Door Spring

If your interior door handle suddenly goes a little limp and refuses to return to original position, you probably have a broken spring. Here’s a video that shows the handle behavior.

This situation has some bad side effects. Primary among them is that when this handle/latch doesn’t fully close, a microswitch in the handle doesn’t press and as a result the interior lights never turn off. They think that the door is still open. (even when it is closed). Not good. Your battery could die by morning. It could also affect the windows, because when the door is opened, the windows sink an inch.

Fortunately this common problem is very easy to repair. Pelicanparts.com has a nice write up about this topic, but I think they mislead you in a few places.

Pelican posts this photo to show you which screws need to be removed. They suggest you remove them in the order: green, purple, yellow, red, and orange. I had some issues getting my red screw removed, but it turns out that you can skip red and orange for this project, despite what pelican says. Remove simply green, purple and yellow. The green screw is hidden behind the AIRBAG plastic emblem. You need to pry it off first to remove the screw. You might want to use a rag or napkin to keep from marring the edge of the emblem as you pry it out with a flat head screwdriver. Behind that emblem is a single screw. For this project you’ll want to have on hand a Torx 25, and 30 head. And a Phillips screwdriver. (should you remove the red screw). Simply remove the green, purple and yellow screws with your Torx drivers. The purple screw is hidden behind a sort of C clamp part of trim. You can likely remove it by hand, but if not, you can pry a little bit from the rear of the top with a screwdriver. The yellow screw is hidden behind the black (on this car’s) trim above the door handle. (Driver’s door shown). That piece of trim has a fragile tab internally that is very easy to break. Tread carefully when removing that piece. Should you break the tab like I did, simply superglue it back in place and cautiously replace the part. It will work just fine.

Once you’ve removed the three screws/bolts, now you can pry the door open. Normally the instruction tell you to fully remove the door interior. This isn’t necessary for a simple spring repair. The spring is one of the topmost parts inside the door. You only need to pry a few clicks on both sides of the door interior to reveal the spring that needs to be repaired. Pelican also has an image that shows where the plastic clips reside inside the door interior.

Pelican says that you should remove every clip, but that’s not true for this task. You only need to remove the top two clips from both sides of the door. That will give you enough slack to pull back the top of the interior door. It slides over the top of the metal, so just carefully pull back the top of the door interior from the metal door. Once you’ve pried open enough of the top, you can see the spring sitting inside the door. Pelican has a photo of the spring as well:

At the top of the photo, you will notice a black felt tube. It is covering the spring in question. You will reuse this black felt tube. Pull the existing spring out (sometimes it helps to have someone point a flashlight down in there for you. And for ease, roll down the window before you do this.

Once the old spring is removed, it will likely look like this one below. Notice the lack of a loop on the right/front side? That’s where the spring broke and why the handle doesn’t return as it should. Some people have described adding a new bend to the existing spring, but I chose to replace the part. It was inexpensive (the part 999.522.015.00 is less than ten bucks)

IMG_8045.jpg
Remove the black felt tube and slide it over your new spring. The spring has coils on one end and a big long straight piece on the other end. The coil part of the spring will clip in towards the rear of the car. The long straight piece will attach in the silver groove of the interior door handle. You may need a pair of pliers for this step, but it only takes a minute to secure. Here is a picture of my previous broken spring. Still, you can see where the spring part is and the long straight part. Clip them into the rear hole and on the silver door handle part and you’re finished with the task.

Lastly, knock in with the heel of your hand the door clips you’ve released. Then slowly feed the top of the door interior over its metal counterpart. You may want a rag and hammer for this part. Hit softly so you don’t mar the interior. I also recommend moving from the mirror to the outer part of the door. The mirror control assembly may also need to be clipped back into place during this process.

Et voila, you’re done. It might take you a half hour to do this the first time, but it will only take 10 minutes the second try. The good news is that it takes less screws than pelican recommends, the price is low for repair, you only need a few tools, and boom, you have a door handle return not only fixed, but feeling a whole lot like a brand new car. Very stiff. Everyone likes stiff.

If you like ordering from PelicanParts (I do), here’s their page showing the part you need.

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Pedal to the Metal

UPDATE: This project took all winter. I will soon provide a detailed account.
26 MAR 2018

 

My Boxster has been humming along well for a couple years now. I suppose it’s time that something should need work. While pulling into the gas station, I suddenly noticed that my clutch pedal wouldn’t return from the fully depressed position. I managed to get the pedal back up from the floor manually and hobbled home to do some investigation. After some research on my favorite forums (Pedro’s Garage, Pelican’s useful site, rennlist, and a couple others) and a discussion with my neighbor who owns the same car, I came to the conclusion that rather than a faulty clutch and all that entails, I likely had a problem with my clutch master and/or slave cylinder.

I took the car for one more short test drive around the block and discovered that the pedal worked mostly normally, but at the top 25% of the pedal’s travel it would move much more rapidly than the other 75% of its usual upward travel… almost like it was spring-loaded compared to the rest of its travel. Yet another clue hinting that the slave and/or master cylinders of the clutch need replacing. Once I pulled it into the garage, I immediately noticed some yellowish/greenish fluid on the floor behind the wheel of the driver’s side.

Further reading seems to indicate that I need to replace the clutch’s slave cylinder. There was some disagreement in forums as to whether I should simply replace the slave cylinder or that I should replace both the slave and the master. So, I opted to purchase both parts and some fluid. I will start by replacing the slave cylinder and bleeding the system to see how that goes. But, if the master cylinder manages to fail (some forum members insisted that the master might soon fail also… or that a new slave might cause the old master to also fail), at least I have the part and can try my hand at that job too.

