[by john miller; John-M1@ML1media.com]
Temptation. It’s everywhere. In every form. But this is no sermon. More of a lament (what does that word mean?...ahhh, the thesaurus lists similar words: weep, cry, and bewail..yes! BEWAIL). Temptation. The enticement to accept what appeared to be an obvious rallye clue and fall squarely into a trap (see Wikipedia definition of Trap; note cross reference to Jack and Karen Stephensen). Temptation. The lure of a 34 year old Porsche that seems only slightly overpriced but happens to be for sale only 40 minutes from your own garage…..errr…doorstep. Temptation. The foolish tempting of fate by trying to stretch the use of an obviously failing part on the Boxster until a time that it’s convenient to work on it….only to have it fail at an awkward moment and force a repair session in the shade of a 98 degree Wednesday afternoon.
Rallye 3: 50 on 50
The PCA Chicago Region Rally number 3 – the 50th Anniversary Rallye, aptly titled ’50 on 50’ was a test of both driving and boating(?) skills. And my apologies for passing that 924 at something slightly over 50 (mph) while sloshing up Highway 50. It was temptation that lead to that ‘burst of energy’. The temptation of an obvious clue…that ended in a slightly less obvious trap. It was no consolation that on our ‘backtrack’ we passed a string of other cars that also fell for the same trap….something of a Parade of Fools. No matter..in Rallying, done is done. My navigator, Lee Lichtenstein, sorted it out and got us back on track, but I needed to erase 4 to 5 minutes of unintended sightseeing time. And erase it, I did. I won’t debate the rights or wrongs of HOW, nor am I suggesting the ‘ends’ justify the ‘means’ but I will note we finished that leg a mere 36 seconds (points) behind schedule. And the ‘reward’ for such an astonishing comeback? The leg was tossed out (for other reasons). And still, the Rally proved to be a lot of fun…although a different sort of ‘fun’ for the Rallymasters. The 15 or so entrants that braved the monsoon rains were rewarded with a number of entertaining challenges. Photo 1 was taken before the start ----perhaps an omen on several accounts ---notice the PCA members appear to be holding dome shaped devices over their head----and notice the sign in the background. Photo 2 was taken in the same parking lot at the end of the rallye. One of our PCA members (name withheld to protect the COMPLETELY GUILTY) received a lesson on opening locked a vehicle door inside of which the keys to that door comfortably rest on the seat. It was great fun watching and quite the education. The gentlemen pushing the metallic object through the door opened the lock in less than 2 minutes (photo 3). And the rallye entertainment was not limited to entrants: Bravo to rallymasters Jack and Karen for remapping the rally route on-the-fly. The rains were heavy and several times the rally cars had to navigate ankle deep water….which was far better than the floor-pan deep water that Jack encountered while driving ahead of the entrants in mid-rallye. If not for his quick thinking and re-routing, the rallye trophies would have been orange life preservers. Oh yes, that ‘tossed out leg’ revised the scores to our disadvantage: Lee and I had to settle for 4th place.
Tempting fate with Boxster parts seems to be a bad habit of mine. Some of you may recall the panicked moments of
stretching out the replacement of the original battery on the Boxster that nearly stranded me in a parking lot a few years ago. And then there was a drive down to Tire Rack (Indiana) on essentially a set of ‘slicks’ for rear tires during which it (naturally) rained biblical buckets. But each time I escaped without repercussion. At least this time I was prepared. The ignition switch was failing. The signs were obvious –the key became ‘balky’ when trying to remove it from the ignition lock, and on one occasion some of the ventilation controls weren’t working properly. I tried cleaning the switch using compressed air and lubing it with graphite, but the end was inevitable. I had already bought a replacement switch and had already tested the remove–and-replace procedure, and yet, I chose to tempt fate as I wanted to wait for a cool day to wedge myself upside down under the dash to perform the actual replacement.
The sound of the switch’s ‘last gasp’ was noticeably audible and reminiscent of a recent breakfast encounter with a bowl of Captain Crunch cereal. Fortunately, I had just started the Boxster as I was leaving the office to return home. The outcome would have been much worse had that not been the itinerary. When I arrived home, the key would not turn---in other words, I couldn’t turn the engine OFF. You could smell the panic. After a minute of wiggling the key and pushing and pulling, all to no success, I took a deep breath and ‘muscled’ the key to the off position hoping it wouldn’t snap off in the lock. The key, it turns out is MUCH stronger that typical car or house keys. And while the engine was now stopped, that key wasn’t coming out of the ignition, forcing an immediate adventure under the dash while the car sat inside my garage-acting-like-a-sauna.
