Porsche 944 turbo "Titanic" buying guide

This guide was created with contributions by members of the old Titanic email list. The things that are likely to go wrong with a Turbo are:


Fails through springs / rubber centres breaking up or they wear out. £800+ (more for an early Turbo). Either an engine out or gearbox out job (many hours labour). If you cannot see evidence of this being done, there is an inspection hole under the car near the starter motor. Get the mechanic to check the amount left.

Cam belt / tensioners

If this goes, valves touch pistons. Could easily be a new engine. You want to see recent evidence of this done, or else budget for one. (they should be changed 40,000 miles or 3 years). While this is done, you might as well have the water pump done as well. Driven from the cam belt, if this goes it will cause the same amount of damage. Lasts about 90,000 miles
On the 16 valve S and S2 the inlet cam is driven via a chain from the exhaust cam. The chain sits between cylinders 2 and 3, approx. halfway along the length of the engine. The chain is tensioned via a hydraulic tensioner, which uses 2 plastic (nylon) slippers to keep the chain taught. If the slipper is old, like any plastic it can become brittle. And if a piece snaps off then....

Some people only replace the top slipper, which can be bought separately from Berlyn services, but there's also a second slipper on the bottom of the tensioner which cannot be bought separately. Both slippers wear at roughly the same rate, so I prefer to change the whole tensioner assembly, including both slippers. I think it's around 250 for the unit, plus labour of course.

The cam belt has many tensioners and rollers. It is worth getting these changed as well- if they seize, then...

The above are expensive to do, but it gets VERY expensive if they are not done.


These are generally very reliable - the free play can be checked in situ and is straightforward to test. Seals can go: it's circa 400 for a recon
Wastegate housings seem to crack. Extremely expensive to replace with OEM but better alternatives are not so pricey.

Engine leaks

The engine will probably leak somewhere. If not the engine then the power steering system. Its very common, and quite difficult to fix so most owners put up with a little leak- the undertray catches most of it, so you're drive normally survives.

If the car has been standing for a while, you can expect lots of oil leaks to develop and these can run up a fair bill getting, for example the oil seals, cam carrier gasket, and oil cooler gasket replaced.

Head gasket / Coolant

Head gaskets go, usually through age but frequently soon after the boost on a Turbo is increased for the first time.

Check the water has antifreeze in it and is not 'dirty' from any potential oil contamination. Take a tissue and poly bag with you, and before you start it up dip the oil - make sure it is still translucent (i.e. fresh and not black/dark), is up to the right level and there is no sign of browny grease on the dip stick or tube - you may see a little in the oil filler tube and on the underside of the oil filler cap as these do suffer from condensation - but if you do see any check the water more carefully just in case (could be head gasket)! You can also easily see the oil filter when looking under the bonnet - if it's a Porsche one it could be a sign of better care rather than some cheapo 3rd party filter.

Pretty much everything else will be affordable, unless you are really unlucky and a previous owner has abused it- hence what everyone else has said about buy from an enthusiast.


Failure is quite common, the symptoms are the needle sitting below 80 degrees when warm. A number of owners have had the thermostat replaced recently and now report and increase of 10-15 degrees on the gauge and a better performing heater in the cabin


Brake calipers seize up over time as the steel backing plates react with the alloy caliper and cause swelling. Actually fairly expensive to fix (over 500 easily, maybe 1,000). This will affect high and low mileage cars as it happens over about 5 years, regardless of miles. Summer only cars in temperature controlled winter storage may be an exception, but find one.

Fuel lines

Fuel pipes corrode at the rear. Expensive to fix as the transaxle has to come off or some sort of non-original pipework used.


Check chassis numbers (on the bulkhead in front of the driver), You might expect a little surface rust starting on the lower part of the rear wheelarch edge where it has been abraded by stones, dirt, and salt in winter, and despite being galvanised, at this sort of age the sills can rust (visible by bulges/bubbles and perhaps cracks in the bulge/bubble).

Otherwise check the door shuts, the join in the door shut along the rear end of the sill (usually easy to tell if it's not even both sides or has been filled etc.) under the bonnet along the inner wings to make sure they're original - check bolt alignment and feel underneath, is the mastic hard?, the panel gaps to make sure they're even, under the carpet in the boot and down in each rear wing hollow (near side one with battery on later cars and offside hopefully with tools and roof straps etc.) Check for a small sticker- on the passenger side, between the spare tyre and the rear light there should be a small sticker. This shows chassis number, and options. No sticker, its had a rear end smash. Might not be too bad, but... (carefully inspect the sticker photocopies have been stuck back)

Remove the spare and check underneath for any ripples/sign of repair, etc. Also there should be a tool roll and air compressor. These are not essential but are desirable and another sign of a thoughtful owner. This area should still be painted body colour and the rubber grommets/bungs should not be painted...

