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Dash lights up but car won’t start.


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Hey guys,
I have a 2000 Boxster S with almost 70k mi. We drove it to dinner Friday night and it wouldn’t start we got ready to leave. No problems prior. We assumed it was the battery so replaced it. Still no start. Key fob works to lock/unlock car and release trunk. Windows work and top works.
Today, hubby checked:
clutch safety switch with an ohm meter, as well as put a jumper wire across clutch safety switch leads.
Located starter relay in trunk and changed it with another relay. No effect.
Hooked up a (admittedly) cheap odb scanner. No faults.
Key fob shows light flashing when buttons are pushed. Remote door lock and trunk release work.
Steering wheel is centered and locked.

I read a post on your forum from 2010 that indicates either immoblizaer or key transponder chip. Anyway to diagnose these without succumbing to the financial rape from the dealership?
Any other suggestions to try?

Thank for any help!
Tara
You didn't say if it was cranking and not catching, but from your diagnostics, it suggest no cranking...so something electrical and not air or fuel related?
Yeah, it wouldn't even act like it was going to turn over.....
He was thinking something electrical. He just wasn't sure where to go next: immob or ignition switch maybe.
First, thank you all for your input and experience. I am a road warrior for work and just came off a 2 week trip. So i apologize for being slow to respond. Bringing you up to speed, ive eliminated the clutch switch, starter relay, all fuses, and maybe the immobilizer. I did remove it, checked the fuse, removed its cover to find a dry and clean circuit board. The immobilizer could still be the problem but it has no physical signs of failure.

Regarding the starter, not hearing the solenoid engage at all. Also, i woukd think a starter would have given us some warning as well. Not just immediate and total failure. Of course, anything is possible.

Regarding the ignition, tried wiggling the key around to no avail. Im not against changing the ignition but since it is a simple metal on metal contactor, it shoukd have given us a little warning through previous intermittent failures. I still believe its security related.

Regarding the key, all we have is the valet key. It is all we got from the previous owner. The fob from an original key is on the key ring.
The fob is not in very good shape. They key was removed from the fob. I have no idea why. Yes, the title is clean. Lol.

Regarding the cam position sensor, does its failure prevent the starter from cranking or just prevent coil ignition?

I believe its time for me to get a Durametric reader. Can you tell me if the $50 OBDII-to-USB cable and software is adequate for my 2000 Boxster S? Or do i require the $270 handheld unit. And will the Durametric reader tel, me if the problem is security system or cam position sensor?
causing the engine no crank/no start behavior, the clutch interlock switch was very intermittent. It would not work then work and work and work and work, then not work.

If you don't want to take the car to a dealer where a tech can retrieve error codes (they are not OBD2 codes but are still read from the OBD2 port) then replace the clutch interlock switch and at the same time the brake light switch and the cruise control disable switches at both the clutch and brake pedal.

Once installed be sure the observe the clutch pedal lever properly contacts the interlock switch. With age the clutch pedal hardware develops play that can have the position off and the interlock switch is not quite pushed in far enough.

The switches are not expensive but it takes a contortionist to install them. At my dealer when I would buy switches, bulbs, the tech would install them for free.

There is a test of sorts... Get in the car and pump the clutch pedal vigorously then hold it down and start the engine. If the engine fires up turn it off and repeat. What one is looking for is to try to get the no crank/no start symptom to appear/not appear.

Another test, one for the ignition switch, is to do something similar with the ignition switch. With it off wiggle the key, push the key in or up or down or forward or back, in short put some pressure on the key and the switch to try to affect the quality of the electrical contacts as you then turn the key to the start position.

Repeat this several times to see if at least once you can cause the no crank/no start behavior. With the ignition key there might be other behavior, like the dash lights not all coming on.

If the no crank/no start symptom is not intermittent this suggests the problem lies elsewhere. If queried with a suitable Porsche diagnostic computer the car's electronics can report one or more error codes -- such as key ID not recognized -- which can help the tech id what's wrong.

