Design Makes a Flat Battery a Headache

The design of the 911 (and some other vehicles) makes handling a dead battery more annoying than with many cars. With other cars, you pull a lever/button/whatever that pulls a cable that pops the hood (or trunk or wherever the battery is). With a 911 (996 and later) that button is electric instead of a direct cable. If the battery's flat, it won't pop the hood/frunk.

There are posts in the driver's footwell to help with this. Connect the positive end from your electrical source (donor car, jump box, whatever it may be) to the post and the negative onto the chassis (the metal loop on the door jamb used to hold the door closed was suggested in my manual – no paint on that metal). The donor car supplies the needed electrical power and the frunk can open.

Sometimes, for whatever reason, this doesn't work (it may not work with a particularly flat battery or if there's some other electrical issue). There is a cable in the wheel well one can pull to open the frunk, but it's behind body panels (or the wheel well shielding, depending on generation and which pieces you want to remove). Getting to this one is a PITA.

Last Saturday, going to work on the GT3, the guys found the battery was flat. They hooked up the posts in the footwell to an electrical source and tried to open the frunk. No luck. They decided they would leave the decision about what to do about this to me, so just... waited for me to get home. I was too tired when I got home to try to take panels off the car so waited until Sunday.

Sunday, I'm looking for the least-annoying way to get to that pull cable, and I see conflicting information online about which side the cable is on (right side or left side?). Comments say to go to your owner's manual. So I pull down the owner's manual and take a look. Not a word about the cable. But on the procedure to open the frunk with a dead battery, I see:

  1. Unlock the door with the key. Leave the key in the door.

... Leave the key in the door? I didn't know this was part of the procedure. I bet the guys didn't, either. I ask, and they had left the key in the car's ignition. This seems like a very strange detail, why would this matter? But taking body panels off the car is such an annoyance I might as well try this and see what happens. So I stick the key in the door keyhole, start the donor car idling, hook up the cables, and pull the frunk opening lever.


That's what I expected, but hey, maybe it's not working because of how flat the battery is. I'll leave the donor car running, attached, for a bit and see if that can supply enough charge to open the frunk with time. These cars are in the closed hangar, and I don't want to leave a car idling in here without air movement, so I look for the exhaust extractor we have. As I stand there, staring at it, pondering how to use it, I hear what sounds like a door handle turning. Maybe someone is coming to help. I look at the hangar door, no one. I walk that way... No one.

As I walk back I glance at the 996's frunk. It's... it's popped! That "door handle" sound was the frunk popping! I wasn't touching the car at the time. I don't know if it was "key in door, power supplied through footwell post, car automatically pops frunk" or if it somehow stored that I had pulled the button until it had enough power to actually move the latch. Either way, the frunk opened. Battery replaced, and the car is back on its way!

This confusion was a great reminder to double-check the steps, evne if you think you know them. Sometimes there's a little detail that seems irrelevant, but is worth trying.