IMS Bearing Kits
The Definitive Guide and FAQ for Porsche IMS Bearings
All Porsche Boxster, Cayman, and 911 vehicles from 1997 through 2008 with the M96 or M97 engine have an IMS (intermediate shaft) that is supported by a sealed ball bearing. The intermediate shaft bearing fitted by Porsche was intended to last the lifetime of the engine with no service interval, replacement procedure, or replacement IMS bearing offered by Porsche for the original IMS bearing. Replacing or upgrading the original factory IMS bearing was not possible until LN Engineering pioneered the IMS Retrofit procedure with development of the required tools to remove and change the IMS bearing. This allowed for the replacement of the IMS bearing in Porsche Boxster and 911 engines with a superior ceramic hybrid ball bearing used in all IMS Retrofit kits. Keep reading our definitive guide on Porsche IMS bearings and frequently asked questions to learn everything you need to know about intermediate shaft bearings and why LN Engineering's IMS bearing Retrofit and Solution products are the best to resolve problematic IMS bearing issues with Porsche Boxster, Cayman, and 911 engines.
What do you know about IMS Bearings?
If you don't have time to read through our comprehensive guide to IMS bearings and frequently asked questions, here are the facts on intermediate shaft bearings made simple with everything you need to know about the Porsche IMS bearing to make an educated decision on what you should do about your IMS bearing in your 1997-2008 Porsche Boxster, Cayman, or 911 M96 or M97 engine.
Fact 1. The Porsche IMS bearing was the subject of the Eisen Class Action lawsuit which was settled by Porsche that affects Boxster 986 and 911 (996 and early 997) models with the single row IMS bearing.
Fact 2. Single row failure rates of 8% and 1% for dual row bearings were reported at the time of the Eisen Class Action lawsuit. However, as Porsche Boxster, Cayman, and 911 engines age, the failure rate for the IMS bearing increases rather than decreasing like some falsely claim. Just because your bearing hasn't failed yet doesn't mean you don't have to change your IMS bearing. The IMS bearing is a wear item and needs to be replaced as part of regularly scheduled maintenance.
Fact 3. A ball bearing was originally chosen by Porsche because of its ability to handle both axial and thrust loads evenly. Although roller bearings are commonly used in automotive applications like gearboxes, a roller bearing can only handle 10% of it's total load capacity as thrust where a ball bearing can handle 50% of total load as thrust. That is why roller bearings often are paired with a ball bearing to provide thrust control as is the case in Porsche gearboxes.
Fact 4. Porsche came out with their own IMS bearing replacement in 2017
using a sealed ceramic hybrid ball bearing like the IMS Retrofit, which was
almost a decade after LN Engineering released the IMS Retrofit in 2008.
Fact 5. The dual row bearings used in the Patented Single Row Pro and Classic Dual Row IMS Retrofit have load ratings equal to similarly sized cylindrical roller IMS bearings. Claims that roller bearings have 5 times or more load capacity are completely false*.
Fact 6. The M96 and M97 Engine is wet sump. This means the IMS is submerged in
oil and is bathed and lubricated by the oil in your engine. No forced oiling or direct oil feed is required for any ball or roller
bearing when an open bearing is used. Furthermore, ceramic hybrid ball bearings
need less oil than conventional ball or roller bearings, only needing 1cc of oil
per minute under normal circumstances to properly lubricate the IMS Retrofit
Fact 7. The IMS Solution is the only permanent fix that backdates your IMS to work like the IMS in an aircooled Mezger flat 6 engine using an oil fed plain bearing with no moving parts to fail. The IMS Solution uses the patented spin on filter adapter with an IMS oil feed to provide filtered oil to the IMS bearing. The IMS Solution is not to be mistaken with the direct oil feed (DOF) that still utilizes a ball bearing and IMS oil feed to lubricate the ball bearing.
Fact 8. With almost 40,000 sold and installed since 2008, the IMS Retrofit and IMS Solution are trusted worldwide as the first and best IMS bearing replacement options for Porsche Boxster and 911 engines.
Fact 9. To date, there are no confirmed failures of qualified installations of the dual row ceramic bearings used in the Single Row Pro IMS Retrofit, Classic Dual Row IMS Retrofit kits, or of the pressure oil fed plain bearing IMS Solution.
