Just a couple of important things that you ought to know when thinking about buying a 993 (or having just purchased one), especially if you’ve never owned an air-cooled Porsche 911 before.
“993” is the common nomenclature for 911s built between 1995 and 1998. 993 was Porsche’s inhouse project codename. Similarly 996 refers to 911s built between 1999 and 2004, additionally 997 is the body style for those built 2005 to present. Porsches built before 1999 were air-cooled, meaning there are no radiators or radiator fluid – those built after 1999 are water-cooled, like most cars.
It takes about a mile to warm up an air-cooled 993 the morning, also it often takes about the same time for the brakes to be up to full pressure (so don’t worry when you see the brake light stay on for a couple minutes). But you don’t need to worry, even when not at full pressure the brakes work just fine.
Note: You don’t need to warm a 993 up in the winter, just get in and drive – you actually risk overheating it if you try to warm a 993 up.
The rear brakes sometimes squeak when they are dirty with brake dust. However the stopping ability of any 911 will blow you away.
Like any Porsche, a 993 likes to be driven over 3000RPM, unlike the average car that you would normally shift at 2500-3000RPM.
You need to pay attention to 3 oil gauges on a 993, and the most important one, the oil level gauge, can only be read when you are stationary in idle. Also the dipstick is useless because the gauge is more accurate. Typically, a 993 will consume about a half quart every month or so (assuming it’s driven regularly).
When adding oil to a 993 only add a half quart at a time. Stick with whatever brand of oil has historicially been used in your car – I’ve heard changing oils can cause the seals to shrink and thus oil leaks. Porsche recommends Mobil 1 (SAE0-W40). Also keep a quart in the trunk for low oil emergencies.
993s that are not driven regularly are more apt to have issues with engine leaks, due to gasket drying and shrinkage, and valve clogging due to fuel sitting stationary.
The window switches only last about a year. The good news is they only cost about $35 to replace. When they begin to fail, the windows will stutter or stall.
The batteries in the key remotes last a little longer and are also inexpensive – $14. As the remote batteries weaken, the distance you need to be close to the car to unlock the doors will shorten. With a strong battery you’ll be able to unlock the doors from 20 feet away or more.
993s have 2 buttons for AC, one is full blast out of the main vents only and the other is auto temperature direction adjustable. The OEM Heat/AC Controllers are known to fail. To replace a Control Head runs about $1,000. The best source for used Porsche parts that I have found is Parts Planet at 1-800-783-4911.
For more information and/or technical questions, it’s imperative that you join the Porsche Club of America. For a $42 annual membership you will benefit from a 10% service discount on labor at most Porsche dealers, as well as expert online technical assistance. You’ll also receive a monthly copy of Panorama magazine.
You’ve probably heard correctly that there is no cup holder, or right arm rest. This is true, and the ignition is on the left side of the steering wheel like most Porsches.
Why you should never lift off the accelerator during a high speed turn!
“Driving a 993 at the limit is all about smooth weight transfer. This is a hard concept to grasp because 99% of your time driving you are well within the limits of the car, so whatever incorrect driving technique you do does not have any bad effects. But when you are driving at the limit of your car, you can easily spin it causing harm to yourself and your car. If you are in a turn and you lift off the throttle abruptly you will transfer the weight to the front wheels and off the rear wheels. Since most the weight is in the back a Porsche 911, this is going to allow the heavy rear end to keep going in the direction it was before you lifted (remember that high school physics about an object in motion tending to stay in motion?). The result is you spinning. The rear end will keep moving because there is not enough weight on the tires to provide the friction needed to keep it in place, because you transferred the weight to the front tires. Only do an abrupt lift, and only do heavy braking, when you are going straight.
“Staying on the gas during a turn is one of the hardest things to learn. It goes against every ounce of common sense. When you are going too fast into a turn, the last thing you want to do is go faster. But you have to fight that urge because you will spin otherwise.”
My last bit of advice is that you take your time getting to know your new Porsche 911 (993) – don’t push the limits until you’ve spent at least six months getting to know your car.
Please leave any tips for 993 owners I’ve forgetten to mention below as a comment.
Search Cars.com for your new 993!
P.S. I sold this Porsche (1997 911 C4S) in July ’09 with 89,000 miles on it for $39,000. At the same time, I purchased a CPO 2003 911 C4S (996) with 41,000 miles for $39,000.
8/26/09 – Click here to read my “Confessions Of A 996 Driver” rant.
Written by Perry & Co. Denver Real Estate Professionals’ COO & Director of Relocation Services Jon Larrance.
