We’ve all been in a situation where we notice our car leaking a strange substance. And oftentimes we are not entirely sure what it is. But if you own a Porsche 996TT and spot a leak, a good bet is probably coolant. And you don’t need us to tell you that this is a huge problem.
Coolant pipe spillage due to a fitting failure is a known defect on the Porsche 911 996 Twin Turbo models, as well as the GT2 and GT3 cars with the Mezger motor, built from 1997 to 2004. And though the Porsche 996 Turbo coolant pipe repair can be done at home with the right equipment and expertise, it is generally best to take your 996 to your local, trusted mechanic.
Fortunately, there are several ways to perform a coolant pipe repair on the Porsche 996TT. As this is a known defect, many auto shops will often complete this repair proactively alongside other common engine repairs — such as a clutch service — that require removing the engine from the car. We’ve outlined some of the repair options below. As always, we recommend talking with your mechanic to figure out the best solution for your car and your use case.
Why Is This An Issue In The First Place?
Before getting into how to fix the problem, we first have to address what the problem stems from. This coolant pipe failure occurs when the coolant hose fitting detaches from the coolant housing because of an adhesive failure.
The coolant pipes in these Mezger engines are not a single-cast piece — instead, the larger cast pieces have tubes that are connected with an adhesive. This makes the coolant pipes more prone to failure once the adhesive inevitably loses its strength. After enough heat cycles, the adhesive will soften, and the tube will come loose or completely fall out. If the coolant hose completely comes out of the housing body while driving, you will experience a rapid loss of coolant.
In short, it is nearly inevitable that the stock coolant pipes will either leak or completely fail on a Porsche with the Mezger motor, which is why many owners choose to get the 996 turbo coolant pipe repair done before the failure even happens. There are even products and kits that you can purchase to repair this issue at home. Or if you aren’t comfortable wrenching on your own car, most performance shops familiar with Porsche will be aware of this common issue.
If you drive your 996TT on track, be aware that this failure could cause additional issues. If a coolant hose pops off while driving at high speeds or under load, the rapid loss of coolant may cause a spin as it dumps onto your rear tires. Not only might this lead to your vehicle completely spinning out of control, but the dumped coolant is also a potential hazard for other vehicles on track. Because of this, many race tracks require the coolant pipes to be fixed before you can drive on the track.
Options For Fixing The Porsche 996 Turbo Coolant Pipes
In order to properly access and repair the coolant pipes, it is recommended that you remove the engine. With that, you need the proper tools and expertise which is why many Porsche owners choose to take their 996TT to their local shop.
To safely do any work that requires dropping the engine in a Porsche 996TT, you’ll need a car lift. With that, unless you have a lift in your home garage, this repair will need to be done by a mechanic.
While some people have attempted these repairs without removing the engine and have been successful, we strongly recommend removing the engine in order to complete these repairs in a way that will hold up over time — especially if you plan on driving on track. While it may seem time-consuming and costly to have the shop remove the engine to perform this repair, just know that it will likely save you time and money in the long run. It will decrease the likelihood that you’ll have to go through this repair again or having to replace an engine that severely overheats.
Below, we’ve outlined several options for a Porsche 996 Turbo coolant pipe repair. Since this is such a common issue, expert mechanics rely on several methods for fixing the issue — pinning, torch welding, or JB welding. Whether you are preventing the problem before it arises or fixing the issue after the damage occurs, you want to make sure that you take care of this common coolant pipe failure to keep your Porsche in good working order.
If you are unsure of which option to go with, consult your Porsche mechanic or your local Porsche dealer. Once you are familiar with your options, you will be able to discuss with your mechanic whether you’d like to have them weld or pin your coolant pipes on your Porsche 996TT. In addition, you can consult several forums for more information on this issue including both Rennlist and 6 Speed Online.
Option #1: Pinning
Many people opt for the pinning method when repairing their coolant pipes because it prevents the fitting from moving as the pipes and housing contract and expand with heat.
In this method, the mechanic will remove the engine and unbolt the coolant housing. If the tubes are still in place, they will remove the fitting from the housing and clean any dirt, debris, or leftover adhesive from the fitting. Once cleaned and cleared of any old adhesive, they will reinsert the fitting, usually using Loctite or another adhesive, to fit the pipe back in place.
