In early 2011, New York Consumer Protection law firm, Schlanger & Schlanger, LLP, together with national class action firm Roddy, Klein & Ryan of Boston, MA and Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, LLP filed a class action lawsuit against Porsche Cars North America, Inc. (“Porsche”), regarding defective coolant pipes in Porsche Cayenne model vehicles. The lawsuits allege, generally, that Porsche knowingly manufactured Cayenne models with plastic coolant tubes that degrade and fracture causing engine coolant to leak into the engine, leading to significant engine damage, and hid its knowledge of the defect from Cayenne owners. When the plastic coolant tubes fail, Cayenne owners are forced to purchase and install a costly “update kit” from Porsche which contains aluminum coolant pipes.
The settlement will provide for the replacement of the infamous plastic pipes with the Porsche upgrade aluminum pipes. Well, that’s a bit strong. It will put some money towards the replacement of those pipes, depending on the mileage on your Cayenne. The pipes themselves can be purchased for under six hundred bucks from online discounters, but the process to swap them is labor-intensive and expensive, often costing over three thousand dollars when performed at a Porsche dealer.
Reading the Cayenne owners’ forums, it appears that many owners just traded in their Cayennes when they found out about the problem. Cayennes without the pipe replacement traded in at approximately a $2000 discount. Of course, other owners had significant failures and repair costs when the pipes weren’t replaced in time.
As with the IMS settlement, Porsche has managed to wait out the owners and the attorneys until the horses are out of the barn — or the Cayennes are out of their original owners’ garages. The number of trucks that will qualify for anything more than a pittance is surely miniscule; you’d have to have bought the truck new and driven it 5,000 miles a year or less to get the full whack, which still wouldn’t cover the complete replacement.
Speaking as a multiple Porsche owner, it isn’t the mechanical failures that rankle. Any car can have problems and it’s impossible to completely engineer those problems out in the development phase — although the Corolla, as an example, seems to never suffer from these sorts of issues despite costing a fifth of the average V8 Cayenne’s transaction price. It’s the company’s steadfast refusal to acknowledge problems even when the bulk of the evidence on a given issue is plain for everyone to see.
Still, given the soft-shoe that the auto media typically dances around Porsche’s multiple reliability and quality issues, together with the typical Porker owner’s inexplicable loyalty, it’s no wonder that the company feels free to pull this stunt again and again. Why shouldn’t they? One Rennlister who had to pay out of his own pocket to replace the pipes years ago notes that, “I still bought two Cayennes after that one.”