WHAT TO LOOK FOR
The 944’s galvanised shell minimised corrosion but look for tin-worm nibbling at the edges of the front wings, sills, and around the windscreen and sunroof. Check for accident damage, scrutinising the panels, inner wings, and boot floor for signs of previous repair; look at the inside of the rear panel to see if the factory sticker is still there, and check the front chassis legs and strut towers for distortion. Misalignment around the bonnet, front wings, and nosecone will need further investigation.
Bump and grind
Damaged polyurethane bumpers are pricey to replace but a repainted nosecone isn’t unusual as it’s prone to stone chips. Tired paintwork could be an issue, too. The front screen can delaminate, turning milky around the edges (post-85 cars got a tidier, flusher screen incorporating the radio aerial) and ensure the popup headlamps operate okay; faults here could be wiring-related or wonkiness caused by a previous impact. Check the tailgate hasn’t been leaking and that the sunroof panel operates smoothly; on S2 models, blocked sunroof drains can fill the battery well in the rear luggage compartment with water.
The long haul
Engines will cover 200,000 miles with proper care, but cam/balancer shaft belts and tensioner changes are crucial. They need doing at 48,000 miles or every four years but particular care is needed with 16-valve engines; here, the exhaust camshaft is belt driven with the inlet cam driven by a short chain between the two. Failure will be catastrophic, so budget around £900 at a Porsche specialist for a new belt and chain. Dash warning lights can signal engine management woes and should be treated with caution.
A worrying cocktail
Oil leaks from the cam cover and balance shaft seals are easy to sort, but signs of oil and coolant mixing could be due to failure of the oil cooler seals, or worse still the head gasket. A compression and leak down test is advisable to establish the engine’s internal condition as wear of the Nikasil-lined cylinder bores effectively means the engine is finished, while evidence of meticulous oil changes on Turbo models is vital and an excessively smoky unit should be avoided at all costs. Last, an engine that’s listing or that vibrates excessively is likely suffering from failed hydraulic engine mounts (the one nearest the exhaust manifold is particularly prone).
Both the manual and automatic gearboxes are bullet-proof unless abused, but listen out for whines from the transaxle indicating worn differential bearings. A manual gearshift that’s baggy or stiff is likely due to linkage issues and should be easily sorted, but ensure the clutch is healthy; a Porsche specialist can charge around