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Portland-Seattle-Bend Dealer Question + Bonus Rant re Sunset


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I drive a 2004 911 C4S Cabrio. There are three Porsche dealers within a few hundred miles of me: Sunset (Beaverton, OR), Larson Porsche (Tacoma, WA), and Carrera Motors (Bend, OR). I am in Portland, but refuse to take my car to Sunset Porsche anymore (see bonus rant, below). Both of my remote key fobs have been dead for about a year now (more in a sec), and I'm sick of it. I bought new heads for them, but I need to have them programmed.

Can anyone weight in on Larson (my first choice, 2.25 hours away), or Carrera (3 hours away)? Speed, non-price-gougey-ness, etc?

(I have a Porsche mechanic that I absolutely love: Heckmann & Thiemann here in Portland. Those guys are a dream. Their lead mechanic, Andy, can fix anything. He found a longstanding batter-deterioration problem for me, finally tracking it down to a starter that was pulling way more amps than it should have -- not a problem with a fully-charged battery, but constantly leading to starting problems when the battery was a little weak, e.g. after sitting a while.) But no one but a dealer can re-program keys, as I understand it.

Bonus rant: I took my car into the Beaverton dealer. I spoke with the service manager in advance to ensure that if I needed a new keyhead, that they had them in stock. He said "sure". I made sure he knew that I could only spend an hour waiting, and if it would be longer, I needed to go, either in a loaner or in public transit. He said "no problem". I also had a problem with the tension wire in the soft-top, and I asked if they could repair that in the time allotted, and he said "Maybe". That's fine, I get it. I ask him what the keyheads cost, saying I had heard that they were very expensive at the dealer -- about $240 each. He says "$140", which is what I can get them on eBay for, so I say "Great!".

So I go in and give him the car, 15 mins early, in fact. I re-explain I need to leave in about an hour, give him the keys, and go sit in the waiting area. An hour passes, and then another 15 mins (I was early), and I get up to look for him -- he's no where to be found. I sit back down, as I don't want him looking for me there when I'm away. More time passes, I look for him again -- nowhere.

Finally, twenty minutes after my deadline elapsed (and an hour-and-a-half after my arrival), as I'm calling to cancel my next appointment, the service manager shows up and tells me what I knew: one of my keyheads works (with a brand-new battery), and one doesn't. Do I want to order new keyheads? "Well, you said you had them!" say I. No, they don't have them. And furthermore, they're not $140, they're $185, plus another $80-$100 to reprogram then (each, apparently), so he's actually exceeded the price I'd heard. I was not happy, but said, "Fine, go ahead and order them" even though this will mean another drive out to Beaver-ville and another wait. Sigh.

What about the cabrio top? Well, yes, it's the tension wire (like I told them, having looked it up here on RennTech first), and it will be $700 per side to replace the tension wire. WTF!! I say "you must be kidding", and he says no. I tell him I'll sort that out on my own, can I please have my car because I'm running late, and he says he's going to get it. I sit down again. While I'm sitting I look up the part number for the cabrio top tension wires. They're available for about $18 each online. Sure, I know labor costs something, but $700???

Five minutes pass, and then ten, and then 15. I walk over to his desk, and again there is no one there. I wait a bit longer, and then ask someone for him. He's gone to lunch. They don't know where my keys are, can I wait until he returns -- in an hour. At this point I completely lose my cool and tell them that I want my car, and I want it now, and what do you mean the service manager left for lunch while I was waiting for him to return my car! I was pissed off almost beyond words. They said "Well, he hasn't closed out your ticket" and I said it would be a cold day in hell before I ever set foot in that dealership again, give me my car. They tracked down the keys and I left.

I wrote a letter to the General Manager of Sunset Porsche, and copied it to PCNA. I got a call from the National Service Manager from PCNA a couple of days later, but I never heard a single word from Sunset.

So I bought a couple of OEM keyheads on eBay, and I'm looking forward to a drive to Tacoma (?) to have them programmed. Sigh.

I would advise anyone listening to avoid Sunset Porsche of Beaverton at any cost, even if it involves driving to Tacoma or Bend for dealer service. Use Heckmann or the German auto place in NE Portland for out-of-warranty and other non-dealer service.

P.s. - I just discovered that Sunset gives members here a discount. Hmph. I still say boycott them.

Edited by gnetwerker
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I have used barrier porsche in Bellevue for a new key, total was $340 but they were polite when they robbed me..haha... No they were very nice and quoted all prices to me over the phone and confirmed they had everything in stock. When I arrived they were expecting me, I even took out a new 991 for a test drive and all was done when I returned and the car was parked out front... Seeing your coming that far north maybe worth a call... Good luck...

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Sorry to hear about your difficulties. There is a reason why the slang "stealership" gets its name. I would have to say your complaints as to the cost of repairs is not that unusual. As far as getting Porsche parts at a reasonable price, I would have to say Sunset is one of the better shops, but parts is different from service. You say you have an indy to do repairs. Any indy who works on Porsche should have a PIWIS or a PST2. They should be able to program the key fob with these tools.

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sorry to learn about this.

I've never had a problem with Sunset, in fact I've nothing but positive experiences.

When I order stuff on the phone, package usually arrives in 2 days.

I did talk to Jeff about key fobs a few years ago. I think he is now working on the Audi side of the dealership. He gave me good info for reference, even though I did not order any new fobs.

More recently both Jesse and Andraya have been great to work with.

