Shift I installed

996 Shift Light Install DIY

Ecliptech Shift I shift light installation DIY for Porsche 996.

fuse panel

1. Open fuse panel door and remove four screws.

remove screws

2. Remove the carpeted surround to get to the third Torx screw holding the OBD-II port holder. (If you have small hands, you may be able to remove the port from the holder without dropping the port holder, if so, skip to #4 below.)


3. Remove the three Torx screws holding the OBD-II port.


4. Remove the OBD-II port from the bracket by squeezing the pins on the back of the connector.
5. Locate the brown (ground) wire going to pin #4 and the violet/green (RPM Signal) wire going to pin #9.
6. Position the shift light approximately where you want to install it and run the wires through the dash.
7. Connect the black wire from the shift light to brown ground wire going to pin #4.
8. Connect the blue/black wire from the shift light to the violet/green RPM Signal wire going to pin #9.
9. Locate an accessory fuse, 7 amps or less that is powered only when the key is in the on position (I used a5 amp fuse) and use a fuse doubler to “add-a-fuse”.
10. Connect the red wire from the shift light to your new power source.
11. Insert the key and turn to he on position. The shift light should perform a self test if wired correctly.
12. Secure any excess wire under the dash.
13. Reattach the OBD-II port holder.
14. Reattach the fuse surround and replace the fuse cover.
15. Use double-sided tape to attach the shift light.
16. Follow the instructions that came with the shift light to configure it.

I really like that this unit is fully configurable. You can set the shift points, the pattern, the light intensity, whatever you need to get your attention without being obtrusive. If you car has OBD-II you can install it. You just need to know where to pick up the RPM signal. I put one in the MINI too.


brake duct diy

MINI Brake Duct DIY

For the most part, stock MINI brakes and even the beefier JCW calipers do a decent job of dissipating heat at the track. I generally advise students to run a higher temperature fluid and to get some better brake pads like Hawk HP Plus and they should be good for most 20-25 minute HPDE sessions. But for those days when you want to run longer or the ambient temperature is already approaching 100 degrees, you may need some additional cooling. That’s when this DIY will pay off.

The basic idea is pretty simple: The air in front of the bumper is a high pressure area. The area behind the wheel in the wheel well is a low pressure area. Create a path between the two and air will flow through and aid cooling. It won’t be as dramatic as dedicated ducting pointed directly at the hub, but it also isn’t as troublesome for the 99 percent of the time that your aren’t at the track. Expect to spend $10 to $75 and a couple of hours of your time. You’ll need a three inch hole saw, some zip-ties, and some tubing. You’ll loose the use of your foglights (if you have them) but you can put them back in the winter.

Guard on duct

You might have luck just holding the tubing behind the bumper cover with compression, but I ended up fashioning a make-shift duct out of an old set of fog light covers (MINI part numbers 51711481435 and 51711481436) which are about $19 each. Just cut the center out and add a screen to keep out debris. Attach about a foot of tubing to the other end and pick where you want to cut the wheel liner.

Tubing inside wheel well

If you’re trying to stay really low tech, use dryer vent tubing and gutter guard, otherwise invest in a three foot section of silicon brake duct tubing and some wire mesh (I’ve tried both, silicon tubing is easier to work with.)


Attach the tubing to the wheel liner with zip ties. Wire mesh comes in handy here too. when you’re all finished, you can hardly tell anything has changed. Good for a 50 degree drop in caliper temps at Summit Point in August.

All Done

stock baffle

Porsche 996 IMS Guardian & Improved Baffle DIY

The M96 engine has 23 known modes of failure, the most common of which is the failure of the rear intermediate shaft (IMS) bearing. Likely for cost-cutting reasons, Porsche installed a sealed bearing that is prone to failure. Many failed early in the life of the engine. Poor quality of the bearing seals may have actually prolonged the life of some bearings as they get fed some oil if the seals fail. The IMS bearing itself is not hard to replace, but it does involve separating the engine from the transmission and is often replaced when replacing a clutch.

Early signs of failure include metal and plastic bits sitting in the oil pan. One way to detect it is by using a magnetic oil plug and careful inspection of the old oil filter when doing an oil change. Here we see the results of wiping the sludge off of the magnetic oil plan used for the last oil change. Given that the car had over 70,000 miles when the magnetic plug was installed, this amount of ferrous material is not alarming, but it would be if it were at the same level after the second oil change with the magnet plug in use.


