Nearly 100,000 Porsche Cayenne and Panamera vehicles are being recalled because they may have defective shifters, which could fail to engage the parking brake, resulting in a roll-away risk and crash hazard.
The Porsche recall was announced by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on June 21, following several consumer complaints indicating the vehicles parking brake did not engage, despite moving the shifter into the Park position.
To date, no injuries have been linked to the recall, but similar rollaway problems with other vehicles have been linked to a number of serious injuries and deaths in recent years, after vehicles begin to move while passengers are getting out, or strike nearby vehicles or pedestrians.
Porsche first learned about the potential problem in December 2018, after several field incidents related to rollaway accidents were reported to the Product Safety Process committee for investigation. The manufacturer opened an in-depth investigation in January 2019, and collected parts from impacted vehicles to identify the root cause of the issue.
Porsche determined the cause of the parking brake failure was a plastic bushing connecting the gear selector lever to the gearbox, which could prematurely wear down and detach. Investigators determined the plastic bushing was not made durable enough, and could be subject to degrade over time and cause a detachment risk.
In the event of the bushing detachment, drivers will be able to move the shift lever into the Park position and remove the key, although the vehicle is still in Drive, Reverse, or Neutral. If the emergency parking brake is not applied to stabilize the vehicle, rollaway and crash injuries may occur.
The recall includes approximately 99,665 model year 2010 through 2016 Panamera cars built from July 6, 2009 through September 6, 2016 and 2003 through 2010 Cayenne SUV’s built from November 15, 2002 through February 2, 2010.
Customers are being asked to engage the parking brake until their vehicle is repaired. Porsche Cars North America, Inc. announced they will begin notifying customers of the defect and will provide instructions on how to schedule a repair at their local dealer, where the shifter cable bushing will be replaced, free of charge.
Customers with additional questions or concerns are being asked to contact Porsche customers service at 1-800-767-7243 and reference the recall number AKB1.
Rollaway recalls have been issued by a number of different automobile manufacturers in recent years, impacting millions of vehicles. Some experts believe this increase in rollaway risks may be attributed to shifter gear design changes introduced by many manufacturers over the last several years.
Earlier this month, Toyota issued a press release announcing most 2020 models will be equipped with a software upgrade that includes an automatic-park feature to mitigate rollaway incidents and an automatic engine shut-off program to prevent accidental Carbon Monoxide (CO) poisonings.
The new features are intended to be a safeguard for drivers using keyless proximity fobs and push-button start engines that have been found to either forget to engage the parking brakes or turn the vehicle off when exiting since there is no physical key that many have grown so accustom to using.
The automatic park feature is being added to mitigate rollaway events for vehicles with electronic shifters or parking brakes. Often in these rollaway events, drivers unfamiliar with a new style of shifter may fail to engage the parking brake, resulting in crashes and injuries to those still in the vehicle or to passersby.