The Porsche Is Out for the Summer — and Now It Needs Fixing

Today is the day! Well, actually, if I’m honest, April 23rd was the day. That was the day the weather here in Vermont seemed to finally be leveling off. You know, when my yard stopped looking like this:

And more like this:

So, after some other cars were removed, it was time to see how my 1999 Porsche 911 fared the last few months, tucked away in its corner, hooked up to a life support system. Thankfully, it started up like it had been sitting overnight, not for five and a half months!

But, now that it’s out and about again, some of the little issues that cropped up over my ownership so far need to be addressed.

First off, time to address the car’s first "failure." I put failure in quotes because it wasn’t so much a severe issue that requires a lengthy and wallet-crushing engine swap, but rather a new light bulb. That’s right: it had a headlight out. In an effort to improve nighttime visibility, but not spend an arm and a leg on a full LED conversion, I decided to give the direct replacement LED bulbs a try.

Once the new bulbs arrived, I set to work replacing them. This was either going to be a nightmarish plunge into the bowels of a Porsche, or a simple and quick process. Care to take a guess at how this German engineered car went? Yep, it was simple and easy. After finding the car’s toolkit (which I wasn’t sure I even had), the "headlight removal tool" was all that was necessary. Pull back the carpeting, put in the tool, turn it and the headlight is presented to you like an offering for the gods of illumination. The new bulbs do provide a brighter light than the previous halogens, but don’t really extend the light any further than before. And, if you are really quiet and listen closely, you can hear the cooling fan mounted on the back of the bulbs buzzing away!

Next up was the center console armrest. Under this armrest, like in most cars, is a storage compartment, useful for storing things like Altoids and Benadryl. Mine, however, was set to spring out in whatever direction it saw fit any time the release button was pushed. The problem was that the hinge was no longer connected, and the spring that normally holds tension acted exactly like a mouse trap, ready to snap into action at the slightest provocation. Thankfully, it snapped open instead of closed, so no fingers were harmed during its reign of terror. Replacing the hinge took about a half an hour — but, after learning that I was pushing the hinge pin through the wrong direction, that could probably be cut in half. Once two new rivets secured it into place and all the screws were tightened, it worked just like new!

The last thing I’ve addressed so far has to do with the convertible top. About a week before I was due to put the car into storage, it decided it didn’t want to play nice. At the top of the windshield is a micro switch (its function is to tell the car that the top is secure), activated by a small plunger, which is moved by a small lever. This small lever is pushed in by the arm that pulls the top shut. Over time, a small piece of spring steel slowly loses some of its tension and, eventually, the arm’s movement no longer moves the plunger enough to activate the switch.

With a replacement micro switch a ways out, I decided to improvise. After removing the two bolts that hold it to the windshield frame, I placed a very small piece of plastic — which originated from the break away tab on a can of hornet spray — between the plunger and the lever. It did the trick, and the switch operates as it always has! And that’s how you fix a Porsche convertible with a can of Raid.

Well, that’s all that’s been addressed so far. I’ve added about 2,500 miles to it already just in commuting — and, incredibly, it’s still running beautifully. It’ll go in for its spring check-up, an oil change and a state safety inspection next week — but, that’s all that’s on the horizon for now. I’m working on sourcing a windshield, though, as the one on the car now is impressively pitted and should be replaced — but that’s a project for professionals, and I’ll save it for another day.

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