A Guide to the Meaning Behind Porsche’s Part Numbers

Whether you are a “do-it-yourselfer”, or simply looking to save a few dollars by shopping for your own parts, chances are, as a Porsche owner, you've run across those crazy 11 digit numbers (000-000-000-00) that signify the one piece you need for your pride and joy to be perfect again.  What does it all mean?  How do part houses and Porsche dealerships know how to translate the code to get you the parts you need?

Porsche PET System screen shot

As with everything Porsche does, there are no concrete rules, and this post should simply be used as a guideline, rather than taken as the gospel.  That which is true of Porsche today, may be the reverse at any point in the near future.  For the time being, though, we’ll break down the 11 digit numbers into four smaller groups to make them easily digestible.

The First Group of Three Digits XXX-000-000-00

These are probably the easiest to decipher, but again, there are some extenuating circumstances that can throw you for a loop.  Most Porsche parts use a 3 digit prefix that relate them to a specific model in the Porsche range, usually the one that they were first designed for. However, Porsche has been known to carry these parts on to later models (e.g. 914 emergency brake switches are also used for 968 door light switches).

    1. Standard model prefixes include 901, 902, 911, 930, 914, 928, 964, 986, 996, etc. which usually correlate to the model on which you will find them.

 

    1. 999, 900, or N prefixes generally denote hardware components with multiple uses.

 

    1. As the 914-4 used a Volkswagen derived “type-4” engine, there are many VW part numbers used, 022, 021, and 113 are common prefixes for these parts.

 

    1. The 924/944/968 trio of cars were originally developed for use as a new Volkswagen sportscar using existing components such as the Audi 2.0 liter engine, VW MK1 derived front suspension, and VW Super Beetle derived rear suspension.  As such, many of these components use VW part numbers.

 

    1. The automatic transmission found in the 928 is a model that was developed with Mercedes Benz, and uses their part numbering system, with prefixes like 115, 126, and 722 to show for it.

 

  1. Transmission or Engine parts can often receive their own prefix based on the number of that engineering exercize – 915, 741, 547, 950, etc.

The Second Set of Three Digits 000-XXX-000-00

Moving on we get to the meat of the part number.  The first number in this second series of three digits signifies the section/system of the Porsche where the part can be found (i.e. Engine, Transmission, Front Suspension, Rear Suspension, etc.). The final two numbers in the series are related to the diagram number, within Porsche's PET system, on which they can be found (PET is the internal system of diagrams used for seeking out an individual part, most often found at dealership part counters).  After some digging, this seems to be more based on coincidence than actual fact, but it seems that as the second and third digits increase in value, the part is found deeper in numerically higher diagrams. Using the below outline, I'll explain which numbers correlate to which system, and list a few of the components that can be found there.

  1. 100 – Engine
    1. Rotating assembly, Flywheel, Case and Cylinder Head related components

     

  2. 200 – Fuel and Exhaust
      1. Fuel Tanks, Pumps, Lines, Regulators
      2. Mufflers, manifolds, gaskets, tips, turbochargers

     

  3. 300 – Transmission
      1. Clutches, Pressure Plates, T/O bearings, internal components, mounts, clutch slave cylinders

     

  4. 400 – Front Axle/Steering
      1. Front wheel bearings, wheel seals, uprights, hubs, lug studs, suspension components
      2. Steering wheel, steering rack components, column mounted switches.

