I’ve owned my (987) 2006 Porsche Cayman S for 48,000 of its 52,000 miles. It’s been a completely enjoyable experience … up until five days ago.
I had brought the car out to the track and was turning a few laps at a moderate level of speed. The car was completely stock other than a cat back exhaust, and I wasn’t running r-compounds as I was aware of the oiling issues that can happen on certain tracks when running r-compound tires. The wheels are three-piece OZ Superleggeras, custom built to match the offsets, etc. of the 19″ Turbo wheels which are an option on the Cayman S. I was even taking it a little easy this afternoon as it was an uncomfortably hot Texas day and I also had my nephew in the car.
This is not a high speed track and g-loads tend to be low and short as most corners are slow, off camber, and relatively short. Everything was running fine. Then I exited out of a very slow right hand corner onto the side straight and that’s when everything went wrong. As the motor transitioned through the cam changeover at 3500 rpm, all hell broke loose and the motor suddenly lost power. When I pulled the car over, tons of white smoke flooded the cabin. Obviously something was very wrong.
I had the car towed to the local Porsche specialist (and later, the Porsche dealer), where they informed me that the entire right side of the motor was dead and to determine the absolute cause of failure would require removal of the motor and an expensive tear down. I was counseled against this as going into the motor adds up very quickly and as expensive as Porsche parts are, it is very easy to eat up more money than it costs to just buy a new crate motor.
I nearly fell over when I got the estimate for a new motor. Complete with install, I’m staring down a $15,900 bill. This is when I started looking into alternate fixes and that lead me to a thread at the Planet-9 forms.
Apparently, I’m not the only one with premature engine failures. Right now, there are 18 failures in North America of the 2006 Cayman S posted on that forum. Not one motor made it past 59,000 miles and most didn’t get anywhere close to that.
Now, that doesn’t sound like a lot. But remember that Porsche is a low volume manufacturer. I think this is only the tip of the iceberg. Running the numbers, Porsche sold 7,313 Caymans in North America in 2006. Porsche does not give us the break down of S models to base models, unfortunately. Right off the bat, we have a failure rate of 1:406. Now, assuming that not every Porsche Cayman sold is an S model, and being generous that 66% of all Caymans sold are Cayman S’s, we’re left with a failure rate of 1:268. If we also assume that only half of owners with a failure post at planet-9 (there are similar threads at rennlist and other Porsche forums), we get down to a failure rate approaching 1:134.
Likely, the numbers are even lower than that – if we assume half of all models are S’s and failures reported 25% of the time, we achieve a failure rate of 1:50.
This is absolutely absurd considering my Cayman S stickered at nearly $80,000 and barely made 50,000 miles before requiring a complete engine replacement. I’ve had many cars, many of which went well over 100,000 miles with far inferior maintenance and far more abusive treatment without one failure. The mechanics agree it wasn’t something I did or could have affected – but Porsche won’t cover it.
Sadly, this isn’t the first time we’ve heard about these colossal Porsche engine failures. Hell, it isn’t even the first time we’ve seen it on Piston Slap, and the comments section was loaded with good advice. I like how the B&B gave you several options. And I’d start with Bertel’s advice.
As someone who has worked for Volkswagen for many years and knows how they tick, here my recommendation:
1.) Forget the class action suit. It will just make lawyers rich and you will end up with a coupon for an oil change.
2.) Do you have paperwork, correspondence with dealer and/or Porsche U.S.A.? If not, create it. You can start writing to your dealer referencing the many telephonic conversations blah blah and demand a free engine. Set a deadline. No answer by the deadline, write again. Negative answer: Demand it again to produce more paper. Then send everything to Porsche U.S.A. demand an engine, a loaner car etc. Either get the engine and the loaner or get a negative response.
3.) Then, and only then, write a letter outlining your experience to
Matthias Müller, CEO
Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG
Enclose all the paperwork. Keep it to the point. Enclose printouts of posts in fora that address the same problem. (That’s enough of a hint for a class action suit.) But don’t post anything yourself, yet. End the letter with the remark “Should the matter not be solved by ….., then I will be forced to seek other avenues, including legal steps.”
Send it FEDEX.
Here is what will happen: Herr Müller will never read it. An assistant will send it down to the Service Dept. They will get angry at the U.S. side and bounce the matter to them. It will come with a note from the office of the CEO. U.S. needs to report back to the German Service Dept, and the German Service Dept will have to report to Müller’s assistant. Detailed statistics are kept about this. Chances are 70:30 that you will receive a phone call and the matter will go away. Not because they suddenly love you as a customer, but because they need to report back to Germany that the matter has been solved.
If I’m wrong and they deny the claim, then sue them. Yourself.
Once suit has been brought, you can go online and say that you have brought suit against Porsche blah blah …. They most likely will settle.
Nobody said that fighting the system is easy. It’s sad when a Manufacturer does a holy-shit screw up like this…for everyone involved. Nobody wants to see someone in this position, and 987 owners are losing motors on a rather regular basis: your analysis of the failure rate looks logical.
The same applies for your driving and assessment of the car’s condition. I could care less about your cat-back exhaust. If the rubber was stock and you weren’t on a track that rivaled the Nürburgring in terms of mechanical abuse, this motor should have never failed.
The Planet-9 link you also sent to me was long, but points to a good conclusion: reporting this oil/rod bolt/IMS/whatever problem to NHTSA is a good idea. Nothing screams bad PR like a NHTSA investigation. No matter how many “Super” Piston Slaps I write on the matter, this isn’t the forum to get your money back or your 987 back in shape.
Without the “Porsche owners are rich so who cares?” spiel…Best and Brightest, what do you think is the smartest way to get your 987’s motor replaced? Class action lawsuit? Individual lawsuit? Reporting en masse to NHTSA?
NOTE: Jack is also a LeMons racer and I’ve met him as a LeMons Judge. His car (another VAG product) was well built under LeMons rules and they don’t drive like jackasses. Only their most novice racer came in for a black flag, so it’s not a stretch to assume that Jack runs a tight ship both professionally and personally.