Porsche Panamera Common Problems
Check Engine Light or Spoiler Malfunction?
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.
Clicking on a problem for more detail.
S | GTS | Turbo | V6
Generally this affects 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. These engines have adjustable cam systems. The timing chain drives the adjuster which varies the position and rotation of the cam based on engine performance demands. Unfortunately, the bolts holding the adjuster to the cam break and allow significant free play. The result is a loss of timing on the camshaft and in some circumstances significantly worse outcomes such as a catastrophic engine failure can occur very quickly.
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/
It’s very cool to have a spoiler that raises and lowers based on speed, however, failure of this system can be expensive. Commonly, the system becomes un-aligned and the hydraulic actuators will fail. There are some repair kits on the market and while Porsche says the system is not serviceable, many good shops have found ways around that to save you money. Replacement units on the Panamera are very expensive.
The Panamera is known to have problems with the auxiliary coolant pump. The electric pump is designed to assist the main water pump when engine revs are low, such as at idle. The failure causes the coolant temp to rise rapidly and set faults or send the engine into safe mode. Typically this will occur when the car is sitting still. While the car is moving the temp will remain lower due to cool air flow and the higher revs enable the main pump to circulate enough coolant through the system and radiators.
Significant damage can occur due to engine overheating. Porsche has a revised version of the pump and we recommend this issue is addressed asap with the revised version.
Panamera 3.6l and Panamera 3.0L Hybrid models. Some drivers have reported that their vehicle accelerated unexpectedly. The car will surge forward even when the brakes are applied. We recommend visiting the Porsche dealer urgently if this problem occurs for you.
On occasion, the V6 engine will develop a vacuum leak and set a CEL. There can be many causes but one of the most common is the failure in the PCV system usually caused by a failed diaphragm in the separator on the valve cover. Unfortunately, the separator is built into the valve cover and cannot be replaced individually. The repair requires the replacement of the whole valve cover.
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.
Many Panamera drivers have noted that their airbag fault light flashes randomly. This known problem and is often caused by a faulty connection to the module under the driver seat. This can be caused by corrosion on the connector. As with any safety system, don’t assume the problem is minor – have the problem diagnosed professionally at a competent shop.
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 on 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 removed. The leak often goes undetected even to a sniffer without the debris being cleaned away. Check this thoroughly before making other assumptions – like an AC compressor which rarely have issues.
Panamera 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 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!