Porsche Macan Common Problems
Inaccurate Oil Level Reading or PDK issues, etc?
Listed below are Porsche Macan common mechanical problems with their likely resolutions. These are the most frequent Macan problems diagnosed by our repair shops since it’s launch.
Check engine light? Scanned the car and not sure what to make of those OBD codes? Our article on how to interpret and make sense of those fault codes may help.
Maintenance rarely solves a problem. However, neglecting maintenance can cause issues – check your last service update with our recommended Macan maintenance schedules.
Can’t Find An Answer Below? – Contact Us For More Help
If your Macan has mechanical issues that don’t appear here, simply drop us an email via the forms or pop-up contact and we’ll do our best to share a solution with you.
Click on a problem heading for more detail.
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Symptoms: Warning Message Oil Level Too Low or High
The Porsche Macan has experienced issues with the oil level sensor reporting incorrect oil levels. This was not helped by the publishing of wrong oil capacities at the launch of the Macan.
If you experience an oil level too high or too low message, be careful. First, there is no dipstick – brilliant idea most of the German car manufacturers have implemented. The oil level is measured electronically for accuracy. This is awesome, assuming the electronic measurement is accurate or is at the very least telling you the truth. There is no manual backup of the tried and trusted dipstick – so did you overfill or under fill? Or do you have a faulty sensor?
You have to be sure of which one before you take action. The only way to be sure is confirm the amount of oil in the engine by draining and measuring. We’ve experienced an oil reading that went down when we added a quart! Don’t be surprised if the oil level sensor is not telling the truth but, make sure you are certain that the oil level is correct before ignoring the sensor and replacing it.
Oil Top Off
The Porsche engine will naturally consume oil while you drive. Different driving styles and conditions will cause oil consumption to change. With the extended mileage between oil changes that manufacturers have opted for, it’s very likely the car will call for additional oil between scheduled service intervals. Most independent shops consider the extended mileage range between oil changes too extreme and simply a marketing gimmick.
If your Macan calls for additional oil, here’s what to do:
- Ideally, the engine should be at operating temperature
- The difference between the minimum and maximum reading is approx. 1 quart
- Do not add more than 1 quart at a time
- Remeasure the oil level after each quart added
- After adding a quart, drive the car for 5 to 10 mins before rechecking the level
- Oil reading is not instant and requires a drive cycle
Symptoms: Mirror Moves Up in Reverse Gear
Many Porsche Macan owners have noted that when shifting into reverse gear, the passenger side mirror does not aim downward toward the curb as it is supposed to do.
Instead it turns to aim skyward, providing a wonderful view of passing birds. This of course, makes the driver unable to see along the passenger side of the car when backing up.
Thankfully, Porsche has a software revision that seems to take care of the problem once the appropriate module has been flashed.
Symptoms: Back-up Camera is Blurry, Out of Focus
The Macan back-up camera has sparked a lot of debate. Many drivers have complained that the image shown by the camera is extremely out of focus and actually hinders the driver’s ability to back into a parking space.
The debate online rages about whether this is a major issue or simply a minor oversight. So, if you experience this problem with your Macan, there are limited options.
First, Porsche upgraded the camera in later versions of the car. If you have an early version with camera problems, only an upgrade will fix the issue. Secondly, there are third-party companies that have cameras to install using the Porsche system. These are a little less expensive and generally solve the problem instantly.
If you just can’t back-up without the camera, check with a local repair shop for the third party solutions.
Symptoms: PDK Failure Light, Rough Gear Changes, Transmission Faults, Emergency Transmission Run Warning on Dash
The Porsche-Doppelkupplungsgetriebe – which translates to Porsche double-clutch transmission or PDK – now that’s when you really need an acronym! A number of Porsche Macan owners have experienced failure of the PDK transmission.
The PDK is an automated manual transmission. Two units matched together – a manual transmission rear section and automated dual clutch front section. The manual transmission rear section is very solid and reliable. Most issues occur with the electronic and hydraulically controlled clutch section at the front of the transmission. Physically, the PDK is a ZF transmission unit that has been around for a number of years. VAG took multiple versions of the transmission and personalized them for their various car ranges. Porsche adapted the software and labeled their version PDK.
