Porsche Macan Common Problems
Inaccurate Oil Level Reading or PDK issues?
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.
S | GTS | Turbo
The newer Porsche Macan has experience issues with the oil level sensor reporting incorrect oil levels. This is not helped by the incorrect publishing of oil capacities at the launch of the Macan. If you experience an oil level too high or too low after an oil change 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 underfill? 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.
Many Porsche Macan owners online noted that when shifting into reverse the passenger side mirror does not aim downward toward the curb. Instead it aims skyward making the driver unable to see along the passenger side of the car when backing up. Porsche has a software revision that seems to take care of the problem once the appropriate module has been flashed.
The backup camera has been noted by many drivers to be extremely out of focus, which hinders rather than helps the driver’s ability to back into a parking space. Porsche does have a fix for this problem on the later cars.
A number of Porsche Macan owners have experienced failure of the PDK transmission. Physically, the PDK is an Audi DSG transmission unit that has been around for a number of years. Porsche adapted the software and labeled it 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 eventual refusal to do anything. The only viable solution for most people is the replace the PDK – this is expensive.
The transmissions in the later cars are very complex and the technology involved is a closely guarded secret. Technicians at Porsche and Audi are not trained to dissect the transmission and make repairs. They just replace the transmission. The components such as the Transmission Control Module (TCM) and the Mechatronic Unit inside the transmission are often unavailable as parts. The manufacturers do not want it taken apart.
Typically, the Mechatronic unit is where the problems stem from. The unit is a computerized physical fluid control part of the dual clutch system. In 2009, VW recalled 53000 of them – so there have been many issues in the past. The failure symptoms can be used to determine if the problem is in the physical part of the Mechatronic unit, the control module portion or the TCM.
Audi does supply the Mechatronic unit but Porsche does not provide the control unit for it.
Can You Get Creative?
Creative translates to money saving. Having experienced the problem on a vehicle we owned, we got creative. Based on experience 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 wat to try something creative before shelling out for a new unit, you’ll need the help of an expert independent Porsche repair shop.
Many Macan owners experience vibrations or unsteady acceleration around the 25-35mph. It is usually subtle initially but gets steadily worse, especially when moving forward with the wheels turned. Sometimes, this can also show up as jerking when the PDK is going through 2nd to 3rd gears and accelerating to 30-50mph.
The transfer case is a part of the four-wheel system. It directs the drive from the transmission to the front wheels and synchronizes the difference between the rotation of the front and rear wheels. These days it also features electronics which make the ability to control application of drive possible in differing circumstances or programs – off road, snow/ice or sport mode.
Wear in the transfer case causes a mismatch between intended wheel speeds during acceleration and subsequent vibration. Replacement is the best option.
Early Porsche Macan V6 owners commonly experienced the 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 to the oil pan – so it’s important to identify the true source of the leak before jumping to conclusions.
The 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 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.
The original Porsche Cayenne experienced a consistent failure to the center support bearing in the driveshaft – also known as prop shaft, carden shaft etc. It seems that Porsche did not learn that lesson completely and ten years later the same problem exists on the Macan. During acceleration you’ll experience a clunk or vibrations or low frequency noise. This stems from premature wear in the center support bearing of the driveshaft. The driveshaft also has a rubber coupling component that fails.
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.
The more cost effective and long term solution is to use an aftermarket clamping bearing support. A good independent shop can do this for you very easily at a considerably lower cost than replacing the driveshaft.
This is a fun one. Rev the engine to about 2K rpm and let your foot off. You’ll here what appears to be a belt chirp but is in fact a fractured or fatigued metal exhaust mount or a cracked mid pipe exhaust plate bracket.
As the engine revs it torques side to side and these brackets are twisted. When they crack, 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.
Subsequent Macan’s have a revision to the exhaust downpipes that eliminates this problem.
Macan Chassis System Failure
This fault becomes evident on your 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!
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.