The M96/Early M97 Engine failures are well known in the Porsche community. The common failure is when the Intermediate Bearing breaks up and causes engine failure.
Firstly not all engines are affected. Porsche improved the IMS Bearing on some MY2005 (Production year) cars and all MY2006 cars. We can check from your registration number whether your car is fitted with the later improved IMS Bearing. If it is then we don't recommend to do anything other than inspect it when for example your clutch is being replaced.
On earlier cars that have the smaller version of the IMS Bearing, there are a number of things that can be done to minimise the potential risk. When access is available (during clutch change) we always inspect the bearing. It is not possible to see the whole bearing, but we can visually check whether there is any play in the bearing. If everything is good, then we would recommend removing the outer cover to allow oil into the bearing. On many higher mileage cars ( 60000 miles onwards) the cover may already be split and oil has been access the bearing, which is good news.
If the bearing is showing any signs that give cause for concern, then the choice is to replace the bearing with the original Porsche bearing or an aftermarket solution. You cannot fit the later Porsche bearing unless the engine is being rebuilt. Therefore if you replace with a new Porsche bearing, then in theory the problem can reoccur, although we would recommend removing the outer cover to add lubrication. Alternatively we have here at Nine Excellence in these instances been fitting the EPS Bearing without one subsequent failure.
The logical time to inspect the bearing and any subsequent course of action is when your clutch is being done in conjunction with a leaking Rear Main Seal (RMS) or leaking Intermediate Main Seal (IMS). It significantly reduces the cost since the gearbox has been removed already. For those with tiptronic transmission, please contact us as depending on model, the engine needs to come down to do this.
For more information on the aftermarket bearing click here to access EPS website