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Old 11-30-2018, 10:40 AM   #1
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Difficulty with ignition key slot

Recently I began experiencing 2 slight problems with my 1998 Boxster's ignition key slot:

1. I always keep the car's radio turned "on" so when I start up the car the radio plays instantly....and upon turning the ignition off, AND pulling out the key, the radio would turn off within 2 or 3 seconds. However, recently something changed and when I turn the car off and pull the key, the radio stays on longer (5-15 seconds) before turning off.

2. Also, recently I've experienced some occasional difficulty inserting the ignition key into the cylinder. When it happens I can't even get it in past the very tip of the key. This has only happened a few times and only recently. Eventually after some fiddling around it eventually slides in, but my "fiddling" is just that, I'm really not doing anything specific, just a little LIGHT pushing and wiggling.

I've tried spraying special lock lubricant, but to be honest, it hasn't really helped. I know there's a little "door" or "cover" that covers the key slot and sometimes it closes but most of the time it doesn't close and the slot is exposed. But it's been that way for a number of years.

Has anyone experienced a similar issue?


Last edited by Rob175; 11-30-2018 at 10:44 AM.
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Old 11-30-2018, 10:52 AM   #2
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Yes, regarding the sticking key. The fix is to replace the lock cylinder itself. No need to replace the whole locking mechanism.
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Old 11-30-2018, 11:26 AM   #3
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Replace the ignition switch (the electric portion, not mechanical).
A bad switch can cause the mechanical issues you are describing even though the mechanical part is fine.
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Old 11-30-2018, 11:29 AM   #4
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Does that require new keys to be cut? ....and if so what about the door key cylinders? Can a locksmith do that or is it something that needs to be taken to a Porsche type mechanic.?
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Old 11-30-2018, 11:43 AM   #5
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The ignition switch is about a $10 part & very common point of failure. Buy 2 so you have one in reserve. There are lots of discussions on replacing ignition switch if you do a search. It is pretty simple, but it requires good dexterity as it is located under drivers' dash & you need to go upside down into the footwell. Pedro's garage has a writeup I think, but there are lots of threads here. Also no need for new keys or anything like that -- it is a portion of the mechanism.
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Old 11-30-2018, 11:47 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob175 View Post
Does that require new keys to be cut? ....and if so what about the door key cylinders? Can a locksmith do that or is it something that needs to be taken to a Porsche type mechanic.?
No. Just replace the switch on the back of the ignition lock mechanism. It's a 10 minute job and a $10-$20 part.

Replace Ignition Switch
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Old 11-30-2018, 08:06 PM   #7
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My experience was different. I replaced the lock cylinder when my key started sticking. It did not require a new key. 15 years later and the key goes in and out without a hitch

To be fair to the other posters, I did not have the electrical problems you mention. So it could be the ignition switch, the lock cylinder or both. If you can DIY, then try replacing the switch first and go from there. I had an indie replace my lock cylinder so I don't know if this is a DIY fix also.
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Old 12-01-2018, 05:48 AM   #8
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My problem was that on both my Boxsters the key would go in fine but turning it was difficult to the point of being afraid to break it. I read up on the possible solutions and crawled under the dash and with great difficulty removed the electric switch. Tried the key and the problem was still there, so the binding was in the tumbler section.
Other threads suggested the problem comes from contamination in the tumbler mechanism (dirt, hardened lubricant and metal that has worn off the key etc.). With this in mind I squirted contact cleaner in the key slot then blew it out with compressed air, followed by graphite powder as a lubricant. This worked, I had to turn the key a few times to get the graphite spread arround but the key became easy to turn and I finally heard the clunk that I read about that you are supposed to hear when the key is removed.
This worked for a week or so and then the difficulty in turning the key returned and it no longer clunked on key removal. I repeated the treatment and again the problem was resolved. The car is put away for the winter so real life testing will continue next Spring, but I do exercise the key when I work on the car and so far so good.
This treatment is a possibilty before doing anything more extreme. No guarantee that it will work and it may blow contaminants into far corners of the mechanism but before replacing a tumbler it is worth a try. I don't pretend to be an expert but if you don't hear the clunk on removing the key it seems to me that indicates a problem in the tumbler not the electrical switch.
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Old 12-01-2018, 10:39 AM   #9
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I don't pretend to be an expert but if you don't hear the clunk on removing the key it seems to me that indicates a problem in the tumbler not the electrical switch.
Nope. Bad electrical absolutely can cause that.

I had the exact same symptoms that you describe 4 or 5 years ago. I never lubed anything, just replaced the switch. It has been perfect since.
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Old 12-01-2018, 03:53 PM   #10
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When you replace the electrical switch portion, be sure to get a good quality part. When my original part failed after 12 or 13 years, I ordered a good one online but it took a while to arrive. So I figured I'd buy one locally to get my car running again and have the online purchase as a spare. Well I bought one locally at a NAPA Store, and it was made in China. Apparently from much more brittle and lower quality plastic, because it lasted all of 6 months before it failed. And of course, when the second one failed, I didn't have the spare with me!

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