How Much does it Cost to Maintain a Porsche 944?
I’m thinking of buying a Porsche 944 because they are cheap, but how much do they cost to maintain?
The Porsche 944 is a real value in the used car market. You can find decent cars for just $2,500 and if you go up to about $5,000 you will find some that are near show quality. Up your budget to $10,000 and the higher performing 944 Turbo and S2 are within reach.
That standard 944 may not be the fastest car in a straight line, although it is quick enough to stay up with modern traffic. With just 155 horsepower (a bit more for some of the later years) it won’t win many drag races, but thanks to its near perfect 50/50 weight distribution you can carve a canyon road like nobody’s business. That is what the car is all about.
Of course if you want that extra quickness go for the Turbo. While the turbocharged car does have some turbo lag, it is good for a 0-60 mph time of around 5.7 seconds (not bad for an 80’s car). The S2 has a larger 3.0-liter engine versus the 2.5-liter found in the non-S and non-S2 944 (the 944 Turbo also has a 2.5-liter engine) which helps it propel from 0-60 mph in about 6 seconds.
The 944 may be the perfect starter Porsche. They are inexpensive to purchase and pretty dependable providing you keep them maintained. They also sold pretty well, so you can be picky when choosing one.
I always recommend buying the best maintained example that you can afford. Of course when you aren’t paying very much for the car such things are often overlooked.
My second Porsche was a 1983 944 which I drove as my daily driver for over five years. The car was very dependable for me, but that isn’t to say that it was always cheep to maintain.
The car I drove was fairly well maintained, but it did show signs of its age. After about two years of ownership the clutch went out. Replacing the clutch in a 944 is a major task, but it can be done at home with the right tools and enough time. I had a friend of mine that is an ACE certified mechanic and a 944 enthusiast do the job for me.
Changing the clutch in the car is not for the timid. Shops estimate 12 hours for the repair and people doing it at home can often put in 20 hours to get it done.
Why is it so hard? The 944 has great balance due to its front-engine and rear transaxle layout. It makes driving a thing of beauty and is much easer to work on the engine than a mid-engined car (stay tuned for my article on replacing the air / oil separator on my current Boxster). However, because the engine and transaxle are connected by a solid torque tube you must take off a large amount of parts to get to the clutch. This includes a large portion of the exhaust and the torque tube, etc.
Because of the amount of time it was going to take, I had the before mentioned friend do the labor for me. He charged me the low rate of forty dollars an hour for his help and the parts were about eight hundred dollars. In all I spent about eleven hundred dollars to get the repair done, but was quoted over two-thousand dollars by multiple shops.
Another big maintenance item is the timing belt. It must be serviced every 60,000 miles (some do it every 30,000) or you risk it destroying your engine if it goes wrong. This is a job that can be done at home for just the price of the parts (it is recommended that you replace the the water pump, front engine seals, drive belt, idlers, and tensioners along with the timing belt) but you need a few special tools. For that job a shop will charge anywhere from $500 – $2,000 depending on how much extra work they do and what the shop charges for labor.
A complete brake job will run you about $450 to do it yourself. A shop will cost you between $800-$1,300.
Oil changes are fairly standard and will cost between $30-$70 depending on the oil that you use. At a shop you will likely pay between $35-$150 depending on the oil that you choose and what the shop charges for an oil change.
The turbocharged version will require some additional maintenance and there is added wear and tear to the engine. Because of this well maintained lower mileage examples of 944 Turbos may be a better value. They will cost more to purchase, but repairs will be less likely for a while.
Another thing to look out for are oil leaks. This could be a small problem or a major issue and that brings me to an important point. If you purchase any 944 it is best to buy a well maintained example. Preferably with documentation.
A pre-purchase inspection is always a good idea, even on an well maintained example. It will help let you know if there are any expensive issues hiding and can give you some bargaining leverage.
In your search it can often be wise to spend a bit more for a better maintained example. This can help keep service costs much lower and save money in the long run.
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Picture Source: Daniel J. Leivick