Looking at buying a used Porsche and concerned about engine failures? Read our "How-to" on Buying a used Porsche Boxster, Cayman, or 911.
The M96 engine is but the latest engine in a long history of both air and water-cooled engines offered in various Porsche models delivering excellent performance at a reasonable price. Just as with engines before it, there have always been little "hiccups" along the way. Even the venerable air-cooled flat-6 had its share of problems leading to fixes implemented as they were developed, from the ever popular Carrera tensioners to the cylinder head leak fixes required of early 964 engines. Once "updated", these engines have proven themselves to have excellent service lives, with many going hundreds of thousands of miles, as is normal with 3.0SC engines with their exceptional reputation for being bulletproof.
Now that the first of many of the new water-cooled Boxster and 911 models featuring the M96 engine are approaching or already are ten years old, many fear impending cylinder or IMS failures as they learn of the weaknesses of the M96 engine. These are no different than some of the problems experienced with any of the air or water-cooled engines pre-dating the M96 engine.
The best advice we have is don't let your Porsche sit - drive it and enjoy it, as Porsche intended.
If it is of any consolation, many who track their cars have yet to experience failures, hinting that cars that are driven often and hard, but well maintained have less problems! The single most important precaution you can do is change your oil often, at least every 3-5,000 mi, and ensure your cooling and oiling system is well maintained and upgraded to handle the extra heat and abuse of track use. LN Engineering offers many products designed to extend the life of your engine from our low temperature thermostat to IMS Retrofits, so there IS hope that you won't have to suffer a catastrophic failure.
That said, if and when you experience a failure, be assured there are solutions to these problems as well as support for even the do-it-yourselfer. So don't fear, you and your Porsche can have a long and happy life together.
LN Engineering is proud to offer our Nickies™, the ultimate cylinders for your Boxster, Cayman, or 911 model.
2.5 Boxster mod., with Nickies™ installed, stock 85.5mm bore size. As you can see, the wall thickness is significantly more than a stock cylinder and bores feature our NSC plating which is similar to Nikasil™, as used on the Carrera GT, GT2, GT3, and 911 Turbo engines!
Nickies™ make the difference!
Nickies™ feature our superior aluminum alloy up to 66% stronger than than the cast in Lokasil™ bores or MMC sleeves, improved thermal conductivity (unlike steel sleeves), reduced wear and friction, and allow for larger bores without any loss of strength or longevity. In fact, Our NSC-plated, CNC billet, solid aluminum Nickies™come with a lifetime warranty on cylinder plating.
We have overcome the d-chunk and slipped-sleeve problems associated with Porsche 986 & 996 models by engineering an aluminum alloy that has both high ductility AND strength, allowing for larger bore sizes while still increasing reliability, addressing the well known issue of cracked bores in stock engines.
3.4 996, Classic D-Chunk Failure
another 3.4 996, Classic D-Chunk Failure
2.5 986 model, Classic D-Chunk Failure coupled with MMC cast-in liner from 99-00MY
2.5 986 model, slipped sleeve segment.
Close-up of a D-Chuck piece. See the difference between the parent aluminum and locasil liner?
Close-up of a typical cylinder scoring as found in 3.4 and especially in later 3.6 and 3.8 models.
Another close-up of the localized Lokasil liner in the M96/M97 block; later revised 3.6 block shown with reinforced webbing.
In either situation, we can upgrade your engine to use our Nickies™ as long as there are no cracks in the case that protrude deeper than the bottom of the water jacket, where in that case, the integrity of the whole crankcase has been compromised! (see below). If the damage on the crankcase side, the damage is not repairable.
As you can see below, we machine out almost all of the factory cylinder and leave just a portion of the retaining support structure that was cast in to the case. This allows us to properly support the cylinder while increasing wall thickness of the cylinder up in the water jacket allowing for larger bores, thanks to the thermal and strength properties of our unique alloy.
a block prepped for installation of Nickies™,
prepped for installation of Nickies™, as shown from the rear
side (non water-jacketed portion of cylinder). Note that we
the factory webbing that helps to support the cylinder in
the case. Our
sleeves positively are indexed in the opening such that they
well supported as the factory cylinder and strengthened
further by our
Our conversion does not impede or restrict the flow of water around the cylinders and due to the high ductility and tensile strength of our alloy, a closed deck is not required. Our unique design retains the proper flow of water through the water jacket and actually improves upon the cooling capabilities of the engine due to over double the thermal conductivity of the alloy used.
Why choose Nickies over re-ringing a stock engine or replacing with an original replacement case?
