What Do I need to Do First?
First take a deep breath and let it soak in that you now own one of the greatest handling cars ever made. It is a car that was the benchmark for many other cars, like the RX7, because it was seen as the best of it kind at the time. The connection to the road is unlike most cars, and something most people have never experienced before, and it allows the driver to feel, in a more analogue way, the joy of driving, whether that is using momentum in a NA(normally aspirated) or having a blast in the turbo, which is still a very fast car despite it’s age(and can easily be modified to be even faster). So first thing is pull up a chair and just look at your gorgeous car.
First Things First
Some things should be done straight away, and if the car has no service history, some of these should be done before even turning over the motor, especially for cars that have been left sitting for many years. The engines in 944’s are what are known as an interference motor, and so if the timing belts break, the valves will hit the pistons and do expensive damage, and hence the importance of resisting the temptation to start her up and see what she will do. So first thing is to find out when belts were last replaced and if unknown, then replace them before trying to start the car. Most owners replace the water pump with every second belt change, as it is easier to do when the belts are off, so this should also be done at the same time if when it was last done is unknown.
Timing Belts and Water pump. So first thing to do is replace the timing belts and water pump unless you have documentation to show they have been done in last 3-4 years or 40,000 miles, which is considered by most a good point to replace them. Many people go longer but as it is a Porsche and an engine rebuild uses Porsche parts, it pays to be cautious.
Fuel Lines The next must do is to replace the fuel lines in the engine bay. These sit right above the hot exhaust headers, and so any leak will be catastrophic. Personally this is a no brainer. It is not expensive, by Porsche standards, and several vendors sell new kits that will give you years of worry free driving.
Things to consider doing at same time are fuel filter, and I upgraded my fuel pump to a high volume pump available from Lindsay racing. Cleaning or replacing the fuel strainer in the tank is also a good idea, if car has been sitting.
Service and Tune up Obviously giving the car a good service including new plugs, rotor, cap, and leads, and an oil change with a new oil filter, make sense too. I also think changing the transmission and braking system fluids, is a good idea while you are in there. Repacking the grease in CV joints too, especially if car as been sitting
If car has been sitting it is probably a good idea to get fuel injectors rebuilt or at a minimum cleaned and inspected.
Other Things to do
Solid State DME Relay
These cars use an electro-mechanical relay(DME relay) in the ignition circuit, and for many years experienced owners always carried a couple of spares in the glove box, as when they fail you are stranded. You can jerry rig a couple of wires or even a paper clip to get yourself going, MacGyver style, but a few years ago, a very clever guy designed a solid state relay to replace the normal one, and it eliminates the need to worry about this issue permanently. This to me is another no brainer. I had my relay fail, replaced it and still the car wouldn’t start, replaced it with another and still wouldn’t start but luckily I had another(3rd one) that got the car going. I was a beta tester for these new solid state relays, so have had mine for many years. They are available at Focus9 website You can buy either a pump prime that turns on fuel pump straight away, so is meant to make starting easier, but I happily use the standard version.
The engine management system known as the DME(the ECU), uses 2 sensors called the speed and reference sensors, that have usually been replaced several times during the life of the car, so the wiring to the connector on this is usually a lot newer than the car but the harness that goes from the connector back to the the DME is as old as the car and due to the high heat in the engine bay, has usually deteriorated. With my car, when the car wouldn’t start, I eventually found out I could jiggle the harness to get it going. I replaced it with the harness available from Lindsey Racing, I also bought the fuel injector harness, at the same time and when checking that harness, it literally broke in my hand, so I was glad I had bought both. I highly recommend replacing the DME harness but doing the injector harness and others makes sense. One of the most common questions seen from new owners are related to “no start” issues. Kroon wiring also sell a complete new harness for the engine bay that is definitely worth considering
Vacuum Lines and Throttle body seals
The vacuum lines can cause all sorts of issues from poor idle to rich running, as any leak in vacuum system will alter air fuel ratio, as well as other issues as many devices use vacuum to work. There are lots available or you can buy silicon hides at any auto parts store. An often overlooked item is the seals on the throttle body. These fail due to age which allows extra air to enter system after the air metering throwing out the air fuel ratio, as air entering had bypassed metering system. Repair us straight forward and relatively cheap.Rebuild kits are available here
Other Things to consider
The DME is very old now, so can cause problems, and you can buy a solid state one from Focus 9 at a reasonable price. You can also completely replace it with a more modern option called VEMS that is almost plug and play (just needs a map sensor fitted to intake) and also available in a stealth model, that will update the electronics to a much more modern reliable set up that is unlimited in what can be done, from running different fuel like E85, to larger fuel injectors, or upgrading to a newer turbo. It is fully tuneable and has a very handy auto tune function that will tune the car as you drive, so no need for expensive dyno time, although you can get even more out of it with a god tuner and a dyno. It is available here VEMS
VEMS can be accessed via a laptop with blue tooth and gives full control over the ignition system and is a fully fledged stand alone engine management system although it plugs into the factory harness, so is much cheaper than going for a complete stand alone, that would require expert installation, tuning, and basically a new harness to be custom built.