There are a number of ways in which the PDK in the Macan can fail. Most show up as a collection of warning lights on the dash and an eventual refusal to do anything. The only viable solution for most people is the replace the PDK – this is very expensive. However, much of the need for replacement of the PDK comes from a lack of understanding, unavailable parts and an unwillingness to dig deep.
Components and Failures
Transmission Control Module – TCM
The connection to the car and communication of instructions to the transmission, come from an external module called a transmission Control Module (TCM). While this rarely has issues, it can become confused and has been the subject of a number of software revisions. Re-flashing the TCM doesn’t usually solve problems, but ensuring you have the latest software revision can’t hurt. This is where diagnostic faults are stored.
Mechatronic Unit – Valve Body
The TCM sends instruction to the Mechatronic unit or valve body inside the transmission. The Mechatronic unit is a complex series of electronics, hydraulic valves and sensors. These devices are managed by a control module attached to the Mechatronic unit. This is the system which enables gear changes and controls the transmission functionality.
The Mechatronic unit is a common failure point for this type of transmission. In 2009, VW recalled 53000 of them – so there have been many issues in the past. Problems with the Mechatronic unit vary, but commonly include failure to select gears, rough gears changes, etc. The physical components of the transmission are robust, so this unit is often the most economical place to start for most issues.
Connected to the Mechatronic unit are a number of sensors throughout the transmission. These determine the operating conditions within the transmission. For example, the temperature of the fluid, the rotational output speed, hydraulic clutch pressure and movement of gears selectors. Failure of these sensors is very common. Early on, Porsche routinely replaced the wiring and trans temp sensor in most of the PDKs.
However, the problem did not go away and has re-occurred on the same transmissions further down the road. The temp sensor problem can show up on almost any model with a PDK.
The clutch pack has proven to be very robust and generally does not fail with normal use. Over extended mileage this will become a wear component that will need to be replaced. The failures of the clutch that have occurred, are usually on performance enhanced engines delivering too much torque for the clutch plates. At higher torques, the clutches slip resulting in highly accelerated wear and early failure.
Why do I need to replace the PDK?
The PDK transmissions in the later cars are very complex and the technology involved is a closely guarded secret. Technicians at Porsche are not trained to dissect the transmission and make repairs. They will replace the Mechatronic unit, but often they just replace the transmission as a whole. The components such as the Transmission Control Module (TCM) and the Mechatronic Unit or valve body inside the transmission are often unavailable as parts outside of the Porsche workshop.
The manufacturers do not want it taken apart and it’s often described as a “sealed PDK”. The result from faults is often a new PDK, when in reality, an internal component swap would likely save the whole unit from being replaced. While there is a lot of complex “stuff” in there, the physical components typically don’t break. So, being forced to lash out $12K to $15K for a new PDK, in our mind, is often caused by an unwillingness of people to take the thing apart!
Can You Get Creative?
Creative can often translate to money saving. Removal and disassembly of the PDK is not complex. However, access to parts and the need for a PIWIS to re-initialize the PDK are barriers for the DIY enthusiast. There is an excellent article here that provides good background, examples of the work and videos of the internals of the transmission.
Having experienced a PDK problem on a vehicle we owned, we got creative. Based on issues with other transmissions, such as the Mercedes Benz, commonly known for valve body failure, we were convinced our issues lay in the physical part of the Mechatronic unit. Short version – we got a new Mechatronic unit from Audi, replaced the electronics with the original unit from the Porsche, flashed the TCM to match new software levels and hey presto, a perfectly working PDK!
If you have PDK problems and want to try something creative before shelling out for a new unit, you’ll need the help of an expert independent Porsche repair shop.
Symptoms: Vibration Under Acceleration or During Low Speed Tight Turns
Many Macan owners have experienced vibrations or unsteady acceleration around the 25-35 mph. This is usually subtle initially, but gets steadily worse, especially when moving forward at low speed with the wheels turned tightly. Sometimes, this can also show up as jerking when the PDK is going through 2nd to 3rd gear changes and accelerating between 30-50mph.