The following are the steps to remove and replace the faulty switch. [The original switch itself is an Audi/VW plastic ignition switch. The Audi part number is 4A0905849B ]
1. Assemble the required parts, tools, and instructions (photo 4).
2. Disconnect battery ground cable. It goes without saying, ALWAYS disconnect the battery ground when messing with electrical systems.
3. Turn ignition key to position 0 and remove. Ahhh, this is more of a suggestion than requirement---especially when the key is firmly stuck in the cylinder.
4. Remove air duct (photo 5). The air duct is removed by squeezing/compressing it (like an accordion). This procedure, it turns out, is much easier when it’s 90+ degrees outside (the plastic softens). Take a good look and perhaps mark its position with tape---re-installation can get confusing.
5. Pull connecting plug off ignition switch. (photo 6). The plug pulls straight away from the ignition cylinder lock mechanism.
6. Remove screw locking paint in the threaded holes of the two fastening screws (photo 7). This is a small blob of red paint partial covering the screw heads. Loosen both fastening screws using a short (flat blade) jeweler’s screwdriver or a screwdriver bit (as shown in the parts photo 4) and pull the ignition switch out of the housing. This is the hardest step. You are upside down, looking up into the under-dash area, using one arm to fish the screwdriver up to the fastening screws that hold the switch in place, and attempting to turn the screwdriver in a very confined space. The switch pulls straight out of the metal cylinder. Once the switch is removed, if the key is still in the ignition, rotate once or twice left or right and then to the off position and remove it.
1. Ensure ignition switch is in position 0/Off (the key should be out).
2. Insert new ignition switch into the housing. Tighten fastening screws using small screwdriver. The official instructions suggest putting locking paint over the screwheads. I know of no one that has done so.
3. Push plug onto ignition switch (the plug is ‘keyed’ and will only fit in one position).
4. Replace air duct. Not as easy as it sounds, as it doesn’t always want to fit in the same places it came out of.
5. Reconnect battery ground cable.
6. Test for smooth operation of key in cylinder.
Porsche is apparently aware of this recurring problem and issued a TSB at one time. According to my recent research,
a new style lock/switch is being used in Boxsters made after September 2004, and older cars with this issue are being retrofitted with the new style lock AND switch (an expensive proposition for a non-warrantee repair). Allegedly, the old style switch is no longer available (through Porsche). I purchased my original replacement switch via an auction site for apx $20. Had I been more thorough at the time, I would have found that Autohaus Arizona (http://www.autohausaz.com/) has the OEM equivalent part for $10.92 plus shipping.
The entire repair took under 30 minutes. The upside is that the heat and contortions required to get to the part worked off at least 10 pounds around my midsection…..temporarily. There’s NOTHING more tempting than one of those frozen chocolate éclair ice cream bars to reward one’s self for a job well done.
An Attractive Nuisance
Apparently, I’m not ‘cured’ in the traditional sense. Following my trip to the Porsche swap meet in Hershey, I thought I had been cured of the Porsche 914 sickness. (The Realization: these cars were not well put together; they weren’t meant to battle the elements; they most certainly weren’t meant to last 30+ years; and while there are some fabulous restored little Porsche 914’s, those are so far and few, my buying one would still be a serious mistake.) And I discovered it isn’t so much a one-time cure as an ongoing process (much like those substance-abuse programs---you’re never ‘cured’, just continually ‘recovering’). And thus, in a weak moment, I found the temptation of a 34 year old Porsche calling out to me. And I called back— making arrangements to look at it. For CHRISSAKES, it wasn’t even Orange. But it was only 40 minutes away. Fortunately, fate stepped in at the last possible moment (i.e., I had already cleared a space in the garage): someone else placed a deposit on the car before I surrendered to the temptation. And truly, I’m relieved I didn’t fall into THAT trap. I’ll reserve the trap-falling for Rallyes.
Final Score: Temptation – 1; John – 1; (Ties – 1).
I’ve still not repaired the battle scars on the Boxster inflicted by my last road trip. I’ve cleaned, scrubbed, re-cleaned, ‘clay-bared’ and polished the front end of the car, but it still needs a bit more effort before I start the paint chip repair process. Not to say that I haven’t been tempted to skip some of the clean up and start the repairs…..with cooler weather ahead, I should be able to finish the prep work and PROPERLY repair some of the damage in the next 4 weeks.