A complete new engine harness is also available form Kroon that is better than what we got from the factory.
Fitted these and they totally eliminated any squeaks and rattles. Highly recommended
Making Her Nicer
I fitted these really nice door sill trims to mine. Search for Frank Zappa on Facebook in Porsche 944 no spam group, or Premier 944 Turbo group. He also provides adaptors for anyone wanting to fit a Tial F38 dual port wastegate to their turbo
Always close the rear hatch with 2 hands evenly. Always! Many people blame struts for delamination, where the glass seperates from the frame, but any twisting of the frame will actually pretty much bring it on a lot sooner, guaranteed. I’m not convinced struts have anything to do with it, as replaced mine 10 years ago with zero issues, but I always made sure I close it evenly, every time.
Here is what Mike Pollock, PCGB 944 Register Secretary, and I’ve been saying similar for years
“New struts do not delaminate the hatch, in fact they push the glass into the frame.
It is shutting it from one corner that does it.
New struts just mean you have to push harder and it you do it off centre, the hatch twists – that is what delaminates it
The adhesive gets old and cracks and delaminates over 30 years but incorrect operation kills them…….”
Resseting trip Meter
This is often blamed for odometer breaking and the myth, that’s been around forever, is if you do it while moving, it breaks it. It’s clear this is just not true, as they all break eventually. The plastic Porsche used in one gear inside(the one that breaks), basically turns to mush, so it’s a time bomb. Moving, not moving, hitting a pot hole, holding your tongue wrong way when starting, or looking at it wrong way, are all just as likely to be the reason it fails. Thankfully replacement gears are available (that won’t turn to mush) and it’s an easy thing to fix. Mines been fixed and I reset it all the time when moving, as I understand there is a clutch mechanism and it’s electronically driven so movement cannot cause it to break.
82 to 85 are all Naturally Aspirated (non turbo) so there is no need to state it’s an 83NA. We all know it from the year. Turbos started in 86 model year, so if it’s before then saying it’s an NA is redundant. 86 and later it makes sense to say either NA or turbo
No Spam and Premier turbo groups on FB
I highly recommend joining both groups, as lots of great people in the community with a wealth of knowledge, who are incredibly generous sharing that knowledge
Websites You Should join/Visit and Bookmark
Clarks Garage the #1 website for 944 owners help. Most of us have read it cover to cover
Rennlist The site most of us started on and well worth joining
Pelican Forum Another site that is helpful. Not as big as Rennlist but still a good resource
Porsche 944 No Spam: with 1000’s of members there are lots of helpful members with truckloads of knowledge
Premier 944 Turbo Community: The group to join if you own a Turbo. The elite brains trust of the Turbo community are here
Porsche 944 Outlaws: Not a group for purists. These guys are into modifying them with V8s, V6’s, inline 5’s and all sorts of things.
Porsche 924/944/968 Race Cars: A group for those tracking their cars
Porsche Parts Group 944 951 968: A group to buy and sell Porsche parts for our cars
These are probably the most active but there are usually local groups too, so worth searching and seeing if any active groups in your area. Might come in handy if you need someone to help you with work on the car or to swap out parts if trying to diagnose a fault. I have never been involved with any car community that is like the 944 community. I have had people ship me things for free, from the USA to my little island in the Pacific(Australia). Had local guys drive across town to help me, and met and gained life long friends across the world through these amazing cars.
If the information on this page was helpful, please remember to like it and share it with any of your 944 driving friends 🙂
8 thoughts on “So You Bought a 944”
Wow! Thanks for putting in the time to do this. I am a new ish turbo owner and it was still a great read, that all 944 owners should do as well.
You’re most welcome Mark. Hope it helps and is just stuff I wish I knew when I got mine but have learned along the way
Very enjoyable read…I’ve had two 924s and now on my second 944 first of which was early 1985 and now am driving a 1988 2.7 that needed a lot of fettling and at least now is in good stead…all the usual stuff as mentioned here…water pump, balance / timing belts etc
This is hugely helpful! Many thanks for sharing your knowledge.
You are most welcome Tom. Just stuff I wish I knew when I got mine but then picked up along the journey
Well done really! Some suggestions for battery drain? I got a s2 for 24y and I would like to solve this issue…
Best method I know of is to set up a multimeter between positive lead and positive terminal set to measure amperage(currrent). Take note of reading, then go through removing then replacing the fuses one by one to see which circuit has the drain. You see reading change to lower value when you remove the offending fuse. Once you know which circuit, you can then look for a cure
Good article for new owners 👍