*The factory single row 6204 bearing a dynamic load capacity of 2900# with thrust max load rating of 1450#. The NJ or NU204 cylindrical bearing commonly used with roller bearing ims bearing replacements has a dynamic load capacity of 3750# with thrust max load rating of 375#. The custom dual row ceramic hybrid bearings used by LN Engineering in both the Single Row Pro and Classic Dual Row IMS Retrofit has a dynamic load capacity of 4000# w/ Thrust or 2000#.
What is the Porsche IMS Bearing issue?
An intermediate shaft has been used ever since Porsche developed the aircooled 911 engine, starting in 1965 with the 2.0. The purpose of the intermediate shaft is to drive the camshafts indirectly off the crankshaft. By using an intermediate shaft, the speed of the chains are reduced, which is better for chain life. This basic design was used throughout the entire lifespan of the aircooled six-cylinder Mezger engine used through 1998. The inclusion of an intermediate shaft which drives the camshafts indirectly off the crankshaft has been a mainstay of the horizontally-opposed flat 6 engine utilized by Porsche.
The same design has been retained with the water-cooled Turbo, GT2, and GT3 models as their engines are based off the same 964 engine case with the same internals as the earlier aircooled engines. This intermediate shaft features plain bearings that are pressure fed engine oil for lubrication and never fail. If these bearings wear out, and engine may develop a slight knocking noise due to increased running clearance, but this condition will never result in a catastrophic engine failure.
With the introduction of the Boxster in 1997, a sealed ball bearing was used on the flywheel side of the engine to support the intermediate shaft
rather than a pressure fed, plain bearing found on earlier engines. Porsche did not provide a procedure
to replace this IMS bearing, specify a service interval for the changing out the
IMS bearing, or even offer a replacement IMS bearing for purchase for
installation as part of preventative maintenance. All Boxster, Cayman, and 911
models from 1997 through 2008 share this problematic design, with exception of the
Turbo, GT2, and GT3 models that utilize the Mezger engine. To learn more about
the intermediate shaft, check out
What Porsche models have IMS bearing problems?
Although the early dual row bearing and larger bearing used in 2006 though 2008 model year vehicles have a relatively low failure rate (reported at 1% by the Eisen Class Action Lawsuit), the single row ims bearing used from 2000 through 2005 had a reported failure rate of 8% under warranty. However in the years since the Eisen settlement, failure rates have increased the longer the original bearings have been in service, so anyone with a 1997-2005 Boxster or 911 should have their intermediate shaft bearing replaced as part of preventative maintenance to prevent catastrophic engine failures in their Porsche engines caused by failure of the IMS bearing.
Starting in 2009, the Porsche Boxster, Cayman, and 911 vehicles received the MA1 engine which eliminated the intermediate shaft completely, driving the camshafts directly off the crankshaft.
When does the IMS bearing need to be changed in my Boxster or 911?
LN Engineering receives calls and emails daily from concerned owners of Porsche Boxster, 997, and early 997 models asking if and when they need to replace the IMS bearing. Some chose to roll the dice and hope they do not experience an IMS bearing failure. Odds are in your favor that you’ll never experience an intermediate shaft bearing failure in your Porsche engine, but that is little consolation for those having experienced a failure out of warranty who end up having to spend more to repair their engine than what the car is worth. Others choose to purchase extended warranties, but often these warranty companies won't let the customer choose how they want the engine fixed. They will pay for installation of a used engine or a budget rebuild from a less than reputable source. Many extended warranty policies have exclusions for manufacturer defects, oil lubricated parts, or limits on what they will pay out based on the wholesale value of your Porsche vehicle. First and foremost, owners should continue to drive and enjoy their cars and not let fear dictate their actions or inactions. Being informed and aware of the IMS bearing issue is the first step to happy Porsche ownership.
It is not known exactly why these bearings failure, but there are many contributing factors including over-loading. Poor lubrication, long drain intervals, high fuel and moisture content in the engine oil, high oil temperatures, and even operational speeds can affect bearing life. That’s why some bearings last 3,000 miles and others have lasted over 200,000 miles. One thing is for sure: once you have experienced an IMS bearing failure, there is no turning back. Complete engine disassembly is required to repair the engine which involves replacing the intermediate shaft along with a new IMS bearing. In most cases, complete rebuild or engine replacement is your only option to repair a failed IMS bearing.
