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Re: Homm, that soudns mechanical, the typical problem is electrical.

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Hey folks
Just had the PLEASURE of trying to contort myself around to install a replacement ignition switch. Had an issue and wanted to follow up w/ a basic question before proceeding:

1) what typically happens w/ the switch as it gets older? Mine is original to car and slowly over the last few years I'm noticing that it is sporadically hard to turn, but still will turn if enough pressure. It typically seems like if it's sat awhile, then I'll notice it's hard to turn. And if I use the key again shortly afterwards, i don't notice much difficulty turning the switch. My assumption is that it will get harder to turn and eventually get to a pt where you break the key off or something bad like that. But wanted to ask in case folks have actually let it go to the point it fails them - what that looks like
The switch is in two pieces, a lock mechanism and an electrical portion which plugs into it. The electrical pieces is about $15 aftermarket/OEM and is used in many Audis. The failure symptoms are many and inconsistent. I could tell stories about my mom's 1995 A6 that seems like demonic possession, not a switch -- yet replacement fixed them even when diagnosis failed.

The most common failure is that it fails to return to "accessory/run" and engage the secondary circuits. Plainly stated the car starts, it runs, but nothing else works - no windows, lights etc. Or maybe a subset. And maybe intermittently. And maybe nudging the key fixes it. Or not. I also had it prevent starting - as if the ignition disabler was tripped (maybe it was?). Keep only a simple, light key in the switch - not the ring of keys ot the entire prison.


Grant gee-lenahan-at-vee-eff-email-dot-net
Hi Grant, thanks. Got it. Yeah I haven't seen those problems yet.

I will say this electrical portion piece which I had tried to reinstall, DOES, have a mechanical aspect to it as well. The inner portion of it turns (from the mechanical portion) what looks like a 1/4 turn only in 1 direction, and back to original point. I never saw any online instructions or advice about replacing the stuff between this switch and the key itself (which is, I think, more the mechanical part of it that you are alluding to).
assembly. Early on they could replace just the electrical portion but there were too many bring backs and Porsche stopped supporting replacing just the electrical portion.

Somewhere I have the old switch out of my Boxster but I can't put my hands on it. My memory of when I looked this old switch over -- right after it was replaced -- is there is a lot of hardware between the key and the electrical blob on the back end that could account for the difficulty in turning the key.

For my 996 the switch developed a problem removing the key. The way this was progressing I was afraid at some point I'd not be able to remove the key and thus be unable to lock the car and with the key still in the ignition this could cause the battery to get run down.

I know I'm in the minority but if I felt the switch was acting up I'd replace the entire assembly, electrical as well as electro-mechanical. That's a lot of work to have to do twice in case the electrical portion doesn't fully address the symptoms. Besides there is alot of aging electrical wiriing/connectors that get messed with. The less handling these receive the better. There is an antenna around the ignition switch that is part of the car's security system. If one is not careful this gets damaged and the car's security system may not be able to energize the key's RFID pill and then receive the pill's RF broadcast and the engine won't start.
I have a similar problem which I have attributed to the steering wheel locking mechanism. When the switch is working correctly there is a distinct "thunk" of the steering locking when I pull the key out of the switch. When that happens, the next start will be trouble-free. If I don't hear the thunk sometimes I can wiggle the wheel and it will lock. If not, and I don't start the car every few days, I will be unable to turn the key the next time I start. Another side effect is the car stays in a higher current drain state and the battery will not last more than a week. I can get it started by twisting the key lightly back and forth while rocking the steering wheel.

All this after having the complete mechanical and electrical ignition switch maybe 7-10 years ago to solve the same problem.

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