The problem stems from the transfer case in the four-wheel drive system and is a regularly reported issue.
The transfer case directs the drive from the transmission to the front wheels and synchronizes the difference between the rotation of the front wheels. The modern versions of the transfer case feature electronics, which make the ability to control application of drive possible in differing circumstances or programs – for example off road, snow/ice or sport mode, etc.
Wear in the transfer case causes a mismatch between the intended wheel speeds during acceleration and the actual wheel speeds. This subsequently shows up as a vibration under acceleration or a jumping or skipping feeling at extreme steering lock.
Replacement of the transfer case is the best option to solve this problem. While the transfer case has been revised a number of times, this issue appears to continue to plague the Macan. Seemingly as a result, Porsche recently announced an extension to the warranty period covering the transfer case.
Symptoms: Oil Leaking Down on to Oil Pan
Early Porsche Macan V6 owners commonly experienced the now infamous oil leak from the timing case cover seal. Oil leaks can occur in any of the seals on the engine and the resultant oil leaking always heads south towards the oil pan. So, it’s important to identify the true source of the leak, before jumping to conclusions.
The timing case cover issue originally stemmed from bolt problems during engine production and was subsequently addressed in later models. However, the timing case seal is still a very likely cause of oil loss in the future. Unfortunately, the repair is not simple and requires extended knowledge and experience.
Because of the location of the timing case cover, the recommended way to resolve the leak is to first remove the engine. Typically this will be billed as a 40 hour job and was unpopular under warranty due to it’s degree of difficulty. Creative independent shops have found ways to make this easier and considerable cheaper.
Symptoms: Clunking or Banging Down Center of Car Under Acceleration
In a similar way to the original Porsche Cayenne, the Macan experiences a consistent failure to the center support bearing in the driveshaft – also known as prop shaft or carden shaft etc. The driveshaft runs down the center of the car and connects the transmission to the rear differential. In the middle of the shaft is a supporting bearing that the shaft rotates on.
When the center support bearing fails, the shaft wobbles, vibrates and thumps during acceleration. You’d be hard pressed to find an early Cayenne that hasn’t experienced this problem and it seems that Porsche did not learn that lesson completely. Ten years later the same problem exists on the Macan.
Porsche’s replacement for the bearing wasn’t much better than the original. If the experience associated with the early Cayenne is anything to go by, replacing the driveshaft with the same product from Porsche leads to a subsequent recurrence of the problem some more miles down the road.
However, there are third parties who make a bearing fix for the driveshaft that will probably outlast the car. The aftermarket solution does not require the driveshaft to be removed to complete the job and usually will save you money on the repair.
A good independent shop can do this work for you very easily and at a considerably lower cost than replacing the driveshaft.
Symptoms: Chirp, Squeal or Whistling Sound Off Accelerator
This is a fun issue on the earlier Macan. Rev the engine to about 2K rpm and let your foot off the gas. You’ll here what appears to be a belt chirp, whistling sound or rattle.
The sound is in fact a fractured or fatigued metal exhaust mount or a cracked mid pipe exhaust plate bracket. The noise can often be misdiagnosed as a belt chirp.
As the engine revs it torques from side to side and these brackets are twisted in the process. As they age, they crack and the metal rubs together causing the sound. This can also show up as an exhaust rattle while driving.
This is a simple fix – one of the brackets joining the two pipes can be removed and the other welded to solve the problem.
Porsche updated the Macan with a revision to the exhaust downpipes that eliminates this problem.
Symptoms: Chassis System Failure Message, Uneven Ride Height, PASM Fault
This fault becomes evident on your Macan dashboard when a malfunction occurs in the air-ride suspension system. The system has a number of components, but generally, only one failure indicator. Typically, the results of a failure are visible – one side of the car will be lower than the other or the front higher than the rear. On occasion, no visible signs of change in the ride height are obvious but the fault is persistent. In colder climates, the fault can be sporadic initially, based on air temperature.
