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Old 03-07-2011, 05:05 PM   #1
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Ignition Switch Epic Fail

I need Help! The ignition switch went out on my 2002 986. I read several posts on this site that made it seem pretty straight forward, some posts even included helpful pics. I got the correct part at my local VW store. Popping the old one out was super simple. "This is going to be a breeze I thought." 6 hours later it is still not running.

The problem is getting the new one in, or rather working. It seems if I tighten down on the switch set screws it locks up the key and the steering wheel. Nothing will budge. If I back off on the set screws then the key just turns and nothing happens. Thirdly if I reach behind the dash and hold the switch with my hand everything works except the car still won't start. I have installed and removed the switch 5 times and each time I get the same result. What am I doing wrong????

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Old 03-07-2011, 06:42 PM   #2
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is it the correct part number?

i just ordered 2 switches yesterday to tackle this same project. i'm curious what the reason is.
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Old 03-07-2011, 08:04 PM   #3
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http://www.pelicanparts.com/techarticles/Boxster_Tech/86-ELEC-Ignition_Switch/86-ELEC-Ignition_Switch.htm

this talks about part #s as well. good luck
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Old 03-07-2011, 08:15 PM   #4
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Greg, I replaced my ignition switch last year, and initially had the same problem with the switch not working properly. Eventually I had to back off the set screws, and "jiggle" the switch around in the recepticle (with my right hand) while turning the ignition key with my left hand.

At first the accessories (radio, lights, etc.) would work but the engine would not start. After more fiddling with the switch I finally got all the contacts to line up correctly, the engine and everything else worked, and then that's when you tighten down the set screws.

Good luck. I had a neck ache after twisting my head under the dash and clutch pedal to do this switch replacement. Took me about 4 hours vs. the 40 minutes that some others say they did it.
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Old 03-07-2011, 08:18 PM   #5
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I notice the Pelican article lists the part number for MY04+ to be:
4A0-905-849B

Wouldn't you know it? That's the one I ordered for my MY00 based off another thread... ugh...

Am I gonna run into trouble or should I go ahead and order the correct one? (4B0-905-849)

I even ordered 2 to have a spare! Go figure!
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Old 03-08-2011, 02:01 AM   #6
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PELICAN PARTS site lists 4A0-905-849-B-M5352 as the electrical portion of the ORIGINAL lock assembly ignition switch for Boxster/Boxster S for 1997-03. They mention a LATE-STYLE assembly which requires the 4B0-905-849-M100.
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Old 03-08-2011, 03:41 AM   #7
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I'll keep jiggle'n

Yes it is correct part. Same part number, same color, same number and design of pin connectors. It is very frustrating.
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Old 03-08-2011, 01:24 PM   #8
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Good luck Greg. Yes, I know about the frustrations when supposedly easy DIY projects don't work out.