Upon inspection of many high mileage or over-heated engines, the stock engine bores tend to be out of specification, with .002-.006" of ovality, leading to excessive piston clearances, increased ring land and ring wear, and high oil consumption. In addition, a replacement ring set from Porsche for some engines can cost almost as much as a new set of JE Pistons which already include new rings, pins, and clips.
Likewise, replacement case halves can cost more than what we charge for upgrading your existing block and our new JE Pistons. In addition, we can provide sizable displacement increases over what a stock engine can offer. Current pricing from Porsche for a crankcase varies from $5000-6000 list for all model years of the M96 engine! Porsche now even charge a core charge in excess of $15000 for most engines!
Why can't I install oversize pistons?
There are no oversize pistons available from the factory that are compatible with the lokasil bores. As such, boring out the stock block and fitting it with new pistons is a recipe for disaster. As done by one of our customers, it lasted only about 1000 miles before the engine ate itself up.
Even applying Nikasil to the stock bores isn't practical, as the blocks suffer so many inherent cylinder problems that you could not guarantee a later cylinder failure. It's just not worth the risk considering the expense!
Why should I use LN Engineering Nickies instead of cheaper steel sleeves?
There are many companies who offer steel sleeving of M96 and M97 blocks, with mixed results. Due to weaknesses of the parent block material, thermal expansion differences, and just the fact that steel liners are not as ductile, it's no surprise we see blocks like this one come into our shop requiring that the engines be rebuilt a second time after the first shop did lackluster work.
Why rebuild rather than replace with a new or remanufactured factory engine?
For pricing similar to a new factory engine, you can have your existing engine rebuilt and upgraded with increased displacement (more HP and torque) with our fixes for all the major problem areas including cylinder, billet chain tensioner paddle, billet chromoly oil pump drive, and intermediate shaft failures. Also, while it's apart, upgrades like our billet rods or even stock rods with ARP rod bolts and ARP crankshaft carrier bolts can be installed to further "bulletproof" the M96/M97 engine, especially if you plan on taking the car to the track. For this same price or less, you get a stronger, more reliable engine and a free upgrade in displacement to further improve your driving experience.
Why do you not do blocks on an exchange basis?
There are many reasons we no longer offer blocks on an exchange basis, but it boils down to the fact that many blocks can suffer porosity or even worse, have RMS issues. Maintaining a case married to its crankshaft cradle ensures that an engine without RMS issues stays that way. Although this increases turn-around time, our policy ensures the best final outcome for your rebuild.
If an engine's block is damaged beyond repair, we can source cores and also their matching crankshaft cradles, if so desired. If an engine is being rebuilt for a reason such as intermix, be sure to have identified the source of the intermix as not being from the case - we do not pressure test case halves or inspect for hidden damage. Our reworking of the sleeves is the limit to which we recondition the case halves.
Why do you not offer larger bore sizes?
Having now done 300+ engines without a single failure, we're proud of our proven track record. The bore sizes we have chosen are conservative choices made to ensure continued success. We can make larger bore sizes special order for a nominal fee, but we require the customer to sign-off on and assume any and all liability.
What other internal components need updating for a street or track engine?
Aside from our Nickies, we highly recommend purchasing an IMS Retrofit Kit for dual row bearing intermediate shafts or sending in your intermediate shaft to be reconditioned and upgraded by us if you have a later single row bearing IMS (or even the larger MY06-08 IMS).
For street use, the chain tensioner paddle should be replaced with a new Porsche unit and new connecting rod and carrier bolts should be used. All cars should receive a 160F low temperature thermostat to improve cooling and reduce hot spots that can lead to damage to bores and cylinder heads. A full flow spin-on oil filter and magnetic drain plug also help keep wear to a minimum.
If you plan on tracking the car, one of our upgraded billet chain tensioner paddle along with our billet chromoly oil pump drive are a must. Depending on your budget, you can either use ARP rod bolts in the stock rods or upgrade to our Billet R&R Pro Connecting Rods. ARP crankshaft carrier bolts are also a must.
After upgrading all the internals, one must also consider oiling system upgrades, as if you don't, the $15k+ invested in your rebuild might be all for nothing. We've had several customers lose engines due to oil starvation after a rebuild, so don't let that happen to you. Consider several oil system upgrades.
We no not recommend using lightweight flywheels - retain the stock dual mass flywheel. Also, the entire rotating assembly should be dynamically balanced, not just static balanced, while checking the crankshaft for cracks, as they are prone to failure. Adding a M97 3.8 harmonic dampening crankshaft pulley also can't hurt if you plan on tracking the car.
I already have or I am planning on doing a turbo conversion. What CR and boost can I run?
