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dr914jr, Technician
Category: Car
Satisfied Customers: 33
Experience:  I am a second generation Porsche technician and restoration specialist.
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lifters..less than 70,000 miles sticking and having to be replaced

Customer Question

Have you ever heard of the lifters on one side of a 911 engine with less than 70,000 miles sticking and having to be replaced? If so, would you have any idea what might cause something like that to happen?
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Car
Expert:  dr914jr replied 7 years ago.
Some late 911s have had lifter issues but to see all the lifters on one bank fail is a bit bonkers. Are you sure that you have the correct oil in the car? What pressure is displayed on your oil pressure gage?
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
The oil has been exclusively supplied by the dealer upon oil changes and the pressure has appeared normal on the oil pressure gage. The max amount of oil that has been supplemented is about one quart between oil changes and it has been what is specified in the manual. With regard to pressure, it runs between 4 and 5 normally and then around 3 when at idle (i.e when stopped).
Expert:  dr914jr replied 7 years ago.
It sounds like your pressure is perfect and if the dealership has been maintaining the car than the correct oil is probably being used. Did the dealership tell you that you have bad lifters or was it an independent shop that made the diagnosis? What are the car's symptoms?
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
The dealership advised me that the lifters are sticking. They have ordered the parts to fix it, but haven't taken it apart yet. Therefore, they have not actually looked at the lifters yet. The engine is sputtering.
Expert:  dr914jr replied 7 years ago.
It is passable that the lifters are failing or you have an oiling issue on one bank. I would like to see you get a second opinion but if the car is already at the dealership you might just need to trust them. Scurry I know.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
One other factor that might be relevant. The oil gauge has been fluctuating periodically over the past two years. It would go to zero for a second or two and then pop right back up to normal with no change in performance or sound. The dealer in Maine, which maintained the car for the past six years, attributed it to a faulty gauge that wasn't worth changing. Is it possible that there has been an issue for the past two years that has been ignored? The car is now with a dealer in Victoria, BC.

What I am generally trying to understand is what could possibly cause the lifters on just one side to malfunction and need replacing. The repair cost is estimated at $4,000 with $2,800 in parts and the balance in labor. The taxes, etc. are on top of that.
Expert:  dr914jr replied 7 years ago.
I doubt all the lifters are failing on one bank. They probably want to replace all of them since they will already have the cams on that side removed. The funny pressure was probably a failing sending unit (far more common) rather than the gage itself. The biggest cause of failing lifters is probably dirty oil though that is debated in the repair world. The dealership may be correct but I really think you should get an independent opinion.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
One final question. Other than dirty oil, which is unlikely in this case, what else might cause the lifters to stick.
Expert:  dr914jr replied 7 years ago.
Aside from manufacturing defects and just reaching the end of service life all lifter failures are oil related. Low or irregular oil pressure, incorrect viscosity,and dirty oil (most common). That's about it. You could also damage a lifter by constantly "dry starting the engine". Like letting the engine sit for two or more weeks then driving the car. you would need to do that allot to damage a lifter but given enough cycles that will definely do the trick.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
FYI - Once they opened up the engine they discovered that a small metal piece from the timing mechanism had broken off, entered the oil pump and froze it which in turn created other damage. The entire engine needs to be rebuilt or replaced. The dealer is strongly recommending replacing the engine as they can't guarantee there are other small particles that could cause future damage. Also this engine has had a variety of issues in the past and a new engine that is technologically improved over the original 996 engine with a two year warranty would be worth the price. Repairing the old would be about $11,000 and a new about $19,000. Thoughts/comments?
Expert:  dr914jr replied 7 years ago.
wow! That's definely a new one. I've always said that if one of my late 911s lost an engine I'd replace it with a new unit rather than go through a rebuild. These engines are pretty complicated and it's just not worth the trouble that often follows. I would however say the 19k is a bit high. I'd expect something like 14 to 16. Happy turkey day. Yell