By on August 11, 2011

Jack writes:

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.

Sajeev answers:

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

Porscheplatz 1

D-70435 Stuttgart


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.

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90 Comments on “Super Piston Slap: Cause It’s 9-8-7 On A…...”

  • avatar

    I have some bad advice: what’s the cost on a 3.4->3.8 swap?

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve looked into this. If I use a used 3.8 motor, the cost is roughly the same.

      I’d also recommend that people check out the thread at Planet-9. Sajeev and I forgot to link it. There’s a lot of discussion and relevant information there.

      • 0 avatar

        Th point you need to make to Porsche is that they advertised the car as being suitable for track purposes. Point out to them where the owner’s manual and promotional materials support that they built this car to be used on a track if so desired.

        Then tell ’em: “I used it on a track, and it wasn’t suitable for that. Whatta you guys gonna do about that?”

        That’s free legal advice. And worth every penny you’ve paid for it.

  • avatar

    Stunning. BMWs and Audis may have their electronics go on the fritz or eat HPFPs or water pumps like delicious German chocolates, but I don’t think either has been known for engines just nuking themselves, certainly not in cars that are 5 or 6 years old with 50K miles.

    My Audi has been pretty good and I’m not scared to buy German, but this type of thing combined with a “sucks 2BU” attitude of the factory is why I will never own a Porsche. Owning a Boxster or Cayman out of warranty seems like Russian Roulette.

  • avatar

    I don’t have any advice other than Bertel’s stills sounds good the second time around.

    I was determined to get a Porsche and thought long and hard about a lightly used Cayman S. I’m glad I instead “settled” on a high mileage 32 year 911 SC with a motor recently rebuilt by a previous owner, a former ALMS crew member who knew what he was doing.

    • 0 avatar

      As a fellow Porsche owner (964) I’m especially sorry to hear about your predicament and disappointed in the poor durability of your engine. I find it ironic that older air-cooled engines are generally more reliable and perform better under stress, but I know that sentiment does nothing for you but rub salt in the wound…

      Elsewhere, someone recommended a guerilla approach to PR – stick a fat sign on your Porsche announcing the engine failure, etc. and park it in a high traffic area, preferably in an up-market area or near a dealership. If you don’t mind making a spectacle of yourself, this approach can work. Back in the mid-80’s an owner of a Cadillac hung his car from a crane near a busy highway (I think in Houston) with a sign that read: ‘Want trouble? Buy a diesel Cadillac.’

      It was obviously a current model, and the dramatic setting made it international news. Of course it helped that the guy owned a construction business, had land at a convenient location, but still, I’d bet you could swing something in a similar vein. After all, if you’re not driving it, it needs to sit somewhere, yes?

      The point of course is to be a thorn in the side of the business and attract media attention. Believe me, you will get noticed by the higher-ups and treated accordingly. Porsche is a sports car company, and anyone who says the circumstances of the engine failure nullify your claim is simply sharing a fool’s opinion.

      On a similar note, can we finally put to rest the notion that the Wiedeking era at Porsche was one of unabashed success? There is simply no room to argue: this is the result of pathetic manufacturing, engineering, and a refusal to address serious flaws in their product.

  • avatar

    Jack, as a fellow owner of a 2006 Cayman S I feel your pain. Bertel’s advice is your best bet. I also suggest that any replacement motor has the stock IMS bearings beefed up before it goes back in the car.

  • avatar

    LS engines are very popular in late model Porsches

  • avatar

    Keep copies of ALL correspondence, make notes or use a recording device when speaking on the telephone and bombard the service department.

    Follow Bertel’s advice; it’s logical, and should prompt some response from Stuttgart.

    I had three out-of-warranty transmission rebuilds (and one done under warranty) on our Plymouth Voyager van, and pursued the matter to the top of the Chrysler food chain. While in the end I didn’t get what I wanted, at least I made life a living hell for a few Chrysler Canada employees.

    Good luck with this, and please update your progress with Porsche.

    • 0 avatar

      NO NO NO. Never, ever, tape record a conversation over the phone without first obtaining the express permission of the party on the other line. You are almost certainly violating your state’s wire tap law. In Pennsylvania, where I practice law, you’d be looking at a felony.

      For example, when I clerked for a judge we had a husband who represented himself during an equitable distribution following a messy divorce. The husband tape recorded his conversations with his wife over the phone and played them in Court. The Wife’s attorney notified the District Attorney and the husband ended up getting charged under Pennsylvania’s wire tap act.

      • 0 avatar
        Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

        This would not violate any law in Texas AFAIK. Texas law only requires one of the parties in a taped conversation to know that it’s being taped (one-party consent). Judging by the photo, that would be the relevant state law in question..

      • 0 avatar

        The first thing you do is mention to the person on the line they’re on a ‘speakerphone’, then the expectation of privacy goes away. Nevada is the same as Texas AFAIK.

      • 0 avatar

        I’m in Texas, the wiretapping laws do not apply in this situation. As long as I’m party to a conversation, I can record it without notification. Of course, it’s usually better to just do so anyway to cover all the bases, but there’s no law saying you have to.

      • 0 avatar

        I’m sorry, I thought it was obvious that you have to tell the person on the other end of the conversation that they’re on speaker phone or being recorded. My error.