For the sides of the car, go to one end (or both even) and bend down/get down low and look along the side - any 'ripples' from repairs/filler will be very easy to see. Check all the window seals, door handles, door shuts, etc. etc. for paint edges or overspray which will tell you it's been painted. Also inside the wheel arches and underneath (where you can see!) for overspray. The clear plastic stick on stone chip guards should not be painted over and be there (front wheel arch, large patch in front of rear wheel, and rear wheel arch - both sides!). Paint in itself, if a good job, is not an issue - it's just a case of trying to find out what the paint is covering!

Beg borrow or . . . a paint thickness gauge

If the car has been garaged run a finger down the bottom of a window channel rubber it should not produce a greeny-black slime If the car has the popular 17" wheels on it (you can easily check by the tyre size) see if the owner has had the 968 castor mounts fitted which will reduce the tramlining when driving it.

Check the tyres for uneven/odd wear as it might need alignment or worse be suspension/accident damage also are they of a reasonable make and the same on an axle.


Check hood operation. Open, close and open again. Check it sits nicely in the runners. Drive with the hood up and check for excessive wind noise and/ or flapping. The Cabs have neither.

Check condition of hood. Inside and out. Any rips, tears or faded panels means a lot of money, and a potential bargaining tool.

Test drive

Make sure the car starts well and idles from cold and restarts from hot. Warm the engine up, and then, say from standing outside looking towards the back and the exhaust side, but with your foot on the accelerator (or use a friend/colleague), rev it a bit to make sure it doesn't smoke (blue). Some blue smoke on startup is normal for turbo's
Check Turbo coolant mechanism runs when engine switched off & radiator fans work also (when engine switched off after driving)

Check when driving it does not pull to one side under braking - and try fairly heavy braking, relaxing your grip or (with care) even letting go to see if it pulls to one side. Also try easing/letting go on a flat surface (without braking) to see if it goes to one side as geometry/suspension/accident damage could be the cause.

These cars can develop a bit of a whine from the rear end when going along, but it should not be serious or intrusive - check for gearbox whine when driving the car (lift the rear carpet out). Also listen for excessive wind noise when driving (from rear hatch area)

The engine should pull smoothly and the turbo should kick you in the back at about 3500 rpm showing 1.8 bar on the boost gauge nearly to the redline - depending -with most owners on this list as to what extra goodies / tuning mods you've fitted.

Make sure the temperature comes up when it warms up, and when ignition is on that the large red warning light (same one for the handbrake) comes on and it has not been disconnected to prevent it showing low oil.

Oil pressure should be up the top (5 on the gauge) when it's cold, then when warm about 2.5-3 on tickover and going back up to the top on acceleration/revs.

The speedo needle should not wobble - if it does it may be a sign that it's been 'clocked' but this is a bit of an old tell tale sign these days

Listen for noises in the clutch area with engine idling and in neutral

Perform hard left and right turns to check for UJ noises from the rear

If the car has ABS and LSD - test ABS by braking hard (you should feel through the pedal). Test the LSD by accelerating out of a tight turn (you can feel if the inside wheel spins) be very careful if performing this test in the wet

Check for play in front wishbones and steering components and chatter through steering column - bushes wear. You can replace things like the control arms/wishbones, tie rods, drop links, castor bushes. Allow for alignment after any of that (and annually is a good idea generally).

Make sure all gauges work and ensure all electrical items works correctly including the infamous sun roof

and finally

If the wheels have been scuffed/kerbed it's at least 35 + VAT per wheel to get them refurbished.

They leak. Time and hassle rather than money to fix, usually it's the sunroof, hatch, rear lights or rear quarter lights.

Don't buy anything with a fault, unless it's absolutely clear what the problem is. Even then take quotes to fix it with a large piece of salt.

Mechanically these cars need history, history and more history. The fuller the better, OPC or (reliable/trusted!) Porsche specialist servicing is fine - beware some Porsche specialists - 1 or 2 which have been mentioned on this list are (allegedly) not that good....If the history doesn't verify the mileage don't buy: A useful tip - from the history plot the mileages for service, MoT's etc against time on a graph. You will usually notice a change in slope coincides with a change in ownership. Any dips will mean it's been clocked.

Buy on condition, never colour, and always buy from someone you like.

If you go alone or with someone knowledgeable about 944s, an HPI check is still worthwhile.

