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Replacing your Ignition Switch
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

Replacing your Ignition Switch

Time:

2 hr

Tab:

$55 to $300

Talent:

***

Tools:

Dremmel tool or die grinder

Applicable Models:

Porsche 911 (1965-89)
Porsche 912 (1965-69)
Porsche 930 Turbo (1976-89)

Parts Required:

New ignition switch (full switch, or electrical only), new break-off bolts for ignition switch

Hot Tip:

Removing the steering wheel might make the job a bit easier

Performance Gain:

More reliable starting and electrical systems

Complementary Modification:

Rekey ignition switch
101 Projects for Your Porsche 911

This article is one in a series that have been released in conjunction with Wayne's book, 101 Projects for Your Porsche 911. The book contains 240 pages of full color projects detailing everything from performance mods to changing your brake pads. With more than 650+ full-color glossy photos accompanying extensive step-by-step procedures, this book is required reading in any Porsche 911 owner's collection. See The Official Book Website for more details.

One of the most common electrical items to fail on some of the older 911s is the ignition switch. This failure can show up in any number of ways. The car can refuse to start some of the time, the key may not turn too easily in the ignition, or strange electrical problems like the headlamps flickering on and off may appear. Either way, the correct solution is to replace all or part of the ignition switch.

Probably the most difficult part of the whole procedure is the removal of the switch from the dashboard. On later cars, the switch is hidden behind a large, circular plastic disc. To remove this disc, simply unscrew it from the dash. On the earlier cars, there is a small plastic ring that needs to be unscrewed in a similar manner. Once the ring is removed, you can see the ignition switch assembly.

The switch itself is comprised of two separate sections, one that holds the key and the lock mechanism, and another that contains a somewhat complicated electrical switch that controls the starter and the other electrical systems of the car. The good news is that the electrical portion of the ignition switch can easily be replaced on 1970-89 911s. Typical cost of this part is about $55. Earlier cars will have to make do with finding a good used switch, as new ones are no longer available. If your key doesn't turn too well in the ignition, then chances are you have a worn out tumbler. You can attempt to rekey and refurbish the tumbler yourself (see Project 76 on lock rekeying for more details), but the process can be quite difficult. It requires that you drill out a pin that has been pressed into the housing. If you make a mistake, you can damage the entire assembly. In other words, the ignition switch assembly wasn't really designed to be taken apart.

Once you can see the ignition switch, you can probably clearly figure out why the next step is the hardest in this procedure. The switch is bolted to the frame of the car with what's known as a break-off bolt. While this may help deter thieves, it also makes your task a lot harder to accomplish. To remove these bolts, take a die grinder or Dremmel tool and grind off the top of the head. Once the heads of the bolts are gone, you should be able to pull out the switch. In some cases, you can also grind a slot into the top of the bolt, and use a large screwdriver to remove the bolts. Removing the steering wheel will probably give you a bit more room to work (see Pelican Technical Article: Replacement of Steering Wheel Switches).

Once you have the bolts removed, you can now crawl under your dashboard and remove the switch. Begin by loosening up the nut that holds the ignition switch onto the steering wheel lock. On some cars, you may not need to loosen this nut up, as the switch may just slide out of position. Disconnect the large 1.5" electrical plug from the ignition switch. The entire assembly should be able to be removed from the car now. You may have to negotiate a path through the maze of wires and cables that run underneath the dash.

Once you have the switch out, it's very easy to replace the electrical portion. Simply unscrew the two screws that hold it to the back of the switch, and replace it with a new one. The switch has a locating pin cast into the housing, so there is only one way that it can be put back together.

Replacing the electrical portion could most certainly solve some ignition and starting problems. Electrical systems flickering on and off as you turn the key are a good clue that your switch is worn. Also, a bad switch sometimes causes unexplainable starting problems where the starter coil doesn't even click. I even had one car that wouldn't shut off the starter after the engine kicked over. Both the engine and the starter kept running together: even after I had removed the key!

If you are planning on rekeying your ignition key, get ready for a very difficult job. In order to remove the tumbler assembly, you need to carefully drill out the small pin that is located on the side of the tumbler housing. Make sure that you use a sharp drill bit, and be prepared to spend some money for a new ignition switch if you happen to mess yours up.

