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Intermittent Valve Lifter Malfunction

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My 06 Cayman S with nearly 20K miles recently experienced a valve lifter problem. It started this past weekend when the engine seemed to misfire, then the CEL started flashing for a few seconds and went away. After a few hundred yards, the same thing happened again. When I pulled to a stop, the engine was idling roughly, and there was a very loud "ticka, ticka, ticka, . . ." sound present (however, there was no CEL).

I got the car to my local dealer, and the Porsche tech initially diagnosed it as a valve lifter problem when he heard it on arrival. However, they didn't get around to putting it on the PIWIS until today, and when he checked it today, the problem is now gone (and the PIWIS didn't show any stored faults).

Since my car was just under 20k miles, the service department initially tried to blame it on my oil being dirty - until I informed them that I had changed the oil and filter (to specs) 3000 miles ago. I decided to have them go ahead and change the oil again, so they couldn't blame it on the oil if it recurred; they did strain my oil when they drained it, and didn't find any metal or particles.

They are having one of their service techs test drive it tonight and tomorrow to see if the problem recurs, and if not, then they will return the car to me. Apparently the PCNA tech advisor told them not to tear down the engine if the problem seems to have gone away (their reasoning is that if it were a mechanical defect, it would still be present).

Anybody familiar with similar issue previously in other models, or opinions on how the service department is handling this?

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Not heard this issue before.

Don't forget, a flashing CEL is very severe. And you should pull over (to a safe location) immediately, turn off the engine, and call Porsche Roadside Assistance.

Keep us updated.

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Not heard this issue before.

Don't forget, a flashing CEL is very severe. And you should pull over (to a safe location) immediately, turn off the engine, and call Porsche Roadside Assistance.

Keep us updated.

Hmm... a flashing CEL and no stored faults?

Methinks he erased them.

I'm aware that a flashing CEL is serious, but the odd thing was that it only flashed for a few seconds and then stopped - and when I did pull over (almost immediately) there was no CEL (flashing or otherwise).

I did use my Durametric program to check for any fault codes before I had it towed to the dealer - to my surprise there weren't any - and I certainly wouldn't have erased them myself under the circumstances. Or, are you implying that the Service Tech might have erased them?

Edited by KS-CS
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I don't know if he erased them - might have even been accidental.

From what I know... A flashing CEL means that conditions have occurred to cause the CEL to turn on (and flash) -- i.e. a fault (or faults) have occurred. I can't think of any faults that clear immediately once a CEL has been turned on - usually it is a number of drive cycles. Like when you don't tighten your gas cap - you get a CEL and then it clears in the next day or two of driving.

What you describe kind of sounds like it might be a VarioCam Plus malfunction or a stuck lifter.

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  • 9 months later...

Adding cross post for the record:

My 2007 Cayman S (M97.20 engine) developed the similar/same "tick" that was intially random and finally became constant. Over the next week or so the car developed several other noises that sounded like the exhaust/heat shield rattling. After some investigation the transmission was removed and the DM flywheel was found to have failied (the car is raced). Our hope, therefore, was that this failure was the root of all evil. Unfortunately it was not, and when the car was back on the ground all of the noises were still present.

Other symptoms included occasional rough idle and hesitation.

Further investigation focused on the lifters and other valve train components, as the ticking noise certainly sounded like a lifter, and the problem was identifed as a failed hydraulic actuator in the variocam system (996 105 301 XX). The part was repaired/replaced and all nosies are now gone. It appears that the tick was a sticking actuator and the coincident noises were the chains, etc. flailing around as a result of improper postioning/tension (speculation). These noises did not develop until the actuator failed completely.

I will not share the shops secrets for isolating the problem, but if you contact Dwain Dement at Vision Motorsports in Laguna Hills, CA (949.770.2888) I am sure he can help you resolve your issue.


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