New ignition switch (full switch, or electrical only), new break-off bolts for ignition switch
Removing the steering wheel might make the job a bit easier
More reliable starting and electrical systems
Rekey ignition switch
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.
Check out some other sample projects
from the book:
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. 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. 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. After many years, the electrical portion is usually what wears out, resulting in intermittent starting problems with the ignition key.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Check out some other sample projects
from the book: