Porsche Panamera Common Problems
What are the most common reliability or mechanical problems diagnosed on the Porsche Panamera?
Listed below are Porsche Panamera common mechanical problems with their likely resolutions. These are the most frequent Panamera problems diagnosed by our repair shops over the years.
An accurate diagnosis of an issue by a Porsche mechanic typically saves you time and money – see our guide to local independent Porsche repair shops that can help. If you’re researching and considering buying a Panamera, our used car buyer guides highlight mechanical issues to be aware of before you complete a purchase.
Dashboard Warning Lights?
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.
Could Maintenance Solve a Porsche Panamera Problem?
Maintenance rarely solves a problem. However, neglecting maintenance can cause issues – check your last service update with our recommended Panamera maintenance schedules.
Check Engine Light? Scanned Your Porsche Pananera and Read Diagnostic Codes?
The following sections identify common problems through symptoms. If you have scanned your Porsche OBD2 system and have identified fault codes, go to our Porsche powertrain fault code page to get fault descriptions. For the Panamera, we also include the hybrid drive system faults.
Can’t Find An Answer Below? – Contact Us For More Help
If your Panamera 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.
Porsche Panamera Common Problems by Symptom – S | GTS | Turbo | V6
Clicking each section will open more detail.
Oil Level High or Low - Topping Off Oil Level
Symptoms: Warning Message Oil Level Too Low or High
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 engines 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 Panamera 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
Porsche Communication Management (PCM) Issues
Symptoms: Panamera PCM unit restarting every 2-3 minutes, map not loading, loads in wrong language, loads just the Porsche logo screen, turns on and off randomly etc.
Who hasn’t had an issue with the PCM system in their Panamera?
Many Panamera owners have reported all sorts of random and weird behavior from the PCM system and in particular, PCM3.1 seems to be the main offender. Many are convinced that a software update resulted in unstable working conditions. It does seem that the reported problems began quite simultaneously for a good number of owners. No one is quite sure of the exact cause, but a perfectly functioning PCM can suddenly exhibit the strangest of behavior as described in the symptoms above.
Defining the Issues with the Panamera PCM
The problems with the PCM can really be categorized in to two groups:
First, like anything else, the unit itself can have an electrical or physical malfunction. Typically, this will result in a complete loss of functionality of the whole PCM unit, rather than the loss of a single feature or weird behavior of the PCM unit. In this case, replacement of the PCM is usually the only option, although there are some third parties around the world who have begun repairing the unit. Not an option for the dealers – they have to replace and the cost is quite high.
For the second set of Panamera PCM problems that generally fall into the strange behavior category, an old-fashioned Ctrl Alt Del seems to resolve most issues. Some will remember when it was necessary to do this a couple of times a day to a Windows PC, but in this instance, the PCM usually recovers well to an initial start point and then functions normally.
It is important to note that what you are doing here is resetting the system back to the original factory defaults prior to Panamera being delivered to its first customer. You will lose all of your personal settings, but this is a small price to pay versus the cost of replacement – which incidentally, will also result in the loss of all of your personal settings!
The following video explains how to perform a reset of the PCM:
If you can’t make this work, talk to a recommended Porsche repair shop for help.
Check Engine Light - V8 Engine Failure - Cam Adjuster Bolts Break
Symptoms: CEL – Rough Running – Timing Faults – Cam Position Sensor Faults
The much talked about camshaft adjuster bolt problem generally affects Panamera V8 vehicles produced between 2010 and 2012 model years. The problem lies in the aluminum bolts that secure the timing chain sprockets to the camshaft adjusters.
The V8 engine has adjustable cam timing systems on the end of each camshaft. The timing chain drives the adjuster, which varies the position and rotation of the cam based on engine performance demands. The adjuster is bolted to the end of the camshaft.
Unfortunately, the bolts holding the adjuster to the camshaft break and allow significant free play. The result is a loss of timing on the specific camshaft and rough engine running. This sets a check engine light and fault codes for multiple items including camshaft position sensor, misfires and cam to crank timing faults. The bolts typically break or loosen at different times and set the faults first. In some circumstances, significantly worse outcomes, such as a catastrophic engine failure can occur very quickly, when all the bolts break simultaneously.
We experienced a V8 running very badly and setting faults for camshaft position sensor, misfires etc. Further investigation revealed that the intake camshaft was not rotating at all and all the bolts on the adjuster had broken.
Porsche was required to recall 2010 through 2012 vehicles to correct this problem. If you are looking at a model in those production years, you should definitely check for evidence the recall work was completed. More information on the recall at http://www.camshaftadjusterrecall.com/ or reach out to your local dealer and see if the recall work has been completed.
