If you’re just about to take the leap and buy a used Porsche Macan, this guide will highlight some of the technical issues to be aware of before you commit to buy. The early Macan cars are now extremely affordable, if you can find one, and can be fun to own.
Finding the right car is never simple, but with some luck and armed with the right information, you can pick up a bargain. 6-year-old cars with reasonable mileage are available for sensible money, however, as the Macan is popular, there’s a shortage of used models.
How Do You Tell A Good Macan From A Bad One?
Our guide to buying a used Macan will help you find the bargain and avoid the bad investment. There’s no fluff or niceties here – there are plenty of resources online that bash on about horse power, cosmetic variants and the niceties of the Macan. All well and good, but how do you tell a good Macan from a bad one? What are the potential pitfalls? What known problems exist and how do you avoid them? We have the answers you need.
We concentrate on the technical things that might cost you money later if you weren’t aware of them prior to buying the car.
What Do We Know About the Macan So Far?
The Macan was first seen in late 2013 and went on sale in the US in 2014 as 2015-year models. Originally Porsche was going to call the car the Cajun, but switched to Macan before launch. Macan is an Indonesian word meaning Tiger, which pretty well describes the little sporty SUV. Early models are now out of warranty and are becoming affordably priced.
In 2021 Porsche sold more than 24,000 new Macan vehicles in the US – that is more than the 911, 718 and Panamera combined and moves the Macan to the top selling vehicle spot for Porsche. Not bad for the little tiger!
Originally, Porsche launched the Macan S and the Macan Turbo. The subsequent GTS, designed to fit between the two launch models, followed along later.
The Macan is a perfectly placed small SUV – you can pop the kids in the back of a 400HP twin turbo V6 Porsche and clock 60 mph in 4.3 seconds on the way to soccer practice – who doesn’t want that? Maybe those who opted for the most recent addition to the Macan range? Porsche added a 2.0L in-line 4-cylinder turbo model as the Macan entry point.
The Popular Porsche
The Macan is fun and exhilarating to drive, yet can be used as a practical SUV every day. The first-generation Macan underwent a minor facelift in 2016 with the arrival of the GTS. The second generation of the Macan in 2018 heralded sleeker looks, lower ride profile, enhanced performance, new interior and expanded color choices.
The Macan is the top selling Porsche and looks likely to be the car that defines the company going forward. Many purists will denounce this direction, however, with sales of the previous Porsche entry point, the Boxster/Cayman, declining rapidly, the Macan looks like the new start point for Porsche ownership. There were just 4200 new 718 (Boxster/Cayman) owners in 2021. Compare that to the 24,716 new owners of the Macan in 2021 and the case for the Macan looks pretty solid!
Recalls, Updates and Owner Support
Porsche has made great efforts to be very supportive of owners of its top selling vehicle. A number of times the company has recalled, updated or modified parts on the Macan before potential issues were visible to owners. One such system was the fuel delivery infrastructure. This has been recalled and modified three times – see our who’s got gas article for more information. Make sure any used Macan you are interested in, has completed all its recalls and factory recommended updates to systems such as the PCM and PDK transmission.
Maintenance Costs – Spare Parts – Repairs
You’re buying a Porsche, so don’t compare running costs to a small domestic SUV! Yes, parts and some labor costs will be higher than a typical American or Japanese SUV. However, save for a few notable items discussed below, the Macan is solid and reliable.
The Macan shares some parts with the Cayenne platform and most are readily available directly from Porsche. There are plenty of third-party vendors online that can offer parts at lower cost than Porsche directly. Due to the higher volume of sales, there is already a good deal of experience and expertise in independent Porsche repair shops to help make the maintenance of your used Macan cost effective.
You’re going to pay a little more for an oil change and standard maintenance items, however, don’t try to cheap these. It’s really important to have the car inspected and serviced by a professional with genuine Porsche expertise. A good mechanical understanding of these cars can help identify issues early and save you money in the long term. See our guide to Porsche repair shops for your local expert or contact us and we’ll make a recommendation for you.
If the Macan you are looking to buy has the 22-inch wheel option, you’ll be looking at approx $1400 for a good set of tires! Even with the 19-inch wheel option, you will still be spending approx. $1000 for a good set of tires for the Macan. Don’t go cheap on tires – the performance of the tires plays a significant role in handling and safety.
The Macan has undergone a number of recall campaigns – most notably for fuel system issues. However, the Macan is generally solid, reliable and fits at the lower end of Porsche ownership costs.
It’s important to understand where your prospective Macan falls within it’s recommended maintenance schedule. Maintenance schedules are based on mileage and elapsed time. You should compare the known maintenance history of the Macan with our maintenance schedules. This should enable you to better understand the asking price, the near future maintenance requirements of the car and perhaps help identify a well maintained Macan from a neglected one.
Buying a lightly used Macan with low miles and not realizing major maintenance is due because of elapsed time, is just not the smartest thing you can do!
The first step, once you’ve identified a suitable Macan, is to get it thoroughly inspected by a local independent Porsche expert. The pre-purchase inspection is designed to identify mechanical problems that may not be clearly evident at first glance. In the sections below, we’ve extensively highlighted those potential issues to be on the look out for. Getting a repair history on the car, if available, is helpful and will instantly identify or eliminate potential problem areas.
If a seller wont let you inspect the car, walk away.
Consider who is selling the car. If you’re buying from a used car dealer, do your research to learn where the dealer got the car. If it’s a dealer that specializes in Porsche, well and good. However, if the dealer’s normal trade is low cost mini vans, you need to do some serious research. Cars are often traded when they need expensive mechanical repairs.
So, if you’re in the market for buying a used Porsche Macan, what should you be paying attention to before you commit to buy?
