Welcome to the failure that no one else understands, but we see all the time...
Let me guess... You are reading this because you are the owner of a 2000 or 2001 Porsche 996 or Boxster? Why would I say this? Because typically these model years are plagued with failures that lead to intermixed oil and coolant; and there are reasons for this that we have documented through our vast experience with this failure and its repair.
When Porsche owners call our Engine Failure Hotline and become connected with me they will usually start telling their story and I stop them to ask if I can take the words out of their mouth. The line goes quiet and they say "Ok" and I then spell out one of two scenarios that leaves them with their jaw dropped and a silent response. Below I will state two scenarios that generally play out leading up to these failures. These are the things that happen just before someone finds a "milkshake" in their coolant reservoir.
The cars drives great, it has no symptoms of anything going wrong. The driver is cruising down the road one day when all of a sudden the blinking red light inside the coolant temperature gauge starts to blink at a moderate rate. The driver gets out the owners manual and sees that this light can mean the coolant reservoir is below the minimum level and has triggered the alert. The driver will let the engine cool a bit, then dump about a quart of coolant, or more into the reservoir; the light will not be flashing anymore and they continue on their way.
Fast forward a week or so, maybe two weeks or maybe a month. The driver is cruising around again and again the engine has no symptoms or anything that would tend to make anyone think that a failure is imminent. Out of the blue the pesky flashing light in the coolant temperature gauge returns. The driver looks at the coolant temp and the engine isn't hot, it just appears to have low coolant again.
The driver goes to the coolant reservoir and anticipates on adding more coolant, but this time its a much different scenario, the coolant reservoir cap is removed and inside the reservoir there's a thick, nasty "milkshake" of coolant mixed with oil. OH NO! What could this be? The engine was driving fine, how in the world could it have something wrong with it? Its an M96 and it has silent failures.
Starts out much like scenario #1, except the engine continues to lose coolant but it does not end up having coolant intrusion into the oil, but you find that the oil level is too high, and you find a nasty milkshake on the dipstick, because your coolant has dumped into the engine's oil supply. This failure will sometimes go on for months or weeks as the engine loses a little coolant at a time, but that coolant is burned away in the engine oil that is routinely above 186 degrees F and hot enough to burn away impurities.
So what has occurred? Well, thats a story that I am not willing to post here online, as we have competitors and we do not wish to educate them. As the pioneers of M96 processes and components we must keep our information closely guarded.
Have I blown a head gasket:
No, in fact we have never seen an M96 cylinder head gasket "blow", even when overheated. The cylinder head gaskets used with the M96 are a multi-layer steel arrangement and they are stronger than the cylinder heads! If someone tells you that you have a blown head gasket, run away from them, because they lack experience with this engine.
Has my "Heat exchanger" or "Oil Cooler" failed?
Maybe, but in all of our experience, seeing cars from all over North America and the World we have only seen ONE of these units actually fail and lead to intermix.
Can we save the engine:
In 9 our out 10 cases we can resurrect these engines with extensive repairs. Typically we do NOT have to "rebuild" the engine!! We can address the issue and repair it without having to completely disassemble the engine.
Our chances of being able to save the engine are greatly impacted by your ability to stop driving the car and NOT allowing local shops to attempt to repair the engine using guesswork. The only engines that we can't save are those who have seen extensive collateral damages from being "driven to death" with oil in the coolant or coolant in the oil; resulting in accelerated wear of all internal components.
How much will this cost?
You've probably been told that your engine is junk and must be replaced. This is because few people are proficient enough with these engines to repair them, and the safe thing for them to do is spend MORe of YOUR money on a NEW engine. This is often not necessary. The NEW engine will cost 18-20K and will have a 10-15K core value. We can generally repair an intermixed engine for 10K, and update many other things while we are there, like the IMS Bearing, clutch and etc.
Will the repair last?
Our track record of repairing these issues is exceptional. Each year we see roughly two dozen of these failures and of all those that we have completed we have only had one recurrence of intermix and that was five years after our repair was made. The interesting part of this one is the intermix did not stem from our repair, but yet another part of the engine. We still repaired it for the owner, even though 5 years had passed and all he did was buy the parts~
Is the work warranted or guaranteed?
No, these practices are experimental and are not recognized by Porsche. Further, we only warrantee our engines that see 100% reconstruction by the Flat 6 Innovations team, using our components and processes. In lieu of warranty we test the hell out of your engine and assume it is guilty while requiring it to prove it's self innocent. We put at least 100 test miles on the car, clean the cooling system and even dynamometer evaluations are employed to "rate" the engine's output against all others to prove that its within the 5% average of all other like it that we have tested with similar mileage and etc.
If this has happened to you, you have found the team that is the most experienced with this failure. Call 706.219.4874 extension 627 to begin the processes of having your Porsche shipped to Flat 6 Innovations. I will work directly with you from a technical point of view to help you understand what failed, why it failed and how to avoid it in the future, after our intervention.
Raby Engine Development