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Is A Porsche Reliable? Here's What A Mechanic Has To Say...

Posted by Justin Duthie on

Meet the Mechanic

"My experience and work afford me to see beyond the gimmicks and marketing of big car brands because I get to see what’s under the hood. This is where you truly see if prestige and brand speak the truth of the machine."

My name is Justin Duthie and I am the owner of the car t-shirt brand Carvore Club and European import repair shop Strictly Saab in Melbourne, Florida. Over the past 14+ years, I have seen my fair share of car failures, but alongside this, I have also had the opportunity to work with some of the greatest car brands and their heartwarming owners. Strictly Saab started out as a Saab repair shop, but as you may know, in 2011 Saab as a company ceased. New Saabs ceased to exist, and there was no future path for the brand and even potentially for my business. Sensing the end before it arrived, I had already started to pivot. My business needed to find a new focal point. I had already been working on other brands like Porsche since 2003.  So, I embarked on a new journey of working full time not just on Saabs but also on Porsches and other brands like Mercedes, BMW, and Audi.  These are the vehicles I regularly work on now for the last decade. My experience and work afford me to see beyond the gimmicks and marketing of big car brands because I get to see what’s under the hood. This is where you truly see if prestige and brand speak the truth of the machine. 

Is Porsche A Reliable Car?

"...your Porsche's reliability (or any car for that matter) is the sum of you as the owner and the mechanic you choose."

If you came here for a single worded -yes or no- answer, then based on my professional opinion the answer to the question "Is a Porsche Reliable?" is a yes. Now, obviously, certain models have differences, but ultimately as a whole, yes they are reliable cars.

In 2019 JD Powers, ranked Porsche cars a 9 out of 10 in the mechanical category. Now you do have to keep in my that industry-standard, JD Powers, rates vehicles on problems per million (of units sold), but this is a number related to warranty claims made on each vehicle at a dealership level. The number doesn't capture information about a vehicle once it is out of the warranty period. 

As such, my definition of reliability is based on a much simpler criterion. It accounts and works for all vehicles - new, old, warranty, or no warranty. In my experience, a reliable car is one that gives you consistent operation without any faults, and one that starts up every time. Basically, if you are left stranded on the side of the road (frequently) or your car won't start up when you are leaving to go somewhere, your car is unreliable. As I said, my criteria are simple and rudimentary, but you would be surprised how many other cars don't start up when the owner turns the key and how many calls I receive from the roadside. The truth of the matter is, that all cars will have failures. Parts will go bad, and issues will arise, but you want a car that is consistent and safe. With my Porsche customers and their cars, I have yet to have any failure issues that originate from the way the car is engineered. Rather, the failure is usually the result of a lapse in maintenance, but again even this rarely happens with a Porsche owner (more on this later).

I would also like to point out that mechanical reliability is at the core of Porsche. Porsches are built for the track and they have to be built to endure. The Porsche Motorsport Division races very similar vehicles to the ones that are available to the general public for street use. In other words, that built-to-endure pedigree transfers over to their consumer vehicles, and this alone says a lot about what you can expect from a Porsche.

Now, going back to my earlier point that suggests that a Porsche car's owner has a lot to do with the vehicle's reliability, it is important to know that whether you are an existing owner or a prospective owner the outcome of your cars safety, health and lifespan ultimately depends on you. To further build on this, your Porsche's reliability (or any car for that matter) is the sum of you as the owner and the mechanic you choose. You can have access to the best mechanic in town to work on your vehicle, but if you as the owner aren't proactive with the car then your car will not be reliable. The same goes the other way. You can be the most reliable owner, but without the guidance and care from a good and knowledgeable Porsche mechanic, your car will also become unreliable.

3 Things To Consider When Evaluating If The Porsche You Are Looking To Purchase Will Be Reliable For You

I remember seeing my first Porsche when I was about 13 years old. It was my neighbors brand new 1995 911 turbo. He was turning into his driveway at the end of the day, and I remember just falling in love. The deep red paint was so shiny and energizing, and the exhaust made the most amazing sound. Fast forward a couple of decades, I am glad that my dream came true. Not only have I had the opportunity to work on Porsches since 2003, but I own a 2001 Porsche 911 turbo, a 2001 Porsche 911 track car, and my shiny red 1988 911 Carrera. Through the years, both as an owner and as a mechanic, I have learned so much about them, and below I will share a few points to keep in mind as you evaluate your ownership prospects or your current ownership.


1. Older Generation vs Newer Generation Each Have Their Own Repair Challenges

Whether you are considering purchasing a classic Porsche or a new generation one, it's important to understand that you may run into some challenges, and your car will only be as reliable as the work you put into remedying any issues that may occur.  Understanding what it takes to diagnose to fix your car can also give you a little bit of insight into how much time and possibly money this may involve.  The older generation will take a longer time to diagnose, and often it's even challenging for the mechanic. In my experience, diagnostics is a labor of love, and a lot of times it can take hours if not days to make sure that you haven't missed something. In the classics, it's particularly more challenging because you don't have the diagnostic aid of a computer or scanner. On the flip side, the newer generations (1999+) work well with a scanner and computer, but they are also more complicated electronically. Electronics are great and convenient, but they also tend to break easily. When electronic components break they are also very costly to repair.


2. Do Your Due Diligence When You Have Found The Right Porsche... Especially If It's Pre-Owned.

This point is particularly important for anyone who is considering buying a pre-owned Porsche. Each person will have their own experience much like with any product purchased no matter if it's a boat, a car, a dirt bike, or even a TV. I always recommend that a prospective Porsche buyer call a shop that is familiar with Porsches and have said shop do a PPI (pre-purchase inspection) prior to purchase. This allows you to become aware of any potential issues the vehicle may have.  After you make your purchase, make sure you are having your vehicle serviced at a repair shop that is well versed in Porsche repair. Repairing known issues prior to their failure will ensure a positive ownership experience. 


3. You Will Need To Be Proactive As A Porsche Owner

Lastly, as I have stated before, Porsches are incredibly reliable due to their great engineering.  However, a great foundation will not remain that if one doesn't properly take care of it. In my experience, a very attentive owner who is willing to have repairs performed on their vehicle will have the most reliable Porsche. In fact, my best advice is to mitigate any significant repairs by attending to the smaller ones earlier on.  


"Ask yourself this: do you have the love and commitment it takes?"

Without a doubt, Porsches are well-engineered and built and thus incredibly reliable. However, their ability to endure countless miles, thrilling turns, and mountainside rides really depend on the owner's devotion to the car. Porsche's nature is reliable, but as owners, we must continue to nurture our Porsche for it to remain that way.