Originally posted at https://garagedreams.net/buyers-guide/porsche-944-buyers-guide-and-history-2020
We are big fans of the Porsche 944 here at Garage Dreams and for good reason. The 944 was an incredibly well-built sports car that was aimed at the mid-range market. Today the Porsche 944 has become somewhat of a collector’s item, but despite this they are still significantly less expensive than 911s from the period.
In this Porsche 944 buyer’s guide we have put together all the information you need to know to make an informed purchase. We have also included information on the history of the Porsche 944 and its specifications, along with more general car purchasing advice.
- 1 History of the Porsche 944
- 1.1 The Porsche 944
- 1.1.1 Porsche 944 Road Car
- 1.1.2 Special Edition Models – Porsche 944 Turbo, Turbo S, and Turbo Cabriolet
- 1.1.3 Non-Turbo Special Edition Models – 944 S, S2 and S2 Cabriolet
- 1.1.4 The End of the Porsche 944
- 2 Porsche 944 Specifications
- 3 Porsche 944 Buying Guide
- 4 Porsche 944 Inspection Guide
- 4.0.1 Checking the VIN
- 4.0.2 Engine & Exhaust
- 188.8.131.52 When to Change the Oil/Oil Filter on a Porsche 944
- 184.108.40.206 Problems with the Oil
- 220.127.116.11 Inspecting the Belly/Oil Pan
- 18.104.22.168 Oil Leaks on a Porsche 944
- 22.214.171.124 How Much Oil Do Porsche 944s Burn/Consume?
- 126.96.36.199 Inspecting a Porsche 944’s Cooling System
- 188.8.131.52 What Coolant Does a Porsche 944 Use?
- 184.108.40.206 Changing the Timing/Cambelt on a Porsche 944
- 220.127.116.11 Checking the Spark Plugs
- 18.104.22.168 Inspecting the Fuel Lines
- 22.214.171.124 Alternator
- 126.96.36.199 Checking the Exhaust on a Porsche 944
- 188.8.131.52 Smoke & Vapor from a Porsche 944
- 184.108.40.206 Overheating and Blown Head Gaskets on 944s
- 220.127.116.11 Start Up and Idle Speed on a Porsche 944
- 18.104.22.168 Misfires, Squeals & Other Noises
- 22.214.171.124 Hesitation/Acceleration Issues
- 126.96.36.199 Shaking or Vibrating Car
- 188.8.131.52 Turbo Problems on Porsche 944s (Turbo Models Only)
- 184.108.40.206 Should I Get a Compression Test Done on a Porsche 944?
- 220.127.116.11 Porsche 944s With Rebuilt Engines
- 4.0.3 Transmission and Differential
- 4.0.4 Porsche 944 Body & Exterior
- 4.0.5 Porsche 944 Suspension & Steering
- 4.0.6 Brakes Porsche 944
- 4.0.7 Wheels and Tires
- 4.0.8 Interior
- 4.0.9 Electronics, Air Conditioning and Gauges
- 5 General Car Buying Advice for a Porsche 944
- 5.0.1 How to Get a Great Deal on a Porsche 944
- 5.0.2 Mileage vs Condition
- 5.0.3 Service History and Other Documentation
- 5.0.4 Questions That You Should Ask the Seller/Owner
- 5.0.5 Things That Would Make Us Walk Away from a Porsche 944
- 5.0.6 Notes on the Owner
- 5.0.7 Where to Find Porsche 944s for Sale
- 6 Concluding This Porsche 944 Buyer’s Guide
- 7 Useful Links
How To Use This Porsche 944 Buying Guide
This is a big article, so make sure you check out the table of contents below. Skip to a certain section or just read the whole thing.
The first thing we will cover is the history of the Porsche 944 and then the specifications. Following this we will crack into the buyer’s guide section and then more general car purchasing advice.
History of the Porsche 944
The story starts with the 924, the 944’s direct predecessor. The 924 was a more affordable Porsche than the highly praised 911 and it sold incredibly well. It was born out of a project between Porsche, Volkswagen and Audi, and was originally labelled Project EX-425.
Project EX-425 was intended to be Volkswagen’s halo sports car. Porsche was given the brief to design and manufacture it, however, they were required to use an existing Volkswagen/Audi inline four-cylinder water cooled engine.
Despite Volkswagen/Audi moving in the direction of transverse mounted front engine front-wheel drive cars, Porsche decided to go with a different layout. The engineers at Porsche knew that a front-wheel drive layout wouldn’t be suitable for the sports car they wanted to create.
Porsche settled on a longitudinally front mounted engine with a combined gearbox and differential transaxle at the rear of the car. The benefit of this design was that the weight distribution was 48/52 front to rear. This combined with the fully independent Porsche suspension meant that the new sports car handled extremely well and could handle more power if needed
However, Volkswagen/Audi decided that the new car wouldn’t fit their image and decided to withdraw from the project. This left Porsche with a problem; do they end the project or do they carry on alone?
Porsche decided to buy the design back from Volkswagen and then use it to replace the 914 and the 912. The new entry level Porsche was labelled the 924 and it retained the Volkswagen/Audi four cylinder. It went on sale in 1976 and by the end of its production life in 1988 Porsche had managed to sell 150,000 of them.
A New Engine
The main criticism of the 924 was that it featured an under-powered Audi engine. The simple fix for this was to drop in a powerful Porsche engine, however, the company didn’t have a suitable inline four cylinder to drop into it.
Porsche had already developed a new all alloy V8 engine that had thick cylinder barrels that took advantage of aluminium’s excellent heat dissipating qualities. In its final form, the 4.5-litre SOHC 4 valves per cylinder engine produced as much as 240 horsepower.
Engineers at Porsche decided that this V8 engine would be a great basis for a new four-cylinder engine for their entry level motorcars.
The Porsche 944
Porsche decided to launch the new 944 at the 1981 24 Hours of Le Mans. This new 924 replacement was fitted with the new 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine derived from the alloy V8. While the four-cylinder engine borrowed much from its bigger brother, it did also feature quite a lot of changes.
The engine was fitted with dual counter-rotating balance shafts that were designed to balance out the naturally unbalanced secondary forces inherent in four-cylinder engines. As Porsche had created the engine by halving the V8 it was slanted at 45 degrees to the right and engineers fitted a KKK supercharger that delivered 15.5 psi of boost.
A Motronic engine management system was added and was used to precisely control the ignition timing, boost pressure, and the fuel injection system. With all the changes the racing 944 produced as much as 414 horsepower at 6,800 rpm. Incredibly, this was nearly double the amount of power that the larger V8 engine produced in US markets.
The new Porsche 944 worked incredibly well taking seventh place behind purpose-built machines. Two elements helped the 944 achieve this incredible feat; the first being the car’s superb fuel efficiency and the second being its reliability.
Porsche 944 Road Car
The production version of the Porsche 944 would make its debut the next year in 1982. It was fitted with the same 2.5-litre slanted four-cylinder engine which produced 163 hp for European markets and 143 hp for US bound models (although this would later be increased to 147 hp from 1985 – 1987).
