Porsche Parts Catalog Porsche Accessories Catalog Porsche Technical Articles Porsche Tech Forums
  Search our site:    
View Recent Cars  |   Cart  | Project List | Order Status | Help    
 >  >
Replacing the 914 Ignition Switch
Bookmark and Share

Pelican Technical Article:

Replacing the 914 Ignition Switch


2-3 hours






Phillips screwdriver, needle nose pliers, hex key set, flathead screwdriver, ignition key, small flathead screwdriver, workbench,

Applicable Models:

Porsche 914 (1970-76)

Parts Required:

Ignition switch

Performance Gain:

A 914 that starts with a turn of the key

Complementary Modification:

Replace the steering wheel

Electrical starting problems often occur with many 914s after 25 years of starting the car. While there are often many sources to the problems of starting, one of the most common is the failure of the electrical starter switch within the steering column. This switch is connected to the tumbler and is responsible for powering the relay that drives the starter solenoid. After many years of turning the key, this electrical switch often fails.

The first step in repairing this switch is to isolate the problem, and confirm that it is indeed the switch. Sometimes, this is not always an easy task. The primary symptom of a faulty and broken ignition switch is that the car's electrical system operates when you turn the key, but the car will not start. Occasionally, you get variations on this problem. For instance, the car may start, but the headlamps flick on and off as you wiggle the key. Sometimes the car won't start until you apply a great amount of force to the key. Note that continuing to do this will most likely damage the lock cylinder and/or your key.

After you've determined that you have a problem starting the car, you should check to make sure that your starter is functioning well. Wire a lead from the positive terminal of the battery. With the car in neutral, or on stands, connect the wire to the starter solenoid. The starter should turn over. Please make sure that you have the car in neutral, or you will lurch the car forward, and possibly injure yourself.

Next, check the large starter relay that is located underneath the passenger seat. The relay and buzzer are shown in Figure 1.  The relay is the bigger box of the two, the smaller one is the very annoying buzzer.  This relay is found on the later cars, and is part of the seat belt fastening system. If the wires to this relay are damaged, or they are disconnected, then the car will not start. This is part of the seat belt safety system that someone decided would be an intelligent idea. The idea was to have pressure sensors that were located in the seats. If there was someone sitting in the seat without their seat belt fastened, then the car would not start. This system was also connected to the annoying buzzer which went off when you opened the door.

The relay and the buzzer sit underneath the passenger seat, in an area that is often filled with water, especially if the roof leaks. This water can cause the relay and its connections to corrode, resulting in a car that will not start. The solution is to bypass the seat belt relay. To do this, unplug the seats and the belts from the harness. Then take the two large yellow wires going into the relay and wire them together.  This will bypass the entire system, and you will be able to start the car regardless of the condition of the seat belts.

Once you have checked both the starter and the relay, chances are that the problem lies with the electrical starter switch.  A brand new switch is shown in Figure 2.  This plastic assembly often cracks and malfunctions with age and use.   To begin the replacement process, you need to remove the steering wheel.   Remove the wheel according to the instructions in the Pelican Technical Article, " Steering Wheel Removal."   After the wheel is removed, the steering column should resemble Figure 3.  The next step is to remove the knee pad from underneath the dash board.  This is held on with screws both underneath the dash, and on the sides.  The screws on the side of the knee pad are normally hidden by plastic covers that need to be removed before you can remove the retaining screws.  The left side retaining screw is shown in Figure 4.  After both side screws are removed, (you may need some needle nose pliers to get them out of their holes) remove the five screws that mount the bottom of the knee pad to the dashboard.  One of these screws is shown in Figure 5.  Once the knee pad is removed, you will be able to access the dashboard from underneath as shown in Figure 6.

     At this time, unplug the wiper and turn signal switch from the wiring harness.  Also, disconnect the hex head bolt that holds in the steering column housing.  These two plugs and the bolt are shown in Figure 7.  Now, remove the four screws that hold in the turn signal and wiper switch assembly.  Make sure you put these in a safe place, as they have a habit of falling out, and are difficult to replace.  The four screws that you need to remove are shown in Figure 8.  Once the screws are removed, you can carefully pull the entire assembly out as shown in Figure 9.  Be careful not to damage the switch when it is out; it will be hanging by the rubber hoses that control the window washer.

     Now, remove the two screws that hold in the small housing piece that constrains the ignition switch.  These two screws are shown in Figure 10.  Be careful of the small spring that can fall out when you remove the housing.  This spring fits into a small cavity on the ignition switch housing, and is part of the steering wheel lock.  Once you have the small housing cover off, you can pull the entire steering wheel housing out on the shaft.  While this is not necessary, it allows for easier access to the rear of the electrical ignition switch.

     Now, unplug the rear, electrical portion of the ignition switch.  At this point, you should be able to insert your key, twist, and pull out the entire assembly, as shown in Figure 11.   Now move to a work bench and remove the set screw from the ignition housing shown in Figure 12.  Once this set screw is removed, the white electrical ignition switch should slide right out.  In most cases, it will be cracked, as shown in Figure 13.   If yours is cracked, then this is most certainly the cause of your starting problem.  Insert the new switch and tighten down the set screw, as shown in Figure 14.