The RFID pill in the key can go bad. (The fact the buttons cause the doors to lock/unlock is not any proof the RFID pill and the associated wiring in the car is working. Two separate circuits.)

Try another key, even the valet key. If no keys work the problem might reside with the car's electronics. The antenna behind the key surround may have a bad connection and the RF signal from the antenna to the key RFID is not being transmitted or the response from the key RFID to the antenna is not being received clearly.
I've checked the clutch switch with an ohm meter and put a jumper wire between the two wires. No change. The problem is definitely electrical. I've tried swapping the starter relay, I've checked the fuse on the immobilizer, it's good.

Is there a way to test the rfid pill? I do not have a Porsche scanner.
Some ideas
Boxsterra - 3 weeks ago
Have you done any recent service? That's often a prime suspect.

How does your ignition switch feel? Does it operate smoothly? Does you hear a clunk immediately after you pull the key out (after switch has been in the on position)?

Feel the carpet behind the driver's seat. Is there any moisture?

With a car of that age it could be the crank position sensor, which is straightforward to access.

Check fuses B8 (engine electronics control unit), E1 (alarm control unit), C1 (engine electronics), C2 (ignition).

The key pill is unlikely to be the problem. I wouldn't spend any money or significant time on that until you've exhausted other possibilities.Obviously, if you have another key you should try that.

If the DIY options fail you can check for an immobilizer fault code with a Porsche reader (Durametric, PST2, PIWIS). There may be someone in your area willing to do this for free.
I agree with Boxsterra:
1.- Try starting with a second key if available
2.- Replace the electrical portion of the ignition switch
[pedrosgarage.com]

I don’t think the issue is with the Central Locking Unit because everything else related to it is working (windows, locks, alarm, remotes, convertible top)
As Boxsterra said the immo pill is VERY UNLIKELY to fail.
If after you replace the ignition switch you’re in the same boat you will need a pro to diagnose.
If you need a pro, don’t go to the dealer. Find an independent Porsche Shop.
They will have techs with more experience in older cars, such as yours.
Good luck.
Happy Boxstering,
Pedro

Pedro Bonilla 1998 Boxster 986 - 284,000+ miles: http://www.PedrosGarage.com
PCA National Club Racing Scrutineer - PCA National HPDE Instructor - PCA Technical Committee (Boxster/Cayman)

Racecar spelled backwards is Racecar
"Racing is life. Anything before or after is just waiting" ... Steve McQueen as Michael Delaney in "LeMans"
"If you wait, all that happens is that you get older"... Mario Andretti
"Being second is to be the first of the ones who lose" ... Ayrton Senna
1. starter fuse
2. the flaky, weird ignitions switch (electrical part, < $20, PITA to replace but doable)
3. Clutch cut out. Easy to check, switch is under dash. Jump it with a wire if it starts, you foudn it
4. immobilizer/engine computer got wet
5. Key improbability (very, very unlikely IMNSHO)


Remember when diagnosing: eve a nearly dead batter will make the motor turn a tiny fraction and that sound is easy to hear. If the dash light up its not totally dead. At worst you will get a clicking (solenoid) and dash lights flashing.no? Then it is not the battery.

G

Grant gee-lenahan-at-vee-eff-email-dot-net
Dead battery
Boxsterra - 2 weeks ago
If the battery can't provide enough voltage to the DME and immobilizer, it won't even try to turn the starter. I agree that there's an important distinction between clicking solenoid and no sound.
Re: Dead battery
paulofto - 2 weeks ago
Quote
Boxsterra
If the battery can't provide enough voltage to the DME and immobilizer, it won't even try to turn the starter. I agree that there's an important distinction between clicking solenoid and no sound.

I just went through something like this this a week ago. Apparently the interior light above the mirror was left on killing the battery over a few days of no driving. I went to start the car and the the oil light & battery light illuminated. Everything else was dead, dead, dead. No other dash lights and no solenoid click, nothing. I charged the battery and a few hours later the car fired right up. No issues since then. The battery is only 2 years.
bad ground on starter might be another place to look, or just a dead 18 yr old starter could be other options....
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