Rear Spoiler Malfunction - Stuck, Lopsided or Dash Warning
Symptoms: Rear Spoiler Lopsided, Stuck or “Failure Spoiler Control” on Dash
It’s very cool to have a spoiler that raises and lowers based on speed, however, failure of this system can be expensive. If you experience a lopsided spoiler or one that one will not raise or lower accompanied by a message on the dash indicating a failure of spoiler control, then you enter the world of Panamera rear spoiler failure.
Commonly, the actuators for the rear spoiler will fail causing the lopsided or failure to raise faults. There are a number of possible causes for this issue, but the most common is a failure of the rams that raise and lower the spoiler mechanism.
It’s definitely worth going through the diagnostic process to identify why the spoiler is not working and eliminate all other possibilities before having to replace it. An independent shop can help. Porsche does not supply serviceable parts for the spoiler mechanism. Replacement units on the Panamera are very expensive.
If you do have spoiler failure and need to replace it, there are options available via third parties for variations on the factory version. You can also upgrade to a factory GTS or Turbo spoiler.
Fault Oil Pressure Monitoring
Symptoms: Warning Message Oil Pressure Monitoring Drive on Poss. Visit Workshop.
Many Panamera owners have experience this message when driving. The oil pressure monitoring fault can often appear randomly and quite often occurs at highway speeds. Around town, the message is less likely to appear.
Oil pressure warnings can be scary. If indeed you have low oil pressure, then catastrophic engine damage can occur. So, it’s best not to ignore this and to quickly investigate the cause. The question here is related to whether the message is genuine e.g. a mechanical pressure fault or an electrical anomaly.
We recommend you visit a reliable and skilled Porsche repair shop to determine the exact cause of this message before making any assumptions.
We are aware of owners who have had to replace oil pumps and oil pressure relief valves, however, the likely cause of this issue is related to an electrical failure of the oil pressure sensor.
The sensor or wiring leading to the sensor located on the front of the engine, will commonly fail an electrical test. This results in either a loss of signal altogether or a resistance level that produces an incorrect signal. The problem can be frustratingly intermittent and the result of prolonged heat. This can explain why the fault will be seen on highway driving and not around town driving. The issue does not set a fault but merely records an event.
So, when you get to the shop without the message the problem is not there! Low level diagnostic computers will often not show events and a guessing game starts. Don’t let this happen. Shops we recommend in your local area will have the tools necessary to read the events and diagnose this problem correctly.
Engine Overheating At Idle - Low Revs
Symptoms: Engine Overheating at Idle in Traffic etc.
The Panamera is known to have problems with the auxiliary coolant pump and can experience an engine overheating problem at low revs. If you’re enjoying being parked in freeway traffic and your engine starts to get to warm, this could be the issue.
The electric auxiliary coolant pump is designed to assist the main water pump when engine revs are low, such as at idle in traffic. The failure of the pump causes the coolant temp to rise rapidly and set engine overheating faults. The engine may also go into a self protection mode and shutdown completely. Typically this will occur when the car is sitting still for longer periods, such as bad traffic.
With the car moving, the engine temperature will remain lower due to cool air flow. The higher engine revs also enable the main pump to circulate enough coolant through the system and radiators while you drive. Sitting at idle reduces coolant circulation and air flow.
Significant damage can occur due to engine overheating, so we recommend this issue is addressed ASAP. Porsche issued a revised version of the pump that does a better job of addressing the issue.
Coolant Leaks - Water Pump - Thermostat
Symptoms: Coolant Leak – Low Coolant Light – Overheating
A coolant leak can be deadly for any engine – overheating of the engine due to a loss of coolant, very quickly does damage that could result in a total failure and an engine replacement being needed.
Water Pump Failure
Water pumps and thermostats fail regularly. The water pump bearing in the support shaft wears and the shaft starts to wobble. This develops into a knocking noise sometimes accompanied by a coolant leak. Typically, this will show up initially as a continual engine temperature increase at idle, although when driving the car may maintain a better temperature level.
Water pump replacement on the Panamera is straightforward with direct access to the pump from behind the front radiator. This is also the location of the thermostat, which also fails regularly.
The thermostat is electronically controlled and reports a fault when a failure occurs. A failed thermostat that is stuck open is not so bad. Consequently, a thermostat that fails in the closed position, can quickly be very detrimental to the engine.
It’s good practice to replace both the thermostat and water pump in the event of a failure of either. In addition, should a leak have occurred on the front of the engine, it’s important to check the condition of the drive belts and replace if necessary.