When an IMS failure occurs, or more specifically the
ball-bearing or bearing support fails, the intermediate shaft is damaged beyond
the point of being serviceable, but moreover, debris from the failure
contaminates the entire engine, requiring a complete teardown and rebuild to
recover from such a failure. In worst-case scenarios, the cam timing can also be
thrown off, causing valve to piston contact, and in some cases, even lead to a
failure that requires replacement of the engine. In that case, the engine will
not be accepted as a core, requiring the purchase of another core or to pay an
ever-increasing core charge on top of the cost of the replacement engine. Aside
from the pro-active approach of replacing the IMS bearing prior to such a
failure, prevention and early detection are some of the steps that can be taken
to try to minimize the risk of a costly engine failure.
One attempt at extending the life of the original IMS bearing removing the grease seal off the factory intermediate shaft bearings for years to better improve their lubrication and cooling, as is the case with model year 2006 through 2008 engines, as that’s the only preventative measure that can be taken that is cost effective as the other option is to tear down the engine completely to access the intermediate shaft, for which upgraded IMS bearings are available for installation at this point.
With model year 1997 through 2005 engines however, the bearing is indeed accessible. Any IMS bearing replacement is intended to be installed as a pro-active measure in preventative and regular maintenance. Once an engine has suffered a failure, replacement of the intermediate shaft bearing is no longer an option. Installing a replacement IMS bearing in an engine that has already suffered a failure will result in a subsequent failure due to collateral damage, including but not limited to debris contaminating the new bearing.
Do Porsche 997 models have IMS problems?
Although the forums might tell you that 987 and 997 models do not have IMS
bearing problems, some 2005 model year vehicles were fitted with the problematic
single row bearing. The larger, non-serviceable bearing used in the 2006 through
2008 model year Porsche Boxster, Cayman, and 911 models is the strongest of the
factory Porsche intermediate shaft bearings, but they still can fail. As the
bearing cannot be changed without complete engine disassembly, many experts
agree that removing the grease seal off the IMS bearing will extend the service
life of original bearing and is a must anytime you have the gearbox out to do a
clutch job or replace the rear main seal.
What happens when the IMS bearing fails?
The purpose of the intermediate shaft is to drive the camshafts which are
connected to the intermediate shaft by way of two timing chains on either end of
the shaft. The intermediate shaft is driven by the crankshaft via another timing
chain. Unlike the intermediate shaft in a Mezger engine, the M96/M97 uses an oil
plain bearing on one end and a sealed ball bearing on the other end. However,
when the ball bearing fails, there may be a loss of proper camshaft timing
resulting in bent valves, however the foreign object debris that is generated by
the failure of the ims bearing can cause further collateral damage, requiring
the engine to be completely disassembled to be repaired. Simply waiting to
change an IMS bearing until it has failed isn't an option.
What are the symptoms of an IMS bearing failure?
In many cases, the first symptom of an IMS bearing failure is catastrophic damage to the engine. Since the original ball bearing used by Porsche is sealed, this seal works to keep wear debris contained within the bearing. It is not until the bearing is close to complete failure that the grease seal on the IMS bearing wears out, allowing debris to exit the bearing. This debris will get caught in the oil filter and looks like silver glitter. Since it's ferrous, running a magnet over the filter media will pick it up. However, the single row bearing used from 2000-2005 can go from generating no visible debris to complete failure with no warning, unlike the earlier dual row bearing that often will continue emitting wear particles for thousands of miles before complete failure.
Some will refer to used oil analysis and filter inspections to determine if
their original or replacement IMS bearing is in good condition, but this can
provide a false sense of security. Used oil analysis cannot detect IMS wear
debris as the particle size is much larger than what used oil analysis can
identify. Likewise, just because there is no debris in the oil filter that
doesn't mean the IMS bearing doesn't need to be changed out as an IMS bearing
can go from good to bad in no time. It is best practice to change the IMS
bearing before in starts to fail as part of regularly scheduled maintenance.
That also goes for engines that have already been fitted with a replacement ball
or roller bearing IMS as these all are wear components with exception of the IMS
Solution that backdates the problematic IMS bearing with an oil fed plain
bearing like that in a Mezger engine.
How much does it cost to replace the IMS bearing in my Porsche?
On average, IMS bearing replacement can run $3500-4500 but the cost to have
the IMS bearing changed in a Boxster or 911 can vary greatly depending on
regional labor rates and also how much deferred maintenance has to be carried
out. The IMS pre-qualification can take
several hours to make sure your engine is indeed healthy enough to have its IMS
bearing changed out. The ims bearing replacement procedure itself will take 10-14
hours, depending on the model of Porsche. Tiptronic 911 models require the
engine and transmission to be dropped to separate the engine and transmission to
be able to change the IMS bearing. Additionally, there are many other items that should be
addressed as part of preventative maintenance, so it is not uncommon to spend
more on labor and replacing parts other than the IMS bearing like the AOS and
Which IMS bearing does my M96 or M97 engine have?
