Last week I drove my 07 Cayman S to the local Porsche dealer to pick up an interior part that had come in. I went back out to my car. Inserted the key and tried to start the car. Nothing. No crank. No dashboard lights. Well, if your car is going to conk out, what better place than the dealership. The service manager rounded up a tech and he came out with a battery jump pack. But before he tried that he simply wiggled the key in the lock cylinder. The dashboard lights came on and the car cranked and started. He said the lock cylinders can wear out. He briefly described how to replace it, saying that no programing was required. It is simply a device that “reads” the squigly line on the key blank and converts it to a digital code that the ECU is programed to recognize as your key. I ordered the part. It isn’t cheap, about $350. But that is better than it going totally bad and being stranded. So one takeaway is that if this scenario happens to you try wiggling the key. Mine responded to an up and down wiggle, versus a side to side wiggle.
Installing the new cylinder was not too bad. The bezel around the key prys out pretty easily. There is a threaded ring around the cylinder that I got to unthread simply by using a small screwdriver. Then the cylinder falls into the space under the dash. This space is actuallly very hard to get to. There is a small space just big enough for my hand, going up and over the bracket for the OBD port and the curtesy light. There was not enough slack in the cable to get the cylinder out. But there was a tiedown on the wiring harness that I broke loose by inserting a long thin chisel into the dash opening and slicing it off where it attached to the underside of the dash. Then there was enough slack to get the cylinder out. Actually it’s a rectangular box.
As I find with almost every electrical connection on my Porsche, the release clip concept is different for every damn one of them! This one defied me for a while but I finally figured it out. I hooked up the harness to the new cylinder. The final hard part was snaking the cylinder, my hand, and my arm back in under the dash to hold it in position while I used my other hand to screw on the outer ring. The bezel snapped right back in and I was done. Or was I? When I was cleaning up I noticed that my right side parking lights were on. I was panicked that I had fatally disturbed a wire at the adjacent headlight switch. But a quick Google search revealed that all that I had done was move my turn signal stalk up a notch activating this “feature”, which I guess is a European requirement. Then I was truly done! Not the worst job in the world, as long as you don’t have big hands!
BTW, do NOT stick your key into the module when it is not hooked up to the harness from the car. It will lock onto the key and not let it go. I did this on my new module. Fortunately, after I got it installed and attached the harness, it operated normally and let go of the key.
I went ahead and opened up the defective unit. The following pictures tell the story. Obvious features include a complex circuit board, a tightly wound coil of copper wire wound around the lock cylinder, and a set of wipers that work to transfer into from the rotating assembly to the stationary one. I could see where these wipers might become a wear issue, just like on the “flappy gate” air flow meter on a 944.