The replacement process for the ignition switch is pretty straightforward, except for the final installation of the switch into the rear of the dashboard. You should use new original equipment break-off bolts that are commonly available from your local parts dealer. The heads of the bolts will break off automatically when you torque them down. Or, if you are going to remove the switch again, use regular bolts.

From the factory, the ignition switch is bolted into the dashboard with break-away bolts.
Figure 1

From the factory, the ignition switch is bolted into the dashboard with break-away bolts. If you're lucky, the previous owner has already replaced the ignition switch at least once, and the bolts have already been removed. When replacing the switch back into the dashboard, you can attach it with four break-off bolts.

The view from underneath the dashboard affords us a look at the ignition switch and its electrical connections.
Figure 2

The view from underneath the dashboard affords us a look at the ignition switch and its electrical connections. It's nearly impossible to remove the electrical portion of the switch without removing the entire assembly. Make sure that you loosen the steering wheel lock bolt on the left before you attempt to remove the switch.

Shown here is the electrical portion of the switch removed from the remainder of the assembly.
Figure 3

Shown here is the electrical portion of the switch removed from the remainder of the assembly. After many years, the electrical portion is usually what wears out, resulting in intermittent starting problems with the ignition key.

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Comments and Suggestions:
MGT Comments: Some intermediate plates installed between the switch and the dash frame have shear off bolts and rivets. The tops of the rivets must be drilled off so the plate can be moved. If this is not done the ignition combination switch will be extremely hard to remove from the steering column. after the plate is removed the switch will come out with ease. Just a little tip for the DIY people out there. -Hammersley LLC
June 25, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for sharing your installation process and experience. These type of comments add so much to the Pelican tech community.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
mike Comments: I have an '82 911 sc and the key will not turn at all ..it's just not moving.it happened earlier and I was able to get it moving with graphite dust..but now it's locked and won't move at all. Do I need to replace the iginition switch and tumbler?
June 18, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would assume so. If you have a second key, try it. This will confirm it is not a worn out key. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Havolas Comments: 1977 Porsche 911S. Ok, pretty sure car not starting due to faulty ignition switch. The only ones I see here at Pelican are listed starting in '84. What is the correct item number for my particular year? Thanks!
June 16, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The original part number for your switch is 91161301701, which is no longer available You must use: 964-613-012-00 INSTEAD ** IGNITION SWITCH** - Casey at Pelican Parts  
Havolas Comments: 1977 Porsche 911S. Initially was running fine, then started dropping out in the mid rpms and running rougher. I put fuel injector cleaner in the car then topped up, started the car, drove out of the gas station and onto the road, and then it just DIED and wouldn't restart. Got it back home, siphoned out all the gas and injector cleaner, replaced the fuel pump check valve and the fuel accumulator because it also has hot start issues, and replaced the coil with the proper unit for my Perma-Tune ignition box. Now the car attempts to start it's getting fuel and spark but then abruptly dies like it's getting choked off. When trying to get it to start I noticed that when the key was in the position right before cranking that the tach would intermittently jump and peg then come back down to zero sometimes. Weird electrical gremlin?. I unhooked the tach lead, but it still wouldn't fully start. Before it completely stopped running I was able to get it idling and after about 30 minutes of a nice steady idle rough but steady, it just died for NO obvious reason. My father and my roommate say it's something electrical but unlikely to be plugs, wires, or timing/distributor issues. Where do I need to look now? Starter? Battery meters at 11.8v and goes down to about 9.8v when cranking? That Perma-Tune box I tested the ohms and they check out? I'm at a loss.
June 8, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Could be many things, the missing piece of the puzzle has to be identified. I can't help without knowing what is missing from the system when you are trying to start it. When your engine doesn’t start you’ll want to check the basics. Check spark, fuel injector pulse and fuel pressure, volume, quality and engine compression. Are there any fault codes? Once you figure out what is missing, it will be easier to diagnose.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Eduardo Comments: Please ,need ignition wiring diagram
January 19, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: You didn't mention what vehicle, my wiring diagrams are limited. I would grab a repair manual. It will have the diagram.

Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. - Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Dennis Comments: Have a 1982 911sc. I was able to remove the ignition assembly and replaced the electrical part of the switch. Now I am trying to reinstall the assembly into the dashboard and I cannot get it to go in. After removing the shear bolts, the unit just slid out of the steering wheel lock - no nut or bolt to remove. When it came out it made a click sound, and now the assembly will not go back into the steering column. Is there a method for reinstalling this assembly into the dashboard?
December 21, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: See if the steering column lock is protruding into the bore. If so, see if you can push it in, then slide the lock cylinder in. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Billy Comments: how do i remove the ignition switch on a 1973 Porsche 914?
December 7, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Remove the steering wheel and steering column cover. Then remove the fastener for the switch assembly, slide it off toward the rear of the vehicle. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
J W Ploeger Comments: I just had the lock barrel come out with the key. Any suggestions?
November 13, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: You can try a new lock. I would start there. The retaining tab may be faulty. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Jimmie Comments: Hello have a 911 sc 81, need a new ignition switch, nr on switch 911.613.011.06, do you have anyone that will fit my car?
August 1, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Yes, we will be able to get one to you. Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799 and they can help figure out which part or repair kit you need.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
nok-nok auto detail Comments: 76 Porsche 924 how to remove the ignition switch
July 9, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The switch is in a housing that has to be removed (slid off) the steering column There is a pinch bolt, once loose, slide the switch off. You will have to remove the steering wheel. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Todd Comments: I figured it out, it's not enough just to loosen the nut, you have to back out the bolt that the nut is on. All is good for now.
May 7, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the follow up. We appreciate it.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Todd Comments: I have a 1981 911 SC and I cannot get the ignition switch assembly to slide out of the steering column! I have followed all of the directions, including loosening the nut holding it to the steering column but it won't move! The switch moved back and forth but not to the side. What am I doing wrong?? Please help!
May 5, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Can you see if it hanging up on the steering column? Is the steering wheel currently locked? - Nick at Pelican Parts  
AL Comments: I just bought a 76 911 in which has no keys. Is the door lock key the same key as the ignition? if so then I can bring the door lock to a lock smith to have a key made.If the door lock is different then is there a way to get a key made by the vin #
December 26, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would contact Porsche with your VIN and get keys from them, this way they are correct. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
David Comments: I have a 1982 911 SC. Issues I'm having. When you turn the ignition switch in most cases it starts, now it is getting to the point you have to turn the key 3 or 4 times to start. More serious issue, when key is in the off position the steering wheel lock doesn't appear to be working, once the car is running the steering wheel lock will engage in the middle of making a right hand turn, jiggle the steering wheel back and forth and it frees up before you're off the road. Help. Would the ignition switch be the problem....
December 11, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: This sounds like it could be a faulty ignition switch or steering column. I would inspect the steering lock and ignition switch. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
LEE Comments: ON MY 1983 911 SC, CAN I JUST HAVE THE KEY SWITCH IN THE ON POSITION
AND UTILIZE A BUTTON OR TOGGLE SWITCH, TO START THE CAR?
November 28, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Sure. You will have to place a toggle in place of the crank position of the ignition switch. Locate the wire at the switch, then wire in the toggle. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
S hammer Comments: On a 66/67 locking ignition switch; does the steering wheel lock have to be unlocked to remove the socking mechanism? Thsi is the reason Im trying to remove the lock, mine will not un-lock the steering wheel??Thanks for any helb removing this steering wheel lock,,,,
August 31, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The photo I uploaded from the tech article shows the ignition electrical switch and the steering lock assembly. You can remove them as a unit, then disassemble to replce the steering lock. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Mitch Comments: What types of bolts should I be getting if I plan on not using the original shear bolts again?
May 27, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Internal Allen head or internal Torx head since there is little to no room for an external fastener - Nick at Pelican Parts  
ed Comments: after replacing my ignition switch the new one is extremely hard to turn with the key when starting. is there an adjustment for this
September 6, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: No, put some graphite lock lube (dry film type) and see if the key is easier to turn. Make sure the steering wheel lock is not binding either - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Nod okim Comments: I have a 1998 993 cab and i need to change the ignition i have the shear bolts off but cant get the bolt up by the column that holds the steering wheel lock any suggestions ?
July 5, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Is the bolt you cannot access a shear bolt also? Or have all of them been removed? - Nick at Pelican Parts  
David Comments: I have bought the ignition switch from you already but in the process of removing the old one two wiring harnesses came off and I need to know which one goes where. Can you help me with a photo of the harnesses plugged in.
April 17, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: You will need a wiring diagram to know where each of the wires go in the connector. It is much safer to just buy a new electric ignition switch - Nick at Pelican Parts  

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