From 1997 to 1999, Porsche use a dual row intermediate shaft bearing which has proven to be as robust as the larger single row used from 2006 through 2008 model years. The Eisen vs Porsche Class Action Lawsuit filed against Porsche over IMS failures revealed the factory Dual Row was much stronger than the Single Row used from 2000-2005. According to information published about the Eisen IMS Class Action Lawsuit, the single row IMS bearing used in 2000 through 2005 model years is reported to have an 8% failure rate, versus less than 1% with the dual row IMS bearing which has twice the load capacity of the single row bearing used by Porsche.
Starting in 2000, Porsche began phasing out the dual row bearing and went to a smaller single row, with significantly less load capacity. From 2002 through 2005, all engines used this smaller intermediate shaft bearing until they went to the larger, third revision for the 2006 model year, which increased the load capacity back to what the original dual row bearing could support. The larger model year 2006 and later bearing also increased the diameter, which increased the bearing and ball speed, further improving the bearing. However, this change has not been enough to resolve the IMS failure issues completely.
If your engine was replaced in or after model year 2006, it will have the larger non-serviceable bearing even if that bearing wasn't original to your model year. Replacement engines from Porsche utilized whatever was the most current IMS bearing in the year the engine was built.
By far, the single row ball-bearing used starting in model year 2000 through
2005 are the most problematic. With half the load capacity, it is clear to see
that the reduced load capacity of the single row IMS bearing is a significant
contributing factor to the increased number of failures and that oiling alone is
not the cause or solution to IMS issues.
What do I do if I have an engine with the larger, non-serviceable IMS bearing?
Although most 2005 model year Boxster and 911 vehicles will have engines originally fitted with the problematic but serviceable 6204 single row ball bearing, some late 2005 builds will have received the larger, non-serviceable 6305 series ball bearing. Any factory replacement engines built in or after the 2006 model year will also have the larger, non-serviceable bearing. Even though the larger 06-08 intermediate shaft bearing is the most robust bearing Porsche used from the factory, we recommend that you still plan on having the grease seal removed off the IMS bearing to extend the life of the original bearing as soon as possible. This allows the bearing to be lubricated by the oil in the sump. Remember, the M96 engine is wet sump meaning the IMS bearing is partially submerged in oil - adding a pressure fed oil feed to the IMS bearing is not necessary. This bit of preventative maintenance is important since the engine must be completely disassembled to replace the bearing.
And yes, before you ask, we are aware of a company that recommends boring out the case to allow you to change this non-serviceable bearing. We strongly encourage anyone who is thinking of having this invasive procedure done ask yourself, where does all that foreign object debris from boring the case out go? That's right, it goes right into the engine. In the process, you will compromise the entire engine. Just do yourself a favor and have the grease seal removed and stop at that. This can be very simply done once the IMS flange is removed. The following video shows you how to remove the grease seal. Once you pull the seal, you can replace the IMS flange seals and o-ring on the center stud. Just be sure to follow the required IMS servicing procedure before carrying out any work.
Once the seal has been removed, we recommend a shorter oil change interval of no more than 6 months and 5,000 miles, using a quality 5w40 motor oil. Regular used oil analysis along with periodic inspection of the oil filter can be used to monitor the condition of the IMS bearing moving forward.
Did Porsche ever offer a factory replacement IMS bearing?
For years, the only way you could replace your IMS bearing was to tear down your engine completely and install a completely new intermediate shaft from Porsche. Many people do not know, but at some point after the resolution of the Eisen Class Action lawsuit, Porsche chose release their own IMS bearing replacement kit using a sealed 6204 ceramic hybrid ball bearing, with 52100 steel races and sintered silicon nitride balls. This came a full decade after LN Engineering publicly released its first IMS Retrofit kit, using the same ceramic hybrid ball bearing technology Porsche eventually chose to utilize with their own bearing replacement.
Why use a ceramic ball bearing IMS bearing upgrade in Porsche Boxster or 911?
Ceramic hybrid ball bearings use 52100 steel races with sintered silicon nitride (ceramic) balls. In the case of the IMS Retrofit, CERBEC balls are utilized.
