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Ignition Switch Replacement

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FRUNKenstein
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Ignition Switch Replacement

Post by FRUNKenstein » Mon Jan 08, 2018 9:51 am

This applies equally to all variants of the 996: NA, Turbo, GT2, GT3. They all use the same ignition switch. The "ignition switch" as referred to in this post is just the electrical portion of the ignition - not the tumblers (where you actually insert the key, official name "ignition lock cylinder") or the "gun" (which is shaped like a pistol and includes the electrical portion, the tumblers and the mounting for both, official name "ignition lock cylinder housing"). I would bet that by now, the electrical portion of the ignition switch has failed at least once on nearly every 996 ever made. It's best to just think of the electrical portion of the switch as a wear item that you should plan on replacing from time to time. In fact, it is such a common occurrence, that you should keep a spare ignition switch in your glovebox along with a small flatblade screwdriver tip (and just a tip that is only about 1 inch long). That way, when the inevitable happens and the switch fails, you have both the part and the tool to do a quick swap and get yourself back on the road in less than 30 minutes.

One of the first symptoms that your ignition switch is going bad is that your key will be difficult to remove from the tumblers. Also, you might feel your tumblers getting "crunchy". At that point, you'll swear that you've got a problem with the tumblers. However, the actual culprit is just the electrical portion of the ignition switch that sits on the backside of the tumblers. The only time I've heard of someone changing out the tumblers is when they take the car to the dealership, which will want to change out the "gun" - they always seem to recommend swapping out the whole ignition switch system and not just the problem part. This turns a $30, 30-minute, relatively simple DIY into an $800+ repair bill. Take my word for it - it really is just the electrical portion of the ignition switch system that is bad. I will tell you that the first time it happened to me in my '99 C4, I was absolutely convinced that it had to be the tumblers going bad. It wasn't. So, no matter how skeptical you are, try this DIY first before you spend a buttload of cash replacing parts that don't need replacing. And, if I'm wrong (but I'm not), then you will have wasted at most $30 and about half an hour of your time.

The only tool you'll need is the aforementioned tiny, flatblade screwdriver tip. See the pic below - I'm talking about the first or second tip on the left on the bottom row:
untitled.png
If you are stranded and need the part right away, NAPA keeps these things in stock - just walk in to your closest NAPA and they should have one on the shelf. The last time I bought one, the full retail price was $11.49. That's the good news. The bad news is that NAPA stocks the cheaper version of the part. A better, more robust version (about $30) can be bought at one of the online parts vendors. Our friends at www.warehouse33auto.net offer both the cheap and the better version of the switch, and frankly you won't find a better price than what warehouse33auto offers. You can use promo code 996OUTPOST to get another 10% off the price. Here's a link to the part:

https://www.warehouse33auto.com/catalog ... ion.Switch

Now, the only confusing part is that in addition to one cheap part and one better quality part, there are an early and a late variety of switch. The newer switch has a white cover on the backside of it, so if you have a 2002 model or later, you will probably use the switch with the white cover.: part number 4B0 905 849.
ignition switch new.jpg
My '99 used the switch without the white cover: part number 4A0 905 849 B.
Electrical switch old.jpg
How do you know which one you'll need? Well, I, errr, uhh, am just not sure without removing the old one to check. I have heard some people say that you can look up in there and see the white cover without removing the switch, although I haven't tried that myself. As I said, if you've got a '99 or '00 model, my bet is on the old model. A 2003, 2004 or 2005, then I'd buy the new one. Maybe someone else will chime in on a way to check without looking at your current part. But, the good news is that it isn't real hard to remove the old one to check. We'll address the removal and replacement in the next post.
Last edited by FRUNKenstein on Mon Jan 08, 2018 4:43 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Ignition Switch Replacement