  • avatar

    What happened to the engine?

    Look forward to the new Cayman!

  • avatar

    I used to handle lemon law cases for a living (part of my living, anyway) back in the day, and I like Bertel’s advice as a first attack. Jack may have to try everything. I think he’s going to have a hard time finding a lawyer because he was racing the car (even slowly) at the time the engine went out.

    A NHTSA complaint is important. NHTSA focuses on safety-related defects, but any sudden engine failure is a safety-related defect.

  • avatar

    This has been going on with Porsche engines for 15 years now. I’m sure Porsche has a very mature decision tree they use for assigning an excuse to each failure.

  • avatar

    It may not be necessary to record phone calls. When my wife was a Realtor she learned to keep notes of phone conversations and to get the names of people she talked to.. It really helps a lot when you can say something like “When I called $person of your organization on $date at $time, he promised me $story.”

  • avatar

    …i’ve never looked into 987 engine swaps, but a cayman with a dead motor seems like a prime candidate for a reliable japanese or domestic drivetrain with affordable parts…toyota powerplants are one of the best features of modern lotus cars; imagine the ownership experience of something similar in a porsche chassis, say a subaru boxer?..

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      Subaru EJ engines have been swapped into Boxsters and 914s. Given sufficient budget, the EJ25T from an STi could probably be swapped into a Cayman with a dead engine.

  • avatar

    LS1 swap!

  • avatar

    The oiling issues aren’t limited to people running R-compounds. I sold my Cayman recently as I was tracking it hard and often (though without R comps) and the thought of a colossal engine failure worried me. They’re fantastic cars, but something did not go smoothly when the motor moved from 996 to 987.

  • avatar

    My brother in law has a 2009 Audi A4 Avant, after 20K the engine collapsed. Audi completely replaced it no questions asked, so it does happen.

  • avatar

    A guy who owns a 6 year old Porsche and drives it on the track should expect this sort of thing. And 16K for a new engine on a car that starts out north of 50 large is not a big deal.

    When talking to the warranty guys at Porsche you may want to brush up on answers to routine questions such as, “Now, how fast were you going on the race track?”, and “How hot was it, that day?” Your 6 year old 52K mile car is under warranty, right? I thought so.

    • 0 avatar

      Apparently he did expect it, judging by his comments about avoiding track tires and taking it easy due to heat and oil starvation issues. I don’t want to kick a man when he is down, but perhaps Porsches should be left for the sort of people who measure performance based on how close the valet parks their car to the door. The only current ones that are sound enough for the track are six figure cars for people with seven figure budgets.

    • 0 avatar

      How dare someone drive his moderately used sports car on a track and expect the engine not to explode. The nerve of some people!

      /end sarcasm

      • 0 avatar

        He did expect it to explode though. That’s why he didn’t have track tires and took it easy. The reason he expected it to explode is that mid engined Porsches have been blowing up for as long as they’ve had radiators.

    • 0 avatar

      Define “drives it on the track”. Has the Porsche been to the track? Absolutely. I’m not going to lie about it, anyone who knows me knows that the car has been to the track, including the Porsche dealership.

      The car has maybe seen a few hundred track miles out of the 52k it’s spent as my daily driver. 90% of the time, it’s driven pretty sedately. Even at the track, what am I doing with the motor exactly that would be damaging? Yes, it goes to redline a few times, but I didn’t have oiling issues because I don’t use R-comps because it’s an known issue that you will have oiling issues if you use them. I thought I was being gentle with the car — while I use my cars, I certainly don’t *beat* on them. Most of the time I’m at the track, I’ve got a student in the car, so I’m spending more time driving 7/10ths so that I can actually talk to them and tell them what I’m doing and show them things like early apexing while still leaving enough in reserve to not go off track.

      On this day, there was nothing to tell me that I had any reason to suspect a problem — temperatures were normal, the car was behaving normal, everything was fine. And no, the car isn’t under warranty. It’s five years old (not six) and 52k miles, so I’m out of warranty on both accounts.

      Normally, I’d chalk this up to unfortunate circumstance. It would suck, but sometimes things happen. It would have been nice if Porsche had stepped up to the plate, but they elected not to. However, when I start reading around and I see an abnormally high rate of failure of the 2006 Cayman S motor, I start to wonder. When you think of all the Porsches that will never get to 60k because they’re garage queens, I really wonder how fragile this motor actually is. One failure like this is one thing. 18 failures on one forum alone points to other issues. Yes, some of us tracked our cars. Yet, some of us did not. Engines in a car of this caliber and price tag should not have an engine as a replaceable part.

      Did I mention that my Porsche dealer encouraged me to track the car? Because they did. My track use had never been a warranty issue before. Also, just because I drive a Porsche doesn’t mean I’m Mr. Money Bags. $16k is a significant hit to my pocketbook, and I certainly cannot stomach another one. Since I can’t be reasonably sure that my car will go the distance after another replacement, my only choice is to sell it and make it someone else’s problem. Which is very unfortunate.

  • avatar

    In 2006, the Cayman only came in “S” form. The non-S was available in 2007 onward.

