Porsches are now known to be superiorly reliable and well-engineered cars, but this was not always the case as Porsche once struggled to make reliable cars. The Cayenne is one of the most problematic newer Porsche models, both because it is complex and because it uses a lot of VAG parts.
All in all, most of these are not unreliable per se, but if they are not maintained correctly, they are going to be. Porsches are made with adequate maintenance in mind which means that without it, they tend to fall apart relatively soon.
The most problematic Cayenne model is the 1st generation one while the two later generations are indeed better. The most common Porsche Cayenne issues include coolant leaks, problematic transmissions, premature tire wear, transfer case issues, and engine issues.
Most of these can be resolved without all that much hassle, but they do cost a lot of money to fix. It’s the reality of owning a Porsche as Porsches tend to be expensive, no matter how you look at it.
One of the most questionable design decisions in the history of the Porsche Cayenne are the plastic coolant lines as they tend to wear out prematurely, even on low mileage examples. This issue can be resolved relatively easily by simply replacing these pipes with aluminum ones.
However, Porsche is not willing to cover the costs which are more than $3,000. Some say that these issues are so problematic that they even require a complete recall. Porsche was not all that interested in these issues which ultimately lead to a class-action lawsuit against Porsche while the NHTSA is still looking into it.
Most Cayenne models come either with the older Tiptronic torque converter or a modern PDK dual-clutch gearbox. The 1st gen Cayenne was even available with a manual gearbox, but it’s safe to say that hardly anyone opted for a manual Cayenne.
The older automatic gearboxes are known to become jerky and noisy which later lead them to complete failure. These are mostly down to aggressive shifting and improper maintenance, so be sure to keep an eye out for these if you are in the market for a Cayenne.
Premature tire and brake wear
The Porsche Cayenne is a large, heavy, and powerful car with wide, beefy tires. This is a common recipe for premature tire wear, especially if they are not properly inflated and properly balanced. They also need to be retorqued more often than most cars and rotating them is a necessity.
All in all, don’t be too surprised if you go through tires faster than usual, especially if you go for the higher-end Turbo and GTS models. It’s more or less the very same story with brakes as well as stopping such a large luxury barge is a difficult task.
Transfer case issues
Some Porsche Cayenne models are known to experience issues with the transfer case while reoccurring transfer case issues are minimal. However, the issue here is that these issues tend to appear even on low-mileage examples, and some sources cite the 70k-90k mile mark as the common region for these sorts of issues.
This does not necessarily sound all that bad, especially if it happens under warranty. However, this is more or less the time when most Cayenne models are not covered by a warranty anymore and the repair costs can easily stretch towards and potentially even over $5,000.
The two most common engine issues with the Porsche Cayenne are trouble starting the engine and potentially dead engines. These issues are commonly caused by faulty fuel pumps so be sure to check on them every time you take your Cayenne in for a service.
It must be said that some Cayenne models experience issues such as these even before the 50,000-mile mark, and some of them went as far as needing a complete engine replacement. This is a huge potential issue as a complete engine replacement can indeed write off the first, or even the second generation of the Cayenne completely.
Is the Porsche Cayenne worth it?
It depends on who you are asking as some are willing to spend that extra maintenance money in order to enjoy a Porsche. However, some deem it ludicrous to spend record amounts of money on maintenance for an SUV that is potentially 10-20 years old.
Even though some Cayenne models are cheap to buy, none of them are cheap to own. Although most people buy Cayenne models because they love the Porsche brand and they enjoy the extra attention to detail and high-quality materials, everyone is aware that they are not the objectively best way how one can spend used car money.
Which Porsche Cayenne is the worst?
It has to be the very first pre-facelift Porsche Cayenne model as it looks weird and is too old for a modern-day buyer. Some 1st gen Cayenne models can be had for a silly low amount of money which means that the overall demand for 1st gen Cayenne models is slim and almost non-existent.
Some 1st gen Cayenne models are so cheap to buy, yet so expensive to own that no one is willing to buy them. Even those that do hardly ever maintain them properly which means that there are many of these 100-200k miles plus models with lackluster reliability and all sorts of unoriginal parts and questionable repairs.
Why is the Porsche Cayenne so expensive to maintain?
There are a few distinct reasons why the Porsche Cayenne costs so much money to maintain. Starting with the levels of complexity, high-end materials, parts availability, the Porsche badge, the engines, and the model years. Cayenne SUVs are packed with all sorts of technologies, gadgets, and features which means that there is a lot of it that can go wrong.
Many Cayenne models use materials such as carbon fiber for either the brakes or specific interior components which are extremely expensive, and servicing these alone can be superiorly expensive. Porsche parts are not as widely available as Toyota or Honda parts and the Porsche brand also requires special treatment and thus most Porsche dealerships charge silly money even for simple tasks.