Your Engine’s Guardian

Published in the January 2012 issue of “Die Porsche Kassette”

Your Engine’s Guardian../Site/Articles.html
press here to go back to the TECHNICAL ARTICLES PAGE

Your Engine’s Guardian       by Pedro P. Bonilla (GCR PCA)

Worrying about catastrophic engine failure in your Porsche may keep you up at night.

If it does, then you need to read on.  Reading this article will do much more to cure your insomnia than taking a bunch of “Lunesta” sleep-aid pills.

If you Google “Porsche engine failure” you will get over 1,000,000 results.  Most of them having something to do with the IMS (Inter-Mediate Shaft) Bearing.

As most of you are aware, the factory bearing on the end of the IMS on all 1997- 2008 Boxsters, all 1999 - 2008 Carreras and all 2006 - 2008 Caymans can be prone to failure on a small percentage of those cars. 

If it fails, the most likely outcome is catastrophic engine failure.  Translation: It’ll cost you a bunch of money. 

A new engine, just the engine, can run you $18,000.

Installation labor and other ancillary parts such as clutch, RMS, etc. can bring the total to well over $20,000. 

Even if you can find a decent used engine, your total cost could still be over $7,000 - $8,000.

Installing an aftermarket ceramic IMS bearing as a preemptive measure is a solution, but that can run you over $4,500 when all is said and done.  You’ll have to drop the transmission and remove the clutch and the flywheel.  Most likely, the clutch should be replaced, also as a preemptive measure.

The IMS Guardian was developed specifically for the M96/M97 Porsche engines found in the aforementioned models.  It uses technology borrowed from military and commercial helicopters which use similar sensors to detect ferrous metal (chip) particles in the engine’s and/or transmission’s oil.  These sensors are commonly known as MCD (Magnetic Chip Detector) or just as “chip detectors”.

Ferrous metal chips in the engine’s oil is a sure sign that excessive internal engine wear is happening, generally in a bearing such as the IMS Bearing.  When an engine bearing starts to deteriorate, small chips of ferrous metal from it’s races start to be shed into the engine oil.  These chips gradually increase in size and amount as the bearing further deteriorates until the bearing can’t mechanically sustain itself and completely fails.  When this type of failure occurs the immediate result is catastrophic engine failure because the IMS determines the engine’s timing.  When it fails, pistons clash with valves and all hell breaks loose inside the engine causing irreparable damage.

The IMS Guardian comes as a complete Kit that even includes a DVD with step-by-step installation instructions.  For mechanically-minded people, it’s a DIY project.  For the not-so-mechanically inclined, an independent Porsche Shop will be happy to install it for you. 

Installation should take about 2.5 hours and it is generally done during a scheduled oil change.

Even though I had already upgraded my car’s IMS bearing with the new ceramic bearing when I refreshed my engine at 203,000 miles, I installed one of the first IMS Guardians as well.  The IMS bearing is not the only bearing that can fail in the M96/M97 engines and since I take my car to AXs and DEs on a regular basis, I’d like as much warning as possible if one of those bearings were to fail.

The cost of this new device is just under $400.00.

I’m sleeping very well, thank you  ;)

To learn more about the IMS Guardian, how to purchase it, and more, please visit my website:

Happy Porsche-ing,


© 2011 Technolab/

Here’s the good news!

There’s a new product on the market called the IMS Guardian that can bring you peace of mind.

Installing the IMS Guardian doesn’t cure a potential IMS failure, but it will alert you if the IMS bearing starts to fail with enough time to allow you to safely get to where you’re going, stop the engine and consider your options.

The IMS Guardian’s primary component is its MCD sensor which contains two powerful but opposite-pole permanent magnets set with a very specific insulated air gap between them.  Each magnet is connected to an electric lead which sends a signal to the processor when it detects chips thus generating a visual and audible alert.

These magnets are permanently set into a new oil drain plug, so they are positioned in the optimum location to attract any ferrous chips collected by the oil.

When the metal buildup on the magnets is enough to bridge the air gap it is like closing a switch which sets off the alarm.

Inside the cabin all you see is an unmarked  factory lighted switch which replaces one of the blanks in the dash.  When all is well, the switch has a constant amber light. 

If the sensors trigger the alarm, the amber light turns red and a loud buzzer which sits behind the dash will also be activated.  The switch has also a built-in test circuit which allows you to manually test the system and make sure everything is working fine.

We are not supporting nor endorsing this product any longer.

Although we believe in the concept, the manufacturer has not been able to provide a trouble-free product even with three different versions.  The product leaks oil considerably through the oil plug. 

We pulled it from our vehicle and do not offer it for sale on our website.