This is a very loaded question, but we typically run about 12:1 CR on most of our normally aspirated engines and we have run 12.5:1 and even a bit higher on pump 93 octane (but only on upgraded internals). When adding boost, you have to lower the CR. That means, for every 3 psi of boost you want to run, you should lower the CR by 1.0 compression points. The factory 996TT ran 10 psi of boost and 9.4:1 CR, so that also gives you a reference point. Remember, the 996TT (and other GT1 based engines) use a far superior crankshaft (and engine altogether), which is capable of handling this level of performance.
Do you rebuild engines or offer turnkey engines?
No. We are solely a supplier to those rebuilding the M96 engine. Case halves and intermediate shafts are sent into us and we return them ready to be cleaned and then to have the engine assembled.
What kind of warranty do you offer on your Nickies?
Although the cylinder plating is provided with a lifetime warranty, we do provide similar coverage as offered by Porsche with their remanufactured engines or by your engine builder. Please contact us for complete limited warranty details including restrictions and limitations.
Ready to upgrade?
Don't worry, it's easy. Send us your case halves and intermediate shaft following our procedures outlined below. Normal turn-around time is approximately 6-7 weeks (8-10 during peak season).
You can either send each case half in smaller boxes or in one larger box - either way, follow these steps:
LN Engineering’s custom forged pistons are the best of their kind. Every piston is custom made, so whatever the case, we work with your desired engine specifications to make the ideal pistons for your application, period. Our Nickies™ kits for 986 & 996 models includes custom forged side relief JE Pistons, split oil returns, and accumulator grooves, just like the factory pistons.
Our custom JE Pistons maintain proper quench, which allows for faster burn and better thermal efficiency, leading to better gas mileage, lower potential for detonation, and more power by retaining the factory inverted dome piston shape, mirroring the pent-roof four-valve combustion chamber!
Our forged pistons are superior to the factory cast pistons found in non-"S" model engines and are as strong as the forged pistons found on "S" engines, but use a lightweight forged side relief design for improved strength while being lighter than the factory pistons.
2.5 Boxster "Spec" JE Piston (left), 3.4 996 to 3.6 conversion JE Piston (right)
Rear of LN Engineering's exclusive Boxster and 911 model forged pistons, showing the forged side relief design and construction and box slipper skirt like found on factory forged "S" pistons
3.2 Boxster to 3.6 liter conversion JE Piston
3.6 X51 to 3.8 liter conversion JE Piston
3.4 996 to 3.6 low compression JE Piston with optional thermal barrier coating and hard anodized top ring groove for superior durability (shown below)
Please note that Boxster, Cayman, and 996/997 pistons are sold only with qualifying Nickies purchase.
Do I need to purchase expensive tuning software?
Don't worry, the stock ECU is very smart and is capable of adapting to the increased displacement. If anything, just invest in a set of new pre-cat o2 sensors so the engine can most accurately adjust its short term fuel trims. These values get adopted by the ECU to the long term fuel trim quickly, making these changes permanent. In most cases, increasing fuel pressure using an adjustable fuel pressure regulator and/or using injectors from a larger engine are more than enough to provide adequate fuel for even the most modified engines!
We supply both stock bore sizes and big bore kits and to date offer 2.5 to 2.7, 2.7 to 2.9, 3.2 to a 3.6, 3.4 to 3.6, 3.6 to 3.8, and 3.8 to 4.0 kits including Nickies and custom forged JE Pistons for both normally aspirated and forced induction turbocharger or supercharger equipped engines.
Flat 6 Innovations has posted a build-up of an M96 engine using our Nickies liners and many other LN Engineering upgrades at http://www.flat6innovations.com/engine-assembly?showall=1
In addition to Nickies™, LN Engineering also currently offers:
We've also partnered with Flat 6 Innovations, so make sure to check their website at http://www.flat6innovations.com and keep reading below to read more about our process and how we can improve the reliability of your Porsche.
2013 Pricing Schedule
As a leader in the Porsche community, LN Engineering's focus on quality, service, and support is evident, and begins with you. Let us help you succeed.
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LN Engineering Nickies™ are Proudly 100% Made in the USA!
Copyright LN Engineering LLC ©2002-2013. *LN Engineering features a nickel silicon carbide composite coating similar in appearance and performance to Nikasil™, a trademark of Mahle Corporation, backed by a limited lifetime warranty. Lokasil is a registered trademark of Kolbemdshmidt AG. Porsche, Boxster, 356, 911, 914, 986, and 996 are registered trademarks of Dr. Ing. h. c. F. Porsche AG. All other trademarks and copyrights are property of their respective owners. All rights reserved. This content may not be used for any commercial use without express written permission of LN Engineering LLC, and possibly other copyright or trademark owners.