Careful inspection of the GeorgeCo 996 oil pan revealed no metal bits and only a couple of small plastic bits indicative of chain-guide wear (not unusually in a 70K mile motor.)


Be sure to check the oil pick-up screen and clean all mating surfaces thoroughly.

oil pick up screen
Since my car had a new clutch not too long ago, that probably won’t be necessary for another couple of years. When it is time to replace the clutch, I’ll get the bearing replaced. Until then, the IMS Guardian buys some peace of mind. The detector replaces the oil drain plug with a magnetic plug wired to an alarm up in the dash. Ferrous material in your oil will be detected by the magnetic plug and cause an audible alarm giving you time to shut down the motor before any real damage is done. That’s what the IMS Guardian is all about: early detection of impending failure.

IMS Plug

Oil starvation is one of the most common causes of engine failure at the track. There are actually three interrelated things happening that most people attribute to starvation: oil is too hot; oil is frothing; and high G forces are starving the intake. The M96 uses a heat exchanger with the cooling system to cool the oil, so part of the heat issue can be covered by making sure the cooling system is functioning properly. This includes cleaning out the debris in the front mounted radiators (See this post.) Frothing is caused by improperly functioning air-oil separators (Not an easy DIY, but something to remember the next time you have to drop the engine for another reason). Cornering starvation is a function of a poorly designed baffle in the oil pan. This can be corrected by replacing the stock plastic unit with one modeled on the X-51 (high performance) style baffle offered in later cars.

New Baffle

This metal design has a better gated design and is designed to maintain more oil in the center section where the oil pick-up tube is located. You can find instructions here to open the sump and reseal it. The baffle is a simple swap, just be sure to check the gaps, and clean all of the surfaces really well before re-sealing.

clean surfaces

Since installation of the IMS Guardian involves separating the oil pan from the engine for inspection, it seemed a good time to install a better baffle while I was there. I also put on a billet spin-on oil filter adapter to replace the cheap plastic Porsche cartridge-style filter housing. Higher filtration; better flow; and lower cost. Tighten the adapter to the engine like you would tighten an oil filter: hand-tight then 1/4 turn more.

IMS Guardian Control Module

Since the IMS Guardian has a reset button and alarm that install in the dash, I thought I’d install some Porsche cup-holders while I had things apart. The 2000 996 didn’t come with any cup-holders. They were an option on later cars and many dealers sell a retrofit kit, but to install it, you have to move things around in the center stack. My car came with climate controls on top, followed by the radio, then a set of 4-CD drawers, and a pocket shelf on the bottom. The cup-holders have to go in the top position. The radio stays put, and the climate controls move to the bottom. I could have left the CD drawers, but I never use them so I replaced them with a different pocket shelf (of course the old one wouldn’t fit in the third position.) The hardest part of the whole swap was feeding the wires and connectors for the climate controls all the way down to the bottom position. The wire loom is long enough, there just isn’t much room behind the stack to feed things through. After much cursing and a few busted knuckles, I got everything to fit. Don’t be alarmed if it looks like this before all going back together again:

soup sandwich

The best part is that since they are all Porsche parts, it all looks like it belongs together.

new cup holders

Installation of the IMS Guardian is an easy DIY project. If I hadn’t decided to redesign the center stack and install the baffle/billet adapter at the same time, it could have easily been completed in a couple of hours. Follow the instructions that come with it, just be careful to note that the torque on the plug is 19 ft. lbs. of torque (not 37) and that the video shows the correct pin to tap for power, even if the pin numbering is wrong. The hardest part for me was in finding a hole to pass the wire through from the cabin to the engine compartment. In the end, I used a small hole (that I had to enlarge) that was in the rear foot-well behind the driver. Just take your time, stock up and beer, and you’ll get through.

UPDATE: I always had a small leak after I installed the IMS plug. I tried double washers, a replacement plug unit and I even swapped out the oil pan. The new plug, pan, and a single washer sealed pretty well, but it was still moist. The kits now come with a sealant to use if you do not get a perfect seal. I was able to get a perfect seal without it when I stopped using Mobil 1. (Thanks for the tip Jake.) Also go easy on the oil pan sealant. Less is more. If you do oil analysis, expect to see elevated silica for your first test after re-doing the seal, but it should drop back to normal after one oil change.