    This could be the IMS problem that that came with the water-cooled flat sixes that started in the late 1990’s. I don’t think you’ll get anywhere with Porsche corporate without having the dealer diagnose the problem (but I hope I’m wrong for your sake).

    As far as engine swaps with the inevitably-suggested Corvette unit, you might run into cooling and fitting problems because of the mid-engined layout. Plus, I’d be worried about transmission longevity with that much torque. If you try to upgrade to an 997 transmission, then you’ll have all the issues converting from a rear-engine design to a mid-engine design.

    • 0 avatar

      Companies dedicated to converting Porsches with 430HP LS engines can do it the right way for about $10K without changing the dynamics of the car, feel, weight or center of gravity and used the factory transaxle without a problem. Porsche electronics adapt including gauges/ABS/traction plus AC/PS *and* 50 state emissions legal. What about a rebuilt Porsche engine? If the factory can’t get it right…

    • 0 avatar

      I have nothing against Corvettes. I’ve owned a couple. But if I’m going to own/drive a Porsche (and frankly, I’d love to, but issues like these scare the crap out of me)I want a genuine Porsche powerplant. Not a Toyota, Subaru, Chevy, Ford, etc…

      • 0 avatar

        There’s just something alluring/irresistable about Porsche already converted to an LS V8 or a domestic DOHC V6 turbo. It’s like a totally hot cover model with a girl nextdoor personality.

      • 0 avatar

        Same here. I’ve appreciated all my friends that have suggested a dozen different swaps, and I really do love the LSx series of motors (they might be the best engines ever built), but I don’t want a Porsche with a non-Porsche powerplant.

  • avatar

    Is there a public road where you can park in front of/within sight of the dealership? Kinko’s can produce some very LARGE magnetic signs with large bold text (BLOWN ENGINE AT 52,000 MILES…PORSCHE WANTS $15,800 TO REPLACE!) that prospective buyers might find interesting on their way in. I know of people for whom this public shaming has worked to get manufacturers talking.

    Absolutely disgraceful for this to happen to any car intended for daily transportation. Won’t be getting a Porsche when I hit the lottery after all.

    • 0 avatar

      Someone actually did it in the UK with a Range Rover, I don’t remember the details.

    • 0 avatar

      Make sure and put on the sign: “Out of warranty blown engine while at the race track on the hottest day of the year, and after that abuse Porsche has the gall to charge me for a new engine.”

      We all want truth in advertising. And it is not disgraceful. A high performance car should not be run on the track unless one is prepared for this sort of thing. We do not normally expect “daily transportation” to suffer this sort of abuse. If you want a “boy racer” you should find a beater that you can work on, and afford.

  • avatar

    Do the letter first… then if you get a negative response, raise a stink and do another letter.

    Bertel’s advice is spot-on… nothing focuses the attention of a dealership than a communication from the head office.

    An LS swap sounds sensational… if they can do it in a 914, they can do it in a Cayman. But if you can swing a new motor from the factory, that’s better… so you can sell the car and buy an LS-swapped Miata with the money… with change left over for R-Comps…

  • avatar

    I read an article online a while back…by a guy in north GA who rebuilds Porsche engines. He mentioned a cam tensioner base or mount failure that mimics an IMS failure but only takes out half the engine. It was allegedly on earlier M96’s but 2006 would not seem to be in that category.

  • avatar

    $16K? Man, that’s stout.

    My Alfa 164Q ate the timing belt and belt all 24 valves at around 60K.

    And the motor rebuild only cost me $7K.

    Alfa USA’s response? “You must have not installed the timing belt to spec.” Even though THIER DEALER installed it.

    They offered to replace the belt. I think the belt was a $50 part.

  • avatar

    As recently as yesterday, a 2006 S engine was offered at Planet 9. Price was $7000. You might want to check the classifieds – if only to see how often these come up. However you procure a replacement engine, you could upgrade to the IMS bearing from LNE.

    re: +1 on the NHTSA complaint – a cabin full of oily smoke is a safety issue – a distraction at least and more if you flat out can’t see. Sounds like maybe the VOS crapped out.

    Supposedly, Porsche fixed this by 2007 (I sure hope so as I have an 07 S). This short run abortion of an engine was designed when Toyota was helping Porsche become less of a craft shop and more of a manufacturer with an eye to the bottom line. These engines crap out in 996s too but less often.

    If someone wants the race proven engine Porsche would like you to believe you are getting, buy a 996/997 TT or a GT2 or GT3. Or buy a 993 or 964 version of a 911. That engine has been developed over a 40 year period and in later years is pretty damn good.

  • avatar

    Did you buy it from a dealership? Find out who owns the dealership. Ask for a rebuilt engine. If he says no:

  • avatar

    The PCA looks down its collective nose at the 924, the 944 and the 968, but mine has 150K on it, has been rallied and thrashed through driving skill tests and still has the original engine. If I need a replacement it costs about 3K. Roll on the day when the front engine, rear drive Porsche reappears.

  • avatar

    Obviously the driver was wearing the wrong gold neck chain.

  • avatar


    As my troubles with a brand new 2005 Honda Odyssey mounted, I kept a running spreadsheet and copies of everything, detailing dates, names, repairs, comments, and promises so I wouldn’t forget. I turned all this material over to the lemon lawyers when I filed suit. My problem related just to the power sliding doors (there were many other problems, but this was the only one viable for the suit), and it still took 9 months to resolve. Yours will take a long time to sort out, sadly.