Post by FRUNKenstein » Mon Jan 08, 2018 10:25 am

By the way, here are pics of the Ignition Lock Cylinder (tumblers)
ignition cylinder.jpg
and the Ignition Lock Cylinder Housing (the "gun" or "pistol")
ignition lock cylinder housing.jpg
These are the parts that your dealer will try to talk you into replacing, even though all you will really need is the electrical portion of the switch. The gun or pistol houses the electrical portion of the ignition switch. If you look closely at the picture, at the top right corner, you can see the electrical portion of the ignition switch - it comes with the gun/pistol. BTW, NAPA's price for the gun is almost $300, and Porsche OEM is way north of that, so you can see why you don't want to replace the entire assembly since it just isn't necessary.
www.kansascityautomuseum.com
Current:
2002 996TT X50, Guards Red
1987 928S4 Guards Red
1987 951 Guards Red

2006 955S Arctic Silver
2006 955S Lapis Blue
Gone but not forgotten: 1999 996 C4 Aerokit Black; 1990 964 C2 Guards Red

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FRUNKenstein
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Re: Ignition Switch Replacement

Post by FRUNKenstein » Mon Jan 08, 2018 12:54 pm

OK, now for the actual changing of the switch. The switch is way up inside the dash, just to the right of the vent on the left side of your dash. Some DIYs say that you need to remove that vent, but it really isn't necessary. You do have to remove the HVAC duct in the driver's footwell, though. It is just a matter of grasping both ends of the duct, pushing together so the ends are free and pulling it out - should take 2 seconds.

Now the fun part - first, lay a towel or blanket across the driver's side door sill for padding. Run the driver's seat all the way back and all the way down. Put the small flatblade screwdriver tip in your left hand. Then, you need to lay on your back with your head as far up into the driver's footwell as you can get it with your left arm above your head, reaching up toward the left top corner of the dash. You will use your right arm to hand your left arm the new switch when the time comes, so have the new switch in or close to your right hand.

A good hack that I saw elsewhere is to push the clutch pedal to the floor and use a couple of zip ties to hold it down to gain more working room. Here's a pic of what I'm talking about:
Clutch pedal lock down.jpg
Now, as you are lying there cursing me and wondering what type of Chinese acrobat must be needed to do this task, keep in mind that I'm in my mid-50s, 6 feet tall and not at all svelte at 250 pounds. Quit whining and think about all of the money you are saving. Oh, and be sure that neither your wife, smart-ass kids or neighbors are standing around with a cell phone to capture the excitement.

There are 2 flatblade screws under some dried up red locktite paint that flicks off very easily with the screw driver blade. Be sure to close your eyes as you flake away the locktite or you'll end up "seeing red" (ask me how I know). Then, turn the screws (counterclockwise - duh) until the head of the screw is flush with the surrounding part - you don't need to take the screws out fully as they are just set screws. The electrical connector that plugs into the switch pulls straight off, then pull the old switch straight out. If your key is still stuck in the ignition and won't come out no matter what you try, it will come right out once you pull off the switch. Then, install the new switch, plug the electrical connector back onto the new switch and gently tighten the set screws (no reason to torque those babies down as you might be back in here someday doing it all over again, especially if you opt for the cheap or NAPA switch). Replace the HVAC duct above the clutch pedal (and release the clutch pedal if you zip-tied it down), and you're done.

The first time I did it, I went really slowly and I got it done in about 45 minutes. The second time I did it (you guessed it - I used the NAPA switch the first time and was back about 6 months later doing it again), I used a stopwatch just for the helluvit and set a 996 record (well for me) of 19 minutes start to finish.

You don't need to pull the negative battery cable to do this job. But, if your key gets stuck in the ignition, pulling the negative will stop the "door open" chiming while your head is under the dash.

Also, as mentioned above, it's not a bad idea to keep a spare ignition switch along with a screwdriver tip in the glovebox or door pocket just in case. Given how cheap both of those items are, it's a good investment. Especially if you hang out with other 996 owners, sooner or later, you'll be glad you had a spare.
www.kansascityautomuseum.com
Current:
2002 996TT X50, Guards Red
1987 928S4 Guards Red
1987 951 Guards Red

2006 955S Arctic Silver
2006 955S Lapis Blue
Gone but not forgotten: 1999 996 C4 Aerokit Black; 1990 964 C2 Guards Red

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Re: Ignition Switch Replacement

Post by 5chn3ll » Tue Jan 09, 2018 10:48 am

One additional vote for "don't use the crappy part." I got to enjoy this DIY a second time in less than 2 years because I cheaped out the first time...

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