Right now the project is on hold, because the temperature is hovering around 0°F. As soon as the temperature climbs back to at least the 30s (or 40s, or, God willing, the 50s), I’ll get the car up on stands and do the swap.

If you haven’t done this job before, the process is relatively simple:

  1. Jack up the front end and put the car on two jack stands. (you’ll need to get way under the car… under the midline of the car, where the transmission lies)
  2. Remove two of the bottom panels of the car. There is one long protective panel at the midline of the bottom of the car. It fits together puzzle-piece-like with another smaller panel towards the front of the car. The rear panel can probably be safely ignored for this project.
  3. On the left and top side of the transmission is the slave cylinder for the clutch. It is connected to a fluid line, which you’ll remove first. And it has one bolt attaching it to the transmission.
  4. Once removed, lube the bellows end of the new slave cylinder, or I’ve been told you’ll never be able to insert the new part into the transmission. Install the part, tighten its one bolt, and reattach the fluid line.
  5. Time to bleed the system. I’ve borrowed a power bleeder from my brother for the job. I will write more later about this process, once I’ve actually performed it.

 

So, that’s where things stand as we hit the new year. I normally drive the car year-round and only really garage it if there is snow, ice, or lots of ice removal filth on the roadways. Otherwise, I drive it all year. (it’s my daily driver, not my priceless garaged jewel lol). Fortunately (?) the weather has been dreadful of late, so it hasn’t been much of a bummer having the car garaged. But I sure do missing driving her. 🙂 I’ll post more as the project progresses. I don’t have exact numbers to report, because my receipt isn’t nearby, but the cost for OEM parts was around $120 for both the master and slave clutch cylinders combined. Tack on about $30-$40 USD for a can of decent fluid for the bleed/replacement process. Thanks to the free loaner of the power bleeder and already having a jack, stands, and a receptacle for catching the old fluid (recyclable at most auto parts stores, like old oil is), the total cost is around $150-$160. The slave cylinder, I am told, should take about an hour to complete. And the master cylinder will take 2-3 hours. Not too shabby.

Happy Boxstering and a Happy New Year to you all! 🙂

Deciphering the VIN.

Suppose your Porsche Boxster has a VIN that looks like this…
WP0CA2985YU623908

What on earth do all of those seventeen characters mean? Simple:

#1. W = West Germany before 1989, or just simply Germany after 1989

#2. P = Porsche (you didn’t think it was Pontiac, did you?)

#3. 0 = sports car

#4. C = Body Type: a code for Boxster (and other cabriolets; other letters are also used; more info later)

#5. A = Engine: Boxster 986 2.5/2.7

#6. 2 = Air Bags: At least two air bags

#7. 9 = Model Year: up to MY2009

#8. and #12. : 8 and 6 = Boxster 986 (1997-2004)

#9. 5 = A checksum digit (a code to sanity check that the VIN is accurate)

#10. Y = Model Year Code: Y – 2000

#11. U = Factory Location: U = Uusikaupunki Valmet factory (Boxster 986 was produced there 1997-2004)

#12. (see above #8)

#13 <-> #17: Serial Number: 23908

There are many Porsche VIN decoder pages on the web that will help you decipher your own VIN, no matter the model. Here’s one good one. 

How to pronounce Porsche

If you poke around the web, you’ll find scads of people talking about the “proper” pronunciation of Porsche. If you’re “lucky”, an American will know enough to give you an answer like this:

Unfortunately, it’s still wrong. The speaker gets brownie points for knowing that it’s two syllables and that German pronounces that final ‘e’. (in English, that word-final ‘e’ has a way of changing preceding vowel sounds: spat vs. spate; cap vs. cape, etc).

So, for all of you folks that don’t speak German, here’s how you really say it. That final letter ‘e’ is something akin to the letter “E” in the name “Edward”. ‘EH’. Not ‘AY’. not ‘UH’. EH! It unusual for us English speakers, because we simply do not have words that end with the ‘eh’ sound. We tend to turn it into its nearest English approximation “uh”. (and we have lots of words with ‘uh’ at the end… killah! lol Buddha. etc.)

And while we’re on the topic, Speedy Gonzalez taught a lot of Americans wrong. It isn’t pronounced “OLAY” for ‘Olé’. Guess what! It’s the same sort of vowel sound that Porsche uses on the end. It’s the EH sound. But don’t sound gauche… it’s a fairly short EH. Start saying that “E” in “Edward” and as soon as you start saying it, STOP. Don’t lengthen it, or it comes out AY.

Alles klar?! Gut!

Bis bald.

Steckklammer

Here’s an odd little part that initially missed my attention. A “Klammer” in German is a “clip”. And “steck” is something like English’s word “stick”. So, it’s a clip that you stick! When you put the top down on your Boxster, you release a small button at the upper center of your windshield. That button has a couple functions, but one of them is to disable the motion sensor part of your alarm. That way, when your kid accidentally tosses a frisbee into your open car, the alarm won’t sound. But, sometimes you might want that motion sensor to work when the top is down! Enter “Der Steckklammer”. With this OEM part, you can clip the button at the top of your windhshield where the top normally latches. The clip depresses the button for you and now your motion sensor will work when you go topless. Simple, clever, and inexpensive.

The Porsche part number is 986-504-986-00.