    Your story reminds me of why I won’t buy a German car again (also had a bad VW once).

    • 0 avatar

      Good VWs are an urban myth

      • 0 avatar

        That’s not true.
        A friend of mine knows a guy who’s first brother-in-law says he had an 84 Jetta that held up to no end of abuse.

        Actually, it was me that bought a demo model 84 Jetta, last of the original boxy ones, and made in Germany.

        My second VW was a 1990 Golf, made in Mexico, and I believe it had been dropped on its head as a child.
        More than once.

        The quality/reliability contrast between the two was impressive, although both were quite tossable little rides.

    • 0 avatar

      As my troubles with a brand new 2005 Honda Odyssey mounted

      Liar! As everyone knows, no Honda has ever had a problem with anything, ever.

  • avatar

    According to the Porsche site the Porsche warranty is 4 years or 50,000 miles. If this Porsche was a ’06 model with 52,000 miles, it was outside of warranty no matter how you slice it.

    While the Porsche IMS failures are well known, and it sounds like there may be another defect with this particular configuration, Porsche’s responsibility ends at the end of the warranty period.

    Most vehicle warranties also note that damage incurred as a result of racing is not covered. Whether the racing was done conservatively or not, racing is still racing. Most warranties also exclude coverage for any damage that could be caused by aftermarket modifications. While a cat-back exhaust system is unlikely to somehow cause an engine failure, exhaust modifications do have an effect on how the engine breathes.

    The way I see it, if this engine failure had occurred while driving spiritedly through some backroads within 4 years or 50,000 miles of the original date of sale, then Porsche would be fully on the hook for having to replace the engine. As it is, the owner decided to race the car, after the warranty period had expired, and after performing performance enhancements on the vehicle. While you may have a gripe against Porsche for selling a sports car that doesn’t hold up well in situations that a sports car is theoretically built for, I don’t see how Porsche should be responsible for paying for a new engine when the damage occurred after the expiration of the warranty during use that the warranty wouldn’t have covered anyway.

    • 0 avatar

      A track day does not equal racing. There is no competition involved, and no timing of the laps. It is not fundamentally different than the “spirited back road driving” you mention.

    • 0 avatar

      Taking a car to the track and learning to be a better driver IS different than taking it out on a back road and thrashing it: it’s a much safer environment and typically a place that a RESPONSIBLE driver goes to learn to make sure they don’t wrap it around a tree. To imply otherwise outs you as an armchair critic who has obviously not spent any time at a country club style track like this one that, 360 days out of 365, doesn’t host any racing.

  • avatar

    Shame about the situation — good luck with it.

    But a sincere thanks for curing me of my nagging itch to buy an out of warrantee mid-engine Boxster S as a semi-affordable midlife crisis car. I’ll now have to reset my sights on a well-cared-for S2000, MX-5, M3, or Ford Mustang. The last few tenths of ultimate driving pleasure just don’t seem worth the risk to me anymore.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m a fan of the Mister Two. I smile whenever I see one on the road, and aside from the Land Cruiser it’s the only Toyota product I’ve ever really been drawn towards.

    • 0 avatar

      Keep in mind though, “There is no substitute.”

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      The mid 90’s NSXs and mid 00’s Caymans are about the same price. Sure you have an aluminum body to deal with, but Acura’s supercar appears to be far easier to live with than a Cayman – which is a bummer as a used Cayman looked like a fun car.

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve avoid the previous M3’s – the S54 powerplants occasionally spit a connecting rod through the side of the block, although that applies more to earlier than later ones!

  • avatar

    As for telephone calls:

    – After you made a call, confirm the call with a written record. “In confirmation of the telephone conversation I had today with Mr. xxxxx at your company, here are the salient points: …..”
    – Send it via email and followed by hardcopy letter, registered when things escalate. You want a paper trail.

    As for the warranty:

    – There are policies for major items which were just out of warranty. It’s called “Kulanz” in Zuffenhausen, or good-will. A transmission or engine is not supposed to explode a few thousand miles out of warranty. State this clearly. Don’t ask for good-will. State “an engine is not supposed to experience catastrophic failure 2,000 miles out of warranty”. Do it like a broken record.

    As for legal action:

    Still assuming we are talking about the same warranty, please note that you agreed to arbitration: “YOU MUST UTILIZE PORSCHE’S CAP-MOTORS ARBITRATION PROGRAM, ADMINISTERED BY DEMARS & ASSOCIATES, LTD., BEFORE SEEKING TO ENFORCE RIGHTS OR OBTAIN REMEDIES IN COURT UNDER TITLE I OF THE MAGNUSON-MOSS CONSUMER WARRANTY ACT. IF YOU CHOOSE TO SEEK REDRESS BY PURSUING RIGHTS AND REMEDIES NOT CREATED BY TITLE I OF THE MAGNUSON-MOSS CONSUMER WARRANTY ACT, YOU DO NOT NEED TO UTILIZE THE CAP-MOTORS ARBITRATION PROGRAM. You should also be aware that if you seek remedies under the “lemon laws” of your state, you may be required to use the CAP-MOTORS arbitration program. Please check the appropriate page in this booklet for the requirements applicable to your state.” Arbitrators usually go “by the book” and the book is against you. Once the arbitrators ruled against you, Porsche will say: “Sorry, Sir, we would love to help you, but our hands are tied.”

