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Old 04-23-2017, 08:18 PM   #1
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Alarm/door lock/gas lid issues

Where do I start...

Today we had A LOT of rain, and my '99 Boxster for the first time slept with the hardtop off - just the soft top and car cover (hey, it was supposed to be sunny today, why put the hardtop on the day before asunny day? ). After the rain I went to start the car and while it started and ran fine the alarm is now giving me issues.

When pressing the remote button, the following happens:
- Doors won't lock. Only two clicks are heard from the locking mechanism.
- Alarm won't arm. Lights won't flash, alarm won't chirp.
- Gas cap door motor activates. Makes noise twice, about half second each, then stops. There's no way to open the gas lid.

Other symptoms:
- Door lock button won't work. In fact, it does the same as pressing the alarm button (door clicks twice, gas cap makes noise twice, then back to where they were)
- When opening the trunk with the remote the lids pops up fine but the gas cap does the same weird noises.
- Locking the driver door manually with the key will only lock that door but not the the passenger door. Alarm will not activate either.

Logic tells me that water got inside the car somehow and something got messed up, but the car has a good cover and I didn't find any wet spots inside. Could the rain just be coincidence? I've searched but I can't find any threads describing the same symptoms, especially the gas lid part. Any input is appreciated.

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Old 04-23-2017, 08:31 PM   #2
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This is definitely either an immobilizer or ignition switch issue.

Put hour hand in the recess under the seat and feel for moisture there. You really should pull the seat out and open the immobilizer to look for signs of corrosion. Check and clean it's cable connectors with electrical contact cleaner, also.

When was the last time you replaced the ignition switch? You should have a spare on hand for times like this. They are only $20
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Old 04-23-2017, 08:36 PM   #3
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Thanks for the quick reply. I came back here just to post that I just checked under the driver's seat (I previously thought that the immobilizer was somewhere else) and it IS quite wet down there. Even after driving around for an hour or two with the top down the carpet is soaking wet down there. So fried immobilizer? How much do these things go for? Do they need to be reprogrammed?

The one time I leave my hardtop off...
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Old 04-23-2017, 08:48 PM   #4
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Disconnect the battery and pull it out immediately. Take the board out of the case and put it in a sealed container with lots of rice or a dessicant like silica gel.
Let it sit for 24 hours, then douse it thoroughly with isopropyl alcohol, then let dry for 30 minutes.

Clean the connectors with electrical cleaner and plug it all back in. It may be ok.

Dry out the interior and clear your drains.
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Old 04-23-2017, 08:52 PM   #5
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By the way, if you don't have a torx socket to remove the seat, a 3/8 socket works great.
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Old 04-23-2017, 11:26 PM   #6
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Thanks for the help. Took the immobilizer out but I'm not holding my breath...





It was quite wet inside and it looks pretty corroded. Some connections seem to be broken but maybe they're like that - anyone has a photo of a working circuit board that I can compare mine with? I'll do the whole cleaning and drying out thing anyway and see what happens.

If my immobilizer is toast, what are my options?
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Old 04-23-2017, 11:32 PM   #7
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Also thinking about buying one of these. Any opinions?:
Waterproof Case for Porsche Boxster & 911 996 Immobilizer Alarm

Most Ebay sellers sell the immobilizer and ECU (and sometimes keys) together. Can I just buy an immobilizer and program it to my car?
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Old 04-24-2017, 12:35 AM   #8
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Oh crap. That's bad. When you get to the cleaning with alcohol, scrub the bad areas with a soft brush (toothbrush works well). The relays are probably bad inside, too.

You can replace it, but it's less hassle to just get a replacement and have the IC with vehicle data swapped from your old board onto the new one. Send Qmulus a PM and see if he can help with that.
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Old 04-24-2017, 05:14 AM   #9
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You'll want to pull your carpet out and let it dry for a week (not in direct sunlight). Otherwise it might happen again.
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Old 04-24-2017, 06:52 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Javi Cooper View Post
Also thinking about buying one of these. Any opinions?:
Waterproof Case for Porsche Boxster & 911 996 Immobilizer Alarm
The waterproof cases are good and well reviewed. The developer posted here on the forum a few times.
http://986forum.com/forums/general-discussions/53115-new-idea-porsche-boxster-immobilizer-clu-water-proof-case.html
Highly recommended, but I'm cheap. I sealed one with hot-glue and silicone grease, another is in a zip-lock bag.
Quote:
...Most Ebay sellers sell the immobilizer and ECU (and sometimes keys) together. Can I just buy an immobilizer and program it to my car?
Yes, a dealer or well equipped independent shop can match a new immobilizer to your car. If you do, go to them and fully discuss it before buying any parts. The ones sold as a set on eBay are because all three parts need common programming to work together. It all has to match.