Launching the 944 at Le Mans was a stroke of genius by Porsche. The cars performance and Le Mans result gave the car credibility and the presence of a high-tech Porsche engine under the bonnet meant that the 944 was much more desirable.
While the production 944 was de-tuned, it could still manage to go from 0 – 100 km/h (0 – 62 mph) in 8.3 seconds, not bad for an entry level sports car from the period. Additionally, while Porsche claimed that the top speed was 210 km/h (130 mph), tests showed that it could actually reach as much as 254.1 km/h (157.9 mph).
Along with its surprising speed, the 944 retained the excellent handling characteristics of its predecessor. Weight distribution was even better with a 50.7 : 49.3 split that was achieved by mounting the gearbox and differential transaxle at the rear of the car.
The first version of the Porsche 944 featured the same interior as the 924, but with flared fenders and slightly different styling. By the mid-eighties, Porsche decided that there needed to be more distinction between the two models. They decided to give the 944 a new dashboard, door trim pieces and an embedded radio antenna.
An option of heated power seats was added, and for those that wanted better sounding tunes they could opt for a Hi-Fi system. Porsche also improved the transaxle mounts to reduce road noise.
Under the hood Porsche upgraded the electronics and some of the other components. A 115 amp alternator replaced the old 90 amp unit and the fuel tank’s capacity was increased along with the engine sump’s as well.
New wheels were also brought in that were styled like a telephone “swinging dial”. For those that wanted something a bit more exquisite they could opt for some wheels from Fuchs.
To keep the new wheels planted firmly on the ground, Porsche made some changes to the 944’s suspension system. They upgraded the front and rear with new cast alloy control arms and semi-trailing arms.
In 1987 Porsche added ABS (Anti-lock Braking System) to the 944 range, which improved braking efficiency. The downside of ABS was that the Fuchs wheels could no longer be fitted to the 944 due to the necessary 52 mm change to the wheel offset.
Another safety feature that Porsche added was the addition of airbags. This led to a change in steering wheel that many regarded as much uglier than the aluminum one fitted to earlier 944s. The last change for the 1987 model year was an updated Motronic engine management system.
More changes came in the early part of 1989 with the 944’s engine capacity increased from 2.5-litres to 2.7-litres, which was achieved by giving the engine a larger bore of 104 mm and a stroke of 78.9 mm.
This displacement increase prompted Porsche’s engineers to use a “Siamese-cylinder” arrangement, which gets its name from the fact that all the cylinders are joined together with no coolant passing between them.
With the changes made, the engine also required a new cylinder head design with larger valves. The updated engine produced 163 horsepower, exactly the same as the original European market 944 with the 2.5-litre engine (2.7-litre models were intended for North America).
Special Edition Models – Porsche 944 Turbo, Turbo S, and Turbo Cabriolet
While the 944 was a step up from the 924 in the performance department, many owners and potential buyers still wanted more. It didn’t take long for Porsche to answer their calls with the 944 Turbo.
The first turbocharged version of the 944 entered production in 1985 for the 1986 model year, and it was significantly more powerful than the naturally aspirated variant. Power for the new 944 Turbo sat at 217 horsepower and 243 lb ft of torque, a significant increase over the 163 hp found in the original car.
With all this extra power the Turbo could scream from 0 – 100 km/h (0 – 62 mph) in as little as 5.9 seconds, around a 2.5 second improvement. To squeeze all this extra performance out of the 944, Porsche’s engineers didn’t just slap on a big turbo and be done with it. They went to significant lengths to improve and strengthen the 944’s four-cylinder engine.
A ceramic port liner was used for the first time in a production Porsche and the car also featured the same power output regardless of whether or not it used a catalytic converter.
To help keep the turbocharged engine cool, Porsche’s engineers fitted an oil cooler for both the engine and the transmission. Speaking of the transmission, it featured a different final ratio that was made stronger to cope with the significant power increase.
The turbocharged 944 was not only treated to an engine upgrade, but also a suspension upgrade as well. Porsche gave the car more progressive springs and made the suspension setup slightly stiffer.
The brakes were also improved with 305 mm (12-inch) discs from the 911 and Brembo four-piston fixed calipers. ABS was standard on US models and the car sat on 16-inch wheels (although Fuchs were also available as an optional extra).
In 1987 the US version of the 944 Turbo became the first car in the world to be fitted with both driver and passenger airbags as standard. In the same year, the transmission cooler was removed for all regions as it was deemed unnecessary, and the speedo changed from a 270 km/h (170 mph) unit to a 290 km/h (180 mph) one.
No changes were made to the engine for this year, but alterations were made to the suspension control arms to reduce the scrub radius.
944 Turbo S
Porsche launched the 944 Turbo S in 1988 for those who wanted even more power and performance. The “S” stood for “Super” and Porsche’s engineers squeezed even more out of the four-cylinder engine.
A new KKK K26-8 turbocharger was fitted and changes were made to the engine mapping. The new mapping kept the turbocharger boost at 10.9 psi up to 3,000 rpm and then dropped it to 7.5 psi at 5,800 rpm, increasing efficiency.
With the changes made to the engine the Porsche 944 S now produced 247 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 258 lb ft of torque at 4,000 rpm. This meant that the 0 – 100 km/h (0 – 60 mph) time went from 5.9 seconds to 5.5 and the car could now complete a standing quarter mile in 13.9 seconds. Top speed was now 261 km/h (162 mph), making the 944 the fastest four-cylinder production car at the time.
To tame the powerful engine, Porsche’s engineers fitted the 944 Turbo S with the M030 suspension package as standard. This gave the car progressive rate springs, larger hollow anti-roll bars, and Koni adjustable shocks, with the front units having adjustable ride height.
Fuchs created the 16-inch wheels for the Turbo S and they were 7-inches wide at the front an 9-inches wide at the rear. Porsche wrapped the “Club Sport” wheels in 225/50 tires at the front and 245/45 tires at the rear.
As the tires and wheels were wider than those fitted to earlier 944s, Porsche had to remodel the fenders. The car was also fitted with ABS and the front brakes were the same as those used on the high-performance Porsche 928 (12-inch discs with Brembo four-piston calipers). The Turbo S retained the same rear brakes as one the standard Turbo.
On the inside occupants were treated to power seats and a 10-speaker sound system was a popular optional extra. Many Turbo S models were finished in a Burgundy Plaid exterior color scheme.
From 1989 until the end of the 944’s production in 1991, the Turbo S model was dropped and all Turbo models came with the Turbo S engine and transmission. For buyers that wanted the full Turbo S experience they needed to select the M030 suspension package as an optional extra along with the Fuchs’ wheels.
Porsche 944 Turbo Cabriolet
The last version of the 944 Turbo was the Turbo Cabriolet. This was essentially a Turbo S model with a special cabriolet body that was manufactured by the American Sunroof Company (ASC) of Weinsberg, Germany. ASC also crafted the bodies for the 944 S2 Cabriolet.
