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Air-cooled vs. water-cooled Porsches

porsche 911

The shift from air-cooled Porsches to industry standard water-cooled engines in 1998 split Porsche enthusiasts down the middle. The classic Porsche 911 was air-cooled and the 993 was the last type to also feature an air-cooled engine. Once the 996 came out with a water-cooled engine the 911 soon followed. After committing to more than 30 years of air-cooled engines, the 911 switched – a change which upset some loyal drivers. So what really is the difference? Both engine types have their pros and cons; some say that the animosity towards water-cooled engines is because old habits die hard and pre-1998 Porsche of Tucson drivers like to stick with the engine they’ve known and loved.

The air-cooled engine was very common in most cars until air quality laws passed to limit the amount of NOx an engine could produce. An air-cooled engine will produce significantly higher NOx then a water-cooled engine which means passing emissions can be a bit more difficult. An air-cooled engine runs at higher temperatures then a water-cooled engine, increasing the chance of overheating. On the other hand, an air-cooled engine will lighten your car significantly making it quicker. Porsche devotees are used to the loud rumble of an air-cooled engine adding to the nostalgia of the car. The 911 iconic air-cooled engine marks an important 40-year era for Porsche leaving a memorable impact on those that love the original 911.

Water-cooled engines have become the standard in most current cars. They do not release as much NOx meaning they pass emission easier. They also are much quieter than their air-cooled counterparts and some consider them more efficient. The downfall with water engines though lies in their weight and tendency to leak if broken. Water-cooled engines are considered a bit more user friendly for owners, probably because they are the norm in the automobile industry now.

Water-cooled engines verses air-cooled engines boil down to a matter of preference. Aficionados that have been driving classic Porsches may be more inclined to stick with an air-cooled engine. They understand how these vehicles handle and appreciate how they sound. And if they own one that works well and passes emissions,  they can continue to drive the classic car they’ve known and loved. Water-cooled engines are more practical for most car owners as they are user friendly, standardized, and quiet. There is little fear of failing emissions, but the car will not be nearly as light as an air-cooled system.  Come to Porsche of Tucson to learn more and find a Porsche you’ll love.

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