    As for racing AND performance enhancements:

    – Uh-oh. When it comes to blows, this will definitely work against you, especially in a just out-of-warranty situation. I would have, well, not mentioned it. Generally, a few thousand miles out of warranty should not matter much when an engine or transmission craters. But if you sue, ANY out will put you on shaky grounds. The current warranty does not cover “Abuse, accident, acts of God, competition, racing, track use, or other events.” It does not say the car is not covered, because it had been raced. But it’s only good for up to 4 years or 50,000 miles, whatever comes first.

    Your best strategy will be to be the biggest pain in the butt. Pick you adversaries wisely. You want to be in a situation where higher-ups say about their lower-downs: “Why did these morons not help that poor man?”

    However, if those engines indeed die like flies, then you are just one of the flies. If there is a large number of complaints, someone has already done a cost/benefit analysis. If they retreated in the bunker, you won’t be helped.

    • 0 avatar

      First, I never raced the car. I didn’t try to hide the fact it had been on the track, because it’s no secret. The Porsche dealership has known, which means that Porsche knows. Anyone doing a little bit of research can find photos of this car on track, so why keep it a secret and discredit anything else I have to say?

      Still, I know a lot of people who track their cars. This isn’t the first car I’ve tracked, and I’ve raced many others. I’ve seen a few damaged motors at the track, I’m not going to lie. But they all appear to be either anomalies that we see once or they seem to be known issues that can be worked around — make sure you put an extra quart of oil in your Subaru and watch your oil levels!

      Even then, I can’t remember any car that routinely fails before 60k miles, track work or not.

  • avatar

    I had a Acer PC which was a dud from day one. I was sent part after replacement part for it, about the only thing that wasn’t replaced was the case itself. As the end of the warranty approached, I was wondering what I would do when I had to start paying for all the stuff I was getting for free. I talked to some support person (In India) who basically told me I was screwed. I took my mother to the doctor the next day, and there in Business Week, was the name of the president of Acer USA. It was very easy to find the address of his office. I took and copied all my paperwork, and sent it to him, along with a letter, telling him about my woes, etc. Nothing crazy, just a sane letter, and 5 days later, a new, much upgraded PC was on the way. I’ve had a couple Acer PC’s since then, and they have all been trouble free until they were so obsolete, it didn’t matter any more.

    About a year ago, I had a problem with a camcorder, and I did the same thing, after it had been sent in for service, twice, I sent an email explaining the warranty was about to expire, and it still had issues. I sent the camcorder back in, and I got an email offering me an upgraded HD camcorder, for a super cheap price. I took the offer, and the camcorder arrived a few days later. The funny thing was, about a week after that, the old one showed up, and it was finally fixed right, and I called them and they told me to keep it/sell it, whatever.

    Being nice does work. Sometimes.

  • avatar

    Is there a public road where you can park in front of/within sight of the dealership? Kinko’s can produce some very LARGE magnetic signs with large bold text (BLOWN ENGINE AT 52,000 MILES…PORSCHE WANTS $15,800 TO REPLACE!) that prospective buyers might find interesting on their way in. I know of people for whom this public shaming has worked to get manufacturers talking.

    Ya trailer your car, park very close to a porsche dealer.
    I bet if u do this few a few weeks in a row, that’ll bring them to their knees.
    $15k is nothing when they can retail them at 80k plus.
    The 15k infact cost them 8 or 10k, so is still lots cheaper to pay u off.

    Perhaps write to Jay Leno, he’s a car guy , could share your pain too and show your car during the monologue.
    If u’re in Van bc I could help u with my car trailer bud.
    And when ever u go trailer to a dealer make sure u invite the 6 o’clock news team too.

    Have your kids set up a Lemonade stand too.

    • 0 avatar

      There used to be a LEMON parking lot outside Fords Broadmeadows plant in Melbourne EA Falcons & Crapis/ Capris sorry these cars were rubbish straight off the line.

  • avatar

    I was in a similar bind, I am a health professional, 4 yrs ago I was struck with esophagus Ca. Thank God I pulled thru.
    The first yr after i got sick my professional dues were being discounted, I was happy.
    I pay to 3 organizations, malpractice, Local Assoc and Local college
    ( used to be one assoc, then they separate the assoc and college ).The dues on Malp & assoc didnt changed on subsequent yrs.
    2nd yr a new registrar came on board and we were governed by the new Health professional act of BC, my College due went up from 150 to 775, I wrote a letter to protest mildly, I suppose I must have hit his nerves, subsequent yr he had the chutz pah to charge me full fee of 1550! The only break he gave me was to allow me a defer of 550 till next yr. he said there is no more discussion of my case.
    So ofcourse I was tormented & unimpressed.
    This pass yr I had enuf, and suddenly I realise as ask them how to justify charging me full fee. I threaten the registrar with going public with news reporter. So they had to sharpen their pencils. Still no explanation of why hit me with the full fee, they must really loved me i suppose.
    They came back with knocking off 550 for last yr and 550 for this yr, still i have to pay 1000 foe each yr. my category I can only practice 60 days out of the whole yr.
    And now they told me there is a govt agency to monitor Health Professional act in BC, I could write to them to appeal the decision. And the registrar did withhold these appeal info from em too.