     

  5. 500 – Rear Axle
      1. Drive axles, rear wheel bearings, trailing arms, rear wheel bearings, hubs, lug studs

     

  6. 600 – Wheels/Brakes
      1. Wheels, center caps, spacers, lug nuts, master cylinder, calipers, pads, rotors

     

  7. 700 – Levers/Pedals
      1. Accelerator, clutch, and brake pedal assembly, accelerator and clutch cables, clutch master cylinders
      2. Hood, trunk, fuel door, and engine cover release cables
      3. Transmission control levers and linkages

     

  8. 800 – Body
      1. Sheetmetal, trim, emblems, decals, interior components from upholstery to hardware, all HVAC components

     

  9. 900 – Electrical
    1. Engine ignition system (distributor, coil, plugs and wires), alternators, starters, windshield wiper and washer system, ignition and dash switches, electric motors, in-car entertainment, lighting

The Third Set of Three Digits 000-000-XXX-00

These are an internal code for the “actual number of the part”.  This does not seem to have any significance to the end user, perhaps this is based upon the engineering project number for that specific piece, or perhaps it has no significance at all.  As far as we, the people buying the parts, are concerned, the number could have been pulled from thin air after a long liquid lunch at the local biergarten.

The Final Two Digits 000-000-000-XX

These are known as the “modification number”.  For the most part, Porsche produced parts end in a pair of zeros.  When you see something other than these two zeros it means there has been a modification to the piece from its original production run.  This could me a minor change in the material specification, or even a significant change in the exterior dimensions of the part.  Either way, each subsequent modification will receive a new part number with an incrementally higher modification digit.  Often, these modifications are completed before the part is even installed on a production-line automobile; however, occasionally there are super sessions that will replace an earlier number.

This knowledge has been gleaned through several years in the Porsche parts industry, and thousands of hours spent poring over physical parts, as well as the PET system’s signature black and white outline drawings.  While PET access is generally limited, Porsche themselves have allowed free access to a PDF version of the catalog, as a resource for owners of Porsche models produced before 1998.

In the end, I hope this information is helpful to you, and that you find what you are looking for.  The quantity and quality of support in the Porsche parts industry continues to amaze, and even if you can’t find the parts you need, there is sure to be someone out there who can help.

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13 Comments

  1. Ron says

    Close. But not accurate. The breakdown for the second set of numbers as described is the VW system. For example even the PET diagram used for this example is a picture of brakes. This is found under sectiob 6 of the PET catalog but the part numbers are “352” part numbers. Porsche part numbers do not fall under the Group numbers like VW numbers.

    • says

      That isn’t always the case. Like I said, Porsche doesn’t always follow their own rules, but the vast majority of parts follows this guideline.

      You are right, Volkswagen uses a similar setup for their “ETKA” system, but PET is very similar.

  2. Peter Linsky says

    If you don’t have your own copy of the PET, buy one! You’ll have to order it from your local Porsche dealer’s Parts Department. I bought mine a couple of years ago (2010 version), and it was only $10! It’s an extremely useful information source for any Porsche owner, with factory parts catalog pages displayed in PDF form.

  3. C Coker says

    Well done and generally helpful and accurate.

    I do nto mean to single out a silly exception, but can you help me understand why the Porsche 917 Cylinder Head part # sequence starts with 912 ?

    Thanks!

    • says

      This is actually a very interesting bit of trivia, but the 917 Flat 12 engine was known internally as the “Typ-912 engine”.

      As we all know, the 912 was “typ-902”, and it’s prefix remained 902 even after the name was changed. The 917 was introduced in 1968, but Fuhrmann began working on the engine design much earlier. Every internal design project was numerically valued one higher than the project that came before it, so it would follow to reason that Typ 912 (the 917 flat-twelve engine) was designed approximately 10 project numbers after Typ 902 (The Porsche 912).

      It makes for a slightly confusing bit of history, but sometimes, that’s the way Porsche worked.

      • C Coker says

        Way cool! – Fuhrmann working on project “912” (the 917 engine), as early as 1965 really suggests some sort of Extraterrestrial involvement!

        Sorta like the US government developing the Black Bird aircraft in the 50s!!!!!

  4. says

    The 3rd set of numbers does. in fact, have signifigance. It helps to identify whether parts are right or left. Left hand parts end with an odd number in the 3rd set of digits. Right hand parts end with even numbers in the 3rd set of digits.

    Regards

    Jim

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