Javi, you have one of my favorite cars. I expect that your 3.4L engine has a custom ECU. If drying your immobilizer out does not fix the problem, Qmulus or ECU Doctors is going to be your best solution. Either of them can transfer the necessary part from your bad immobilizer box to a good one. This will probably be the most cost effective solution and have no effect on your ECU.

Short of removing the carpet, I have found that propping it up and circulating air underneath works to dry it out. Find out how that water got in and fix it. Hate to see it happen again.
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Last edited by 78F350; 04-24-2017 at 06:59 AM.
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Old 04-24-2017, 07:13 AM   #11
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Here's one of mine that I don't have a matching key for:


I think that yours will be okay after a good cleaning and drying.
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Old 04-24-2017, 07:38 AM   #12
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I think ECU doctor is in Miami or Orlando
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Old 04-24-2017, 10:44 AM   #13
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Javi,
Got your PM and will respond shortly. From the picture that you posted, yours is not great, but likely repairable. I have definitely repaired worse and felt that they would be reliable. Almost any of them can be saved, it is just a question of time and effort. Actually the one in my car was one of the worst that I have seen yet, with so much corrosion and mold from sitting with power applied for a long time that you could barely make out the components. I got it working, but replaced it with one from Woody just because the damage was so extensive that I didn't trust it. Generally, if it looks like it would take more than a few hours of work I think that you are better off with a replacement like the one from 78F350. You can repair corroded traces, but it isn't always possible to identify traces that are damaged, but still intact enough to work now. That can lead to questionable future reliability. I draw the line on repairs at $300, as at that point you can usually find a good used replacement and program it for the same amount. New ones cost a bit more. Usually repairs are $150-$250. These aren't big money makers for me, as I almost always have much more time into them than I charge for.

I could definitely swap the data from yours to the one 78F350 has.

The part that takes time on these is that to get everything properly cleaned the relays (and often connectors) need to be removed from the PCB and tested, and the corroded traces beneath them must be repaired. After the parts are removed, it can be cleaned in an ultrasonic bath and with other chemicals to remove the metal salts that are on the board from the dissolved traces and components, then the damage can be repaired, protective coatings applied where needed and components replaced. You cannot repair water damage without removing parts.

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Last edited by Qmulus; 04-24-2017 at 10:55 AM.
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Old 05-05-2017, 02:14 PM   #14
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Quick update...

Let me begin by saying that Qmulus and 78F350 were completely awesome in getting me a new immobilizer. The shipping and turnaround times were incredibly fast and the prices were stupid cheap. Thanks guys, I owe you big. Also many thanks to BirdDog and Particlewave who took time to help with great write-ups both here and through PMs.

But... rebuilt immobilizer was installed and the exact same symptoms persisted. No change for better or for worse, so apparently the immobilizer wasn't the problem. Next guess, the ignition switch? Why would it go bad after it rained? It's mounted high and dry. Is it possible that humidity inside the car finally did the switch in? Or is it just a big coincidence that it happened right when it rained?

I had ordered a pair or switches but they turned out to be the wrong ones (Meyle 4A0905849BMY Ignition Switch. Though they plug in the body is taller and the key/switch position is different. Turns out there are two versions. If someone can direct me to the right version it would be appreciated ('99 Boxster base)

I also opened up the OEM ignition switch to see if I find anything unusual. Looked pretty decent inside. It's also a very simple mechanism and makes me wonder why they go bad so often. I gave it a good cleaning with electrical cleaner spray, especially the contacts, and put it back together. No luck

So I guess now I just have to wait for the right switch to get here and pray. In the meantime if anyone has any more suggestions I'm all ears,
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Old 05-05-2017, 02:57 PM   #15
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Did you thoroughly clean all of the immobilizer connectors. That would be my guess.
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Old 05-06-2017, 06:53 AM   #16
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I finished up going through your original alarm/immo module yesterday. It actually cleaned up very well.