In total, 625 944 Turbo Cabriolets were produced with 100 being built in right-hand drive while the remaining 525 were left-hand drive. Interestingly, this model was not imported into the United States, despite the fact that it would have been popular with Californian customers (still, a few have ended up in America as second-hand imports).
Non-Turbo Special Edition Models – 944 S, S2 and S2 Cabriolet
In 1987 Porsche released the 944 S, with the “S” standing for “Super”. Porsche fitted the new 944 S with a higher performance version of the NA four cylinder engine. Engineers updated the engine with dual-overhead camshafts that operated four valves per cylinder and changed the engine management system to a revised Motronic 2 variant. This updated engine management system featured dual knock sensors that could best handle the 10.9:1 compression ratio.
With the changes made power was increase to 187 horsepower, a 24 horsepower increase over the standard European car. The engine also featured an automatic adjusting timing belt tensioner and a magnesium alloy valve cover.
In addition to the changes made to the engine, the 944 S also received the rear wheel brake circuit regulator from the Turbo and the gear ratios were optimized for the higher revving DOHC engine that featured a 6,800 rpm red line.
When it came to performance, the 944 S could go from 0 – 100 km/h (0 – 62 mph) in as little as 6.5 seconds and the top speed was as much as 232 km/h (144 mph).
Changes were also made to the car’s suspension system with larger front and rear anti-roll bars fitted, and more progressive rate springs, like those used on the 944 Turbo. Buyers could also opt for dual air bags, a limited-slip differential, ABS brakes, Fuchs wheels, and a “Club Sport” package.
Porsche 944 S2
An updated version of the 944 S, the S2, appeared in 1989 and it was given a 3.0-litre version of the DOHC four-cylinder engine that produced 208 horsepower. To better compliment the larger engine, Porsche’s engineers revised the gear ratios to give better performance and an improved driving experience.
Interestingly, acceleration performance was worse than the S with a 0 – 100km/h time of 6.8 seconds, however, the top speed was increased to 240 km/h (150 mph). Porsche offered the 944 S2 with the option of air bags, a limited-slip differential, and ABS brakes. The car also came with 16-inch Series 90 cast allow wheels as standard.
Porsche 944 S2 Cabriolet
A cabriolet version of the 944 S2 was introduced the same year and it featured a body made by the American Sunroof Company (ASC). Porsche made only a handful of these cars in 1989 but nearly 4,000 were produced for the next year.
The End of the Porsche 944
Following the S2, Porsche had plans to create a majorly revised “S3” version of the 944. However, the 944 S3 design eventually morphed into the 968, which became its replacement. After nearly 10 years of production more than 160,000 Porsche 944s were produced making it the most successful car in the company’s line up at the time.
Porsche 944 Specifications
|Model||944||944 Turbo/Turbo Cabriolet||944 Turbo S||944 S||944 S2/S2 Cabriolet|
|Year of production||1982-89||1985-91/
|Layout||Front mid-engined, Rear-wheel drive||Front mid-engined, Rear-wheel drive||Front mid-engined, Rear-wheel drive||Front mid-engined, Rear-wheel drive||Front mid-engined, Rear-wheel drive|
|Engine||M44/40 I4 / M44/12 I4||turbocharged M44/51 I4 / turbocharged M44/52 I4||turbocharged M44/52 I4||M44/40 I4||M44/41 I4|
|Capacity||2.5-litre / 2.7-litre||2.5-litre||2.5-litre||2.5-litre||3.0-litre|
|Power||143 – 163 hp (107 – 121 kW)||217 hp (162 kW)||247 hp (162 kW)||187 hp (140 kW)||208 hp ( 155 kW)|
|Gearbox||5-speed manual / 3-speed auto||5-speed manual||5-speed manual||5-speed manual||5-speed manual|
|Weight||1,180 kg (2,601 lb)||1,360 – 1,416 kg (2,998 – 3,122 lb)||1,416 kg (3,122 lb)||1,330 kg (2,932 lb)||1,330 kg (2,932 lb)|
|Top speed||210 km/h (130 mph) / 254.1 km/h (157.9 mph) – non verified test||245 km/h (152 mph)||261 km/h (162 mph)||232 km/h (144 mph)||240 km/h (150 mph)|
|0 – 100 km/h (62 mph)||8.3 seconds||5.9 seconds||5.5 seconds||6.5 seconds||6.8 seconds|
Porsche 944 Buying Guide
With all the above out of the way, let’s take a look at what you need to know about buying a Porsche 944.
We always recommend that you inspect any Porsche 944 you are thinking of buying yourself or get a trustworthy third party to do so for you. It is also a good idea to take someone with you when you go to a car inspection as they may spot something you missed.
Always try to arrange an inspection in the morning when the car’s engine is cold and the temperature outside is lower. The reason for this is because warm engines can hide a number of issues with the vehicle that could lead to some very expensive bills down the track.
In addition to this, avoid inspecting a Porsche 944 when it is raining or when the car is wet. This is because water can cover up a number of different problems with the bodywork/paintwork. If you do inspect a 944 when it is wet, try to arrange a second viewing before making a decision.
How Much Should I Pay for a Porsche 944?
When it comes to this question we are not going to be answering it. The reason for this is because prices for Porsche 944s can vary widely depending on where you live in the world, the model you are wanting to buy, and the condition of the vehicle.
What we recommend is that you do a quick Google search or look on local auction/classifieds sites for Porsche 944s for sale. By doing this you can get a rough idea of what you need to spend on a 944 for a given mileage/condition range. However, watch out for deals that seem to good to be true.
Porsche 944 Inspection Guide
In the following section we will be covering everything you need to know when inspecting a Porsche 944. While Porsche 944s are fairly reliable and robust motorcars a poorly maintained one can be an expensive problem.
Checking the VIN
Inspecting the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) is very important. The VIN can reveal quite a bit of information about the Porsche 944 you are looking at and its history. Run the VIN through a VIN check-up website like Carfax or CarJam (NZ), or do an HPI check if you are located in the UK.
You should be able to find the VIN in the following locations (depending on the model):
- Front fenders (Open the bonnet)
- Rear hatch frame
- Front spoiler/bumper frame
You can find information about what the numbers/letters in the VIN mean here.
Engine & Exhaust
To begin your inspection of the engine and exhaust system of a Porsche 944, open the bonnet/hood and take a good general look at the engine bay – do you see any broken or damaged components? Are there any modifications? Is the engine bay clean or dirty?
Remember to take a look at the bonnet/hood insulation as this foam material deteriorates with age, leaving the engine bay in a complete mess. A super clean engine bay can indicate a well-maintained vehicle or an owner who is trying to hide an oil leak.
Once you have taken a good general look at the engine bay, start checking the fluid levels. It is important to check the fluid levels both before and after a test drive to see if they are the same (however, you may notice a slight difference in some fluid levels).
If the fluid levels are too low or too high, it indicates that the owner has not maintained the 944 properly. Additionally, incorrect fluid levels can lead to premature part wear or even total failure.
