experience with used Porsches, but it sounds like this one has really good interior and body, but needs some significant cash to get to be solid and safe mechanically. If you can find one that the prior owner has kept the mechanicals in good shape, but the body and interior need some work, it might be cheaper to get that and pay for a good paint job and some re-upholstery than the other way around.

  12. Porsche parts aren’t all that expensive if you do some research. A $900 key for a 928 is pure fantasy. This car is expensive at the asking price, taking into account all the work that needs to be done. I personally don’t think they are particularly nice to drive and most of the technology was 20 years old when the car was new. There wouldn’t be too many buyers out there so it would put you in a good position to bargain.

    KJ

  13. I can’t believe you have gone from considering a 928 to a 944. They are worlds apart. The 928 was built to be the best at the time..no expense spared. The 944 was built as an entry level car to help Porsches sales through the fuel crisis. The 944 is gutless unless its a turbo, and it’s so small inside you need to be a contortionist to get in and out without bashing your head on the windscreen pillar.
    My 928S4 ( lol yes I have come clean and admitted my bias) is superbly comfortable and handles effortlessly. It’s only fault is that it does everything without drama. I could drive at 200km/h eating an ice cream and dictating a letter if I felt the urge.
    My S4 has done 160,000 km. and still feels like a new car. I have made the effort to understand the vehicle and work with an enthusiast mechanic to keep it in top condition..not difficult at all if you choose to get involved. I have driven many other Porsches including 944’s and have no desire to sell my S4.
    I would suggest you try a 928 again but spend more time to get a feel for its character.

    1. That’s quite a fault. And probably the main reason a 928 hasn’t engaged me in the times I’ve tried it.

      Never say never, but I’ll say ‘not now’ at the moment.

      1. I don’t see it as a fault.. Bad choice of words.
        It’s nice to have a performance vehicle that doesn’t leave you dripping in sweat to have fun behind the wheel.
        I have worked gratis with my Melbourne Porsche mechanic for the last 4 years when he has needed an extra hand. It gave me the opportunity to see how things go together, what can go wrong, and what to look for. The experience covered many versions of 911, 944’s and 928’s. please email me if you wish. I can tell you more about my experiences that may assist your decision. Cheers

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