Porsche fixes fire-prone 911 GT3s with free engine replacements

Justin Hyde
March 18, 2014

Let's keep things in perspective: The troubles of 785 wealthy buyers of brand-new 2014 Porsche 911 GT3s, with a starting sticker price of $120,000, don't compare to the millions of people affected by other vehicle defects in the news. But those 785 owners who've had their cars parked for nearly a month after Porsche discovered a defect that could lead to a fire can rest easier today, as Porsche finally announced it had a fix.

And much like the 911 GT3 itself, the repair is rare and expensive, at least for Porsche: Replacing the entire engine.

The German automaker says the flaw lies with a loose fastener on the connecting rod inside the 485-hp, 3.8-liter flat six engine. As with many recalls, one small problem triggers a domino effect; the fastener bounces around, causes an oil leak and that oil starts a fire — at least in the two cases Porsche is aware of, neither of which resulted in injuries.

In more than 10 years of writing about recalls, I can't recall a case where an automaker chose to solve a defect by replacing an entire engine; there have been problems so severe that automakers offered to buy used cars back because the repairs would cost more than the vehicle was worth. Porsche hasn't put a pricetag on the fix, but it will likely end up as a small item against its more than $2.5 billion in annual profits — and, at least in some executive suites, money well spent demonstrating to Porsche's best customers that loyalty is a two-way street.