When to Change the Oil/Oil Filter on a Porsche 944
It is always important to change the engine oil and the oil filter at the recommended service intervals or before on a Porsche 944. This is because old oil that sits at the bottom of a car’s crankcase can breakdown overtime and become diluted by contaminates. Below we have listed when the oil and oil filter should be replaced:
Interestingly, Porsche’s recommended service interval for the engine oil on both turbocharged and naturally aspirated 944s is quite long. Seeing as this is the case, most owners recommend that you replace the engine oil every 5,000 – 8,000 km (3,000 – 5,000 miles). If you do not drive the vehicle that much in a year it is recommended that you replace the oil every 6 – 12 months.
Below we have created a little guide for those wondering what engine oil to use in a Porsche 944. Remember that heavier weight oils tend to perform better in hotter climates, while thinner oils are usually better for cold starts/environments.
Best Engine Oil or a Porsche 944 NA
A good general oil for naturally aspirated Porsche 944s is 20W-50 like this one from Castrol. Other popular engine oil choices include 15W-50 and 5W-50 (for colder months/environments). Some owners also recommend 10W-40 if you live in a place with a very cold winter.
Best Engine Oil for a Porsche 944 Turbo
Once again a good quality 20W-50 engine oil from the likes of Brad Penn is an excellent choice (slightly higher quality than the GTX). For colder environments it is recommended that you use a 5W-50 engine oil.
We also recommend that you check with the owner to see which engine oil they use in their Porsche 944.
It is recommended that you change the oil filter with every second oil change. Some owners like to change the filter with every oil change (they are cheap so why not). The following oil filters should be used in a Porsche 944:
Problems with the Oil
When you check the oil level, take a look at the dipstick and oil itself. If it looks frothy it may be a sign of a head gasket leak. Additionally, if there are any metallic particles or grit in the oil you should walk away.
Inspecting the Belly/Oil Pan
There should be a plastic pan located underneath the engine. If it is there, run your finger on the upper surface – do you notice any puddles of oil or other fluid?
It is also important to check the oil pan for any dents. A large dent in the pan suggests that the vehicle was jacked up by the oil pan or the owner hit something. Replacing the oil pan is an expensive, time consuming task so make sure it is in good condition!
Oil Leaks on a Porsche 944
Remember to keep an eye out for any oil leaks or signs that oil has leaked in the past – there shouldn’t be any. If you do see any oil leaks, try to get an idea of the severity and where they are coming from.
A leak at the front of the engine that drops onto the sway bar may be caused by something like a bad crank seal. Another common cause of oil leaks is a bad/binding oil pressure release valve.
We wouldn’t necessarily rule out a Porsche 944 with oil leakage problems; however, don’t trust an owner/seller that says it is normal. Below we have listed some leaks that should make you think twice before buying:
- Oil pan gasket – Not only is this an absolute nightmare to fix, but it is also expensive to put right.
- Oil cooler seals – If the coolant tank looks like it has a dark/chocolaty liquid substance in it, the oil cooler seals are blown. While the parts aren’t too expensive, the labour certainly is.
- Upper front engine seals – Pay particular attention around the balance shafts, and the cam and crank pulleys. Oil can destroy the timing and balance shaft belts, which, if they break, can lead to some severe damage to the engine. Watch out for oil dripping from the timing belt cover.
The front engine seals will need to be replaced at some point, so check to see if they have ever been replaced.
How Much Oil Do Porsche 944s Burn/Consume?
These cars are not known to burn much oil, but Porsche states that anything up to around 660 km (410 miles) per litre is okay. Ask the owner how much oil the car uses and if it seems like too much find out what engine oil they use. Oil consumption issues can often be fixed by using a thicker weight oil, however, they may also be a sign of a more serious issue.
Inspecting a Porsche 944’s Cooling System
It is vitally important that you make sure the cooling system on a Porsche 944 is working as intended. If any one of the components in the cooling system fails it can lead to total engine failure, not something you want!
Check the service history and with the owner to see if it has been regularly maintained. Here are the main components of a Porsche 944’s cooling system:
- Radiator – removes heat from the water/coolant
- Thermostat – sends water/coolant that is hotter than the target temperature to the radiator to be cooled
- Water Pump –belt that is driven from the e-shaft pully. Pushes water/coolant through the engine
- Overflow or Expansion bottle – removes air from the system and provides a filling point
- Coolant Lines – hoses that allow water/coolant to remain contained as it moves through the engine/cooling system
Remember to check the cooling system both before and after a test drive, and don’t forget to check the height of the coolant. Don’t worry if there is a small change in the coolant height before and after a test drive (however, if it changes a lot there is a problem).
If the coolant expansion tank is cracked or warped it suggests that the 944 has overheated at some point. Some yellowing of the expansion tank is to be expected as the car ages.
What Coolant Does a Porsche 944 Use?
Using the right coolant is very important as the wrong stuff can lead to overheating and even more serious issues. It is important that you use phosphate-free coolant that is designed for aluminium in the Porsche 944. We recommend ZEREX Phosphate Free Coolant from Valvoline.
The appearance of the coolant can also tell you quite a bit of information about a 944’s engine and how it has been looked after. Coolant that is brown or muddy suggests that the vehicle has not been maintained properly. If you see any oily bubbles in the coolant move onto another Porsche 944.
Changing the Timing/Cambelt on a Porsche 944
The Porsche 944 features an interference engine, so if the timing belt breaks you’ve got big problems (rebuilds are very expensive on these cars). It is recommended that the timing belt be changed every 50,000 – 65,000 km (30,000 – 40,000 miles) or every 3 – 4 years. Additionally, the belt should be re-tensioned 1,600 km (1,000 miles) after installation.
If the belt hasn’t been replaced or needs replacing soon and you still want to purchase the vehicle, get a discount or get the owner to replace it at their cost. Avoid any Porsche 944 that has not had its timing belt changed in a long time as it suggests that the car has been poorly maintained.
Watch out for home mechanics that have replaced the belt themselves. While there are certainly plenty of home mechanics who know what they are doing, there are also lots who have no idea what they are doing and are just trying to save a few bucks. If the owner has changed the belt themselves, try to get a gauge on how mechanically competent they are.
What Else Should Be Replaced with the Timing Belt?
There are a number of other components/items that should be replaced with the timing belt. We have listed these below:
- Water pump/update the pump
- Spark plugs
- Engine oil
- Filters (air, oil, etc.)
Late Model Tensioner Failures
If the Porsche 944 you are looking at is a late or S model, you should check the tensioner pads/see when they were last replaced. As they age they can become brittle and crack, leading to a very expensive problem. These are cheap to replace, so make sure they have been replaced regularly.
Checking the Spark Plugs
We always recommend that you try to inspect the spark plugs (if the owner lets you). While it is not completely necessary, checking the spark plugs can reveal quite a lot of information about the history and condition of the Porsche 944 you are looking at. We recommend that you check out this spark plug analysis guide.
What spark plugs should I use for a Porsche 944?
It is often recommended that you use spark plugs such as Bosch WR7DC or NGK BPR6ES. There are quite a lot of different options available, but good quality plugs from Bosch or NGK will be perfect. Platinum plugs will last longer than copper, but some owners say their 944s run better on copper.