944 turbo Checklist

The following is a list of questions to ask an owner/dealer about a prospective car (specific to 944 Turbo):

1. Please list all the option codes and state the factory description (& code) for the external colour and interior (material and colour).

2. What is the model year (denoted by chassis letter - maybe 'J'[1988] or 'K'[1989] - [not registration letter])?

3. What types of wheels are fitted - they appear to be original 16" forged alloys?

4. Please state the current Mileage.

5. Please state the Mileage / Date of last major service.

6. Please state the Mileage / Date of last oil change.

7. Please state the Mileage / Date last belt change.

8. Has the water pump been replaced recently?

9. Any current major mechanical faults? (Please list)

10. List of minor mechanical faults? (Please list)

11. What is the oil consumption and average fuel consumption?

12. What is the overall condition of the paintwork?

13. What is the overall condition of the interior?

14. What service history does the car have?

15. How many owners has the car had?

16. What is the length of MOT and TAX remaining?

17. Is there any corrosion to rear brake pipes and / or fuel lines?

18. Is there any corrosion anywhere else? - Such as windscreen top edge (under rubber), wheel arches (front and rear), weld lines between quarter panels and rear panel, sills and any areas on the roof?

19. Has the paint faded anywhere?

20. Any distortion to the front PU or rear spoiler?

21. Has the car been dyno tested to verify power at all?

22. Any modifications to the engine (such as wastegate, bleed off valve, chip conversion etc)?

23. Has the car had a new head gasket at any time?

24. Any damage to the wheels at all?

25. Any leaks from the engine, power steering or gearbox at all?

26. Any tears in the seats or damage / excessive wear to the carpets at all?

27. Standard or Sports seats?

28. Any interior lights or electrical functions not working at all

29. Do all the instruments function?

30. Is the A/C cold? Does it function correctly?

31. Do the mirrors; locking; clock & trip reset etc. function correctly?

32. Does the rear tailgate open on the button?

33. Do the electric windows function correctly?

34. Headlamps go up and down OK? Rear lights, fog and indicators?

35. What engine oil has been used?

36. Any mechanical noises from the engine at all?

37. What does the oil pressure read when hot at 70mph in 5th gear?

38. Original HiFi or aftermarket?

39. Are the under trays intact under the engine?

40. How many speakers? CD Player? CD Multi-changer? (& where fitted)

41. Are all plastic sill and wheel arch plastics still in place (at baseof each)?

42. Do both bonnet and tailgate remain open on their support struts?

43. Is the rear options sticker still in the boot? What are the optioncodes?

44. Is the original spare wheel; compressor; jack and tool kit with the car?

45. Is there any damp in the interior or rear hatch area?

46. Does the car always start first time?

47. Does the car make any unusual noises when driving?

48. Do the brakes pull straight when hands taken off the wheel?

49. How much brake pad material is left? (A percentage is fine)

50. Is there noticeable wear on the brake disks?

51. Any whining noises from the transmission?

52. Do the gears change smoothly? Any imprecision with the lever?

53. Any vibrations from the transmission or engine that can be felt inside the cabin?

54. Is the steering wheel vibration free when driving?

55. Any blowing from the exhaust system?

56. Any cracks to any of the glass areas?

57. Do the doors drop at all when opened?

58. What is the average tread depth of the tyres?

59. Any cracks in the dashboard?

60. Any damage to the jacking points?

61. Does the sunroof operate correctly? Any leaks?

62. Does the handbrake hold the car on an incline?

63. Does the coolant pump activate correctly after the engine has been switched off

64. Do the radiator cooling fan(s) operate correctly? Does the temperature gauge register near the middle when driving?

65. What boost pressure shows on the in-car gauge under hard acceleration?

In theory, the following would appear on the HPI condition alert register as:

Cat D = light damage
Cat C = medium/heavy damage
Cat B = very heavy damage, break only (car must be stripped for parts, shell usually destroyed)
Cat X = whole car destroyed, no parts recovered

Once a car of condition D or C is repaired, it can be taken for inspection to the Ministry of Transport approved Autolign. Assuming that the repairs are satisfactory (this is meticulous, even checking wheel alignment, tyres, undertrays, etc) a certificate of inspection is issued and the car then removed from the condition alert register and placed on the condition inspected register. According to Autolign the vehicle should then be worth market value, but in practise would be worth around 10% less.

However, before everyone rushes to pan accident repaired cars, all I can add is that we very often do more work repairing a car for an insurance company than in repairing a Cat D or C, so just because your P&J is HPI clear do not assume that it has never had a major repair.