The Porsche 928 Was More Reliable Than You Think

Shrouded in negativity, the Porsche 928 has earned a reputation for being one of the most unreliable cars from the 1980s. Naysayers accuse the car of all kinds of atrocities, including having a poor cooling system and leaking oil like a busted offshore rig. These accusations have followed the car all of its life, and unfortunately, in the auto world, it takes a lot of effort to shake loose from a reputation, good or bad. We are here to set the record straight and defend the one, the only, the great, Porsche 928.

A brief history of the Porsche 928

Porsche 928 driving on the road
Porsche 928 driving on the road | Bruce Milton Miller/Fairfax Media via Getty Images

Porsche designed the 928 as a lightweight grand touring coupe. Unleashed in 1978, the 928 was the first V8 Porsche and, at first, had a 240-hp 4.5-liter (4.7 in U.S. spec) engine. Porsche built the doors, front wings, and hood from aluminum. It also touts the rear suspension design as having rudimentary rear-wheel steering

Later years saw the 928 get a horsepower increase to 320, thanks to a bigger displacement at 5.0-liters. Porsche 928s from 1994 and 1995 were called GT and GTS, respectively. By 1995 it made 350 horsepower from 5.4-liters. Until this point, Porsche had only used rear-mounted flat-fours and sixes, making the 928 with its front-mounted V8 the odd-car-out. 

Dispelling the Porsche 928 misconceptions

1980 Porsche 928 engine bay on display in Germany
1980 Porsche 928 engine bay on display in Germany | Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

According to 928 owners and mechanics across multiple forums, the 928’s biggest problem is owner neglect. “Pepper Girl” on Flatsixes.com illustrates three main gripes motorists may have with the 928. In one particular case, a 928 caught on fire, which is apparently a common problem. 

The 928 uses ATF in pressurized lines from the rear to the front, and these lines, after 20 years, can break down (just like any other car). ATF is flammable, so when the lines went, so did the car. In this particular case, inspecting the 20-year-old lines may have prevented the car from catching on fire.

How reliable is the Porsche 928, really?

1980 Porsche 928GT parked under a tree
1980 Porsche 928GT | National Motor Museum/Heritage Images via Getty Images

As with any sports car, maintenance is vital, and the Porsche 928 is no different. That said, there are a few preventative measures you can take as a 928 owner to ensure your car continues to run silky smooth. According to user “JET951” on Rennlist, routinely tightening the bolts on the camshaft gears helps prevent broken camshafts. 

Another big piece of the 928 that deserves attention is the timing belt. Every Porsche 928 uses an interference engine, which means if the timing belt breaks, the pistons will hit the valves. Checking the timing belt every 60,000 miles is good standard practice to prevent any issues.

The only other notable point of interest involves the driveshaft coupling bolts. Any classic BMW owner will tell you it’s standard maintenance, especially in German cars. It’s important to remember that any Porsche 928 is at least 26 years old by now, so they all need some maintenance and attention. In that respect, the 928 is like any other classic 1980s sports car. After all, it was good enough for Tom Cruise.

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