If you were paying any attention to the news in oh, 2015 or so, you might have heard about the “Volkswagen Diesel Emissions Scandal,” more lovingly coined Dieselgate by everyone obsessed with adding -gate to words. The gist of it is that Volkswagen AG was caught using a software tune that could detect the EPA’s test drive cycle and adjust engine output – and thus, emissions output – accordingly. This affected about half a million Volkswagen, Audi, and Porsche vehicles, including my 2013 Porsche Cayenne Diesel.
At the time, all new Volkswagen Group diesels were placed on a stop-sale until a compliant fix was found and approved by the United States government. Many cars were bought back, with owners receiving large payouts. Some, including the 2013-2016 Porsche Cayenne Diesel, were able to be brought into compliance with a revised engine and transmission software tune. Owners received a flat “diminished value” compensation of $2,000 and a re-tuned Cayenne.
The kicker is that as part of this Dieselgate scandal, all 3.0-liter TDI-powered platform-mates of Porsche Cayenne, Audi Q7, and Volkswagen Touareg SUVs were covered by an “extended emissions warranty” following the repairs. And while that warranty covers every emissions-related component of the vehicle, it also covers the entire engine long block. And there’s another line in the warranty booklet that states “conflicts concerning the warranty are to be resolved in favor of the consumer.”
This Extended Emissions Warranty coverage lasts for ten years or 120,000 miles from the date of the Cayenne’s first sale, or four years or 48,000 miles from the date of repairs performed, whichever is longer.
Needless to say, when I decided to purchase a Cayenne Diesel for a daily driver and occasional tow vehicle, I really wanted one with the warranty still intact. My 2013 Cayenne’s “Dieselgate warranty” will expire at the end of this calendar year, and its mileage is low enough to not be a concern.
What was a concern was the dashboard chiming as I towed my empty trailer home from my racecar mechanic, stating “Oil Level at Minimum.” Odd. I had an oil change performed when I bought the Cayenne, and didn’t think I had driven it enough to where “burning some between changes” would make sense. We pulled over, I threw a quart of Sheetz’s finest in the crankcase, and made it home. I checked my records and realized the Cayenne’s oil change was just 3,800 miles prior, and burning so much oil to trip the sensor in that period of time seemed unlikely.
I let the Cayenne sit for a day, and poked my head underneath. There were a few small oil spots on the concrete, but my eyes shifted to the plastic “belly pan” covering the bottom of the engine. It was soaked along the driver’s side edge, leading me to wonder just how much oil was sitting in the recesses of the plastic pan.
After calling a few dealer service departments, I decided to bring the Cayenne to my local dealership, Porsche Arlington. It’d be about a week before they could look at everything, but the service advisor knew immediately what I was talking about and the conditions of the extended warranty. Done deal, see you on Friday.
As it turns out, my 72,000-mile turbodiesel V6 was leaking oil from a few places, all on the rear of the engine. These leaks were covered by Technical Service Bulletin 123/15, which meant they were documented, common, and a repair procedure had been identified. Even better, the work was definitely part of the “entire long block” part of the Dieselgate warranty.
The easiest way to fix these leaks? Drop the entire front subframe “cradle” and re-seal the engine on a hydraulic table. Friends expressed concern over a 25-year-tenured dealership mechanic doing this work; I ignored all of them and took Porsche up on their offer of a free re-sealing.
I picked the Cayenne Diesel up yesterday, after several weeks at the shop. My invoice is six pages long. Porsche left no nut, bolt, or gasket to chance and seemingly replaced everything in sight and some things out of sight. I got a new oil pump and water pump, for reasons unknown. Cost of parts alone, according to my service advisor, totaled over seven thousand dollars.
The rest of the cost was labor. Naturally, there was quite a bit involved. Porsche Arlington charges $199 per hour if a customer is paying, and I suspect warranty claims pay a lower rate and that more than 25 hours of labor were involved in replacing an entire first-gen Boxster of parts.
Total cost of this leak repair, as billed to Porsche, was $12,310, approximately as much as an entire used Boxster. Had the job not been covered and I elected to pay on my own? “It would have been almost double that,” my advisor claimed. If you’re keeping score at home, that’s roughly forty percent of my purchase price. Warranties are good, this particular warranty is exceptional in what it covers.
Honestly, I’m relieved now. I bought this Cayenne Diesel after a substantial amount of research into the drivetrain and warranty coverage. My hope was to experience the leak, have it be leaky enough (and not just “a seep” that wasn’t covered) and have Porsche cover the repairs. With the V6 TDI re-sealed, it’s good for, well, at least another 72,000 miles before oil tries to escape again. I desperately want to tune the Cayenne – who wouldn’t like another 90 lb-ft of torque? – but won’t dare risk coverage being denied before it expires in December.
Until then, my sounds-like-a-school-bus SUV will continue to lightly clatter away as it pours 400 lb-ft to all four wheels – certainly adequate for the time being. And hopefully it’ll remain leak-free as I rack up the odometer. Indications on owners’ forum Rennlist seem to confirm that once you’ve had “the re-seal,” the engine stays dry for a long, long while. Reports of 200,000 miles or higher are not uncommon.
Thanks to Kristen and everyone else at Porsche Arlington for knowing your stuff and being excellent communicators as my fancy Touareg was repaired. That’s not guaranteed and always so very appreciated.