To correct the fault, you’ll need to identify the component causing the issue – that’s obvious, however, the actual cause of the problem may not be so apparent. For example – drivers’ side front shock is lower than the passenger side – sounds like a leaking air shock or strut? Maybe, but it could also be a ride height sensor, leaking hose, faulty valve block or bad electrical connector!
Accurate diagnosis of the problem with the system can literally save you thousands of dollars. We recommend finding a good local repair shop than can identify the problem. Interestingly, a shop that has a good degree of Mercedes Benz experience is a good bet. Mercedes air ride systems have been exhibiting the faults that are now common on the Porsche air suspension for many years, so most good independent shops with added Benz experience can spot the real cause of the problem quickly.
Components and Failures
The air compressor supplies the system with compressed air. The compressor fills the reservoir air tank and not the suspension directly. The compressor is designed to run in short bursts to top off the tank.
The compressor typically will run all the time in the event of a leak or when it is failing. Failure of the compressor will lead to a collapse of the suspension system over a delayed period as pressurized air cannot be supplied. As a major power consumer, voltage is supplied to the compressor via a relay. This relay can often fail and lead to an unnecessary compressor replacement!
The air supply tank is the least likely area of failure. This simply stores the compressed air to enable enough volume to be delivered quickly to correct the vehicle ride height. The tank supplies air to the system via the valve block – a hole in the line from the tank to the valve block will cause a system wide failure.
Compressed air is supplied to the valve block from the air tank. The valve block is an electro-mechanical device that routes pressurized air to the individual system components per instructions sent from the control module. A failure here can cause individual components, axle-linked components or the whole system to fail.
Air lines or hoses
The air hoses travel from the valve block to the individual system components. Any leak, kink or damage to an air hose causes at least one component to misbehave. Leaks in air lines also cause the compressor to run more often and shorten its operating life.
Front Air Shocks or Struts – Rear Air Spring
The air ride shock, strut or spring is filled or indeed emptied of compressed air via the air hose and valve block. Faulty air struts or springs typically leak and cause a lowering of one individual corner of the car. Two failing at the same time is unusual, so if you have a lower than normal ride height across one axle, do not assume leaking struts – see level sensors below. Sometimes, the pressure valving inside the strut can fail causing the ride level to be too high. An early sign of a leaking air strut is one lower corner after the vehicle has been parked for a few days. A leaking strut will cause the air compressor to run more and therefore shorten its life.
Each of the suspension components has an electrical connector. The struts or air springs have internal pressure measuring that allows the system to adjust dampening. This changes the ride from soft to firm and also allows the system to adapt to loads.
The electrical connectors can become corroded or greened in some circumstances. This causes the system to report malfunctions but typically does not affect ride height. Ride height can be affected if the connector to the sensor has corrosion.
Ride Height Level sensors
The ride height sensor is a small electro-mechanical component that connects the suspension to the body of the car. A small plastic arm translates vertical vehicle movement into rotational movement in the sensor. Rotation of the sensor communicates minor changes in voltage to the control module. Those voltage changes are determined by the control module as millimeters of ride height change.
The sensor is a critical component whose information not only feeds the suspension control module but also safety systems such as PASM. Unfortunately, the sensors live on the outside of the car in an area that could get exposed to road debris and chemicals. Failure of these sensitive components is inevitable.
Ride height sensor faults can be fun! A dead sensor is straightforward to diagnose – no signal. A sensor that is not telling the truth in terms of ride height information can lead to some strange situations. Because a ride height signal is still reaching the control module from a faulty sensor, action is taken based on that faulty information. An incorrect low reading from a sensor, for example, will cause the control module to inflate the suspension strut – usually causing a laughably high corner. Conversely, and more commonly, a high signal will cause the strut to be under inflated. This looks like a leak and is commonly mis-diagnosed.
Suspension Control Module
The suspension control module runs the whole system and communicates information to other vehicle systems. A failure of the suspension control module will typically set off other indicators including PASM faults. The control module is one of the least likely items in the system to fail. A typical failure will be a complete shutdown of the suspension. Control module failures rarely cause part system failure.