Remember to check the service history and with the owner to see when the spark plugs were last replaced. Long periods between changes could be a sign of poor maintenance. Additionally, check the condition of the spark plug wires. Look for any cracks in the insulation or black streaks on the top of the engine around the wires.
Inspecting the Fuel Lines
It is important to check that the fuel lines are in good condition. On later model 944s the fuel lines are in a location that if they fail, fuel can get onto the exhaust headers, which will cause a fire. Check to see if these have ever been replaced and if they look questionable, they should be replaced immediately.
Don’t forget to check that the air duct from the driver’s side front is connected to the rear of the alternator. Cool air supplied by the air duct will greatly increase the life of the alternator.
Checking the Exhaust on a Porsche 944
Make sure you give the exhaust a good once over as problems here can be quite expensive to fix. Watch out for the following problems:
- Black sooty stains – Indicates a leak which may require expensive repairs
- Corrosion – May or may not be a problem (these cars aren’t really known to rust badly). Any signs of significant corrosion are a major problem and you should probably walk away from the vehicle. Rust on the exhaust may also be caused by accident damage.
- Cracks or accident damage – Watch out for this as it is a sign of a careless owner/driver.
- Dodgy repairs – Watch out for any bad repairs as this can be a nightmare to put right and is a sign of a poorly maintained car.
The exhaust manifolds tend to crack with age on these cars. A small crack can be fixed by a competent welder but a big one will require a complete replacement (not cheap).
Smoke & Vapor from a Porsche 944
Always check what is coming out of the exhaust when inspecting a Porsche 944. Do this both on engine start-up and while you are test driving the vehicle.
Don’t be alarmed if you see a small amount of vapor form the exhaust during start-up, as it is probably just condensation. However, if you see lots of vapor or smoke then there is a problem. Below we have listed what the different colors of smoke mean:
White smoke – Is typically caused by water that has made its way into the cylinders and indicates a blown head gasket. If the smoke smells sweet, it is probably coolant. Alternatively, white smoke can also be produced when the turbo is blown.
Blue smoke – Can be caused by wear to the pistons, piston rings, and/or worn valve seals. To check for blue smoke, ask a friend to follow you while drive the vehicle and take it through the rev range. Alternatively, get the owner to drive the car for a bit and watch out the back. Blue smoke on start-up and overrun is a sign that the car has been thrashed. Blue smoke could also be a sign that the turbo oil seals are gone (quite expensive to fix).
Black smoke – Usually occurs when the engine is running too rich (burning too much fuel). The first things you should check is the air-filter and other intake components.
Overheating and Blown Head Gaskets on 944s
An overheating Porsche 944 is big trouble, so if you notice any signs of the problem you need to be extra cautious. Additionally, watch out for cars that have had past overheating problems as well. Here are some things to watch out for:
- Coolant leaking externally from below the exhaust manifold
- White smoke from the exhaust pipe (especially if you see lots of it)
- Bubbles in the radiator or coolant overflow tank
- An engine that overheats
- Oil that is white and milky
- Fouled spark plugs
- Low cooling system integrity
- Engine oil that smells of coolant
- Sweet exhaust smell
Remember to check the temperature gauge. If it is low, then there may be a problem with the thermostat. If the gauge is reading on the higher end it is a sign that the cooling system is struggling.
Start Up and Idle Speed on a Porsche 944
We recommend that you get the owner to start the vehicle for you for the first time. There are two reasons for this:
- So you can keep a lookout for any smoke or vapour from the exhaust.
- If the owner revs the car hard you know to move onto another Porsche 944.
The car should jump into life when the key is turned in the ignition. If the 944 you are looking at struggles to start or doesn’t start at all, then there is a problem. This could be something simple like a bad battery or a much more serious issue.
What Is the Correct Idle Speed for a Porsche 944?
Once the car warms up the idle speed should be around 850 – 1,000 rpm. Expect the idle speed to be slightly higher when the vehicle is first started. Additionally, turn on the air conditioning (if it has it), the electronics and lights to see what happens to the idle speed. Expect to see a bit of an increase but the car should not stall.
Misfires, Squeals & Other Noises
Always listen out for any misfiring or chugging, especially when the vehicle is not warmed up properly. These problems can be caused by anything from worn injectors to low compression. Squealing sounds can be a sign of a worn belt in any one of the pumps, in the alternator or they may even be caused by the timing belt.
Clicking/Tapping Sound from the Top End
The Porsche 944 uses hydraulic lifters which can wear out with age. It is perfectly normal for the hydraulic lifters to make some noise during start up, but once the car has warmed up the tapping/clicking noise should go away.
Another common cause of tapping is from the injectors. If you have a stethoscope you can put it up to the top end, or to an injector to see which one is causing the problem.
It is not uncommon to experience some hesitation/acceleration issues when driving one of these cars. The issue is often caused by the AFM (Air Flow Meter), a more primitive version of a Mass Air Flow Sensor found on modern vehicles.
The AFM in a Porsche 944 features a flap that moves backwards and forwards across a potentiometer strip. As the car ages the potentiometer wears and dust builds up inside/around it. Flat spots eventually develop near the solder points causing random surges of voltage.
This can cause the engine to run too rich or too lean, and the vehicle will feel like it is hitting a brick wall and will not accelerate. Alternatively, the car will bog down until you really step on the throttle and hit higher rpms.
You can clean/rebuild the AFM yourself, however, you do need to be extra careful. There are a number of shops/mechanics who can rebuild/clean the AFM for you, or you can buy a new one (however, they are quite expensive).
Other reasons for hesitation/acceleration problems:
- Throttle position sensor reading that the throttle is closed when it should be open.
- DME temp sensor reading the wrong voltage at hot or cold. Can be a problem when it gets old.
- Defective O2 sensor that isn’t reading properly or is stuck in loop mode.
- Crack in the airbox or vacuum leaks from old or cracked vacuum lines.
Shaking or Vibrating Car
If the car shakes violently when the engine is running it is probably caused by bad motor mounts. The mounts themselves are not too expensive, but it is quite a labor intensive task to get them fitted.
Turbo Problems on Porsche 944s (Turbo Models Only)
The turbochargers on these cars are fairly robust and reliable, but as with all components they will eventually wear with age/use. To maximize the life of a turbocharger make sure that quality lubricants are used and that the vehicle has been serviced at the correct intervals or before.
What are the Signs of a Failing Turbocharger
Listen out for any weird whistling, rumbling or high-pitched metallic sounds when the turbo is at full boost. If the turbo is making these sort of sounds it is well past its prime. However, the turbocharger will probably completely fail before making these sort of sounds. Here are some signs of a failing turbo:
- Distinctive blue/grey smoke– This happens when the turbocharger housing cracks or if the internal seals become worn. The smoke will become more apparent when the turbocharger is in use, so get somebody to follow you and check while you are test driving a Porsche 944
- Burning lots of oil– Its hard to get an accurate picture of this during a test drive, but try to glean some information from the owner.