Filed under: Leading Real Estate Companies, Luxury, Who's Who In Luxury Real Estate | 6 Comments
Tags: 911, 993, 996, 997, Carrera, Jon Larrance, Luxury, Porsche
I bought a used 1998 911S Coupe last summer. It is my 5th 911. This is the last year for the air-cooled 911. At this point in development, it seems they got everything right (compared to my previous 911s). The HP is just about right for a car this size, I think a turbo would be overkill for the average driver. Like my other 911s, this car takes awhile to learn to drive. It is fast and 100mph comes up quickly, but you don’t know it unless you look at the speedometer.
Comfort is 5+, controls are easier to read and use and the shifter is perfectly placed. The clutch, well, it feels like a 911 clutch. Different but hard to describe. Part of the learning curve. I love this car and glad I got one before the air-cooled version became an “old car”. I have friends with 1999+ 911s and they are not the same. The water-cooled engine is quieter but the cooling fan on the air-cooled engine is part of the legendary sound of a 911. The styling changed and the part I miss the most is the way older 911 hoods look, with the flat center leading to the air intake. Mine has that and I love that look. The color I have is “Forest Green” with fawn interior. No wing on the back because they have an electric “wing” that comes up at 40 mph. Interesting, because you can’t see it from the car and I have never seen it! I have had it serviced twice (now = 37000 miles) and the only thing wrong the 911 shop I take it to could find is worn out wiper blades.
The S option? It has the wider body like the turbo, different suspension components (I am told) and the words “911S” on the engine lid. If anyone knows more about this option, please write me. Finally, I get LOTS of questions and comments when I drive it anywhere. People who love Porsches, love this car. As you can tell, I am very proud to own this great 911. Write me at for comments or questions.
Thanks Benjamin for the additional information for those considering buying a 993!
Your 911 certainly sounds like a beauty – a true classic. I’ve always been partial to the Coupes over the Cabriolets. Funny that you should mention the air intake on the hood as just the other day I was noticing/reflecting on that very thing. I am partial to it as well and it certainly would have been good of Porsche to continue that styling cue. For more on the differences between 993s and 996s please click here to read my “Confessions Of A 996 Driver” rant.
FYI, S versions also have additional horsepower over non-S 911s – around 20 additional HP in 1998 (S = 285) I believe.
See you down the road!
For those of you with tire questions. Here is a great evaluation done by Car & Driver. Click here to see comparisons of nine high performance tires. “Could any of these affordable summer tires have possibly knocked off the expensive Michelin PS2?”
Great tips! I especially urge any driver of a tiptronic/automatic model of the Porsche 993, living in a city with traffic, to either find regular ways to practice spirited driving (let you car stretch it’s legs). Attend to letting your RPMs run up even a bit higher than 3000 rpm in second and third gear as set in tip/manual mode. I’ll take mine up to 4000 here and there, but each driver should do what’s comfortable for them. In the automatic mode, the car upshifts at 2000 rpm. This will leave your motor and emissions equipment a mess if you never let your engine roar. Driving these cars delicately can be dangerous for them mechanically. Driving them too fast before you know and understand each other can be dangerous to both of you. In a manual or automatic it is so important to drive the cars with “spirit” (Porsche’s owner’s manual used to use this word), which doesn’t mean recklessly or above the speed limit. Just like a thoroughbred animal they need to be exercised. Run.
Of course you know this: Porsche didn”t put cupholders in due to the high performance nature of the car- you should be driving not drinking coffee. But, you can find cup holders for 993s on the internet that individuals fashion that can be attached easily (no harm) and one model Porsche did make for 911 (a later model?) where a cassette holder/slot between seats goes (slides right in).
My 1997 silver/black 993 “S” model’s classic lines and wide stance make me press my lips together in awe everytime I see it. Then I get in and drive, and my jaw drops.
Thanks again for the tips!
I can testify first-hand about the whole ‘lift-off oversteer’ effect. I had just purchased my ’95 993 Porsche Cabriolet and was taking the Brumos U course at the Gainesville (FL) Raceway road track.
There’s a decreasing-radius left-hand sweeping turn that I didn’t get enough speed scrubbed off going into.
1) Car started to go wide, so I lifted off – just a little. Problem was, my 911 was already right at the limit.
2) Back end started to swing out on me, so I counter-steered and came completely off the gas.
3) Front tires caught, rear end broke loose and I did this spec-tac-u-lar 540-degree spin off the course into the mud – stopping about 15′ shy of the the standing water.
Had to get towed out, of course – and they wouldn’t let me run the 1/4 mile because of all the mud on the car. But it was a blast!
Fun story Bob. Thankfully you were on a private road track the first time (hopefully last) that you experienced snap oversteer, also the mud may have kept you from rolling. Regardless, I’m sure you were unfazed given that it happened in Porsche rather than in a car not truly built for speed.