944 maintenance and repair information, my tire and chipping
experience, advice, fuse panel locations and dashboard differences
between early and late 944's..
My personal best experience with tires on a 944 has been with Bridgestone RE-71's. They handled well and wore like iron. One set had almost 30K miles on 'em before I replaced them. Of course, they were looking very smooth when I did so. Overall, I put three sets of RE-71's onto the old black 944 during its lifetime. Also ran a set of Michelin XGTV4's on it, and I liked them but they seemed to wear away sort of quickly for their VR rating. I also thought they did not handle as well as the Bridgestones.
Right now (Spring,
1999) I am running
Firehawk series on my silver 944, which is my daily
go-everywhere car. These tires are the Bridgestone RE-71
compound, but with the Firestone name and tread pattern. I
like them; but handling goes beyond tires; my ride heights
are off (the rear seems a bit high) so there is a feeling of
impending end-swapping in very hard cornering. My mechanic
thinks the ride heights changed a bit when the shocks were
replaced by the previous owner. Something to think about
when getting a used car.
If you want to locate and open your DME computer, I have the whole procedure outlined on my DME page.
Currently, I have an AutoThority chip in my car. I decided upon AutoThority after my mechanic, Barry, a longtime Porsche and race car guy, suggested I call Weinmeister's (where barry used to work) in New Mexico for a recommendation. Weinmeister is a Porsche, Mercedes Ferrari and Lambogini-exclusive shop. Karl Weinmeister is hooked in pretty tight to Porsche North America. In fact, he was one of the FIRST 5 or so people in the US to get their hands on a 944 at a track when the factory brought them to this country...but I digress. So it was Karl that said get the AutoThority chip. He told me that "It's THE chip for Porsches. If you have a BMW, go and buy a Dinan chip for it."
My chip, (technically it's an EPROM) is the basic one they offered for an 85.5 back when I bought it in late '93 ($235, shop cost, which was my cost 'cuz I did some computer work for this particular garage.) AutoThority will quote custom chips is you tell them you have a performance cam os such and such duration, headers, modified fuel injection, K&N, on and on...
But I now drive an '84. I looked at the electrical harness and mounting points. While 85.5 and later cars has the computer located under a wood board under the passenger's feet, previous years had it mounted under the steering column. I found that the 85.5 computer (w.chip) is physically and electrically compatible with the '84 I have now, so that's where I have it. I double-checked by swapping both computers in and out, but was hard pressed to see much difference in quick swaps right after the car's motor had been rebuilt.
supposedly does nothing at low RPM. It commands
progressively more spark advance at higher RPMs (I think it
starts to kick in about 4000). Also, it bumps the maximum
rev's up slightly (I think to about 7000 -- redline is
6450). Does it really do all that much? I am not 100%
convinced. One of these days, I want to dyno test the car
with the OEM vs. AutoThority chip.
So you're again due for the 30K mile timing belt ritual. Change the water pump at the same time? If you're hitting the 90K mile mark, I say HELL YES. Since you are disassembled right down to the water pump, and if it's still original, do it. Of course, all it takes -- all it ever takes -- is money. The new vs. rebuilt question you must answer for yourself. Personally, I have always gone new on water pumps.
My old black 944 (rest in pieces) saw three water pumps in its 139K mile lifetime. First one siezed up in 1987 around 50K miles and the car overheated. I immediately pulled over and it was towed to the dealer (stupid me for choosing the dealer but "oh well".) They put a new water pump one on, and just before I arrived to claim my car, they started it up and the pump blew out a seal. Coolant everywhere, and I find a dejected looking technician and rather ambivalent looking service advisor. Nice job, Cavanaugh Motors of Manchester, NH. So they put another pump on, at their cost of course. That one siezed at about 125K miles in 1993. On went the third pump, and we did a ton of other work to the car at the same time. Too bad I had to drive that car over a cliff one night but again, "oh well!"
Now, I am not a mechanic, but the procedure is fairly simple. Take the pump off, and bolt a new one on. Easy, except that installing a new thermostat is very difficult. I would not even think of leaving the old thermostat in. The retaining ring is rather hidden and awkward to get to. I've observed the procedure, and listened to the cursing. My mechanic uses Snap-On retaining ring pliers for this.
One word about
water pumps: you might get a turbo water pump, which is the
latest and most updated. It will have a hole for the turbo
intercooler. The new pump I installed in the black, late 85
944 at 125K miles came with a nice plastic fitting that
seals this hole for non-turbo cars. The new water pump I put
into my 1984 944 did not come with such, so I fabricated a
cover plate and siliconed it in place while my mechanic was
doing the timing and balance shaft belts. Of course, make
sure bolt torque specs are followed, blah blah blah. And if
you have the Holy Grail P9201 Porsche Belt Tension Tool (we
do!) you might want to recheck tension at the recommended
1500-2000 miles after nlng e new belt. There are different
values for a new vs. a run-in belt.
I now have a page
online which shows the two different 944
including a description of all the controls. This area of
the car changed significantly in the mid-1985 model year.
The late '85 and subsequent 944 got a nicer-looking and
much-improved dashboard. The new layout is not only better
organized, but the efficiency of the air vents was greatly
improved. On this latter point, believe me; I've owned both
and there's almost no comparison. The late '85 dash is
I also have a page
online which shows the two different 944 fusepanels. This
area of the car also changed in the mid-1985 model year.
are located inside the car, to the left of the driver's
feet, under the dash. Fuses are the glass BUSS type, which
are cylindrical in shape. The late
is located under the hood, driver's side, right in front of
the driver. It is under a black plastic cover which is
gasketed to seal moisture out. The cover is firmly held in
place with 2 wire clips. Fuses are the newer, small plastic
type with two spade terminals. The late fuse panel has spare
fuses clipped inside the lid. Make sure you have a full
compliment in stock for when you'll need one.