- Slow acceleration– If the car feels slow it is a good indication that the turbo has failed or is failing. This is why we recommend that you test drive a few different Porsche 944 Turbos to get an idea of how fast they are (remember that S models have more power than early Turbo models).
- If the boost pressure comes on late– Boost pressure that comes at higher than normal rpms could indicate either a worn or unbalanced turbocharger.
- Check Engine Warning Light– The check engine light (CEL) can be displayed for a number of reasons, from major to minor. One of these reasons may be due to a failing/failed turbocharger. If the light is on and you notice some of the other symptoms we have listed above, then it is a good sign that the turbo has failed.
Note: Some of the issues above can be the result of problems with the pipes going to the turbocharger.
Should I Get a Compression Test Done on a Porsche 944?
While a compression test is not completely necessary when purchasing a Porsche 944, it is recommended, especially if you are looking to get yourself a really good example.
Compression tests can tell you quite a bit of information about how a 944 has been looked after and its history. However, compression tests will only indicate that there is a problem and won’t necessarily tell you what that problem is.
Compression numbers will depend on which model 944 you have/are looking at. Minimum readings should be as follows:
- 944 Turbo – 120 psi
- 83-86 944 – 140 psi
- 87 – 88 944 – 150 psi
- 944S, S2 – 160 psi
It is important that the compression readings for each of the four cylinders is within 5 – 10% of each other. More than this and there may be a problem.
Porsche 944s With Rebuilt Engines
It is not uncommon to find a Porsche 944 for sale with a rebuilt engine (especially as these cars are getting on a bit now). There is nothing wrong with this as long as the rebuild has been done by a competent Porsche or 944 specialist. The biggest thing to watch out for is cars with rebuilt engines that have been slapped together for a quick sale.
If you are thinking of buying a Porsche 944 with a rebuilt engine try to find out who did the work and look up their reviews.
You should also be careful of 944s with freshly rebuilt engines as they are an unknown. A rebuild that has travelled 10,000 km already is probably a safer bet.
Transmission and Differential
There’s really not too much to worry about here, but make sure you give the transmission (both manual and auto) a thorough inspection/testing. Take the car through all the gears at both low and high engine speeds.
Listen out for any strange grinding or whirring noises and make sure that the shifts are smooth. Synchro wear can be a sign of a thrashed car or it may simple be caused by high mileage wear and tear. Remember to make sure the gearbox doesn’t jump out of gear during hard acceleration.
A really high-pitched wailing sound that gets louder when you go faster may be caused by a bad pinion gear. The sound doesn’t necessarily mean imminent failure, but it is worth getting it checked out.
If the transmission sounds like it has a bunch of rolling metal balls in it, the pinion area or other areas of the transmission have a problem. This is very bad, so we wouldn’t recommend that your purchase a Porsche 944 with this problem.
Transmission fluid should be changed every 48,000 km (30,000 miles) or every 2 years, so make sure it has been done. Changing the transmission fluid is a fairly simple task so there is no excuse if it has not been done. Common fluids used include SWEPCO and AMSOIL. You can find out more about changing the transmission fluid here.
Torque Tube Bearings
The Porsche 944 uses a torque tube instead of a driveshaft. A torque tube is an encased tube that directly connects the engine in the front to the transmission in the back. Within this setup there is a set of four bearing, inserts within these bearings, and a shaft that rides on the bearings.
As the car ages the bearings can dry up and go bad. This causes the torque tube to vibrate and/or make a terrible sound. The centre of the inserts is a rubber material, so the likelihood of the shaft seizing is quite low. However, this problem can reduce power going to the wheels and cause issues with the transmission.
Replacing the bearings themselves is not too expensive, but the labour can be. To get to them the exhaust will need to be removed, the transmission will need to be dropped and the suspension will need to be pulled away.
Flex Plate (Automatic 944s)
The Flex Plate will eventually fail on automatic Porsche 944s and is expensive to replace. Check the service history to see if it has every been replaced.
Testing the Clutch on a Porsche 944 (Manual Cars Only)
Replacing the clutch is an expensive job, so make sure it is in good condition and watch out for the following:
Clutch Engagement – The first thing to check is the engagement. To do this put the Porsche 944 you are inspecting into gear on a level surface and let the clutch out slowly. It should engage around 7 to 10 cm (2.5 to 4 inches) from the floor. Engagement that is early or too late indicates a problem.
Clutch Slippage – The way to check for this is to shift into a gear that is too high for the speed you are going. Once you have done this, plant your foot on the throttle and watch the revs. If the engine speed goes up but the car doesn’t accelerate the clutch is slipping. Here are some things that can cause slippage
- Worn clutch
- Clutch covered in oil
- Clutch cable is too tight and is not releasing properly
Clutch Drag – Get the 944 on a flat surface and press the clutch pedal to the floor (do this while you are stationary). Rev the Porsche hard (once it is warm) and see If it moves. If the car does move, the clutch is not disengaging when you shift and parts will wear prematurely.
If the clutch has been replaced, check to see if it has spring centered one as they tend to last a very long time. The original clutches fitted to 944s featured a rubber centered disk that become brittle and crack.
Clutch Master/Slave Cylinder
The seals on the clutch master and slave cylinders can shrink and fail, leading to fluid and pressure loss. This fluid can also get into the cabin area (from the master cylinder) and can eat away at the carpet, paint and floor, leading to potential corrosion issues.
To check for this, pull back the rubber boot on the master cylinder and look for any signs of fluid or contamination. If you see any at all the master cylinder will need to be replaced.
Another common sign of this problem is that the clutch will not fully return all the way up. This symptom may not be consistent, and a bleed will temporarily fix it. However, if you want to permanently fix it the cylinder will need to be replaced.
Both the master and the slave cylinder should be replaced at the same time. Rebuilding the slave cylinder is possible as long as there is not rust in it.
Porsche 944 Body & Exterior
Take your time inspecting the exterior and body of a Porsche 944. Bodywork issues can be a nightmare to put right and they may also be an indication accident damage.
All Porsche 944s were galvanized and undercoated, so you really shouldn’t find any major rust issues on these cars. Still, you should still check for it as rust suggests that the vehicle has not been maintained properly or it has been in an accident.
The only place that will almost certainly rust is the battery tray. This area is prone to corrosion as the original Porsche batteries leaked acid. If the tray is not replaced the rust can spread. Another area to watch out for is the front portion of the rear quarters, right below the rock guards.
Rust can be more common on vehicles that live in countries that salt their roads or those that have lived by the sea.
While you are unlikely to come across a Porsche 944 with significant rust issues, it is still important to check for past rust problems. Inspect the body thoroughly for any areas that may have been repaired (inconsistencies in the paint, etc.). Check the service history and ask the owner as well, but remember that they may not be 100% honest.
Use a magnet on steel sections of the car or a coating gauge thickness tool such as this one to find any areas that may have been repaired.
Accident Damage on a Porsche 944
Crash damage and other accident damage is a major issue as body panels can be expensive to replace. Remember to ask the owner/seller about any past accident damage, but don’t take their word for it. Watch out for the following:
- Misaligned panels or large panel gaps– Check that the bonnet lines up correctly and fits as it should. Inspect the doors, tailgate and the lights for any damage or signs of past damage. If the panels are uneven it could suggest an accident has occurred.
