The Auto Umbau Team contribute to 911 & Porsche World magazine.
911 & Porsche World magazine has been running for more than 20 years and is the enthusiast’s choice for everything Porsche. Covering all models of Porsche from the beginnings to current day, the magazine gives a true insight into ownership, driving pleasure, real world costs and a touch of glamour. 911 & Porsche World magazine enables all Porsche owners to get more out of their car in both enjoyment and practicality.
Our advice throughout the years has helped many an enthusiast complete vital work themselves or know exactly what to ask for from their service centre. Below are some of the examples of past features:-
997 CROSSMEMBER RUST: THE TIP OF AN EXPENSIVE ICEBERG?
911 & Porsche World August 2016 No.269
Back in the May edition I highlighted the problem of rust in the rearmost crossmember in a 997 Carrera, discovered by Robin McKenzie atAuto Umbau in Bedfordshire - first in his own 2006 3.8-litre S, and soon aftenvards in a customer's almost identical model. The most likely explanation for this state of affairs is the heat from the catalytic converter burning off the paint, and eventually the zinc coating on the metal itself, allowing our perennial adversary, ferrous oxide, to gain a foothold.
It turned out that neither car was going to be covered by the terms of Porsche's '10-year warranty against perforation due to corrosion, so Robin set to in search of a practicable but high-quality repair solution. The simple answer would have been to cut out the relatively small section that was holed, and weld in a new one - and many lesser garages would probably have simply patched the area.
But that was never going to look 'factory, (even though it would be hidden by the exhaust system), and would certainly never be very satisfying, and so, after careful consideration and some work on his PC, Robin came up with a design for a replacement closing panel for the lower part of the box-section. This would be made for him in a special stainless steel that can be welded to mild steel and, such is his attention to detail, with drain holes in exactly the same places as the original.
Fitting it would entail fairly major surgery to the crossmember - not least a precise lateral incision from one side of the car to the other, and then drilling out all of the spotwelds along the lower edge of the affected section. But the photo below, showing the now repaired area, together with another of the several panels that Robin has had made, proves beyond doubt that, with the right tools and expertise, almost anything is possible.
It is never going to be a quick repair - the engine has to come out for access - and your bill will be perhaps £2,000 plus VAT; higher still if it is found that other problems need to be addressed, as well. But surely a vehicle of this nature and value, never mind its potential classic status, deserves something far better than the usual quick bodge.
The message, then, is clear. lf you own a 997 - and on the evidence of these two cars an ,S' model in particular - go outside, right this minute, and check whether your crossmember is beginning to shed its paint, or perhaps even beginning to corrode. (You might have to do it as much by feel as by eye; make sure the exhaust is stone-cold.)
If it is, and if there is the vaguest possibility that the car is covered by that anti-corrosion warranty, get it to a Porsche Centre for an inspection and assessment, pronto. Assuming that you are politely but firmly shown the door, take it to a reputable bodyshop for repair - and ideally, of course, to Auto Umbau for a job to the standard shown here. And if you are in the market for one of these cars, be as certain as you can not only that the cylinder bores are not scored, but also that its rear crossmember is not about to give you an equally nasty surprise.
Could this soon become the 997 S version of the famous 'kidney bowl' issue found in so many pre-964 Carreras? Sadly, yes, I think so. But forewarned is forearmed. Oh, and look out for full start-to-finish story on how Robin repaired his own car in a future issue of the magazine - just as soon as he has found time to do the job, that is!