Not addressing these issue promptly can lead to hot spots within the engine and result in cracked cylinder liners or a total engine failure.
Coolant Leaks - Front or Rear of Engine
The early Panamera has a series of coolant pipe connectors that are glued into their aluminum housings – great idea! Like all glue, over time the seal begins to fail and coolant leaks out. There are two likely spots for this to occur – the front of the engine or the rear of the engine close to the transmission joint.
Front Engine Coolant Leak
The leak at the front of the engine is most likely from the upper front coolant pipe which slips out of its housing when the glue fails. Porsche revised the design of the replacement part to be bolt in so the problem should not return. This issue is common and typically runs about $500 in parts.
Rear Engine Coolant Leak
The leak at the rear is much more of an issue. Almost all Panamera V8s experience a failure in a coolant hose connector at the back of the engine close to the firewall. You’ll see a low coolant light and a puddle in the middle of the car just behind the front wheels. The rubber system hose is clamped to an aluminum insert in the housing that distributes coolant between the cylinder heads. The glue fails on the aluminum insert and coolant leaks out. The replacement part is updated with a screw in insert for the rubber hose to connect to.
The problem is getting this new assembly attached to the engine. Porsche recommends engine and transmission removal, which puts the cost for this minor leak into big money territory! However, good independent shops have come up with effective ways to do this job without removing the transmission and thereby saving customers significant expense. If you have this leak, search our Porsche Repair Shop listing to find a locally skilled expert that can solve this problem for you more cost effectively.
Check Engine Light - Power Loss - Incorrect Valve Lift
Symptoms: Loss of Power, Check Engine Light, Incorrect Valve Lift
At times the V8 engine in the early Porsche Panamera will report a CEL for codes associated with an incorrect valve lift on one of the two cylinder banks. There are two reasons for this – one obvious and one less so.
Valve Lift Solenoid Failure
First, a solenoid controls oil flow to the cams and the regulation of the valve lift that is reported as inconsistent or not correct. On many occasions replacing the solenoid will solve the problem. However, if the solenoid replacement doesn’t solve the problem, you could be left scratching your head as to why the report of incorrect valve lift returns.
The answer lies in a not so obvious location. Valve lift is determined by the front O2 sensor. Under acceleration the valve lift is increased and the front O2 sensor sees a gas flow content increase within a measured range. A failing front O2 sensor will either not see or cannot react in time to the valve lift gas flow change. The slow response from the O2 sensor is not within the tolerance the engine management system requires and therefore a valve lift fault is set. Replacing the front O2 sensor will typically solve this problem.
Check Engine Light - Misfire - Dead Cylinder - Coils, Plugs, Lifters
Symptoms: CEL, Loss of Power, Misfire Under Load
There are multiple reasons why a check engine light can be set 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 Panamera V8 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.
CEL – Misfire – Dead Cylinder
Typically associated with a CEL and rough running, the earlier V8 engine can experience a completely dead cylinder. Of course, replacing the plug and coil is the first step but, if the problem persists we’d recommend compression testing the cylinder involved.
Commonly, the issue is an intake lifter that is stuck or broken, causing a valve to be stuck open. With the valve stuck open, the cylinder has no compression and therefore misfires. If you’re lucky, this can be solved by replacing the lifter.
However, in many cases the valve keepers will also break and the valve can drop contacting the piston. This requires the removal of the head and valve replacement.
No Start - Fuel Pump Failure - CEL - Random Multiple Misfire
Symptoms: No Start, Start and Die, CEL Random Multiple Misfires
Fuel pump failure on the Panamera is common. The Panamera has two in-tank pumps and the DFI engines have a high pressure fuel pump driven off the engine camshaft.
Low Pressure Fuel Pump Failure
Failure of the in-tank pumps is very common. Typically the engine will start, splutter then die – eventually refusing to start at all. This is caused by the pump overheating very quickly and shutting off. Generally, in the early Panamera this will not be seen through diagnostics – it looks to the car that you have no fuel in the tank. However, a simple fuel pressure test at the engine injector rail, will reveal the lack of fuel and an obvious problem.
Porsche has updated both of the in-tank pumps a number of times and when having this issue, it makes sense to replace both the pumps and associated filter in a single job.
High Pressure Fuel Pump Failure
On the engines with direct injection (DFI), 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.
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.
V6 Panamera - Check Engine Light - Vacuum Leak - PCV Failure
Symptoms: CEL – Power Loss – Lean Condition Fault Codes
An integral part of the emissions system, the PCV system is designed to extract oil from gases in the crankcase. The oil is recycled to the sump, while the gas is passed through the combustion path to be burnt and cleaned by the catalytic converters.