Here is a "before" picture after I had removed the relays and connector:



Here it is after getting cleaned and going through the ultrasonic cleaner with my special mix of cleaners:



You really MUST remove the relays to properly clean these and to see where damage is. Yours actually was not bad. It just needed a couple of repairs. The relays were OK.

It would be a good idea to clean up the connectors in the car, especially the black one, as those terminals had a lot of corrosion on them. I can see how that could be an issue. I would also remove and clean the ground connector under the seat, and go through the test procedure for the switch signal referenced here often (maybe particlewave posted it)? I use a PST-2 when I need to check a car, so I generally don't need to manually check switch unless I see a discrepancy between the diagnostics and what is actually going on.
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Old 05-06-2017, 02:26 PM   #17
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I cleaned the connectors and ground with alcohol, electrical cleaner spray and a brush but nothing changed. I guess I'll wait until the correct ignition switches arrive before I start going nuts again. There are plenty of while-you're-down-there things left to do in the meantime to keep me entertained
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Old 05-07-2017, 10:32 PM   #18
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New snag. So let me get this straight...

Porsche engineers decided that the best place to put sensitive electrical components crucial to the car's operation was on the lowest point of the floor of a convertible, and...

Porsche engineers decide to locate the battery inside a compartment that can't be opened when the battery itself dies.

Am I missing something here???
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Old 05-08-2017, 05:58 AM   #19
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Javi. I am sorry to see that you are having problems with the car. As you know I had always had the car garage kept since I bought it over a decade ago. The car rarely saw rain and never snow. Some stupid things to check... Make sure you slam the center console cover down. That had given men alarm issues before, nothing like your describing but my alarm would go off in the middle of the night if it was not closed tightly. Also now that you are in the radio doing some upgrades make sure the ground for the alarm is grounded too. There is a lot of information on this forum as well as informed members. I am not great with the electrical system but I am sure you will get this all figured out. Let me know if you have any questions that I may be able to help with. - J
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Old 05-08-2017, 06:28 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Javi Cooper View Post
New snag. So let me get this straight...

Porsche engineers decided that the best place to put sensitive electrical components crucial to the car's operation was on the lowest point of the floor of a convertible, and...

Porsche engineers decide to locate the battery inside a compartment that can't be opened when the battery itself dies.

Am I missing something here???
It is a German thing. I see a TON of water damaged modules from Audis, BMW and MBs as well as Porsches. I have a big box of Bose amplifiers from Audi Q7s and A6 Avants all with water damage. Those are $1500 or so. Same with transmission control and body control modules from Audi A6s and Allroads. BMW thought it would be a great idea to put a bunch of modules under the spare tire in the well. On new cars a damaged module (even something like a TPS or Bluetooth module) on one of the CAN buses can bring the whole car down. Spill a coffee or have your bottle of windshield washer fluid leak (that cost the owner almost $2k) and it can get really ugly.

Oh, I spent 5 hrs Friday repairing a '08 Jetta that had a damaged wire to the ECU in the cowl that was full of soaked leaves. The shop it was at had already thrown 12 hours and a new ECU at it trying to find the problem. If I couldn't fix it, it was going to be sent to a local dealer, where I suspect it would have sat for a LONG time. I found a wire to the ECU broken in the middle of a harness after a couple hours of troubleshooting. The insulation was fine, but the wire must have had a nick or porous spot. NOT fun or easy. It took 1.5hrs just to clean it up put it all back together once the damage was repaired.

FWIW, the Porsche techs I know LOVED doing alarm/immo repairs from water intrusion on Boxsters and 996s. It pays 10 hours, as it calls for stripping out the seats and carpet, shampooing the carpet, drying everything out reprogramming a new module and putting it all back together. A guy that knows what he is doing could do it in a couple of hours of actual work. At dealer rates, you are looking at $2k, all because the people let the drains clog because they don't know any better.

The moral of the story? Keep your drains clean and keep liquids out of the car whenever possible.

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Last edited by Qmulus; 05-08-2017 at 06:31 PM.
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