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So, your prized automotive possession is in need of some garage time, be it a service, maintenance or to rectify a problem. But how on earth do you go about entrusting in the right enterprise for your Porsche?
The good news is there isn’t a definitive answer to suit everyone. What we mean by that is, the correct answer will be unique to you, according to a variety of factors, which we’ll examine in a bit more detail.
In the main, there are three types of workshops available for your Porsche: an Official Porsche Centre (OPC), an independent specialist, or a general mechanics outfit – and all have their pros and cons…
Which Porsche workshop experience?
The Official Porsche Centre versus independent specialist debate is one that has raged for years, and will likely continue to do so for many more. This is because there are some excellent independent specialists out there who offer a very thorough, polished service, which rivals – dare we say, sometimes even betters – that offered by an OPC. With little to choose between the two (taking into account some specialists also know how to charge in line with an OPC) your decision often won’t be cost-led, it’ll be more about the experience. Would you prefer to take business calls from a comfy seat in a latte lounge, or does the idea of being able to poke around a 2.7RS on the next ramp sound more appealing?
Why choose an Official Porsche Centre?
It’s worth pointing out the big advantage to using an OPC can be evidenced not on the car itself, but in the paperwork accompanying it. When it comes to selling (and that time will come eventually, as we’re all merely the current custodians of these fine automotive assets), a service book with main dealer stamps all over it adds provenance and is a far more enticing proposition for a buyer. It is therefore perceived that a main-dealer history can protect the investment potential of a car or, at the very least, positively impact its value when compared to an example without.
This goes for both modern and classic Porsches, though an OPC brings further advantages specifically relating to modern machinery. That’s because modern Porsches (like all contemporary cars) are now essentially complex computers with wheels. Specialist software is required to access the digital sanctum of a new 992 or 718, and staff will need to have been specially trained to use that software to talk to the car and identify and fix any issues. When it comes to fully electric cars such as the Taycan, only certain members of staff on site are allowed to even touch the car, such is the level of training required to work on them.
As you can imagine, the development of cutting-edge software, specialist tooling and training of staff requires considerable investment from Porsche, and the offset of all that can be an eye-watering labour rate for the customer – but at least that coffee in said latte lounge is free.
What does an independent Porsche specialist offer you and your car?
As we’ve already mentioned, there are some brilliant independent specialist enterprises out there that could give an Official Porsche Centre a run for its money. Many of these specialists have been around for years now – decades, even – and are run by real enthusiasts rather than the “suits and spreadsheets” corporate type.
Quite often, you’ll find that the technicians working at independent specialists have been trained with a main-dealer, so their expertise and level of understanding of the products is extremely high. As a result, they will be savvy to common faults on specific models and how to remedy them, while they can also rely on a bigger pool of both genuine Porsche and aftermarket parts rather than being constrained to Porsche parts only, which is ideal if you’re tuning your Porsche or perhaps looking to modernise a classic with better suspension, for example.
Independent specialists don’t tend to carry the significant overheads of a main dealer, and so their labour rate is usually a little friendlier on your wallet, too.
Each independent workshop is different
However, the problem with independent specialists is there’s no uniformity in standards of expertise or customer service from one business to the next. Unlike a Porsche main dealer, which is constantly assessed and stringently monitored to ensure the highest of standards are continuously met, with the specialist network, the very best and worst are effectively tied to the same brush. You’ll need to do your research here, then, and don’t just be governed on price.
The age or type of Porsche you have is important, too: some enterprises are renowned for their expertise in certain fields of Porsche care and maintenance, be it air-cooled classics or modern GT cars. Remember, they may fall under the ‘911’ umbrella, but a 1968 911L is a very different beast to a 991.2 GT3 RS. Again, research is key.
Entrusting a generic garage with your Porsche
It’s worth pointing out this option shouldn’t be readily dismissed. There are plenty of talented guys and girls working at these places and, let’s face it, there are some jobs that do not require specialist expertise to carry them out, such as oil changes. So why pay a higher hourly labour rate when that specialist knowledge we’ve previously spoken about isn’t needed? For straightforward tasks, the idea of simply enlisting in the talents of your local workshop is a compelling one.
Some general mechanics will be mobile-operated. This makes things easier if you lead a busy life and don’t have the time or even means to drop your Porsche off at a workshop premises (particularly if the premises isn’t near to a train station or other handy transport links), but there are a couple of drawbacks.
Having the right Porsche tools for the job
The mechanical layout of a Porsche – particularly a 911, Cayman or Boxster, where their flat engines are mounted either in the very rear of the car or just in front of the rear axle – means even some of the ‘easier’ jobs on paper, such as removing spark plugs or coil packs, can prove difficult. This is due to a lack of access (particularly on modern Porsches) compared to more traditional, front-engined cars with bigger engine bays.
With Porsches old or new, the best way to get better access is via its underside, and so a ramp is usually required. That’s not at all likely to be a reality from the modest confines of a driveway, which can prolong the time it takes to complete a job – and time is money, don’t forget. Then there’s the issue around specialist tooling: for example, modern GT and some Turbo 911s come equipped with centre-lock wheels, which require a unique socket to remove them. And if your man in a van can’t even get a wheel off…
9Werks Top Tips...
Our brief assessment above shows there are plenty of options available to you when it comes to entrusting a mechanic or technician with your Porsche. As you can see, all have their pros and cons, some of which will appeal to you, others which will not. It really does come down to you and your own personal tastes and circumstance.
No matter the scenario, a general rule is that you can expect to pay more at a specialist enterprise or main dealer over a general mechanics, the idea being you are paying for – or investing in – that specialist knowledge required to maintain the vehicle effectively. There is a value to having an intrinsic knowledge of a product, and this will likely only be found at a business that has dedicated itself to nothing but Porsches.
In the same vein, don’t be afraid to cast your net further afield when searching for the right business to look after your Porsche. The best fit for you might well be out of town, but the confidence of being in the best hands will far outweigh the convenience offered by an average concern in the locale – plus you’ll have the added bonus of a fun drive there and back.
Lastly, while budget is important, it shouldn’t be your leading factor when it comes to servicing, maintaining, or repairing a Porsche. No matter how ‘cheap’ a Porsche may be to buy, all makes and models very much require ‘Porsche money’ to run, so if you’re chiefly governed by cost, you’re arguably in the wrong car to begin with.
If however you’re governed by quality over cost, you’re far more likely to reap the rewards of a healthy, enjoyable ownership experience with more time spent right where it matters – behind the wheel and on the road.