It is always difficult to launch a new version of an iconic car, especially when that new version has teething problems. Porsche is in that tricky spot with the newest version of its 911 sports car. The German car maker is recalling 1,232 2012 911 Carrera S coupes due to a risk of fire.
The 911s’ fuel lines may become disconnected, which could potentially allow fuel to spill onto hot engine parts or electrical components. “Interference between a coolant line and a fuel line may cause the fuel line to become disconnected at the quick connector,” said National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in its summary of the problem. “If the fuel line becomes disconnected, a fuel leak may occur. A fuel leak could lead to the engine misfiring or stalling, increasing the risk of a crash. A fuel leak in the presence of an ignition source could increase the risk of a fire.”
Porsche said no fires have occurred, and that the first incident of fuel leakage happened in December 2011, a few months before the 2012 911 went on sale in the United States. The car went on sale here February 4, and the first fuel leakage complaint occurred here on February 10. “Porsche is not aware of any events involving accidents, personal injury or property damage,” the company said in documentation filed with the federal government.
The affected cars were built between October 26, 2011 and January 24, 2012.
The recall will begin in April. Porsche dealers will replace the fuel line with a new one, and install a spacer ring to keep the fuel line quick connector and coolant pipe separated. Porsche will contact the owners of affected cars via first class mail. Owners can also call Porsche at 1-800-767-7243.
Porsche is not exactly an upstart; it was incorporated just after World War II and has been making the 911 in various guises since 1963. While Porsche is often criticized for making changes to the 911 that are more evolutionary than revolutionary, the 2012 991 model was pretty close to a clean-sheet redesign.
The makers of newfangled electric vehicles like the Chevy Volt and Fisker Karma have had their share of troubles with safety and reliability, respectively, but Porsche’s problem shows just how complicated a car is. Even on a conventional gasoline-powered vehicle, a small detail like the placement of lines and hoses can have major ramifications.