Lucky for me that the ignition switch finally worked after 2 beer breaks, and a bit of jiggling, squeezing, coaxing, and cussing. (I was almost to the point of pushing the Boxster out of my garage, and calling a tow truck to take it to a mechanic).
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Old 03-08-2011, 02:54 PM   #9
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I concur with the "not as easy as they say it is". My switch went out last month, but luckily, I had a replacement one on hand just in case. I tried to start the car and heard a crunch sound. The key just went around 360 with no resistance at all, no starter position. I was able to find a spot where the ignition contacts came on and was able to coast down a hill and bump start the car to get it home.
Getting to the switch wasn't the problem for me, I just couldn't get my arm and hand to contort to the angle needed to hold and turn the mini screwdriver in the limited space to get to the two set screws.
I found a thread that talked about taking out the left side dash panel with the A/C vent and the Light switch in it, and the angled vent piece that the straight one connects to. Then you can reach the switch and screws from the dash level instead of from underneath. The only thing special needed was a short T-15 screwdriver to get to the screws on the side that are next to the door jam. The space between the door and the screw heads is limited, so a regular driver was too long. I bought a longer style T-15 bit and epoxied it to a short wood handle to make a driver that would fit the space. The bit needs to be longer than the regular style short ones because there is another screw in front, under the light switch knob, that is recessed and needs a longer bit to get to it. There is a little tab on the bottom of the light switch knob that you push in to remove the knob, then you can get to the recessed screw. There is a single screw inside the angled vent tube that holds it to the firewall. After you take it out, the angled vent falls out and you have all the room in the world to get to the ignition switch.
Even though you have to remove more stuff, it was a lot easier than trying to do from underneath. The next time I have to do an ignition switch, I'm not even going to try it from underneath.
My new switch went with no problem and worked first time. I was careful to get the half moon key lined up, and tried the key before putting the dash all back together.
I remember another thread that talked about not going on any trips without a spare switch. The next time I order some parts, I am going to order a couple more for spares, they are cheap enough. The one I took out was also a replacement, it had an Audi logo on it. I wasn't having any electrical problems at all, it just went crunch.
I'll put a spare one in the tool kit with the special T-15 and the mini screwdriver for that next special crunch sound. You never know when it will happen next. I'm guessing that my car is on its third one now.
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Last edited by Spinnaker; 03-08-2011 at 07:18 PM.
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Old 03-08-2011, 02:56 PM   #10
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I also ordered the parts and was going to tackle this project on Friday afternoon thinking it was a breeze. Rethinking about taking it to a mechanic now.
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Old 03-08-2011, 03:31 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thstone
I also ordered the parts and was going to tackle this project on Friday afternoon thinking it was a breeze. Rethinking about taking it to a mechanic now.
If you have the money to spend on a mechanic, I don't blame you for thinking about it, based on what some of the others have gone through. But try going through the dash method, and it will be a lot easier on your body than the underneath method and you can save the money for something else, like a couple of tanks of gas. Oh yeah, don't forget to tie a string onto the little set screw screwdriver. If you drop it, it can fall behind the kickpanel where the fuse panel is and you will find another opportunity to use some colorful language.
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Last edited by Spinnaker; 03-08-2011 at 09:34 PM.
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Old 03-08-2011, 04:13 PM   #12
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I swapped mine (2002 S) in the fall and it certainly took me longer than expected as well. At first I tried to do it with the drivers seat in, but I'm too large for that(5'10@220). It took far too long for me to remove the seat because I couldn't figure out how to disconnect the harness for the power/heat :-) Once I was finally in there I had a tough time to bend my wrist the correct way to turn the set screws. I also had thoughts about calling a tow truck :-) However, once I got the set screws loose the remainder of the process was fairly quick. Everything went well, but when I sat back in the car and the key wouldn't turn I hit rock bottom. As I was walking away from the car I realized the steering lock was the problem. Slight turn of the wheel and the key turned easily and it's been fine since then.

If I had to do it again I would. But I would look into the through the dash method mentioned below before I crawled under the dash again.

Good luck!
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Old 03-08-2011, 04:28 PM   #13
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You guys talking about the electronic portion of the switch? I'm sitting here reading all this about taking out seats and going to a mechanic...WTF??

The switch itself is a breeze to get to. Undo the HVAC duct and it's right there. Take a micro flat head screwdriver like something you would fix a pair of glasses with and loosen the set screws enough to get the thing out. Then put the new one in.

DO NOT HAVE A KEY IN IGNITION WHEN DOING THIS.

You have to lay upside down at an angle with the door swing. Use a small step stool or something to get your body in place. No big deal.

Now if your taking the mechanical portion out, Wayne over at Pelican Parts.com has a great book called 101 projects for your boxster which shows you exactly how to do that portion too. Never had to do my mechanical portion, just the little electronic portion. Doesn't cost that much and if you are having any electrical issues this is a sign the switch is going bad.

The car really does some wierd stuff man when a switch is dying. Way more than simply having a hard time turning the key.
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Old 03-08-2011, 05:14 PM   #14
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I'm certainly talking about the electrical portion of the switch. I didn't have many electrical issues during the last days of the switch, but the big sign for me was that the key would be stuck in the switch after turning the car off. The mechanical part of the switch wouldn't release the key.

Yeah, I read and tried all the tricks like placing a stool just outside the door etc, but there was no way I could bend myself as required. I could get my head in place and see the switch, but I couldn't get my arms up to work on them when entering from the side with the seat in place.
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Old 03-08-2011, 05:39 PM   #15
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Where are you? If you are in TN or close by to Clarksville, bring that ******************** over and I'll switch it out for you in 15 minutes!

One thing I hate is the boxster ignition design. Such a beautiful and agile car that cost 60k ++ when new...only to be completely immobilized by a sub 20 dollar AUDI part.....what a pity!!

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