Switch failure is commonly overlooked. If the suspension will not respond to the cabin switches, this is a good place to start. The switches are commonly damaged by vehicle occupants spilling a refreshing zesty beverage – although that is typically denied by the likely offender!
Symptoms: Leaking Fuel, Gas Smell While Driving
Porsche will begin recalling the Macan again April 10, 2020. The recall pertains to a fuel leak that could potentially be hazardous and involves all models produced between 2015 and 2018. This is the third time a recall for the Macan has been issued. So far, each recall has been focused on different aspects of the fuel delivery system.
It’s clear that initial generations of vehicles such as the Macan tend to have issues that are subsequently fixed in revised models. Stating the obvious, the design of the fuel delivery system on the Macan clearly wasn’t up to par – recall three seems to confirm that.
If you smell gas while driving or suspect a fuel leak, have the problem checked for the recall work at your local dealer ASAP.
See also our news article on the Macan fuel system recall
Symptoms: No Start, Start and Die, CEL Random Multiple Misfires
The Macan features two fuel pumps – a low pressure in-tank pump and a high pressure pump on the engine.
With direct injection (DFI) engines, the high pressure required to deliver fuel comes from a pump driven by the engine camshaft. A failure in the high pressure fuel pump has very similar symptoms to the failure of the in-tank pumps. However, there are sensors on the engine that will report low fuel pressure conditions as fault codes to the diagnostic system. Low pressure in the fuel system will usually begin as random multiple misfires and a loss of power under acceleration. This will set a check engine light condition on your dashboard.
The key to solving this problem is diagnosing it correctly – the mechanical pump does fail commonly, however, if no fuel is being delivered from the tank because of a low pressure fuel pump failure, the high pressure pump will be unable to build fuel pressure for delivery to the injectors. This might look like a high pressure fuel pump problem when it isn’t! A good repair shop can accurately diagnose this for you.
Symptoms: CEL, Loss of Power, Misfire Under Load
There are multiple reasons why a check engine light can be set on the Macan for misfires. A code scan can reveal which cylinder is misfiring but not usually exactly why.
CEL – Misfire – Faulty Ignition Coil
The ignition coils on the Porsche Macan have been updated a number of times. A single coil failure is typically a sign of more trouble to come from other coils, so it’s usually best practice to update them all. A failing coil typically stops any spark and sets a misfire code with a completely dead cylinder. This will cause rough running, especially at idle.
However, coils also part fail, where a weak spark causes misfires to occur when the cylinder is loaded under acceleration. Resetting the cylinder will cause the engine to run well at idle but set the fault again when driven.
CEL – Misfire – Worn Spark Plugs
Service intervals between spark plug changes can seem rather long, considering the duty cycle required from a plug over a 30K mile period. Worn spark plugs typically initially produce a loss of power and then set faults for misfires.
A shortcut to finding out if you have a plug or coil problem is to identify the cylinder misfiring and swap the coil from the misfiring cylinder with a coil from a known good cylinder. If the misfire moves with the coil, you have a coil problem. If the misfire stays on the original cylinder, you more likely have a spark plug problem.
These are some of the smaller issues that have been appearing on the Macan. Some do not have final consistent resolutions yet:
- Leaking Rear Washer – requires replacement
- Alarm randomly Sounding – Software reflash required
- Windshield Wipers Auto Sweep on Startup – Software reflash required
- Trailer Control Module Drains Main Battery – Software reflash required
- Whistle or Chirp at Idle – Suspected faulty fuel pressure valve
- ABS PSM Faults – Faulty wheel speed sensor
- Excessive Oil Consumption – this problem has plagued VW/Audi engines for a number of years and may have migrated to the Porsche V6. It typically has two causes – first the air oil separator diaphragm slowly fails causing oil to be sucked into the intake and burnt. Or second a case of bad piston rings – let’s hope it’s not this one. Either way, if you use a quart of oil every 1k miles start investigating.