Boat Plug in Spark Plug Tube

Spark Plug and Tube DIY for Porsche 996/997

Spark plugs in the M96 engine need to be replaced annually. While you’re there, you should change the spark plug tubes as well, especially if you have no record of them having been changed. You can do it without dropping the exhaust first, but it will take you twice as long, even accounting for the time it takes to drop and reinstall the exhaust. Wayne Dempsey has a good DIY for spark plug replacement so we don’t need to repeat it here. Having done it both ways, I will be dropping the exhaust from now on. Be sure that the engine is cold before you begin.

If you find oil on the inside of the tube when you remove the plugs, then the tubes have cracked. Why else change the tubes? If you find oil on the valve cover seal or what appears to be a head gasket leak without an identifiable source, then your tubes may be leaking due to worn seals. They are relatively inexpensive to replace, and can help prevent wasting money on a more expensive repair that doesn’t work. The part number for the tube is 996-105-325-52. (Be sure to get the O-rings as well.)

The trick to getting the tubes out is to find a Porsche plug tube puller tool (expensive) or use a (cheap) boat plug. Tighten the boat plug using pliers and pull the tube out. Lube the sealing rings with dielectric grease and just press them back in. Replace the spark plugs without anti-seize compound and away you go. This would also be a good time to replace the coil-packs if you have no record of their replacement (997-602-107-00).

New Exhaust for 996

Since we dropped the exhaust to work on the plugs, we decided to upgrade while we were there. (Caution: rationalization in progress). Besides, the stainless steel exhaust is a thing of beauty and quite a bit lighter than the stock exhaust it replaced, which had started to rattle in recent weeks. Installation is very simple provided that the exhaust flanges haven’t rusted too badly. We replaced the cuffs, bolts and nuts all around. When we got the old exhaust off the car, we found out the internals on the right side were just floating around in the can — there’s your rattle.

DIY ducts

Porsche 996 Front Brake Ducts & Radiator Cleaning

At high speed, the front end of the 996 seems a bit light. For cooling purposes, it’s a fairly efficient design: High pressure air enters the openings in the front of the bumper, passes through the AC condensors and radiators, before exiting toward the pavement ahead of the wheels. The design tends to cause the front to lift at high speed, as well as catch leaves, bugs, and debris between the condenser and radiator. We can’t do much about the leaf problem for now, (except remember to clean the radiators each year,) but we can do something about lift and improve brake cooling at the same time.

If you look into the front wheel wells of later 997 models, you will see that the air now passes through the radiator and into the wheel well where it helps cool the brakes. The 997 fender liners will not fit in the 996, but you can modify them to get the same effect. This is a fairly easy project that should take just a couple of hours to complete.

  • Safely place the car on jack-stands, remove the front wheels, and remove the fender liners. Be careful when removing the plastic pop-rivets as they may have become brittle.
  • Remove the front bumper cover and the shroud around the radiators.
    Bumper removed
  • At this point it is a good idea to separate the condenser from the front of the radiator and blow out any debris.
  • You will need to remove the triangular frame so you can pull off the plastic shroud on the back side of the radiator fan on each side. Mark the area you need to cut before you pull it off.
  • Use a dremel tool to cut away the material you don’t need.
  • Line the metal triangle up with the back side of the fender liner and draw a similar pattern.
  • Cut away the material on the fender liner as well. We put a metal screen on the back side, but that’s optional.
  • Installation is the reverse of removal. (We love writing that.)

Don’t worry if your cuts are not perfect. Once the wheel is mounted you cannot see your new vents. You’ll notice a little less floating of the front-end during high-speed straights and get a little better brake cooling as well. Win-win. Make a note to clean out your radiators again next year.

Stock 996 Brake Spoiler

Something else to consider is to upgrade the Brake Duct Spoilers while you’re there. Air is channeled under the front of the car and redirected by spoilers attached to the control arms toward the brake calipers. An easy upgrade is to add the GT3 version of this part.

Channel and Spoiler

The key to this mod is not to use the 996 GT3 spoilers which are about $90 each, but instead use the spoilers from a 997 GT3, which (unusually for Porsche) happen to be priced about $10 each.

997 GT3 Brake Spoiler

Part numbers are 997-341-483-92 and 997-341-484-92, left and right respectively.   Simple clip on install, but you may want to use a zip-tie or two since it isn’t a perfect fit for your older 996 control arm.

Brake Spoiler Comparo

Need more?  997 GT2 Brake Spoilers are also available, but they cost more than $300 and tend to catch on debris and pavement.

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