Next, they will drill a hole through the cast housing body and into the tube and insert a “pin.” This will secure the tube and prevent it from flying out of the fitting even if the adhesive degrades in the future. After drilling the small hole, they will thread and secure a bolt, the pin, through both pieces.
One potential downside to pinning is the potential for introducing metal shards or other contaminants into your coolant system. Professional mechanics should be aware of this danger and take the necessary precautions to avoid this issue.
Another possible downside is that while pinning will secure the coolant tubes, it will not necessarily ensure that the seal between the coolant pipe and the housing never leaks. If the adhesive used at the junction degrades, you may still experience a small coolant leak, although the pin should prevent any catastrophic coolant pipe failure. Well-known Porsche retro-fitter Sharkwerks is an advocate for pinning.
Option #2 – Welding
If done correctly, welding is another possible solution for Porsche 996 Turbo coolant pipe repair. Again, in this case, the engine will need to be removed from the car, the coolant housing removed, and the pipes and fitting cleaned and prepped for welding.
Once the pipes and housing have been cleaned and cleared of any old adhesive, the welder will then weld the pipes to the casting, creating a solid connection point at the junction previously held together by the factory adhesive.
However, if the welding is done incorrectly, the fitting may crack, damaging the entire coolant housing. Sharkwerks notes that the fittings, tubes, and welding filler are typically all different alloys with different rates of thermal expansion which can lead to cracking or failure down the road. If the welding does eventually crack, you will have to re-do this process all over again. With that being said, it is best to leave this repair to a professional welder.
Option #3: JB Weld
JB Welding, or “cold” welding, is a process where epoxy is applied to seal two surfaces. If done correctly, this fix should prevent the coolant pipe from coming loose from the casing. For this process, proper surface preparation is a necessity.
In order to apply JB Weld, your mechanic will remove the engine and unbold the coolant housing from the engine. In order to properly prepare the surface, some mechanics opt to use a custom radius tube to remove the fittings. They may also use a gas hand torch to remove any adhesive factory sealant leftover to ensure a clean surface.
Even after applying heat, there may still be some remnants of adhesive and other debris. They may use a small wire brush or fine-grit sandpaper to get any leftover adhesive off of the surface, ensuring a shiny, clean surface to work from. Next, they will mark the tube to indicate where it will insert into the housing. This will allow them to know where to apply the JB Weld.
To account for the large clearance between the faulty coolant pipe and the coolant housing, you need to use a substantial sealer. This is why JB Weld is the best option for a welding repair of the coolant pipe. JB Weld is a steel-reinforced epoxy that fully dries in less than 24 hours.
Once the JB Weld is ready for use, they will cover the entire surface of the fitting from the bottom to where you marked with the marker. It is okay if there is excess JB Weld that comes out once installed into the housing. They will secure the fitting by gently tapping it with a hammer until it is fully seated.
JB Welding is much less expensive than torch welding and does not require any drilling into the coolant system like pinning. However, using JB Weld is simply a way to replace the existing manufacturer’s adhesive with another type of adhesive. While 996TT owners have reported success using JB Weld for this repair, this cheaper option is likely best if you only plan on using your car for daily driving. If you plan on taking your 996TT out for any kind of performance driving, you might want to consider a different solution. One option would be pinning in addition to using JB Weld.
General Expected Price Of Fix: $2,000-$5,000
Pinning or JB Welding tends to be less expensive and time-consuming than torch welding. With that, prices will vary depending on the hourly rate of your chosen mechanic. Professional mechanics may also perform pressure tests on the housings prior to reinstallation to be certain there are no leaks.
Also, check with your local Porsche dealership as some dealers may have discounted hourly rates for coolant pipe repair on the 996 because it is such a common issue. Generally, you can expect 21-24 hours of charged labor for this repair. And if you choose to do this preventative maintenance alongside other maintenance or repairs, you should be able to save some money.
Weld Or Pin, But Get Your Porsche 996 Turbo Coolant Pipe Repaired
No matter how you choose to resolve this common coolant pipe failure, you’ll rest easier and drive happier knowing your Porsche 996 Turbo coolant pipes are securely mounted on your engine. Liberal use of the skinny pedal is much more confidence-inspiring once this repair has been completed.