Potential Mechanical Issues To Look For On A Used Macan
Vibrations Under Acceleration – Transfer Case Issues
Many Macan owners have experienced vibrations or unsteady acceleration around the 25-35mph. This 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 between 30-50mph. The problem is caused by a faulty transfer case assembly.
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. It also features electronics which make the ability to control application of the 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 the subsequent vibration. It’s essential that you determine if the Macan you are thinking of buying, has this issue or if the problem has been resolved in the history on the vehicle. The repair requires replacement of the transfer case and can be expensive.
However, new and used Macan owners were recently provided some good news in regards to the transfer case issue. Porsche has announced an extension to the warranty period for the Macan transfer case. See our article covering the extended warranty announcement.
Potential Oil Leaks
Don’t buy a Macan with an oil leak. 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. However, if the source of the leak is the timing case cover, check your wallet!
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 good 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! Creative independent shops have found ways to make this easier and considerable cheaper but, this is not what you want to find shortly after buying a used Macan.
More recently, Macan owners have been reporting an oil leak from the turbo oil supply lines. Interestingly, both turbos seem to leak oil almost at the exact same time, which suggests an issue with the original oil seal. This is a developing issue, but one you certainly want to check for before you buy.
Leaking Gas – Recalls
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. It’s important that any used Macan you look to buy has completed these recalls.
When you are testing your used Macan, rev the engine to about 2K rpm and let your foot off the gas quickly. If you here what appears to be a belt chirp, the Macan actually has 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 very common on the earlier Macan, but thankfully it’s not a difficult fix. Subsequent Macan’s have a revision to the exhaust downpipes that eliminates this problem, so again, worth checking if the Macan you plan to buy has had this repair or a revised bracket.
Low Frequency Drivetrain Noise or Clunking Under Acceleration
Test driving a Macan you might experience a clunk, vibrations or low frequency noise from the drivetrain. This stems from premature wear in the center support bearing of the driveshaft. 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. The driveshaft also has a rubber coupling component that fails that can contribute to this noise.
Look at the service history to see if this issue has been addressed in the life of the car. If it hasn’t, you will almost certainly have to address it yourself.
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 which a good independent shop can do for you. The third party solution is cheaper and generally permanently solves the problem.
Not The Best Backup Camera!
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. So, take a look when you test drive your used Macan and see what you think.
If you don’t like what you see, there are limited options.
Porsche upgraded the camera in later versions of the car and many claim the view outback to be just fine. If you have an early version with what you think is a shabby view, the only option is an upgrade. Thankfully, this doesn’t have to be a show stopper for buying the Macan. 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.
Engine Fault Codes
Before buying any used car, it is essential to know when the last time the system fault codes were cleared and check the status of the engine emission monitors. It’s not difficult for a seller to clear the faults just before you arrive for a test drive. Clearing the engine faults also resets the emissions system to a state of “not ready.” Emission readiness tests often occur over multiple drive cycles. So, after a reset, emission faults may not return for a significant number of miles or drive cycles – you may not see them on a test drive.
For example, the V6 engine used in the early Macan can develop a vacuum leak and set a check engine light. There can be many causes, but one of the most common is the failure in the PCV system. A failed diaphragm in the oil separator on the valve cover allows unmetered air to enter the intake system and cause the engine to run lean. This fault may not return to be indicated on the dashboard as a check engine light for a number of drive cycles, so understanding where the car is in relation to the emission monitor tests is critical. This should be part of any used car inspection by a competent Porsche repair shop.
Transmission – PDK
The Macan features a Porsche-Doppelkupplungsgetriebe which translates to Porsche double-clutch transmission or PDK – now that’s when you really need an acronym!
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.
Replacement of a PDK unit can run up to $15K, so it’s well worth assessing the health of the PDK through a PPI before you buy. Checking history on the car should also reveal any work completed on the PDK. Check service history for fluid changes and software updates to be sure how well the PDK has been cared for.
The PDK is an excellent combination of automation and manual transmission qualities. Test driving, it should change gear quickly, sharply and smoothly. PDK equipped cars are usually quicker than manual cars due to the speed of gear change. If you thought you could never give up a manual trans sports car, the PDK transmission might change your mind. This is part of the attraction of the Macan – the PDK makes the car very sporty to drive.
Where’s The Dipstick?
One thing you must acquaint yourself with, if you’re buying a used Macan, is the lack of an engine oil dipstick. If the norm for you is checking your engine oil level by using a dipstick, there isn’t one! Checking the oil in your Macan and topping-off, requires a new procedure that you need to be aware of before you buy a used version. All of the oil measurement is done automatically through the dashboard screen.
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?
Oil Level Top Off
The Macan 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. This is where you can get in trouble if you don’t follow this procedure.
If the Macan you buy calls for additional oil, here’s what to do:
Ideally, the engine should be at operating temperature to check the level
The difference between the minimum and maximum reading on screen is approx. 1 quart
Do not add more than 1 quart at a time
After adding a quart, drive the car for 5 to 10 mins before rechecking the level
Remeasure the oil level after adding each quart
Oil reading is not instant and requires a drive cycle before reporting a change
Get Yourself A Little Tiger
The Macan does require care and likely more expensive maintenance attention than other comparably priced SUVs. However, there are a number of independent Porsche repair shops that can help to lower the costs of maintaining the car. In addition, while the Macan range is relatively young, we do have a list of the most common problems that are appearing with current owners.
We think the Macan is a all round great way to own a Porsche – this seems to be born out by the huge sales numbers and the top selling spot the Macan has achieved. It’s cute, fun and the turbo version can be a rocket with some tuning work.