991.1 GT3 COG: Our Meeting with PCNA/PAG plus Porsche's Official Announcement
As many of you know, we had a meeting with representatives from Porsche to discuss our concerns surrounding the 991.1 GT3 finger follower wear issue. Instead of just posting the final outcome of our meeting, we wanted to share with the community as much information as possible. We wanted to try to take you guys along with us.
The following is a long post describing our day, from the morning of the meeting until its conclusion.
Note: The official statement from Porsche can be found at the bottom of this post under Official Announcement from Porsche. Everything else came from the COG, and was not approved or reviewed by Porsche.
On Thursday, August 3, 2017 Ed Jenkins (SmokinGTS), Sean Groer (sgroer), Carmen DeVito (CDinSing), Dave Lodigensky (Lodi) and Rob Carr (robmypro) represented the 991.1 GT3 Concerned Owners Group (COG) in a meeting with representatives from Porsche Cars North America (PCNA) and Porsche AG.
We arrived at Porsche Headquarters in Atlanta at about 9:30 am. If you haven’t had a chance to visit this facility, put it on your to-do list. It's impressive. At 10:00 am Andrew Pine (Program Director, Global Customer Culture) greeted us, and we all walked to the conference room. In that room we met two other members from PCNA, Simon Kuhnimhof, Vice President, Customer Relations; and Glenn Garde, Vice President, AfterSales. While we were preparing for our presentation Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser entered the room. In case you are unaware, Dr. Walliser heads GT Cars and Motorsport worldwide. Any doubts that Porsche might not be taking our concerns seriously quickly evaporated when he arrived.
Dr. Walliser didn’t come all the way from Germany empty-handed, either. He brought newly designed camshafts and finger followers. The two cams were mounted on a Plexiglas display board, old next to new, providing an early hint that Porsche had invested significant effort for our meeting. The general feeling of the meeting was collaborative and friendly. Even upbeat. We began with brief intros, followed by our presentation.
Our Presentation: Driving Passion & Exhilaration
The title of our presentation was Driving Passion & Exhilaration. This might seem like an odd title for a presentation outlining our concerns, but we wanted to make it very clear to everyone at Porsche that this issue hadn't taken anything away from our commitment to the brand.
During our presentation we talked about the formation of the COG, and we introduced several organizations that group members represent, including; PCA Pacific NW Region, PCA Space Coast Region, and GT Smokies. We watched a video of the Smokies, mainly because those videos are totally awesome. The guys from Porsche got a real kick out of that, and Dr. Walliser had a big smile on his face. We provided a brief history of the COG (i.e. why we ended up contacting them in the first place), and then we reviewed our concerns and questions. Our presentation lasted 15-20 minutes, and then the floor was turned over to Porsche.
First Presentation: Porsche's Proposed Solution
Porsche had their own presentation (actually two) to show us. Before they began, they thanked all of us for reaching out to them. They wanted us to know that they took our concerns very seriously, and they appreciated the way that we approached them.
In typical German fashion (they are efficient!) their first presentation consisted of exactly one slide, presented by Glenn Garde. It concisely summarized how Porsche is going to address the finger follower wear issue in four bullet points. They are:
- Engine warranty extended to 10-years/120,000 miles with respect to failures related to this specific issue (from in-service date)
- Warranty extension is fully transferrable – Covers all current and future 991.1 GT3 owners with no action required by the owner
- If an engine fails as a result of this issue the defective engine will be replaced with a new engine that has the revised parts (no more top end rebuilds)
- Includes all markets (this is global, not just for US owners)
Second Presentation: Understanding The Issue
Dr. Walliser ran this presentation. He explained the cause of the finger follower wear issue, and the steps Porsche has taken to resolve it. Without getting into a great amount of detail, which we are unqualified to do, the issue is caused by a metallurgy defect (inclusion) close to the surface of the finger follower. Most finger followers do not have these inclusions, or they are not close enough to the surface to cause increased finger follower wear. This explains why the vast majority of 991.1 GT3's do not, and most likely will never experience this problem.
Individual driving patterns, engine variations (temperature, oil quality, oil viscosity, parts tolerances, etc.) are secondary factors. The combination of one or more of these factors, along with inclusions, can cause excessive finger follower wear, indicated by engine misfires resulting in a check engine light (CEL).
Dr. Walliser explained that Porsche had to develop new engine tests to recreate these patterns. With new baseline testing in place, Porsche was able to reproduce and diagnose the issue, and develop new finger followers and cam shafts using revised manufacturing processes and specifications. Dr. Walliser presented test results and images that demonstrate the effectiveness of the new parts. After more than double the test hours of engines that failed, the new finger followers looked as though they were new in comparative photos. In fact, we initially thought they were new. We saw no visible wear.
What about the 991.1 GT3 RS and 911 R? While these engines share a similar architecture with the GT3, according to Dr. Walliser these models are not affected. He explained that there are many differences between the GT3 and R/RS engines. This seems to be consistent with our observations, as there are no known reports of issues with these models.
Ultimately...an RS is an RS.
And, based on Porsche’s response to the issue on the GT3 we feel strongly that they would step up, but this is strictly our opinion.
During Dr. Walliser's presentation, and the discussions that followed, it was very evident that Porsche had not only dedicated significant time and resources towards resolving this issue, but they wanted to make it right with their customers. They were not making excuses. It was refreshing to see a company as large as Porsche respond to customer concerns this way.
By the way, the look on Dr. Walliser's face was quite telling when he was discussing the damaged finger follower (it was shown on the overhead projector). The sight of a scored finger follower visibly bothered him. He took this issue personally.
