2006 Porsche Cayman S engine failure

73K miles, oil changed less than 3000 miles ago, traveling at 65 mph, dry conditions, slight descent, 1 passenger. A huge plume of mixed coolant/oil spewed of the tailpipes. Check engine light came on and the car ground to a halt. Flatbedded to a Porsche dealership, whose inspection found “Cataclysmic engine failure. Scoring to #5 cylinder, valve hit piston, metal debris in oil filter. No repairs possible. Needs engine replacement.” So, that’s the result. But what was the cause? The dealership, Porsche of Princeton, declined to comment. I plugged the engine into my Durametric device and found 18 ignitions in Range 3, but this was over 300 hours before engine failure, so I’m ruling driver error out.
Over one year beyond CPO warranty. Porsche NA refuses to acknowledge the problems with these MY97 engines.
Anyone on this board had the same problem? If so, did you learn the cause of the failure? Thanks, Dan

You need to post this on a Porsche board, there are issues with that era Cayman and Boxster engines, lots of info out there, I think.

The possible causes are probably numerous, but the ones that come to mind are…

a broken timing chain…
a blown head gasket…
but, there may well be other explanations

If a broken timing chain was the cause, that could have resulted from poor attention to oil change intervals by the previous owner. A blown head gasket could point to poor design…

Porsche may well deny any problems with this engine design, but, even if they did admit to a problematic design, it is not realistic to expect the mfr to come to your aid with repair costs after 7 years. That is just beyond the realm of reasonable expectations.

In any event, I think that this is just one example of the reality that “CPO” may provide very little reassurance of the longevity of a used car. I empathize with you over the financial grief that this incident has caused for you!

I just googled ‘Porsche Cayman Boxster engine failure’, LOTS of info. Turns out Porsche settled a class action lawsuit over it, more here:

But it looks like it’s for 2005 and older…

Lots of info here:

Thank you all for the useful advice and suggestions. Yes, I have contacted Porsche Cars North America and know the cause is hopeless. Regardless, if someone reads this posting and does not buy one of these blighted cars I will be happy. Thanks, Dan

Never say never. This engine replacement costs enough that you should look closely at the links above, and continue the your quest on Porsche boards. You might find a club or two near Princeton. You are close to both Philly and NYC. And stay in touch with Porsche America. Take it up the line at every denial and continue your professional attitude. You never know what might happen. Be sure to remind them how great it felt when you first bought the Cayman S and how it felt when the engine blew. Your emotions will go a long way. Porsche knows how emotions play into owning their cars. After all, if you didn’t have an emotional attachment to motoring, you probably would have bought a Yaris.

Remove the motor and fix what’s broke. Duh.

Frustrating that it happened I understand, but if you want to remain in the Porsche ranks, simply replacing the engine may still be the most economical way forward. A lot less expensive than a new Porsche I expect. 7000 miles per year use may have contributed. That’s pretty low usage. Esp if a lot of it was short trips. A car’s mechanical guts usually last longer if driven frequently provided routine maintenance is kept up to date. Mechanical things break. That’s the nature of mechanical things. And especially true of higher performance engines. They will eventually break for one reason or another. My neighbor has a fancy 911 of some sort, and most every weekend he’s underneath that thing in his driveway fixing something or another. Think of it as not the VAT, but the PAT – Porsche Added Tax!

I wouldn’t read a lot into class action lawsuits because the vast majority of them are baseless. The only reason a car manufacturer settles them is because they know the cost may be less than fighting it out in court and having to deal with a jury who will see it the plaintiff’s way no matter what.

Offhand, it sounds like a case of oil starvation but the oil change regimen and exactly how much oil was in the engine when it went south has not been stated.

True, but this lawsuit succeeded, and is backed up by a large number of problem Porsches of that era. Sometimes, ‘where there’s smoke, there’s fire’…

Settled, not necessarily succeeded. Note the settlement was for Intermediate Shaft failures and reimbursement is based on time in service, miles driven, etc.
Cylinder scoring (and piston seizure, permanent or temporary) is often caused by lack of oil or severe overheating.

If the engine was full of oil when torn down and has been changed regularly then maybe a continued push would get some help on this problem.

It’s stated that the oil was changed less than 3k miles ago. That leads to several questions regarding how much oil was in the engine when it went south and was the oil level ever inspected between the time of the oil change and the engine failure.
The OP should have been advised if lack of oil is the cause.

All M96/M97 Porsche engines have the Intermediate Shaft (IMS) bearings which are prone to failure. These engines can be found in 1996-2008 Boxsters, 1999-2008 Carreras, and 2006-2008 Caymans. The IMS bearing does not have an oil feed. Inspection of the material in the oil filter will easily determine the reason for failure (IMS bearing material). The bearing has been redesigned 4 times and upgraded to ceramic but until direct flow of oil is incorporated by Porsche or racing aftermarket installation you are sitting on a time bomb with the engine replacement. The latest engine design 2009 and later do not have the IMS.

Thanks, @sundaygolfer - I’ve read a number of owners’ reports on their engine failures, now I understand why, and which engines. Something like Subaru’s 2.5 l engine’s constant head gasket problems, now solved (we think) by the latest engine redesign.

If these engines are problematic, then there will be VERY few of them available on the used market…The DEMAND for used engines will be abnormally high…

So how much for a factory long-block replacement engine? WAY more then the 8 year old Cayman is worth, right?

Not to sound stupid but what exactly is the intermediate shaft? Didn’t this thing blow a rod? And how would an intermediate shaft affect the rod. Just curious is all. Not up of these cars.

While I am no Porsche expert, I suspect the intermediate shaft might be the balance shaft

The intermediate shaft is part of the cam drive mechanism. More here

Interesting. Thanks. Sounds like the engineers have a little work to do.

The 8 year old Cayman is worth a lot of money even without an engine. They aren’t built to rust and cost over $50,000 for a 2013 model. This is a bargain compared to the 911 which can cost $172,000 for the top one.

The problem cannot be solved by the owner but by a body shop in need of a body. For the owner, it’s a new engine provided by the owner of course. Oh heck, a Scion FR-S can replace the whole car for $24,500. One passed me today and it must have been doing 70!