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The two words most disliked by dirty-fingernailed Porschephiles: special tool. Porsche repair manuals — should you be lucky (or rich) enough to actually own a manual — are rife with these words, and often even “basic” repairs require one or more of ’em. Like, for example, replacing a 944’s timing/balance shaft belts.

Some models feature a built-in spring tensioner, but most early models depend on the application of a Porsche-designed “s****** t***” to correctly set tension. Add to this the fact that those same 944s are notoriously sensitive to belt tension, and you might find yourself actually contemplating shelling out $400 to Porsche for the part. (Yes, Porsche really does want $400 — what you’d spend on a low-end complete 350 rebuild — for $10 worth of cast metal and a spring.)

Or, it seems, you can hand over $25 to any number of vendors for a cheap-ass knock-off called the Kricket. Pictured above, it purports to do the same job, while leaving you with enough leftover cash to make a dent in the cost of that oh-so-cheap water pump.

Sure, some message board denizens suggest that it’s not the same quality as the ships-from-Germany original. (Google “944 timing belt Kricket” to get an eye-full of ranting.) But just as many seem to swear by it. One thing’s certain, though: if you don’t have $400 to spend, the Kricket beats the hell out of the “that seems about right” finger test.

Kricket 944 Belt Tensioning Tool [EagleDay.com]


4 Responses to Porsche: $400, Kricket: $25

  1. Every German parts place worth a damn will rent you the tools for this sort of job. (obligatory shout out to mark@germanautoparts.com)

    Doing the timing belt on an Audi 2.8 V6 requires at least four or five special tools to lock cams in place, lock tensioners down, etc. Rental is ~$50, IIRC. Though at least on that engine, you tension belts with a torque wrench on the tensioner.

    Zee Germans really love zee special tools, though BMW seems to be a little less prone to this insanity than VAG and Porsche.

  2. Eion says:

    The real joy of Porsche repair manuals (apart from cost and availability issues) is that – at least for the slightly older 911s – you also frequently have to refer to the older repair manuals for the previous model. I guess if a particular procedure doesn’t change much, they don’t bother including it in the new manual.

    The other interesting thing is how they have changed over the years. For example, the section on alternator repair in the 1964-69 (IIRC) manuals gives you a detailed explanation of how to actually troubleshoot and repair many potential problems with the faulty part. The 1984-89 manuals tell you how to remove it and how to replace it with a brand new part from the factory. And yeah, I spent way too much money on repair manuals.

    I even heard a few years back that starting from the 996s, if the engine goes bad then the dealerships don’t fix it themselves – they just crate it up, send it back to the factory, and swap in a new one.

  3. Mike lee says:

    This is one of the reasons why I buy american. Special tools and parts that cost 3 to 4 times as much!

  4. Abe says:

    Germans aren’t the only ones. Many American cars built after 1990 require special tools to do even basic things.

    For example a few of the Saturn “S” cars have a specific sized fastener that holds on the window glass. The design is the same as with some other GM cars but Saturn’s is a specific size. Thank goodness that Equalizer has them available otherwise you would have to take the car to the dealer to change the window regulator.

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