    Their nightmare is not over yet, is funny few mths ago I appealed a rolling stop at stop sign ticket. I argued hard but the judge felt the Police / RCMP had a more trusted version. So he found me guilty, when sentencing he asked what I do, I told him I had cancer few yrs ago, only working part time. He cut the charge in 1/2 without me asking.
    And our registrat being my colleague didnt give me any break as it should have been. He is as compassion as Dr Josef Mengele.

  • avatar

    I read an article online a while back…by a guy in north GA who rebuilds Porsche engines. He mentioned a cam tensioner base or mount failure that mimics an IMS failure but only takes out half the engine.

    Thats a possibility, your engine either ran out of oil, water coolant or timing chain jumped to take out one side.
    Soon as u open the head u’ll see it all.

  • avatar

    You have a 50,000 mile warranty, and the engine blew at 52,000?

    Sounds like German engineering is getting more and more precise! Within ten years, I’m sure they’ll be able to get the engines to blow less than ten miles after the warranty ends.

    • 0 avatar

      My next door neighbor had a Pontiac 6000STE that achieved the objective. Practically everything failed within 50 miles of the warranty ending. He replaced it with a new Mercedes-Benz 300E and told me the Pontiac was at least as impressive an achievement of engineering as the Mercedes, since it literally came apart at the seams as it crossed the finish line. Colin Chapman would have been proud.

      A friend’s BMW E46 needed thousands of dollars of repairs a few miles after the warranty ended, but the dealer denying anything needed to be done until the warranty ended was a major factor. There really hasn’t been anything impressive about BMW’s engineering for much longer than people think.

  • avatar

    Bertel’s advice is gospel – it should be made mandatory reading for anyone in this situation. I will echo it with my own story: 2000 Jetta GLS VR6. Fun car, but biggest POS I’ve ever driven. Had the then standard 2 year/24,000 warranty. Smartest move I made: buying an extended for that car. The extended warranty ended up paying out almost $6,000 in repairs over 5 years of ownership.

    I got irritated with the glitches and finally took all of my service records, correspondence, print-outs from forums and asked a family attorney to send a letter with the documentation asking for a remedy. One day later, VW sent us an offer of $5,000 plus legal fees to essentially STFU and leave them alone. The car was paid for and the extended warranty covered everything, so we took the money and ran. Easy peasy.

    Similarly, my ’06 A3 AC compressor failed 1,000 miles out of warranty. This is a known problem on the transverse mounted 2.0T models of that day, so I printed out documentation from forums, wrote a nice letter to Audi of America, got my service advisor to call Audi as well and Audi ended up goodwilling all but $150 of a $1200 job. I was happy with that.

    VW/Audi finally fessed up to problems with the cam follower and high pressure fuel pumps on early 2.0T motors this spring and sent out extended warranty notices for those components. It took a LOT of prodding, but I have no doubt it was in part due to the large number of discussions on various VW/Audi forums about this issue that finally brought it to a head.

    But I also echo what Bertel said, and it’s similar to the line from Fight Club where he explains how recalls are conducted: someone has already run the numbers and done a cost-benefit analysis. If the recall costs significantly more than the lawsuits, they likely won’t do it.

  • avatar

    Yes, the OP is a victim. He is a victim of marketing. Porsche does a great job of seducing you into believing you own a “race” car. You do not.

    You don’t have a ‘track’ car either. You basically have a sportier version of a minivan ( with 50,000+ miles!), engineered and built for public roads. The German engineers couldn’t give a rotten bratwurst if your car gets the proper oiling to its valve train at repetitive 80% G loads-after thousands of miles of use no less.

    There is no mention of any service history which would be scrutinized during any large warranty claim. This would be contractually, an out of warranty “good-will” claim. Expect the service records, modifications, and usage to be put under a microscope and be used against you. Better bring a mechanical engineer and a PHd Triboligist to the hearing.

    When fighting for a warranty claim-especially a large one- all you have is the language in the warranty to back you up. The company cannot be forced to perform based on conditions outside of the contract. They can and will stand behind that barrier and thumb their nose at you.

    You can be a PIA and start that type of campaign, but you will at the mercy of a good will solution, not something enforced through the warranty language.

    Don’t get me wrong, I feel for you. I have 2 Porsche’s myself which I drive ‘briskly’ but not ever on anything that could be called a track. It’s just too much of a risk.


  • avatar

    My son lost the valet key to my 2002 Civic. Doesn’t that count?

  • avatar

    Has anyone gotten Nissan to pay for the $3500 Pathfinder transmission repairs? One mile or one minute out of warranty and they run you through the cashier line and roll it into the shop.

    Web search it and you get 49,000 hits. The failure rate must be north of 25%.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    I guess this is where you learn the difference between advertising and reality.

    The reality is that you were driving the car on a track when the engine failed, where — even if you weren’t racing — you were probably subjecting the car to higher speeds, higher g-loads and greater thermal stress than it would be subjected to on the street. Otherwise, what’s the point of driving on a track?