- Doors that drop or don’t close properly – If the doors drop or don’t open/close properly the Porsche 944 you are looking at may have been in an accident or may have some sort of other problem.
- Inconsistencies such as waving, rippling or different colored panels – This is a good indication of crash damage or rust repair.
- If the bonnet/hood looks like it is popped when it is not – This is usually a sign that the vehicle has been in an accident and that the owner is careless. This problem can be fixed but is a pain to get right.
- Bent or broken parts underneath the car –Check to see if everything is straight underneath the vehicle and watch out for any replaced parts. Take a good look at all the suspension, steering and exhaust components for damage.
- Rust in strange locations – indicates that the Porsche 944 you are looking at has been in an accident or has some other problem.
- Paint runs or overspray – This could be a factory issue or a sign of a poor repair.
- Missing badges or trim – can be due to repair work (body shop couldn’t find replacements) or a number of other things (stolen, etc.). If the black plastic liner in the wheel wells is removed it may be because the car has been repaired.
The hatch seals can shrink, deform and go bad, so check to make sure they are in good condition. If the seals have failed, exhaust fumes can make their way into the cabin, not good! If you find that the seats fill with water or that the back carpet is wet, then the hatch seals are probably gone. Replacing the entire hatch is very expensive, but there are kits to fix the leaks.
How does the paint look? Is it peeling? Does the paint on the outside match the paint in the engine bay? These cars are getting on a bit, so expect a few paint problems, especially on cars that have travelled far. Bad resprays are a sign of a poor owner and can be a nightmare to put right.
Porsche 944 Suspension & Steering
It is important to check as many of the suspension and steering components as possible. Worn or broken suspension and steering components can be expensive to repair or replace. Watch out for the following problems when inspecting/test driving a Porsche 944:
- Dipping and swerving when the brakes are applied
- Excessive Rear-end squat during acceleration
- Tipping during turns
- High speed instability
- Excessive vibration coming through the steering wheel (could indicate alignment issues or failed ball joints)
- Delayed or longer stopping distances
- Uneven tire wear
- Excessive tire bounce after hitting a bump
- Leaking fluid on the exterior of the shock/strut
- Sagging rear suspension – usually caused by bad bushings in the rear
- Knocking or creaking sounds during a test drive (don’t forget to drive in a tight figure 8)
Power Steering Leaks on Porsche 944s
Watch out for early Porsche 944s with power steering as the system often leaks. The power steering system on these cars is not defective, but they are getting old and many owners use power steering fluid in them instead of Porsche approved steering fluid or automatic transmission fluid. Power steering fluid is too thin and can get past the seals, which will cause leaks.
Kits are available to fix the problem, but they aren’t cheap. Remember to ask the owner what fluid they put in the system and if it is power steering fluid you will have to flush the system a few times or repair it.
Watch out for owners that disconnect the power steering system and claim the car has a manual rack.
During a test drive remember to check that the vehicle drives straight without you having to correct the wheel. If you do have to correct the steering wheel it indicates that the wheel alignment is out. Alternatively, it may be a sign of other issues.
Brakes Porsche 944
Braking performance on anyone of the Porsche 944 models should be more than adequate for road use, so if the brakes feel spongy or underpowered there is a problem. Watch out for the following during an inspection.
- Pad life (use a little mirror or you may be able to use your phone)
- Pitted, scored or grooved discs
- Any leaks in the brake lines (get a helper to press on the brake pedal while you inspect the lines)
- Brake fluid level in the brake fluid reservoir
- Brake fluid changes every 12 – 24 months
With the car off, pump the brake pedal until it firms up, then with your foot still on the brake pedal, start the vehicle. The brake pedal should go down slightly when you do this. If it does not the brake booster may be bad (quite an expensive problem).
During a Test Drive
It is important to test the brakes on a Porsche 944 under both light and hard braking circumstances. If the car pulls to one side it may have a sticking/seized caliper. This can occur if the car has been sitting for unused for a long period of time. If the caliper has seized on the Porsche 944 you are test driving, you may hear a load thud when you pull away for the first time.
You should also watch out for and juddering/shaking through the steering wheel when the brakes are applied. This is usually a sign of warped discs/rotors and often becomes first apparent under high speed braking.
Loud bangs, knocks or other strange noises when the brakes are used should be investigated closely as they may signal some expensive bills on the horizon. Weak feeling brakes or brakes that struggle to stop the car signal an issue.
Wheels and Tires
Take a look at the wheels – are they curbed or scuffed? Are they original or modified? Are they all the same? Curbed or damaged wheels are a sign of a careless owner and if the rims are not stock ask the owner if they have the originals. Remember to check the tires for the following:
- Amount of tread
- Uneven wear (Can be a sign of alignment or suspension issues)
- Brand (they should be from a good or well-reviewed brand)
Give the interior a good once over – does it look good for its age? Are there any rips or stains on the seats? How’s the dashboard, any cracks? Interior components are expensive to replace, especially the dashboards, so it is recommended that you invest in a good dashboard cover like this one.
Watch out for seats that move during acceleration and/or braking as it is incredibly dangerous and will lead to an MOT/WOF failure.
If the car interior smells like coolant, then the heater core is probably leaking. Watch out for cars that have interior scents fitted as the owner may be trying to cover something up. A smell of mold/mildew indicates that there is a leak.
You can tell if a smoker has owned the vehicle by taking a goof whiff of the interior and by looking at the headliner above the driver’s seat. If there is a stain or it is a slightly different color than the rest of the headliner, then a smoker has probably owned the car at some point.
Check the Armrest/Cassette Box as the plastic hinge eventually breaks. Not a big problem, but something to bargain on.
You should also inspect the steering wheel, gear shifter, pedals, carpet and mats for wear as they can indicate how far the Porsche 944 you are inspecting has travelled. If there is excessive wear for the mileage, it could be a sign that the vehicle’s odometer has been wound back (or the car may have just had a very hard life).
The Sunroof can also cause problems as well, which may be cheap or expensive to fix.
Electronics, Air Conditioning and Gauges
A non-functioning odometer is a common problem that is caused by a broken/worn out plastic gear in the odometer. This isn’t a major issue and the part is easy to replace.
The Porsche 944 is rumored to have a poor air conditioning system. This is not true, but the system in the car is expensive to repair/replace if it does go wrong. If the owner just says the air con needs re-gassing, the issue is probably a lot more serious (otherwise they would have got it done).
Other Things to Watch out For
Make sure that all the other electronics work as intended. Play with all the other buttons, switches and dials. If something doesn’t work investigate further.
Remember to check that all the warning lights are on when the ignition is first turned on. If the warning lights do not appear during engine start-up then they may have been disconnected to hide an issue.
Aftermarket components need to be inspected closely to make sure they work and are installed correctly. Poor workmanship here can be a sign of a careless owner.
Don’t forget to check that the headlights, rear lights, indicators, etc. work as intended. You will need to get out of the car when you are doing this or get somebody to help you.