I've never actually been to the dealership, or had any work done up there, as Beaverton is pretty far from where I live.

I would suggest you again let management know of the difficulties again. Both service mgr and general mgr.

Good luck in the future with those fobs.

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You say you have an indy to do repairs. Any indy who works on Porsche should have a PIWIS or a PST2. They should be able to program the key fob with these tools.

Unless there has been a change in the last few years, it takes more than the diagnostic computer to program the car (not the key). PCNA maintains a data base of car codes and access to this database is required when programming the car to accept a new key head.

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You say you have an indy to do repairs. Any indy who works on Porsche should have a PIWIS or a PST2. They should be able to program the key fob with these tools.

Unless there has been a change in the last few years, it takes more than the diagnostic computer to program the car (not the key). PCNA maintains a data base of car codes and access to this database is required when programming the car to accept a new key head.

Not really. The code comes on a little card with the key head (and should be saved by the owner for this purpose). If you have this, then what wross996TT said holds true and all you need is a PST2/PIWIS.

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You say you have an indy to do repairs. Any indy who works on Porsche should have a PIWIS or a PST2. They should be able to program the key fob with these tools.

Unless there has been a change in the last few years, it takes more than the diagnostic computer to program the car (not the key). PCNA maintains a data base of car codes and access to this database is required when programming the car to accept a new key head.

Not really. The code comes on a little card with the key head (and should be saved by the owner for this purpose). If you have this, then what wross996TT said holds true and all you need is a PST2/PIWIS.

if this can be confirmed (no offense, Silver), it would save me ~ 6 hours of driving to Tacoma and back, not that I don't like driving my C4S, but I-5 in February is no treat for anyone.

When I asked my trusted mechanic about the keys, they said they couldn't do it, but I didn't have the new heads then, so I may not have asked the right question.

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You say you have an indy to do repairs. Any indy who works on Porsche should have a PIWIS or a PST2. They should be able to program the key fob with these tools.

Unless there has been a change in the last few years, it takes more than the diagnostic computer to program the car (not the key). PCNA maintains a data base of car codes and access to this database is required when programming the car to accept a new key head.

Not really. The code comes on a little card with the key head (and should be saved by the owner for this purpose). If you have this, then what wross996TT said holds true and all you need is a PST2/PIWIS.

I'll be interested to see what the answer turns out to be. I believe the code that comes with the key fob is not the same code that PCNA supplies when a car computer is being matched to a new key head. I have known indy's who could do it ... but that was because they had a friend at the dealership who would give the the VIN related code over the phone.

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Any owner can get the iPAS codes for a car they own. However some dealerships make it a pain in the ***. (ie one refused and other it took me 3 min in person) Then use a PIWIS to code the keys (Keys need their own unique code on white tag attached when new)

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Yes, that's exactly right, 987_RDC. I believe that the IPAS codes are the "database of car codes" that Kim was referring to. The indy I use has a good relationship with a dealer and I'm sure that's how he gets IPAS codes when he needs them. At any rate, if your indy is similar and has a PST2/PIWIS, then all you need is the key head and the code on the card that came with it (and be sure to save this card, without it the key head is worthless if you ever want to transfer it, etc). It literally takes 5 mins but most dealers will charge you an hour. Richard Hamilton, another member of this forum, has a lot of expertise in this area.

If you're driving 6 hours though, I would relay this info to your indy to be sure everyone's on the same page. You might also want to consider giving Sunset a second chance if they are the only dealer within 6 hours of driving for you. You can do 99% of jobs without a dealer but it's a good thing to have a relationship with one, I think. Every once in a while they can be useful. I have no experience with Sunset service dept but I have bought parts from them for years and I would give them a 10 / 10 for outstanding prices and top-notch service As with any mechanic, you have to keep your eye on what they are doing, how they are doing it, and what/how you're being charged for it -- and a "stealership" is generally the worst culprit so Sunset may be no exception on the service side....or maybe you just caught them on a bad day or two. But it might make sense to maintain a relationship with them at some level...even if that means always getting quotes for the work they do and preauthorize them to be sure you're ok with it (per your concerns about the tension wire overcharge, etc). Good luck!

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Any owner can get the iPAS codes for a car they own. However some dealerships make it a pain in the ***. (ie one refused and other it took me 3 min in person) Then use a PIWIS to code the keys (Keys need their own unique code on white tag attached when new)

I realize (even mentioned) that an indy may have a contact at a dealer to get the car code. Your notation that one dealer "refused"you is the exact reason I cautioned the original poster not to act on the advice that "any indy with the equipment can do it".

As for the key code, I am aware of the code that comes with a new key head. However, I understand it is the car computer that is programmed during the mating process to accept this new key head code. The key itself is NOT coded or affected in any way during this process. Could be that we're simply debating semantics ... but I find that most owners tend to wish to know exactly how such things work in their car.

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  • Admin

They may not like it but there is no reason for a dealer/OPC to refuse you the security codes to your own car. They may ask for proof of ownership but you have a right to those codes AND to have your car serviced wherever you like.

If any dealer ever refused me (and none have to date) my next call would be to Porsche Cars North America (PCNA). Porsche does not want their dealers to be jerks.

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The following information is required to teach the hand−held transmitter:

· Key learning code from IPAS

· 24−digit Code No. (see barcode label on key grip)

with this information and a Porsche tool (PST2/PIWIS) the keys can be programmed. Remember if you re-program one key, you will need to re-program all of them. The procedure starts on page 1155 of the workshop manual.

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