    The warranty expressly excludes track use. Now you know why.

    Also, be prepared to convince whomever it is who is hearing your case that this is the very first time in your entire life that you drove the car on a track . . . and pray that there’s no documentation out there that impeaches that statement. While you’re at it, be prepared to explain why it is that you felt compelled to spend $$$$ on an aftermarket exhaust and custom aftermarket wheels, just for getting the groceries and taking your honey on a side trip to Pedernales Falls once in a while. And also be sure to explain that your status as a regular participant in LeMons racing never involves this car, that this car, unlike the LeMons hoopties you race, is your Lexus LS 400.

    The warranty also expires at 50,000 miles. Your engine failed at 52,000 miles, outside of the warranty.

    And I am assuming that complete records exist which show that you followed the recommended maintenance schedule scrupulously.

    If you find a lawyer who is willing to take your case on these facts, you have found a lawyer who doesn’t have anything else to do with his time. Keep that in mind.

    My suggestion is that you demonstrate your reasonableness to VAG by acknowledging these facts, but by pointing out that, given the reputation Porsche seeks to cultivate in the marketplace for building more than a street car and the rather large numbers of other owners who seem to have experienced your same problem, some sort of accommodation might be in order. Perhaps a new (or rebuilt) engine at cost, with Porsche AG picking up the labor charges for the installation would be a fair deal for all. If a rebuilt engine is not available, maybe a 50/50 split on the cost of a new one (at cost) with Porsche paying for the installation. After all, your car with a brand new engine is worth more than your car with a working engine that has 52,000 miles on it.

    And, as a by-the-by for the rest of us who might be tempted to live out our Walter Mitty fantasies on the cheap by buying fast cars with 50,000 miles on them, stories like this (or the potential for stories like this) illustrate very well the perils of buying “hot wheels” even “under warranty” in the used car market and even more so any “hot wheels” that are not bone stock.

    I’m sure this response will add to the negative perception of lawyers, but honestly, your case is not just a barking dog, it’s a whole pack of barking dogs. And any lawyer with half a brain will run inside, bar the door and hide in the basement when he sees your case coming.

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      ” as a by-the-by for the rest of us who might be tempted to live out our Walter Mitty fantasies on the cheap by buying fast cars with 50,000 miles on them, stories like this (or the potential for stories like this) illustrate very well the perils of buying “hot wheels” even “under warranty” in the used car market and even more so any “hot wheels” that are not bone stock.”

      Depends on what kind of car you’re getting, of course. Not all used performance cars are as risky on the wallet as a Porsche is.

      A used Corvette C6 that hasn’t been thrashed provides Cayman S – like performance with Chevy pickup running costs.

      • 0 avatar
        Jack Baruth

        Not so fast there, Mr. Sam.

        It’s common for C5 and C6 Vettes to need new brake discs EVERY SINGLE TRACK SESSION. As in… NASA racers running the cars hard in Super Touring classes (or even Time Trial) discover cracks in the discs after 20-30 minutes. I’ve seen people show up with a Suburban full of discs.

        Transmission temperature is also a serious, recurring issue in Vettes.

        Last but not least, Vettes eat tires at a rate perhaps 3x that of Porsches used the same way on a track.

        An enthusiast tracking his Vette 12 times a year could see $10-15K in consumable costs.

        By contrast, I ran eight double-day track weekends in my 986S on one set of brake pads and six used tires. Total cost $800.

      • 0 avatar

        That’s because a 986 has a third the HP of a new ‘vette.

        I could pipe in about how much cheaper my e30 is to run at the track than my 987S was, but I realize the incongruity of that analogy.

      • 0 avatar

        Do you know the reason why the brakes do not last very long on the Vette?

      • 0 avatar
        Sam P

        “An enthusiast tracking his Vette 12 times a year could see $10-15K in consumable costs.”

        Most sports car purchasers don’t track their cars that much, and aftermarket brakes that are more durable than the stock parts are readily available.

        Give up the Porsche fanboy shtick.

    • 0 avatar

      There is a difference between buying at 50k miles and 4k miles, just saying.

      • 0 avatar

        Yes, and the used car market has noticed this difference and now a 4K mile example is priced within spitting distance of a new car.

        Take a look for yourself; I’ve been kicking myself for not replacing my beater back in 2009, when the market was cheaper than hell, and instead waiting until it finally bit the dust this spring.

    • 0 avatar

      First, LeMons only involves $500 cars. It’s pretty easy to validate what cars he’s raced there, because the rosters clearly show who’s on what team and what they raced. In his case, three times it was a Ford Festiva and once a ’71 VW Type 3. Even a burned out heap of a Cayman wouldn’t pass the sniff test for a $500 car. MANY LeMons racers have Porsches, Ferraris, etc at home in garages;

      Second, the dealership in question not only encouraged him in many, many occasions to take it to the track, they also sponsored a track day that my high performance driver’s education school ran at the same track just over a year prior to the failure, so it’s pretty well documented that this dealership advocates track use as a tool to learning better how to drive your car.