52100 bearing steel is one kind of special steel with features of high wear resistance and rolling fatigue strength. High-carbon chromium bearing steel, engineering steel and some types of stainless steel and heat resistant steel are used as materials of bearings and for other purposes.
Sintered silicon nitride balls are used in ceramic hybrid ball bearings. There are many benefits to these advanced ceramics over conventional steel balls, including no cold welding or adhesive wear, and with lowered centrifugal forces, ball-skidding is minimized. Beyond spalling caused by mechanical overload which is commonly seen in original IMS bearings, adhesive wear and ball-skidding are commonly seen in worn or failing IMS bearings.
Silicon nitride is a chemical
compound of the elements silicon and nitrogen. Si3N4 is the most
thermodynamically stable of the silicon nitrides. It was not until the 1970s
that manufacturing costs were reduced and the sintering process, which takes a
slurry and under extreme temperature and pressure, allows shapes, like ceramic
ball bearings, to be manufactured. The resulting material is highly resistant to
abrasion and corrosion, with the highest fracture resistance of all ceramics
used in manufacturing. Beyond engine, wheel, transmission, and clutch bearings,
silicon nitride components have found their way into motorsports, medical,
aircraft, and manufacturing. Specifically, it can be used in valve trains,
rotors and stators in turbines, turbochargers, and even rockets, where few
materials exist that can survive extreme conditions.
Naysayers cite conventional bearings, whether roller or ball bearing, as a better choice for the IMS than a ceramic hybrid ball bearing, but those studies carried out by NASA are over 14 years old. Early ceramics did indeed have a shorter service life than bearings with conventional balls, but modern ceramic hybrid bearings with sintered silicon nitride balls have been proven to last anywhere from three to ten times longer, exceeding predicted life significantly, suggesting models for bearing life do not accurately match real world results of ceramic hybrid ball bearings.
Since their introduction in the 1960s and development carried out by SKF (MRC)
in the 1970s, ceramics have improved greatly, eliminating concerns about
reliability, with cost being their only limiting factor in implementation in
applications where their wear resistance and reduced friction promote longer
bearing life compared to conventional bearings. The first commercially available
ceramic bearings were offered in 1984 and it was Koyo that pioneered the first
practical application of silicon nitride in bearings. It is believed that
automobile manufacturers will continue to utilizing silicon nitride as greater
demands for increased fuel economy are mandated.
Is an oil feed required to lubricate my Porsche's IMS bearing?
Oiling is just one part of the problem. The solution is simple. The intermediate shaft is located at the bottom of the engine and is submerged in oil. Eliminating the grease seal opens up the bearing to the oil located in the “integrated dry sump,” aka wet sump where all the oil is housed. As supplied by Porsche, the intermediate shaft uses a sealed ball bearing. The original bearing was grease filled, considered a “permanent” lubricant. However, the original bearings and seals used are rated only to 250F and over time, the seals become hard, allowing the grease under normal operation to be “washed” out of the bearing during operation. As the intermediate shaft itself is completely submerged at times, the shaft will actually fill up with engine oil. With long drain intervals, contaminants in the oil find their way into the bearings and intermediate shaft. The IMS tube itself will end up storing a sizable amount of oil that will centrifugally be fed to the bearing during operation. This is another reason why frequent oil changes are a must – as this oil gets trapped and is one of the sources for lubrication of the bearing! These worn out seals do allow oil in but they also limit the exchange of fresh oil in and out of the intermediate shaft.
Once the bearing begins to wear, the seal will actually fail completely, allowing for oil to wash out the permanent grease but not allowing for fresh oil to exchange in and out of the bearing during operation. It is at this point that you can begin to find debris in the filter from the seal and from the bearing itself.
The IMS Retrofit uses an open bearing (no grease seal), allow engine oil to freely enter and exit the bearing. The ceramic hybrid bearing used in all IMS Retrofit kits require minimal oiling, far exceeded by oil in the engine’s “integrated dry sump.” According to Maintenencebits.com, a higher oil level, especially in higher speed applications, often creates more heat. This can reduce the oil viscosity even further, leading to metal-to-metal contact in the bearing, and a reduction in bearing service life. The proper static oil level for an open single row deep groove ball bearing mounted on a horizontal shaft is at the centerline of the lowest rolling element.
Some claim without forced oiling of the ball bearing there is inadequate lubrication. Unfortunately, there is no evidence of this with thousands of stock or ceramic hybrid replacement bearings we have inspected. If oil alone was the problem, we would expect failure percentages from the Eisen Class Action Lawsuit to be the same for single and dual row IMS bearings, which is clearly not the case.
