The first generation of the Porsche Panamera (970 Chassis G1; 2010–2016) has been around for over a decade now. With age, flaws become more apparent. This article will cover some of the most common issues and some downright missteps in the design of Porsches’ first shot in the four-door sports saloon market.
Porsche internally designates these chassis as the 970. Following Porsche motorsport tradition like the 911 Carrera, the Panamera draws its name from the Carrera Panamerica race from the early 1950s.
Contrary to popular belief in the Porsche community, the engineers in Stuttgart had been flirting with the idea of a continent crushing 4-door V8 Porsche saloon since 1987. When they built a 928 station wagon as a gift for legendary German engineer Ferdinand Porsche, this short love affair with big luxury Porsches would not be fully realized until 2009 with the release of the 970 Panamera.
Let's take a look at the most common Porsche Panamera powertrain and chassis problems.
Porsche used several power units for the 970 Panamera in its seven-year life cycle.
The most common engines you will encounter are the naturally aspirated V8 and V6. Turbos are easily distinguishable from its less powerful siblings as it is plastered with Turbo badges and other cosmetic differences. The naturally aspirated variants will be the main issues covered here.
1. Water pump
The physical water pump on these engines is very reliable as they're just a wheel of metal fins on a shaft attached to a pulley.
The whole pump is made of aluminum, but behind the water pump is an extremely thin rubber gasket known for failing. The good news is that it can be easily replaced.
2. Coolant distribution pipe
The majority of coolant-related parts are located under the intake manifold; the coolant distribution pipe is the most notorious for failure. It is a plastic pipe that runs from the rear of the thermostat housing to the coolant distribution housing (confusing, I know, blame Porsche) at the rear of the engine.
It cracks due to heat cycling and is easily diagnosed by coolant dripping between the engine and transmission. Porsche has released an aluminum updated part to remedy the issue.
3. Coolant Y pipe
Between the intake manifold and the coolant distribution pipe is a very thin Y-shaped plastic tube that runs from the front to a rubber hose at the back of the engine.
This tube is essentially made of paper mache and will crumble if you look at it too long and is a widespread problem.
4. Camgear bolts
The V8 and V6 models of the Panamera have four-cam variable valve timing as they're the same engine with two cylinders removed for the V6. All four camshafts have four bolts holding the timing gears in place. These bolts have an issue where they shear off and fall into the timing chain assembly.
This causes the engine to jump time and detonate. Porsche did a recall to remedy this, so ensure to check service records to be sure yours is completed.
5. Oil level sensor
THE PANAMERA DOES NOT HAVE A DIPSTICK!
It purely relies on the oil level sensor for measuring. All cars will tell you if your oil level is low, your Panamera will tell you if it's too full. This is very sensitive, from 6.75L for hybrids up to 9L of oil for S models and turbos.
If you put too much or little oil during a service, the car will show a fault in the instrument cluster. The sensor can fail due to corrosion or impact, but if the level has been adjusted recently, that is the culprit.
6. Transmission mount
The mount at the rear of the transmission has three rubber components that are known to fail. This issue causes vibrations and clicking noise when driving or in parking lot maneuvers.
Two of the rubber pieces on the mount are made into aluminum, and failure forces you to replace the entire mount. The third is a small serviceable bushing that typically costs around $50, plus labor.
7. Transmission failure
The PDK transmission is possibly the strongest and most reliable twin-clutch transmission installed in any production car. That being said, it is also the dirty little secret of the Porsche community. They have a significant failure rate in the early 970 Panameras.
Technicians have debated why it occurs because all other models of equipment with PDK, such as the 911 and 718 sports car, are incredibly reliable. Even under brutal track conditions, they rarely break.
The same can not be said of early Panamera models. Because Panemeras are typically driven leisurely, it forces the dual-clutch system to engage slowly, wearing the clutches out constantly. This is a huge problem as the clutch pack is not serviceable, causing the entire transmission to be replaced.
The Porsche 970 has a great chassis despite being quite obese compared to all other Porsche models, besides the Cayenne. Tipping the scale at over 4,100lbs, Porsche had to add tons of electronic wizardry to keep the behemoth planted in the corners, such as adaptive air suspension, electric stability, and traction control. These systems normally work beautifully, but no engineering is perfect. Here are some of the issues.
8. Air struts
It is common knowledge that if a car has air suspension, it will have problems. In my experience, Porsche air suspension has a lower failure rate compared to the issues with Mercedes and BMW, but not by much.
Valves in the top of the strut can seize closed, causing the airbag not to fill or seize open, over pressurizing and popping the bag. Leaks are also an issue as the bags are made of rubber and fabric.
9. Air compressor
The air compressor for the suspension is located under the rear bumper and can wear out over time, becoming loud and underpowered. Do not drive the vehicle if the suspension does not raise to proper ride height.
Serious damage can occur from turning or bottoming out. You will tear the front bumper off or worse if you try to drive it. Get the car towed on a flatbed truck to a shop that has reputable Porsche auto mechanics.
10. Rear spoiler
The 970 has a hydrologic rear spoiler. It can be opened with a button or deploys automatically at 70mph to help with high-speed stability. The actuators that operate the spoiler tend to wear out, forcing the wing to stay up all the time. More often than not, the entire assembly has to be replaced by Porsche.
With its love it or hate when it comes to the styling of Porsche Panamera, I, like many other people in the Porsche community, was skeptical about the Panamera on release.
Over the years of working on the various Panamera models, it has grown on me. It's a fast, comfortable, and all-around nice place to sit that retains its value. Some of the issues here are serious and should not be ignored, but overall the Panamera is reliable.
If you're considering buying a 5 series or E class of this vintage, I encourage you to give the Panamera a chance. Even with its flaws, history repeats itself, and Porsche is still just one step ahead of the competition.