      Add to this that somewhere in the 30-40k range, he took it to THREE dealerships asking for explanations on a mysterious ticking that the engine had developed. Maybe it was related, maybe not, but it certainly adds to the case. (I’m his other half, btw). The car had the wheels and exhaust on the car when he bought it, so he didn’t add those for extra hoonage.

      I think the bigger issue, regardless of where he uses the car and what else he does in his spare time, is that other engines are prematurely expiring in numbers that are above the norm. It certainly appears to me that Porsche is hoping that there isn’t any publicity on that and won’t act on it until they’re forced to, which, while a good business decision for capital preservation, is a very bad public relations move. Happy people don’t advertise their problems nearly so much post-resolution, but people who had to fight for fair treatment of an unusual and nonculpable event.

  • avatar

    2006 Cayman S had the same engine as the 996/987/986’s just a bit more HP.
    Those motors have quite a history of puking. We bought my wife a 2003 Boxster S in 2010 with 42k on it, it had complete service history, gorgeous car. Motor puked at 45k, #3 cylinder took a dump. No help from Porsche.
    From Mechanic “Yea they do that”
    Lucked out that the motor was on “special” from PoA and got a discount for being a PCA member. Still not cheap. When new motor is out of warranty (24mo/24k mi) I will be doing the IMS upgrade.
    There was no core charge so I have the engine sitting in my garage waiting for me to dismember it.
    Have not seen a Boxster with a LSx in it yet, Renegade is supposed to be working on a kit.

  • avatar

    Very interesting discussion here, as is often the case at TTAC.

    I agree with people who say that Porsche is not responsible for the failure out of warranty. I also think the owner should be taking personal responsibility, especially considering he is well off enough to own a Cayman.

    However, it is common for automakers to cover certain out of warranty repairs in the name of good will. First tier Japanese manufacturers are especially known to do this, which pays tremendous dividends. It would not hurt Porsche to maintain some of their hard won customer satisfaction and reputation by assisting a customer in this situation. Perhaps not 100% reimbursement but something sufficient to make the customer happy(ier.)

    • 0 avatar

      This car isn’t some unobtainable exotic. Granted, it was expensive when it was initially purchased, but significantly less so when I bought it and before the engine loss, it was probably worth $35-40k. Not cheap, but certainly within the reach of people who can’t really afford $15k for an engine replacement.

      I was willing to take personal responsibility until I looked into the issues with this motor. I was under the impression that all the failures were heavily tracked cars using r-compound tires, and since I didn’t do those things, this was just unfortunate circumstance. When the mechanic said he couldn’t see any reason for my motor to fail like it did, and that this wasn’t an uncommon occurrence, I started doing a little research. Now that I see that the motor can’t reasonably be expected to go 60k miles, I think it’s a design flaw and not something I did.

      I’ve watched Mazda step up when the Miata and the RX-8 had engine issues, I’m wondering why Porsche can’t do the same.

      • 0 avatar

        As I was reading down the thread, I kept having a related thought. Mazda stepped up to an 8 year warranty on my RX8, and yet everywhere I go people keep telling me the rotary is unreliable.. and Porsche just skates with what looks to be a more frequent, and significantly more expensive, problem.

        As an aside, if you are outside the warranty, my RX8 turned 8 years old 3 weeks ago, a re-man engine core from the dealership is about $2500.

  • avatar


    I’m so sorry to hear about your engine failure. As a fellow Cayman S owner (2007) your story breaks my heart and hits close to home.

    I would like to point out a few points that challenge your math a little that don’t seem to have been considered.

    1. In 2006, all Caymans sold in the USA were S models. The 2.7 liter Cayman didn’t come until 2007.

    2. That thread on Planet 9 doesn’t contain much consistency. Some of the car in that list are 986 Boxsters, some are 987s, and the cause of failure seems to be all over the map. It’s common knowledge that many 986 engines died of an IMS failure. That doesn’t affect the 987s nearly as much, thanks to some improvements made in 2005.

    3. The owner of that site, the one who started that thread blew his engine up on the race track 20 minutes after a 5-2 downshift that spun his engine up into the stratosphere. He has admitted in many places in his own forums that he had recorded Range 4 over-revs. Range 4 is 7,900 – 8,399 RPM. That death isn’t exactly a manufacture’s defect. There may be others in that list that died a similar death. How could you or I know if those cars were just plain out abused?

    We all take our chances when we venture out onto the track. That is a tough environment for any car. It’s not unusual to blow an engine on the track. Race teams do it every weekend.

    I wish you luck getting your car fixed and hope you are back behind the wheel real soon.

    Mike Souza / Gator Bite
    PCA Cayman Register Advocate

  • avatar

    Leaving aside all the legal issues, you should ask your local independent Porsche mech what the issue might be, the fix and the cost. Out of pocket expenses might go down if you can re and re the current engine with better replacement parts. I’d be wary of the crate since Porsche is notorious in replacing like for like and you’re at it again in another 50K.

  • avatar

    NSX it is.

  • avatar

    This thread just scared me out of buying a Porsche.
    Clearly they are much better to be admired from a distance as a fan than up close and on the gas with your wallet open.
    I hope my Ducati 848 doesn’t suffer the same fate as Porsche; stunning looks and sporting pedigree with a weak heart and brittle bones

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