Another issue that forced oiling of a ball bearing does not solve is
over-loading of the ball bearing.
The single row ball bearing used starting in 2000 through 2005 was replaced with
a larger bearing in 2006 with double the load capacity, restoring the original
load capacity the dual row bearing first used in the M96 engine. Insufficient
load capacity leading to wear and fatigue is the primary problem with the single
row bearing used in 2000 through 2005, not lubrication! It is for this same
reason that the class action lawsuit settlement regarding the IMS only covers
vehicles with the single row bearing as found in 2000 through 2005 model year
The IMS Solution and Single Row Pro IMS Retrofit both provide increased load capacity over the conventional single row bearing, but the IMS Solution eliminates the problematic ball bearing by using a simple plain bearing that is pressure fed oil. Orifice size as well as oil source for lubrication of the IMS Solution has been engineered to ensure optimal operation while not causing side-effects from pressure losses (leading to lifter and variocam problems), oil foaming, and crankcase windage that flood oil feeding a ball bearing causes.
Forced oiling of a ball or roller IMS bearing does not provide any benefit as the bearing does not require or benefit from additional oil. Lubrication alone is not the problem.
Is a ball bearing or roller bearing IMS bearing replacement best for my Porsche M96 engine?
As you would imagine, the IMS Retrofit kit went through many iterations during development, including forced oiling of the ball bearing prior to switching to a ceramic ball for it’s performance in environments with poor lubrication. We did develop a version that utilized a cylindrical roller bearing with thrust ring, but it never made it from testing to production for the primary reason that Porsche chose a ball bearing originally, not a roller. Remember that Porsche also chose to use a ceramic hybrid ball bearing for their replacement released in 2017 as well when they could have chosen a roller bearing. Roller bearings have been used in automotive applications like gearboxes when paired with a ball bearing for thrust control for many years and can also be utilized in this application if sufficient thrust control is provided. Some manufacturers make false claims about the load ratings of their roller bearings with deceptive advertising. So when researching what bearing technology you want to use, there are some facts that are important to consider:
A deep groove ball bearing as currently used in the IMS Retrofit can take up to 50% of the dynamic load in thrust.
A traditional cylindrical roller bearing with thrust control can only take up to 10% of the dynamic load in thrust.
Roller bearings are higher friction than
The factory single row 6204 bearing a dynamic load capacity of 2900# with thrust max load rating of 1450#.
The NJ or NU204 cylindrical bearing commonly used in IMS bearing replacements has a dynamic load capacity of 3750# with thrust max load rating of 375#.
The custom dual row ceramic hybrid ball bearings used in both the Single Row Pro and Classic Dual Row IMS Retrofit has a dynamic load capacity of 4000# w/ Thrust or 2000#.
SSF Imported Auto Parts specifically requested a roller bearing kit to satisfy requests from the independent Porsche repair shops they service as they were not satisfied by any of the commercially available roller bearing kits offered by other suppliers. LN Engineering was able to supply them an already proven design superior to all other cylindrical roller bearing IMS kits. The expanded load capacity roller bearing utilized in the RND RS Roller cylindrical roller bearing IMS kit has a 5800# dynamic load capacity with thrust 580#, without any requirement for additional forced lubrication. Typical installations of cylindrical roller bearings are paired with a ball bearing to provide thrust control, where the RND RS Roller has integrated thrust control internal to the bearing. For those unfamiliar with SSF Auto Parts, they are a wholesale distributor of quality European auto parts and supply repair shops as well as parts retailers such as Pelican Parts. You may have done business with SSF and not even known it. Click here to learn more about SSF.
Roller bearings, like ball bearings, will have service intervals, requiring
future replacement. The only IMS replacement that is permanent and does not
require future servicing is the IMS Solution.
What can be done to minimize the chance of an IMS failure in my Porsche engine?
Remember, not driving your car or worst yet, not driving it like Porsche intended can make the problem worse. Although a greatly debated subject, most experts agree that more frequent oil changes with a quality 5w40 motor oil like Driven DT40 every 6 months or 5,000 miles is a good first step. Secondly, actually driving your Porsche more often and avoiding higher gears to keep the revs above 2500-3000 rpm is another good step to take to improve the life of the ball-bearing in the intermediate shaft. Although there is limited data, the general trend is that lower mileage vehicles with infrequent oil changes or driven light-footed (as in run at low speed/engine rpms) are most likely to suffer a failure rather than those cars that are driven hard and well-maintained.