Post-Meeting: Photos and the Tour
After a great meeting, Simon Kuhnimhof asked us to submit our travel expenses, as Porsche would be reimbursing us for the cost of the trip. That was a nice gesture. They also thanked us again for bringing this issue to their attention, and for reaching out to them in the manner we had done.
The entire day with Porsche representatives was a great experience. At one point I even got everyone in our meeting to sign my Road & Track 2015 Performance Car of the Year issue (and we all know which car won) to commemorate the occasion. It also sent a message to everyone from Porsche. While we were here to discuss our concerns, the car they built was brilliant. We didn't want them to think we'd forgotten that.
We took group photos out on a balcony overlooking the track, followed by an in-depth tour of the facility. We literally opened every door, and saw every inch of that place. Everyone from the meeting accompanied us on the tour, including Dr. Walliser. We all knew he was super busy, but he spent time with each of us, and he was really personable.
As an example of this, when we were shown some of the really special cars, he pointed out one of his favorites. It was a 918. He was looking for a photo on his phone, and I commented that he had a lot of photos. He replied with "I only keep the most important 50,000." He was funny, approachable, and genuine. Porsche is very fortunate to have him on their team.
Without question, the same thing can be said about all of the representatives from Porsche that we met. These are the type of people you would want to have a good German beer with.
We were standing next to a really nice blue 918, and Dr. Walliser showed us a photo of him driving what appeared to be a similar 918 at Valencia. He pointed to the 918 next to us (same color) and said "this is my favorite car here because I drove this exact car on the track. This is the photo."
Porsche had one more treat in store for us. Dave and Sean drove their cars to the meeting, so Dr. Walliser signed both their RS frunks. First, that was unexpected and very kind. Second, I really should have drove!
At one point Dr. Walliser said "parents shouldn't have favorite children, but if Porsche did have a favorite, it would be GT owners." Then he quickly added "but we don't have favorites!" We all laughed. We thought you guys would appreciate that.
We'd been together for about three hours, so we said our goodbyes, and then went to lunch at Restaurant 356. It's a nice dining option at the Experience Center. If you go you should try it. Of course, Porsche picked up the check.
Reflecting On An Amazing Day
This was a remarkable day, spent with some genuinely nice people. Porsche really impressed all of us. More importantly, the COG attendees are in unanimous agreement that Porsche took the right steps to address the finger follower wear issue. They exceeded our expectations.
One important point from all of this. It is very easy to become cynical, thinking that all big companies don’t care, or they are only concerned with profits. In our dealings with Porsche throughout this entire process, nothing could be further from the truth. They were really great to deal with.
Porsche sent Dr. Walliser from Germany because our concerns mattered to Porsche, and they mattered to Dr. Walliser. They want all of us to enjoy our cars, and they were truly concerned that so many of us were worried about this particular issue. They proposed a solution that puts an end to those worries, and we applaud them for that.
About COG's Announcement
At no point in this process did Porsche request that we sign a Nondisclosure Agreement (NDA). They did not ask us to withhold any information regarding topics that we were discussing, some highly confidential and sensitive. As a courtesy to Porsche, we provided them with an advance copy of this post. They treated us with the utmost respect, and we wanted to repay the favor.
We would like to thank Simon Kuhnimhof, Glenn Garde and Andrew Pine from PCNA for welcoming us so warmly. You were gracious hosts, and we really appreciated all of your efforts. You guys do "Southern Hospitality" justice.
We would also like to thank Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser for flying in from Germany just to meet with us, and for being so personable, and candid. It was a real pleasure and honor to meet you. Thank you (and everyone) for signing my magazine, and for signing Dave and Sean’s cars. And mostly, thank you for hearing our concerns, and for addressing them so completely.
We would also like to thank Oliver Blume, CEO of Porsche AG; and Klaus Zellmer, CEO of Porsche Cars North America. We reached out to you first, and you clearly made our concerns a priority. We sincerely appreciate the attention and resources you dedicated to this matter.
We would also like to extend a very special thank you to Mark (Macca) for his tireless dedication to this topic. Without Mark's efforts early on we wouldn't have achieved any of this.
And lastly, we would like to thank everyone who added their name to the COG, gave donations, or offered their homes during our stay in Atlanta.
Personally, I want to thank Sean Groer, Carmen DeVito, Dave Lodigensky and Ed Jenkins. You guys were literally the best group of guys any GT owner could hope to have representing them. Meeting all of you was a real pleasure, and your contributions to this cause cannot be overstated. Anyone who thinks that this was the “Rob Show” didn’t attend the meeting, the lengthy prep sessions, countless phone calls and so much more. You guys put a lot into this, and every 991.1 GT3 and GT3 RS owner owes you a debt of gratitude.
"Porsche will extend the warranty on the engine of all 991.1 generation GT3 vehicles in all markets with respect to failure modes related to this issue. The extension will provide coverage for 10 years from the original in-service date, or 120,000 total vehicle miles, whichever occurs first. (The base bumper-to-bumper warranty remains unchanged at 4 years or 50,000 miles for the US, as do all other warranty terms and conditions.)
The warranty extension is fully transferable to any future owner. All US owners will be informed in writing and the change will be applied and processed with no additional owner action required. If a vehicle shows the described failure patterns (e.g., misfire at high revs and check engine light) and the inspection in the workshop shows the failure patterns, Porsche will replace the defective engine with a new engine having the latest parts. Porsche confirms that the issue is isolated to the 991.1 GT3, and that the 991.1 GT3 RS and the 991 R are not affected."
I wonder if the specific warranty terms for the engine will be invalid if the car is serviced outside the OPC network as the years and mileage build.
Maybe not an issue for most but for others, I know some who much prefer their cars to be looked after by a Porsche Indy after the initial new car warranty period is over. _________________ "The smallest feline is a masterpiece"
- Leonardo da Vinci
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