I'm now a "broken shifter cable" victim like so many others that have posted on planet-9. I've broken this post up into five sections: car, the event, the repair, my thoughts, additional resources.
2006 Cayman S with 34,150 miles on it. I don't race it (on or off the track). 90% of my commute is highway driving at 70 mph, with the occasional acceleration (no downshifting) to 80-90 mph. I bought the car as Certified Pre-owned with 5,000 miles on it. I put ~29,000 miles on the car over an ~8 month period of time
I was driving into work. About 1000 yards from my house, I was casually (read: not aggressive, not racing, etc) shifting from 2nd to 3rd gear, when the shifter suddenly went limp. I could put the shifter into the slots for 3rd, 4th, 5th, or 6th gear, but the gears weren't actually shifting. The car was stuck in 2nd! Luckily the car was stuck in a low gear, and I was able to get the car back home.
The symptoms: car is stuck in a gear; gear shift is limp - moves freely, not able to engage
I had the car towed to the Porsche dealership. They informed me that the gear shift cable had snapped. I've attached 3 photos showing the broken part. Some initial comments: No, i'm not on someone's hit list, and nobody intentionally cut the cable ; I've found other posts with similar photos (links below).
I had to pay ~$1000 to get the shifter cable replaced. It took about a day to get the car back.
This is absolutely ridiculous. A Porsche...a Porsche is supposedly one of the most durable cars in the market. Prestigious brand, insanely expensive, built for high performance.
I wasn't (nor have I) even stressed the car in any real way, yet somehow the gear shifter cable snapped. There are numerous situations where the outcome could be serious personal injury or death (eg. pulling into traffic, accelerating to pass a car, etc).
This seemed very fishy to me, so I did some research on the car. It turns out that the previous owner had some warranty work, where the transmission had to be reinstalled. I bought the car Certified Pre-owned, with a clean carfax. This repair order didn't show up on the report, and since it was certified, I assumed Porsche of Flemington (where I purchased the car) did their job.
I spoke to several Porsche service repair shops, during my investigation:
- Danbury Porsche, where the shifter cable was repaired, initially thought the cable didn't "look right". After completing the repair, Danbury Porsche couldn't confirm or deny that the cable was installed incorrectly. Danbury Porsche assured me that the Cayman was a very reliable car, and they rarely saw Cayman's come in for major repairs.
- Autohaus of Lancaster (I spoke to "Justin"), where the initial transmission work was done, told me that "I see the shifter cable fail quite often on Cayman's and 911's."
- Porsche of Flemington, where I purchased the car, told me it wasn't "their problem, go talk to Autohaus".
- I called 1-800-PORSCHE, explained the story I've laid out here, and they said, "The car's out of warranty, there's nothing we can do about it". I then asked, "is this a known / systemic issue? Can you tell me what the failure rate is on the part?". Their response, "Porsche doesn't divulge such statistics". I replied,"they will with a subpoena".
I'm absolutely livid. It's not about the repair money, but rather the principle of the situation. If the part wasn't installed correctly by Autohaus, I would actually be less angry as long as they manned up and fixed it, because mistakes happen. Per the message boards however, this looks to be a more pervasive issue. Perhaps not enough to meet Porsche's recall criteria, but I would argue that their recall criteria is flawed! If this happens to even 1% of their cars, make the simple (relatively cheap) fix, and protect the lives of their customers.
I'm especially livid with customer support. This part failing at 34,150 miles is ridiculous, regardless of whether it was mis-installed, or there's a fundamental issue with the part. These are expensive cars, designed for high-performance, and critical components like the shifter cable should be rock solid. The moment the customer service agent saw I was out of warranty (and in my case, < 6 weeks out of warranty!!), she could care less about the situation. I expected more from Porsche, in addition to expecting a first-class machine, I expected premium support.
My faith in the brand is shaken. I was looking to buy a Cayenne for my wife, in fact we were planning to make a purchase in the next couple of weeks. Porsche's inability to man up, take responsibility, and do the right thing means they've lost me as a customer. Porsche's loss of my business means nothing to their bottom line, and they'll certainly go on to make tons of profit.
My intent for sharing this with the community:
1. make people aware of the problem
2. further validate that this is a systemic issue
3. highlight Porshe's crappy customer service
4. ensure that current and potential Porsche customers are well-informed about what they are getting themselves into.
Photos from other posts
Selected quotes from other similar posts on this problem
Yeah maybe on a cheaper car, but on a Porsche?? these cars are bloody expensive, we pay for the durability.. this is simply unacceptable, I hope Porsche lose a lot of customers, they can't even make a car as reliable as a Nissan these days and charge twice the price
The Cayman S is a nice car, but if it is prone to break its shifter cable in 8500 miles then there is something seriously wrong with modern design.
It’s a disgrace that Porsche, a so-called premium brand, can skimp on something as critical as a gear shifter and it’s assembly. Also, to those who say that taking legal action is not the way to go – again why? The OP has obviously been deeply traumatised by his experience and has every right to voice his concerns!
Thank you for the advice. But with due respect, the law firm that is taking on my case, with specialists on such issues, sees it differently to you.
They think that this is a serious case of a car being unsafe and that the manufacturer can be held liable. I will file a claim and have provided all the relevant evidence which they will prepare the case.
I am not asking for the forum members to make a judgement, but simply letting them know that they may be sitting on a time bomb if their linkage is similar to mine.
As a performance car, most people who buy these cars will likely use its performance, and I can think of a thousand scenarious where the loss of drive could potentially end up in tears. If Toyota can call back all their cars due to erratic gas pedal response, I fail to see why Porsche can get away with a problem far worse than Toyota's.
I have lost all my confidence in this car and every time I change up or down, I am wondering if the damn thing will break again. If it can break at 8600 miles, it can break at any time.
It is not as if it will give advance warning before it breaks. Having no drive on a fast bend is massively dangerous. Loosing engine braking is not desirable at any time.
Why should I drive a car that is potentially a death trap? I paid good money for this car and I expect to get value for money and irrespective of how much fun it may be to drive, it is basically an unsafe car.
Does anyone have data to show how many accidents may have been caused by this failure that the driver did not survive to tell the story? My story would be untold if I had collided with the oncoming car at a combined speed of over 150mph. What is the justification for Porsche to insist on using this unreliable linkage? Profit is the only thing that comes to my mind.
I dare Porsche UK and Porsche USA both to disclose the number of cars they have had to replace the shifter cable. The 14 cases are only on this forum. There are many forums. Not everyone who may own a Porsche and experienced this problem are members of any forum.
The question is which other makes suffer shifter problems? None in my whole life experience of cars. I've had a 911SC in the past. Apart from a broken hafl-shaft no other problems to speak of. Why should it be acceptable in 2012 for Porsche to offer ashifter cable that is "NOT FIT FOR PURPOSE".
Is is simply not good enough and at the very least the car should come with a "HEALTH WARNING". If I had known that the Cayman S was prone to breaking the shifter cable for no apparent reason, I would not have bought it in the first place.
I feel cheated.