The washer pumps are prone to failure and the washer tanks tend to crack and leak. These two problems are fairly cheap and easy to fix, but use them as a bargaining point if the 944 you are looking at has them.
General Car Buying Advice for a Porsche 944
How to Get a Great Deal on a Porsche 944
This information applies to both dealers and private sealers. Knowledge is power and it can save you a lot of money when purchasing a vehicle.
- Research, research, research – Prior to starting your hunt for a Porsche 944, figure out what specs and condition you are happy with. Is a highly modified 944 okay or are you looking for something completely original? Do you want a low mileage example or are you happy with a car that has travelled far?
- Shop around – It is always best to shop around a bit before you make a purchase. Don’t limit yourself to one dealer or platform (or even location). If you open up to more shopping options, it will make it easier to find a good Porsche 944.
- Test drive multiple cars – Don’t just take one 944 out for a test drive and then buy it. Drive as many Porsche 944s as you can get your hands on. This will give you a good idea of what makes a good and what makes a bad 944.
- Adjust your attitude – Never rush into a purchase. If you are desperate to buy a car you are more likely to get ripped off. Take your time looking through all the different Porsche 944s available and then go check out the promising looking ones
- Use any issues with the car to your advantage – Take a mental note of any issues you find with the vehicle. When it comes to discussing the price, use these problems to try and drive down the price. For example, if the car needs new tyres or brake pads make a point of it and try to get the seller to reduce the price.
- Don’t trust the owner – While some owners/sellers are honest about their cars, many will lie to get a quick sale. Take in what the owner has to say but back it up with a thorough inspection.
- Go between sellers/dealers – If you are looking at multiple Porsche 944s, let the owner/seller know. This way they will know that you have other options and they may try to undercut the price.
- Be prepared to walk away – If you are not happy with the deal, simply walk away. You may miss out on the car or the seller may get back to you with a better offer.
Mileage vs Condition
Mileage vs condition is always a hot topic for debate, but we feel that it is always better to buy on condition and then on mileage. There are lots of low mileage, poor condition Porsche 944s out there, so don’t discount one with a few more miles.
Lots of owners make the mistake of believing that they are preserving their car by not driving it. In reality, this is completely false and not driving a vehicle can actually do more damage than good. Short distance trips are not kind to the engine in a Porsche 944 as it does not have time to warm up properly and get lubricated.
Rubber seals and plastic parts will fail regardless of mileage and can even deteriorate quicker on cars that don’t get used often. Letting a car sit will not prevent rust or stop the electronics from failing.
Mileage will never decrease with age, so go out and drive your car!
Service History and Other Documentation
It is incredibly important to check any vehicle’s service history and any additional paperwork that goes along with it. The service history will give you a good idea of how the Porsche 944 you are inspecting has been maintained. In addition to this, receipts and paperwork for modifications can help you determine whether they have been done by an experienced tuner or a bad one.
If the owner can’t or won’t let you see the service history, you should probably pass on the vehicle. A complete service history will only add value to any Porsche 944 and will make it easier to sell the car in the future.
Additionally, you can check websites such as CarFax (USA) and CarJam (NZ) for more information about the car you are thinking of purchasing. These sort of websites can be incredibly useful, but there is usually a cost associated with them.
Questions That You Should Ask the Seller/Owner
- How often do you drive the car?
- When was the last service and who was it serviced by?
- How much oil does it use?
- What oil do you use in the car?
- What parts have been replaced (engine, catalytic converter, etc.)?
- When were the coils, spark plugs, leads changed?
- What’s the compression like?
- What modifications have been made to the vehicle?
- Has the vehicle overheated at any point?
- Has the car been in any major or minor accidents? Is so, what repairs were made?
- Is there any money owing on the car?
- Have you got any information on the previous owners and how they treated the vehicle?
- Is there any rust?
- Has rust been removed at any point?
- Has the car been used for track use at any point?
- When were the brake pads replaced and have the calipers seized at any point in time?
- Where do you store/park the car usually?
There are loads more questions you can ask the seller, but we feel these are some of the most important.
Things That Would Make Us Walk Away from a Porsche 944
Here are some things that would make as walk away from a Porsche. While you may be happy with a vehicle with these problems, we are not.
- Overheating problems
- Significant Crash Damage
- Money owing on the car
- Modifications with no paperwork or carried out by a poorly reviewed tuner
- Excessive amounts of power
- Bad compression
- Bad resprays
- Significant rust problems
- Engine swaps with non-standard engines
- Significant track use
- Major engine or transmission issues
- Owner who is not forthcoming with information (could be trying to hide something)
Notes on the Owner
The owner is one of the most important things to think about when viewing any vehicle. You need to ask them plenty of questions when inspecting their Porsche 944 (however, don’t trust their answers completely). Remember, it is your problem if you wind up buying an absolute lemon. Here are some things to watch out for.
- How long have they owned the vehicle? If it is less than 6 months it tends to suggest that the car needs major work done to it that they can’t afford. It also could be a sign that they deal cars as well.
- Do they thrash the car when it is cold or continually launch the vehicle? If so, you are better to walk away.
- Why are they selling the vehicle? Could be a genuine reason or they may be trying to offload their problem onto an unsuspecting buyer.
- What sort of area do they live in? Is it a good area or a complete dump?
- How do they respond when you ask them simple questions?
- Do they know anything about the Porsche 944 and the model they are selling?
- What can they tell you about previous owners?
- Do they have lots of cars on their drive? If they do it may mean they are a dealer.
- What is their reaction when you ask them about money owing on the car? Tell them you are going to do a check and see how they respond.
- What is their reaction to you asking for details for HPi check?
- How do they react if you ask to do a compression test on the vehicle?
- How do they respond when you ask them to show you the service history and paperwork for the car?
If you get a bad feeling about the owner, you are better off moving onto another Porsche.
Where to Find Porsche 944s for Sale
Websites such as Craigslist, Kijiji, TradeMe, Piston Heads and GumTree are great places to start your hunt for a Porsche 944. You will find a range of 944s for sale at different prices and in different conditions. You can easily compare the price, specs and condition of different Porsche 944s and you will be able to select the ones that look the best
Dealers and Importers
Most dealers and importers will have an online presence, so make sure you check out their website for any Porsche 944s for sale. Dealers tend to be a bit more expensive than private sellers, but sometimes you can get some extras thrown in or better protection.
Websites such as Reddit, Facebook and even Instagram can be excellent places to find Porsche 944s for sale. Check out some of the many enthusiast groups or subreddits and let other users know you are interested in buying a Porsche 944. Additionally, social media groups are often great places to find spare parts or get advice from other owners.
This sort of ties in with the above, but many owners’ clubs have their own website or they may not even have a website at all. Look to see if there are any Porsche clubs in your area as these are often great places to find cars for sale or ask for advice.
Concluding This Porsche 944 Buyer’s Guide
The Porsche 944 is an excellent car and they are reliable if they are looked after properly. However, when things go wrong on these cars they can be very expensive to repair/replace, so make sure you have some spare finds just in case.