Along with more frequent oil changes, the addition of a magnetic drain plug coupled with close inspection of the oil filter and magnet at these shorter intervals may help owners identify a failure in its early stages, but later models using the single row bearing can fail with little warning. When inspecting the filter and magnetic drain plug, ferromagnetic debris from the intermediate shaft bearing can be identified easily, appearing like silver glitter. Larger debris than this is indicative of a complete failure. Installation of the LN Engineering Spin-On Filter Adapter can help to prevent debris from re-entering the engine. This is accomplished by eliminating the bypass that can allow this wear metal from causing collateral damage in your engine. When using the Spin on Filter Adapter & FilterMag, a filter cutter is used to inspect the full flow filter.
It is best practice to replace the IMS bearing as part of regular
preventative maintenance. Depending on what bearing technology is used, service
intervals can vary greatly, with the IMS Solution's oil fed plain IMS bearing is
considered the best solution to prevent IMS bearing failures.
What if my original bearing is failing or has already failed?
The IMS Retrofit and IMS Solution procedures are intended for PROACTIVE installation and not REACTIVE measures only and should be considered a preventative maintenance item, like a timing belt on many modern engines. Once your original bearing has failed it is too late. Performing an IMS Retrofit or IMS Solution procedure after a failure will not “save” your engine. By no means should an IMS Retrofit procedure be carried out if the original bearing has started to fail as the intermediate shaft will be damaged by such failure. If the IMS bearing needs to be cut out of the IMS bearing tube (shaft) to remove it, by no means can a new bearing be installed! The engine will have to be disassembled and intermediate shaft replaced.
There are many reasons for bearing failure, and usually each failure is due to a combination of causes, not just a single cause. Spalling occurs as a result of normal fatigue where the bearing has reached the end of its normal life span but this is not the most common cause of bearing failure. Spalling detected in bearings can generally be attributed to other factors. A common cause of bearing failure is due to contamination from tiny metallic particles left over from a previous mechanical failure. These particles are suspended in the oil and if they are allowed to get into the bearing, the result is tiny dents in the hard steel raceway. Often the dent is surrounded by a microscopic raised area (or ‘lip’), and when the ball rolls over this lip, the ultra-high point loading exceeds the strength of the steel and it fractures, leaving behind a jagged depression (or ‘pit’). Once this cycle begins, wear is greatly accelerated and the bearing will fail prematurely. One of the most common sources of trouble in bearings is wear and pitting caused by foreign particles and is responsible for 70% of all early bearing failures.
How do I know if I should replace my Porsche's IMS bearing?
The following eleven step IMS Retrofit Pre- Qualification procedure was developed by Jake Raby at Flat 6 Innovations. During the initial development of the IMS Retrofit Procedure and components, some items of concern were noted from the very beginning. Over the years, these procedures have been updated to address these, thus increasing the effectiveness of the IMS Retrofit procedure. This procedure has been employed at Flat 6 Innovations since the very first IMS Retrofit was performed. To date it has resulted in a 100% success rate for the Flat 6 Innovations Preventative Service program. Having performed the very first IMS Retrofit and after performing more IMS Retrofits than any other facility, a perfect record has been maintained by Flat 6 Innovations by employing these procedures verbatim. Today, roughly 20% of all engines that are inspected will fail this pre- qualification, and will require repairs to be made prior to the IMS Retrofit being performed. The biggest mistake that can be made is assuming that every vehicle is healthy enough to have the IMS Retrofit performed. The second biggest mistake that can be made is not taking the pre-qualification procedure seriously. Please, pay attention to each and every engine, and realize that not every engine is a viable candidate for an IMS Retrofit.
How much does it cost to replace the Porsche IMS bearing?
On 1997 through 2005 models where the IMS bearing is serviceable, excluding parts bearing replacement usually takes 10 to 14 hours and depends on the model being serviced. Tiptronic 911 models require the engine and transmission to be dropped to facilitate replacement of the IMS bearing, so plan on extra expense with those models. Boxster, Cayman, and 911 vehicles from model year 2006 through 2008 have a non-serviceable IMS bearing which should have the grease seal removed to allow the engine oil to properly lubricate the bearing.
How do I check to see if my IMS bearing has always been replaced?
