Advice for buyers
What should I look for in a used Porsche Cayman coupe?
Like most thoroughbreds, a Porsche Cayman needs looking after to stay at its best.
A full service history is essential and some owners save money by putting off expensive repairs, so consider an inspection if buying privately. Caymans can take higher mileage well if they are looked after. Evidence of regular use is hugely important as the owner will most likely keep on top of any issues that pop up if they are using it every day. Don’t be afraid of a car just because it has travelled further in its life; buy based on the condition and history.
Using a Cayman for track days drastically shortens the life of tyres, brakes and the clutch, and takes its toll on the engine, drivetrain and gearbox. Cars that have been through the gravel traps or even into a crash barrier will have the scars to prove it. The paint and panel fit when new was excellent, so if the car has been repaired and the body shop has done a poor job of it, you should be able to spot it a mile off. Ask the owner about it if you are in any doubt and engage an expert if necessary. Inspect any paperwork regarding the repair to assess the extent of the damage. A Cayman whose body hasn’t been repaired correctly will never handle properly.
If something does fail, the bills could be sizeable. An extended warranty will help ward off sleepless nights.
What are the most common problems with a used Porsche Cayman coupe?
For 3.4-litre Caymans that have seen a track day or two, pay particular attention to the running of the engine, because they can suffer oil starvation due to the high G-forces the car is capable of. This is in due to the oil in the sump of the engine sloshing over under hard cornering, away from the oil pick-up pump, thus starving one bank of pistons their oil. If you are in any doubt, have your prospective purchase inspected.
Coil springs can snap just as they can on any car, but it’s a dead giveaway on a Cayman as the ride height will be uneven. Another sign will be knocking noises coming from the suspension over bumps.
Rear main oil seals can begin to let oil leak out. As ever, an inspection will advise you on what the best course of action is, because this is an expensive job due to the necessity of removing the gearbox for access to the seal. When the time does come to replace the seal, you might as well replace the clutch at the same time, as there is little point in removing the transmission twice and incurring two sets of labour costs when you can combine the two jobs.
We are mentioning this as you can read all sorts of horror stories about it all over the internet. The same can be said for an engine component called the intermediate shaft bearing (IMS). There are plenty of tales about catastrophic engine failure when the IMS bearing goes but, just to reassure you, this was only fitted to very early Caymans; Porsche fitted an upgraded part from 2006 onwards, which means the majority of the Caymans on sale shouldn’t have this problem. But don’t condemn the early cars straight away, because you can have an alternative retrofit part-fitted to prevent potential engine failure. The previous owner might have had this work completed already – so that's one more thing to check.
Is a used Porsche Cayman coupe reliable?
For the most part, the Porsche Cayman is rather reliable.
Of the small number of problems that are reported, most appear to be electrics or engine-based. However, some owners experience brake problems, with discs becoming warped if they're not used hard enough.
As this is a sports car, the previous owner might have had some performance upgrades fitted. Ask them about it, as not all parts are built to the same standards as the original equipment items and may compromise the long-term reliability of the car. If there is a warranty, check what is covered. Porsche won’t cover non-standard items, which is understandable, as it didn’t make or fit them in the first place. And Porsche may not pay out for failures of its own bits if it feels that the performance additions attached to them have caused the problem.