Alfa Super Saves Porsche 911

Giulia Super providing a jump

It’s driving time again. My rotator-cuff surgery is healing well, and the surgeon has given me the okay to drive stick-shift cars. So I’ve been driving the Giulia Super for the past couple of weeks and thinking about how much I appreciate vintage cars, the mastery they require and how intuitive they are to service.

But last Sunday I was in a “luxo” mood, and I decided it was time to take the 2001 Porsche 911 Twin Turbo out for a spin. It had been a month or so since I last drove it.

Most of my cars have trickle chargers on them, and they always fire right up. However, I didn’t put a trickle charger on the Turbo when I put it away. It should, as a modern car with a modern battery, be able to sit for a couple of months without needing attention.

I was wrong. I clicked the remote, and the car didn’t beep or flash. I used the key to unlock it, and the interior lights stayed off when I opened the door.

This was one very dead battery.

We have plenty of jumper cables and battery chargers in the SCM gear locker. The 911’s battery is in the front compartment and easy to reach. But there is a catch: the switch that pops the hood is electric.

How was I supposed to get power to the dead battery if I couldn’t open the hood?

I texted Gabe Wiley, the service tech from Sunset Porsche. Even though it was Valentine’s Sunday, he responded immediately. He directed me to pull the cover off the fuse block and locate a red tab with a picture of the hood on it.

“Put power to that red tab, and the hood will open,” he wrote. “Then you can get to the battery.”

I pulled the Alfa Super up next to the 911 and ran jumper cables from the Super’s battery to the red tab and a ground. Of course, the instant there was power, the horn started honking. Hitting the button on the remote fixed that, and then I was able to get the trunk to pop open.

A couple of minutes later, I had a charger attached to the 911 battery. The next morning, the car fired right up.

I’m thinking it may be time for a new battery. The old one isn’t date-coded, but it wasn’t new when I got the 911, and I’ve been driving the car for a year now.

I also think I will invest in one of those little jump boxes you store in your glovebox. I’ve heard good things about them, and it would keep me from depending on jumper cables and other cars.

I’ve solved my problem, but I can’t help but wonder why Porsche doesn’t have a manual pull for the front trunk. That would make things much easier. But I know that in general, cars today are not built for ease of repair. It seems that increasingly, the solution to your problem is a flatbed tow to the repair shop.

Old cars may not be more reliable than new cars, but at least you can hope to troubleshoot your old-car problems with common sense.

Keith Martin

Keith Martin has been involved with the collector car hobby for more than 30 years. As a writer, publisher, television commentator and enthusiast, he is constantly on the go, meeting collectors and getting involved in their activities throughout the world. He is the founder and publisher of the monthly Sports Car Market and bi-monthly American Car Collector magazines, has written for the New York Times, Automobile, AutoWeek, Road & Track and other publications, is an emcee for numerous concours, and has his own show, “What’s My Car Worth,” shown on Velocity.

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  1. Hi Keith, your experience with the battery going dead and preventing electronic access to the fro t trunk (trunk) is common with this era Porsche.
    Fortunately applying power to the fuse box did the trick for you as it is the most simple way, but there is a manual way to actuate the latch too. There is a thin steel cable hidden in the right fender well that can be found and pulled to actuate the latch. This usually requires removing one of the plastic wheel well liners which usually requires removing the wheel too. None of this would be easy to do while stranded in a parking lot or by the side of the road.
    So many owners have rerouted this cable so that it is easily accessible somewhere in the front bumper area.

  2. Hi Keith, I feel your pain. Well, actually, my wife feels your pain. She had rotator-cuff surgery last year and could not drive her recently purchased 993 for several months — which only added to her pain (that PT was a lot of fun, wasn’t it)!

    Reference your 911 battery issue, we’ve had similar problems with our 997.2 Turbo S. Porsche told us that the computers in the car frequently communicate with one another (even more so if the car is not locked) so there is always a drain. We’ve just decided to always leave it on a tender if we don’t plan to drive it for more than two weeks or so. Haven’t had a problem since.

  3. Take it gradually and stick with the therapy. I had both shoulders done (at different times) many years ago with each negatively impacting a promising race season. They are still pretty good 20+ years later.

    As for the Porsche, I discovered the same problem with my wife’s occasionally driven 997. I bought the Porsche charger and it’s been fine since. I also discovered that the Porsche charger (which has only an accessory outlet plug, is made by CTEK. Amazon has the same unit (3300) with 3 connector options for $54. I own several and use them on many pieces of equipment. I’ve also had good results with Noco chargers. Both companies make the small Lithium charger/starters which have saved my but.