Vehicles previously retrofitted with an IMS Retrofit or IMS Solution IMS bearing replacement should have a serial number sticker affixed. LN Engineering maintains an online database. You can look up your IMS serial number at https://imsretrofit.com/ims-check/ which provides production date and if registered, will also provide additional information regarding the installation (where available).
Who can change my IMS bearing?
LN Engineering products are sold worldwide to independent repair shops and dealerships through authorized resellers. Professional installation is recommended, however installation by a Preferred or Certified Installer is not required. We do offer a list of Preferred Installers that are required carry out pre-qualification and register all installations. IMS Solution LLC also maintains Certified Installers that have received training from and invited by The Knowledge Gruppe to be an IMS Solution Certified Installer.
LN Engineering offers tool rental for do it yourself enthusiasts. Before committing to carry out the procedures yourself, Bentley Publishers has produced an excellent video on the IMS Retrofit procedure using the LN Engineering IMS Retrofit kit and IMS Pro Tool Kit based off the procedure developed by Flat 6 Innovations and LN Engineering LLC. The procedure outlined by the Bentley video allows for extraction of the original factory sealed ball-bearing in model year 1997 through 2005 vehicles and replacement using LN Engineering’s ceramic hybrid ball-bearing which is exposed to engine oil for lubrication.
What is the warranty on the IMS Retrofit and IMS Solution?
The Single Row Pro and Classic Dual Row IMS Retrofit are offered with a two year or 24,000 miles limited warranty, whichever comes first. The IMS Solution carries a five year unlimited mileage limited warranty. The warranty is valid only if the product was installed as part of preventative maintenance before the original bearing failed or has begun to fail and all installation guidelines and requirements including pre-qualification and registration are met.
What are the service intervals for replacement IMS bearings?
Depending on which bearing is used, the recommended service interval varies by time and mileage, whichever comes first:
Classic Single Row IMS Retrofit
(which was superseded by the Single Row Pro) - 4 years or 50,000 miles.
Single Row Pro and Classic Dual Row IMS Retrofit - 6 years or 75,000 miles.
The IMS Solution - Permanent. Designed for the life of the engine.
IMS Retrofit. The First. The Original IMS Bearing Replacement for Porsche Boxster, Cayman, and 911 models.
The IMS Retrofit™ and IMS Solution™ are registered trademarks of LN Engineering LLC - the original ceramic hybrid ball-bearing and only permanent oil-fed plain bearing replacement for the M96 / M97 engine - the only IMS kits trusted by hundreds of independent mechanics and used by dealerships worldwide. All other bearing replacements are just imitations.
All genuine LN IMS Retrofit kits come laser etched, engraved, and serial numbered to validate their authenticity and feature custom-made, ceramic hybrid ball bearings made exclusively for LN Engineering using Japanese 52100 bearing races, polyamide or steel cages, and genuine Cerbec sintered silicon nitride ceramic balls that are made in the USA.
The IMS Solution: NO MOVING PARTS. NO BALL BEARING. NO PROBLEM.
Prevent costly engine failure by eliminating the problematic ball-bearing by backdating your IMS with a pressure fed oil lubricated plain bearing, just like in an aircooled Porsche. This patented design is the last IMS bearing you will ever need.
RND RS Roller IMS Retrofit: The only IMS roller bearing retrofit kit with true thrust control.
Cylindrical bearings provide great lateral load capacity, sacrificing their maximum load cap in thrust (axial movement). That’s why precise thrust control is crucial for bearing’s longevity and reliability. RND Roller Bearing IMS Retrofit kit is the only cylindrical roller bearing IMS fix on the market that uses a Genuine Koyo bearing featuring proper heat treated, 52100 bearing steel thrust surfaces on both sides to handle thrust load both fore and aft with increased number of roller elements for added load capacity. Manufactured by RND Engines for distribution by Pelican Parts (Retail) and SSF Imported Auto Parts (Wholesale).
Looking for an IMS Guardian?
The IMS Guardian was manufactured by Flat 6 Innovations. Replacement MCD drain plugs are available from Flat 6 Innovations.
SKU: 106-08.40IMS Solution for Dual Row IMS MY97-01$1,899.00
SKU: 106-08.IMSRORINGSIMS Retrofit O-Ring Kit$19.95
SKU: 106-08.INSTALLKITM96/M97 Camshaft Plug and Tensioner Seal Set
SKU: 107-10Advanced Technical Support (ATS)$170.00
SKU: IMS-TOOL-BUNDLEIMS Bearing Installation Tools Bundle
As low as: $516.60