     Insert the new switch in place of the old.  Tighten down the small set screw.  Replace the entire assembly into the steering column.   Plug in the wire harness connector to the rear of the switch.  Reattach the small housing that holds the ignition switch in place.  Don't forget the spring that controls the steering wheel lock.  You can now check the switch by turning on the ignition.  Now reinstall the wiper / turn signal switch assembly without tightening the four screws too much.  Push the entire steering column housing back in and reinstall the bolt that secures it into place.  Now reinstall the knee pad, checking to make sure you didn't forget anything.  You may want to clean your horn contacts at this time.  Reinstall the steering wheel, and your finished.

     Well, that's all there is to it.  If you have all the info, (we give it to you here) the replacement process is actually quite easy.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free to email them to us. Please remember that your continued purchases and support of Pelican Parts has a direct impact on the support and expansion of this website.  Please give us your business if you like what you see here, and would like it to continue into the future.   Thanks, Wayne.

George Lester makes the following note:

I printed out the article on ignition switch replacement for the 914 , It sure was a great help when I finally did the job, it was like you said if changing a tire is a one this was a three..On my car the lock was bad and I changed the switch while I had it apart. You might add to the article on switch changing that to get the tumbler out take a punch and push in the hole just above where the steering lock sticks out and the tumbler can be pulled out.. Thanks for your help, you have a great  web site..George

And Bruce Patterson makes another interesting point:

What I've found out since there was only 4100 76's made they're a little different than the rest. To retract the metal steering surround that holds the ignition switch (there is no screws holding it) you insert the key like you are going to remove the tumbler,turning the key unlocks the tab thats holding it on the steering shaft,letting you pull the whole piece off, exposing the switch and the set screw for easy removal and replacement.If you dont turn the key there's no way that assembly will come off the shaft.You may want to include this info on to the tech article. Thanks Bruce Patterson

Figure 1

Seat Belt Relay and Buzzer

Figure 2

Brand New Electrical Switch

Figure 3

Steering Wheel Removed

Figure 4

914 Outside mirror

Figure 5

Screws that Secure the Knee Panel

Figure 6

Knee Panel Removed

Figure 7

Electrical Connections to the Switches and Housing Screw

Figure 8

Removing the Wiper Switch Screws

Figure 9

Removing Turn signal and Wiper Switch

Figure 10

Screws That Secure Switch Housing

Figure 11

Pulling Out Ignition Cylinder

Figure 12

Small Set Screw That Holds Electrical Switch

Figure 13

Typical Broken Electrical Ignition Switch and Set Screw

Figure 14

View of Electrical Switch and Ignition Switch Assembly

Bookmark and Share
Comments and Suggestions:
Chase Comments: I have read the 1970 914 ignition key switch is different. Is that true? Do you have the parts and illustrations to repair it
October 13, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I think 1970 and 1971 are different style, with a harness attached. Installing is similar. Give The Pelican Parts parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can figure out what part or repair kit you need.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
WISHIHADA356 Comments: Hi folks from NewZealand.
I have a '74 914/4. Can anyone tell me what colour should the wire be that takes the power from back of ignition/starter switch to the starter solenoid? Cheers and many thanks.
March 22, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: 914 wiring diagrams are here: http://www.pelicanparts.com/914/914_electrical_diagrams.htm

If not, you will have to find a repair manual, as that is all we have. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Cedar Shark Comments: Hi- I have a 1971 914 with a key that will not turn or unlock the steering- I got a replacement from a friend but from a 1972 and wiring a bit different but will it work? I have to reroute the wiper switch wiring from the dash to the column switch too right?
February 11, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: If it is different, I would assume it will not work. I have not tried it. My suggestion is to get the right part.

Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can figure out what part or repair kit you need.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
Paul Comments: I recently bought a 1974 914 with the keys lost. I had a locksmith make a key for the left door but does not match the ign switch. How can I remove the ign lock assembly from the column without a key, so I can get a key made? Is there any way to get a key code from the serial number or...?
November 26, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: If the original ignition, Porsche may be able to get you the right key. If not, you will have to buy a new lock cylinder / locks with keys (matching set). - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Tjmrfe Comments: Has anyone ever moved it from the column to the dash? Am hoping to give mine '74 2.0 a more euro feel with the key on the dash.
To the left of the column is a great spot, and will do,so and will report my fails or findings here, but wondered if this can be tackled?
April 27, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I haven't.

