Porsche 996 Turbo: Long-term report, September 2015

Porsche 911 Turbo

An expensive month, as I total the costs of the accident repair and empty my war chest.

Whenever you read a Porsche buying guide, there’s always a line that urges you to set aside some money each month into a war chest of funds in case something expensive goes wrong. It’s good advice, and having just collected the Turbo from RPM Technik after a lengthy repair process that ended up costing quite a lot more than I expected, I’m very glad I followed it.

Before I talk about the nasty subject of money, I’ll give a brief recap of the damage to the car after a lorry sideswiped me on the motorway. The nearside rear wheelarch was badly dented and the paint was scratched on both the body and the rear bumper, and the rear wheel had deep scratches to the spokes and rim.

RPM quoted a figure of around £1700 to repair all of the damage, instantly making me regret not claiming for the incident via my insurance. Still, all I really wanted was the car back in mint condition, so I gave the go-ahead for RPM to begin the repair process.

I was kept up to date on the repair progress by RPM’s workshop manager Craig Humphrey, who was extremely helpful throughout the whole process, which turned out to be a little more involved than I expected. The first issue was that while removing the nearside rear window to get the car ready for respray, the bodyshop team discovered that the trim that surrounds the glass was riveted in place with no way of removing it without damaging the trim. So, one new piece of trim was added to the bill at £207 plus VAT.

The respray covered the passenger door plus the rear quarter and the rear bumper, and once the workshop got the car back from the paintshop they were unable to get the door handle to sit correctly, so a new doorhandle gasket was ordered and a few more hours’ labour to strip and rebuild the door were added to the bill.

I should add at this point that Craig contacted me each time to explain the issue and get my permission before proceeding with the work – RPM’s communication throughout the repair was faultless. I was fully aware of the extra costs and while I wasn’t thrilled that it was turning out to be a more expensive job than I originally expected, the most important thing remained getting the car back into perfect condition.

Once the car was back together to RPM’s satisfaction, the second job on the list was to flush the brake fluid with race-spec Performance Friction fluid and fit upgraded brake pads, in an attempt to resolve the brake feel issues I’ve mentioned previously. Once again, RPM’s communication was excellent, with Craig getting in touch to check if I would be happy with some noise from the brakes with the new pads in place.

I wasn’t keen; in my opinion, squeaky brakes are for race cars and trackday specials, not road cars, and my wife would go crazy every time she drove the car if the brakes squealed when she hit the middle pedal. I did some research online, and the results weren’t good – it seems that if you want improved braking performance over the standard pads, you need to be willing to put up with some degree of brake noise. With this in mind, I asked RPM to just replace the brake fluid and leave the standard pads in place, and I’d see if that made any difference first.

Just as I thought I’d get the car back in time for the bank holiday weekend, another problem reared its head; the offside front brake caliper had a seized bleed nipple and the technicians in the workshop were concerned that using too much force to undo it might damage the caliper. I gave them the go-ahead to give it a go anyway, but even though they managed to remove the nipple, in doing so the thread in the caliper was damaged. The caliper was re-threaded but wouldn’t hold fluid without leaking, so the only thing to do was to replace it. Add one new front brake caliper at £497 plus VAT to the invoice…

I entered into 911 Turbo ownership fully aware that these are expensive cars to maintain, and this has been my first big bill since owning the car. I’m lucky that no-one was hurt in the accident, but I’m also perhaps a little unlucky that I wasn’t able to exchange insurance details with the truck driver that hit me, and pass on the cost of the repairs to his insurer. As it is, I paid a grand total of £2,585 for the bodywork repairs, plus £788 for the brake fluid upgrade and replacement caliper.

Throughout the entire process RPM Technik have been exemplary to deal with and I’d like to thank everyone there that worked on my car. Their perfectionism and attention to detail gave me confidence that the repair would be flawless and it really is an exceptional piece of work.

My Porsche war chest might be empty now, but I’m thrilled to have the Turbo back. The journey home from RPM after collecting the car was a rainy, traffic-laden nightmare until the final stretch of dual carriageway. The road was well-sighted, dry and free from traffic, and after six weeks away from the car I needed a hit of acceleration.

I’d almost forgotten what full throttle in the Turbo felt like, and as I shifted up from second to third with the turbos on full boost and the flat-six roaring its approval, all the frustrations of the lengthy repair process and the hefty bill fell away. I still love this car.

This article was originally published in the October 2015 issue of GT Porsche magazine.