When the PCV system fails on the V6 Panamera, it will develop a vacuum leak and set a CEL for lean running conditions – un-metered air enters the intake path through the PCV system and the engine has a loss of power.
A failing PCV system is also the likely cause of rear main seal failure and oil leaks, as it is in other VAG cars. Crankcase gas is not extracted well enough as the PCV fails. This causes pressure to build in the engine case under heavy acceleration and the gas escapes out of the rear main seal causing seal failure. This is commonly seen on all VAG V6 engines.
Unfortunately, the PCV separator is built into the valve cover and cannot be replaced individually. The repair requires the replacement of the whole valve cover assembly.
PDK Issues - Transmission Failure
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 Panamera 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 Panamera 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.
Chassis System Failure - Error Message - PASM Fault
Symptoms: Chassis System Failure Message, Uneven Ride Height, PASM Fault
This fault becomes evident on your Panamera 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 enough 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.
Interior 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!
Brake Booster Fault Message
Symptoms: Brake Booster Fault Dash Message, Harder Brake Pedal
The Porsche Panamera features a complex engine vacuum system that is driven by a pump. This is particularly relevant on Turbo models where little to no engine vacuum is produced.
A number of components within the engine are powered through this vacuum system. The most common fault set through a failure in this system is that of the brake booster fault.
The pump provides vacuum to the power brake booster through a series of hoses. The level of vacuum is monitored through a sensor and a drop in vacuum can cause the sensor to report the fault to the dashboard. Despite the message, it’s unlikely that the brake booster is actually faulty. Typically the problem lies in a lack of vacuum to the booster as a result of a crack in one of the vacuum lines.
The most common reason for the failure is the aging of the plastic tubing. Over time, the hard plastic tubing heats and cools rapidly. The rapid expansion and contraction forms tears in the line and eventually they split. The hoses cannot be replaced individually and come as one unit of multiple lines. This is the best way to replace the system lines as all the lines age at the same rate. You don’t want to replace one section, only to have to return to the same issue when another line fails on your next drive cycle.
Assuming all the lines are in good shape and hold vacuum, then the problem may well lie with either the vacuum pump itself or the sensor. These are straight forward to replace and are a common wear item. A complete lack of vacuum should be fairly obvious to diagnose.
Clearly, a loss of vacuum to the brake system on a car the size of the Panamera can be extremely dangerous. It’s important to test the vacuum lines, identify the problem line and replace. Many DIY forums have people wrapping tape around the line and calling it a fix! Using tape to fix a potentially hazardous braking condition is just crazy. Replace the line or have a independent repair shop do it for you.
Random Airbag Fault - Airbag Light Flashes
Symptoms: Airbag Light Flashes or Stays On and Goes Off Randomly
Some Panamera drivers have noted that their airbag fault light flashes randomly. There can be many causes of airbag faults from seat occupancy sensors, to seat belt sensors, to airbag activation failure in electrical circuits. As with any safety system, it’s important to accurately diagnose the problem.
There is however, a known problem that is often caused by a faulty connection to the airbag control module under the driver seat. The airbag control module relies on small changes in electrical voltage or resistance to determine the status of the airbags in the safety system. Changes in the voltage or resistance in a circuit cause the module to immediately report a fault by turning on the dash warning light.
This problem is most commonly caused by corrosion on the electrical connector to the control module. Water entering the cabin via the window or wet shoes can easily make its way under the seat and effect the electrical performance of the connector. Check to see if water has damaged any of the electrical pins and plugs. In many cases, the connector and control module will need to be replaced.
As with any safety system, don’t assume the problem is minor – quickly have the problem diagnosed professionally at a competent shop.
AC System Blows Warm Air
Symptoms: Warm Air From AC or Loss of Refrigerant Over Time
If your AC system blows warm air, the most common issue is a lack of refrigerant. Over time the refrigerant from the AC system will find its way out of the hoses and joints. If, however, you refill the system and sometime later the system is again low on refrigerant, there is clearly a larger than normal leak.
Leaks can occur at any section joint or hose, however, one of the most common and missed places for the leak is at the lower corner of the front condensers.
Debris from leaves and road dirt can build up tucked in the extreme lower corner of the condensers of the Panamera. The debris can hold moisture and degrade the aluminum to point were a hole can appear. This is almost impossible to see or clean out without the bumper being removed.
The refrigerant leak often goes undetected even to a sniffer without the debris being cleaned away. Check this thoroughly before making any other assumptions. The AC compressor for example, rarely has issues and a low refrigerant situation can prevent the compressor from engaging.
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