I opened a post in our forums. A Pelican community member may be able to answer your question.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
JR Comments: I'm helping a friend who lost his keys for his "71 914. is there a way to change the switch and lock cylinder without a key?
July 26, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Drill it out. Other than that, none I know of. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Tom Comments: Sorry, the last post had a spelling error it should be;
It seems that the lock is holding it even though the WHEEL will turn free when the key is turned on and then it will lock once the key is removed. Any ideas?
June 2, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Ok, got it. Thanks - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Tom Comments: I have a 1972 914 and I can't seem to remove the ignition switch. There was no spring that I read about. I did everything the article stated but it will not come out. I turned the key to every position and fear I will break the key if I pull any harder. It seems that the lock is holding it even though the when will turn free when the key is turned on and then it will lock once the key is removed. Any ideas?
June 2, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: If I remember correctly, the key has to be at about 1 O'clock position. Assuming the screws have been removed, nothing else should be holding it. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
75teener Comments: Replaced the switch, I get it to crank and everything lights up, however when cranking I loose power at the coil, very confused, I can run a jumper to the coil and it runs. I'm at a loss. Please help....I'm going insane chasing this btw it is a 75 914 with a 2.0
May 31, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: You could have a bad relay or wire. I don't have a wiring diagram handy for your vehicle, but that would be the best bet. See if this page is helpful. http://www.pelicanparts.com/914/914_electrical_diagrams.htm - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Wayne Comments: I have a 1971 914 and need to replace the ignition switch, the steering column on this year doesnt allow me to get behind and pull the wiring off of the ignition switch. Do you know the process to remove it?
December 4, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Good question, I cannot remember where the connector is. I opened a post in our forums. A Pelican community member may be able to answer your question.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
arcadeforever Comments: anyone know how to do this in a 1971?

December 3, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: What are you trying to do? What vehicle? - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Craigred914 Comments: I can't get it to turn over. New switch installed. The big lights on the fuel gauge flashes like a blinker. Might this be a clue?
October 2, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: What was the symptom before you replaced the switch? If it is the same, you may be chasing a short not a faulty ignition switch. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
dans1973 Comments: Kerry, that's the way it looks on the 1974 wiring diagram, but on the 1973 there is just one plug, and it's pushed on. the old switch had a metal contact in the front for the key to depress and make the circuit for the buzzer. the new switch doesn't have that. it's no big deal, i'll live with it.
August 13, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the follow up. We appreciate it. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
dans1973 Comments: when i installed the new ignition switch, everything appears to work ok except that the buzzer that used to go off when the key was in the ignition no longer works, any ideas?
August 11, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: There is a plug for the "key-in-ignition switch that is unplugged or not connected properly. Just take off the steering column cover at look around for something unplugged. - Kerry at Pelican Parts  
calemonlaw Comments: I have a 2006 chevy colorado. Randomly, maybe once a week, the anti theft system is activated somehow. Then, you have to pull the key and wait ten minutes before it'll start. Sometimes, I don't have ten minutes to wait. Is there any way to deactivate it permanently?

November 17, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Sorry, this is a European car forum. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
masterman58 Comments: gentlemen, please help. i have replaced starter, replaced ignition switch and car does not start- or turn over. everything turns on, but thats all. i tried to push start the car, and it starts easily. the main wire from battery to the back of ignition switch has not not been replaced. what do u think is my problem???? thanku
October 21, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: It's helpful to know the year and model of the vehicle. Actually, you need to find a wiring diagram for it and see what the starter circuit consists of. If it's an automatic there is a newtral safety switch. Some manual cars have a clutch switch. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
gerber Comments: At MASTERMAN58: I have the same problem: just installed a new bosch rebuild starter, but it still does not always crank. From my old starter it was proven that the solenoid is broken. But there seems to be another problem. I suggest to check the switch, electrical lines, connector or buzzer below the passenger's seat, connectors on relay plate relay plate itself might be broken as well and mass /earth connection between motor and chassis the flexible cupper /aluminium strip on top of the the gear housing that connects to to the chassis. Hopefully this helps. Cheers, Gerber
October 20, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the input on this one. We appreciate the help. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
August 27, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would check the start signal to the starter motor. if it is not present, check it at the ignition switch. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Andrew9146 Comments: For a '76, the screw that holds the electrical portion is only accessible once the unit has been removed from the shaft. See photo:
May 27, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the additional info. We appreciate it.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
Two914s Comments: Yesterday I was working on a friend's 914 that had a bad ignition switch. We had THREE new switches, but NONE of them worked until I put a shim at the right place between the die-cast metal cylinder and the plastic. That made it work! I sure hope it continues to work.
July 15, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the additional info. We appreciate it.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
craig3x Comments: very true! didn't work til I shimmed it.
June 15, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the additional info. We appreciate it.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
Tom Buswell Comments: Seems that reproduction switches aren't built to the tolerances of the original German ones. There is a solution though. Simply adding a shim made from some folded over paper on the right hand side of the switch as viewed from the key's perspective at 3 o'clock is just enough to make the switch work as it should.

I doubted this at first, but when the switch I installed didn't work I gave it a try and it worked as it should!
June 14, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the additional info. We appreciate it.
- Nick at Pelican Parts

  Search our site:    

View Cart & CheckOut | Project List | Order Status |  Help    


[Home] [Customer Service] [Shopping Cart] [Project/Wish List]
  [Privacy Statement]  [Contact Us] [About Us] [Shipping] [Careers]

Copyright © Pelican Parts Inc. -    DMCA Registered Agent Contact Page

Page last updated: Wed 10/26/2016 02:15:02 AM