More Porsche Yoga, left side

September 22, 2016


Notice the screw in the photo above.  Any idea what’s wrong with that picture?  Today I wasted a day trying to cope with that bit of engineering stupidity.

“Germans would over-engineer butter!”

My long-time insurance broker grew up with a German father who was a Mercedes mechanic before he immigrated to Canada. I thought of Cordelia a few times today as I tried to make sense of the puzzle of five AC actuators crammed into adequate space for…none.

And anybody who would put a screw in the middle of the BACK of a cover in a space as confined as it is under the dash of a first-generation Cayenne, that engineer is either incompetent or a sadist.

For all I know my Lexus has a similar arrangement of actuators for its AC, but I’ll probably never find out: Lexus parts don’t break from a lack of lubrication after 125,000 km.

It’s easy to see why there are so many nused Cayennes on the market.  Not everybody wants to make a hobby of his car, and when the absurdity of a broken air conditioner goes past a certain point, out of the garage it goes to where enthusiasts like my son lie waiting.

UPDATE:  22 January, 2017

At the time I wrote the passage above I was quite distraught as the fingers of my left hand were gradually losing the ability to type. I’m now pleased to report that my fingers have regained enough dexterity to outpace the spell-checking software.

I realize there’s a glaring gap in the narrative at this point, so I should try to fill it in somewhat.  I did post to an account of the repair, I but I’ll offer a quick summary here.

The problem with the non-functioning heater and air conditioning controls related entirely to the failure to operate of a series of servos known online as A.C. actuators.  They’re famous for their great expense (up to 189 USD each), so most DIY owners buy the Volkswagen equivalents for the Tuareg at about half the cost.

Only one of the original servos which I removed was broken.  The others were paralyzed by old grease and poor design.  The 2008 servos I found on came from a San Francisco wrecking yard.  For $100 I had a new set of servos and they worked when I installed them.  The Renntech article involved disassembly and repair methods for these servos.

For a claustrophobe any under-dash repair on a Cayenne is a hellish experience.  There’s no space up in there.  Distances are awkward.  I bought extra-long Torqz screwdrivers to help.

The manual I downloaded eventually proved to have information essential to the task, but Porsche technical documents are annoyingly obtuse.  After all, I grew up on Volkswagen Maintenance For The Complete Idiot.  The Whole Earth Catalogue and Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance completed the trifecta.  I expect information with a solid measure of empathy for the reader.

The one thing the manual failed to warn me about forced me to remove a “plate” of three servos because I couldn’t connect the wiring harness to one servo once the plate was installed.  It took a full day of agonizing work to re-install the plate.  That’s how tight it is in there.  The KESSY (some little computer controlled by the ignition key) never did make it back up to its rack.  It now hangs out beside the accelerator pedal.)

In any case, some bits haven’t been replaced under the dash yet, but the car’s now warm and comfortable in winter.  Before my ordeal the AC had two settings:  full on and off.  There was no heat.  On the other hand, my wife has forbidden me to crawl under the dash ever again to replace bits still sitting on the bench or around the gas pedal.  It took eleven treatments at the local physiotherapist’s establishment to return my left arm to service.






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