Used-Cayenne Purchase Sparks a Call to Fellow Enthusiasts

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Porsche Cayenne

Rennlister buys a low-mile Cayenne only to discover that it might need a new engine. And now he needs your help!

Like many things in life, buying a used vehicle comes with a certain level of risk. Aside from visual clues, it can be hard to tell just how well a car was taken care of during its prior years of ownership. Oftentimes, there are serious problems lurking beneath the surface, sometimes without any signs of impending doom. And these issues can pop up even in cases where the seller is being honest.

Nothing, of course, is worse than buying a lemon. Especially when you’ve done your homework and saved your pennies for that special dream car. Such was the case with Rennlister mungojerie, who recently purchased a 2008 Porsche Cayenne S. The joy of snagging a new toy quickly turned sour, however, when he began to experience issues. So he wisely headed to the Rennlist forums for some advice.

“I need advice. I just bought an ’08 Cayenne S in North Carolina from an independent European car dealer & service center right before Thanksgiving. Has just 53,000 miles on it. On purchase, I had an alternative European car dealer inspect it, and they said it looked good. Also, the seller replaced all eight spark plugs and gave me new tires at the time of purchase.”

A few days after buying it, I drove it about 180 miles on the interstate and the CEL came on – not flashing. I also got a message saying the oil level was low. But looking at the dipstick, it was between MIN and 1/2. We finished the trip (another 200 miles), and exactly 1 week after buying it, I took it back to the independent dealer/service center I bought it from to look at the CEL. They said it looked like the last owner didn’t drive it much, and maybe didn’t use premium fuel, but I was good to go. They cleared the warnings.”

Porsche Cayenne

Shortly thereafter, the problem resurfaced. So this time, the OP took his ride to a Porsche dealership, where he received a different opinion.

“They say I’m misfiring in cylinders 1, 5, and 8. Cylinder 8 is the bad one – tons of misfires in the diagnostic scanner. Spark plug on 8 is gross, totally oil flushed. The other two (now) don’t look new. They advise replacing all engine coils plus spark plugs (again). I replaced the coils, and only the spark plug on 8 that’s gross. $960. Car seems fine.”

As you might guess by now, that didn’t solve the problem either. Just a couple of hours later, the CEL light was once again flashing.

“We transported it all the way back to the independent dealer/service center. They are telling me that cylinder 5 is misfiring badly, and on visual inspection it’s because the piston is ‘melted.’ They thought that perhaps I drove on it too long with the CEL flashing and that the fuel, directly-injected into the cylinder, was too hot and caused the damage to the piston.

They haven’t given me a proposed solution or cost yet. They’ve been quite responsive and helpful. I asked what the worst case scenario is, and he said replacing the engine would be the easiest thing. So, 10 days after buying it, it might need a whole new engine.”

Porsche Cayenne

A nightmare situation. indeed. But thankfully, Rennlisters are here to help, starting with v10rick.

“The dealer that inspected this did not do a compression check or inspect the cylinders for scoring. The melted piston is likely cylinder scoring which is causing the plug to foul. This does not happen in a few hundred miles. The cost to replace the engine will likely exceed the market value of the Cayenne. Return it to the seller for a refund is the best option, even if you lose the money spent to date.”

Of course, this spurs many to suggest the OP take legal action against the selling dealer. But the dealership obviously claims that they weren’t aware of the problem when they sold the car. Yet, they do offer the OP some sort of reparations.

“Seller is researching replacement engines and offering to sell it to me at cost, or even a bit below. Seller is also saying it is definitely a post-purchase issue in their view, and that ‘driving it with the active misfire (flashing check engine light) at 50 mph on the highway for 7 miles could have absolutely melted that piston.'”

Porsche Cayenne

With a little more prodding, the dealership has agreed to replace the engine at a total cost of just under $6,000. But that didn’t stop the OP from seeking out some legal advice.

“I spoke to a lawyer with experience in consumer law here in NC. It’s an AS-IS state, But the seller represented the car as ‘perfect’ and themselves as specialists. This engine is also known to have issues like this and so it was worth checking. Plus, we know they did not bore scope or compression test it. So the lawyer thinks I have a stronger case on misrepresentation than they have in defending it.”

So as this Cayenne saga unfolds, the OP is still seeking solid advice. Head over here to check out the whole story, and be sure and chime in with any useful tips of the legal or mechanical variety!



Brett Foote is a longtime contributor to Internet Brands’ Auto sites, including Chevrolet Forum, Rennlist, and Ford Truck Enthusiasts.

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