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Headlight Switch Fritz

3431 Views 8 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  legendsdontdie
A couple weeks ago the headlight switch on the blinker stalk started going wacky. Now when I turn the headlights on, the dashlights don't work, unless I turn the switch back about an eigth of an inch--away from regular switch stop. This ineviteably slips back to the regular stop, making the dash lights go out... Quite a distraction while driving.

A friend of mine with a 2 dr. G1 said she had run accross the same problem with other Honda built cars--and had to replace the whole blinker stalk.

Anyone else run across this? I'd rather not go to the expense of replacing the stalk, if I can avoid it....

I was thinking of maybe some TV tuner cleaner like they used to sell at Radio Shack (who has a mechanical tuner anymore to clean?) or maybe some WD 40 will work.

Anyone have any suggestions???
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When that switch went out on my '88 coupe, you'd turn the headlights on and the instrument cluster and taillights would not light up. Replaced the switch, problem solved. Its not uncommon for the switch to break.
TV Tuner cleaner alone won't work, because your problem is a worn out spring inside the headlight switch which no longer is putting pressure on the connector. Here is what you do:

  • - Remove the switch. The manual says that to get to the switch you have to remove the steering wheel, and while this is not difficult to do unless you have an airbag, it is just as easy not to. Without the steering wheel removed, what you have to do is, in succession:

    -Remove the upper and lower plastic upper steering column cover... this requires simply going under the steering column and unscrewing about 6 screws. Then you can simply remove top and bottom halves of the cover.

    - turn the steering wheel about 90 degrees right, such that the two small phillips screws on the left side of the wheel which hold the switch assembly into place are exposed, and remove those.

    -disconnect the handful of connectors which lead to the switch which were under the cover.

    - checking visibly first if there is a screw or two I have not mentioned here, with a slight yank you can remove the switch in its entirety away from the steering column.

    - now, on the square shaped lower part of the switch now exposed, you will see about 6 small phillips screws that hold the switch together... I think 2 of the 6 are revealed after removing the first layer of cover.

    - Keep in mind the way everything goes together to put it back together!

    - When you take it apart some more, you will see the system of sliders and bronze or brass connectors, that actuate the connection to the lights when you turn the switch. Of course the turn signal and highbeams are a different set of switches inside the unit and you don't need to do anything with those necesarily.

    - There are two "strips" related to the light switch - one shorter (the headlights) and a longer one, which is for the parking and dash lights. Connecting to these strips is a sort of "cap" that is supposed to press against the "strips" as it slides when you turn the switch. This is where the contact is no longer being made, because the cap is not being pressed down against the contact strip by the worn out spring. You will see what I am talking about when you get to this point.

The first time I took the switch apart, I cleaned the connectors and slides and lubricated everything with some dielectric grease and put it back together, proud of my work. Imagine my dismay when the problem reappeared a day later!

Taking it all apart again I saw what the problem was. You have to remove that metal cap which presses against the contact strips, to reveal the small spring. Stretching that spring for it to press harder against the contacts, is what worked once and for all. Its been fine for the last year+

Assembly, as they say, is the reverse of removal - test the working of the highbeam and turnsignal components to make sure everything is back together right before you assemble everything.

Please let me know if this doesn't make sense in some way or if you hit a snafu such as the plastic inside the switch was melted beyond recognition (mine was just a little off) once you get going. I originally was going to buy a whole new switch from a junkyard, but they wanted over $75! it's probably not necessary and the labor in replacing it is just about the same as fixing it.
Good luck
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Laurent, didn't you have this whole procedure posted somewhere? I remembered it as the best procedure I'd ever seen, but couldn't remember where you had posted it.
I had the same problem last summer. I got Laurent's steps and it worked great since.
Thanks to Laurent again
PSA said:
Laurent, didn't you have this whole procedure posted somewhere? I remembered it as the best procedure I'd ever seen, but couldn't remember where you had posted it.
Thanks Peter, - it was on the old forums but since they are becoming a ghost town I thought I'd take the opportunity to repost here :)

I'm glad its still working for lt_trinh too!

I don't get to hang around the forums as much since I don't work all day in front of a computer with high speed internet anymore...

Peace, L.
First off beware that this is not an easy fix. Primarily becasue this switch assy is pretty complicated mechanically and it is old and brittle. Be prepared to have a backup assy if you hose the original.

Notes to add to the previous desciption:

I could only remove the top cover of the steering housing. The rear cover I simply shifted out of the way when needed.

You do not have to remove the cable from the switch. Although you will want to carefully remove the cable ties that bundle the cable to the other cables. This way you will be able to swing the switch assy down to work on it.

There is a collar or frame thingie in front of the switch. Do not remove the screws from this although they appear to be holding the switch assy in place. Just remove the 2 screws that do actually go into the switch assy. Then use a flathead screw driveer to pry free the top of the switch from its location. The screw driver would be pointing toward the passenger side for this step.

To open the switch cover absolutely remove the 2 small screws at the rear of the assy. I didn't and broke them. 5 min epoxy fixed them but what a pain.

When you remove the cover all sorts of spings and crap can let loose. Be prepared to reverse engineer these parts into something you did not see in its original state!

Stretching the springs works fine. Just be careful when prying the tabs out that you do not crack the brittle plastic. There is a copper contact pad that has tabs that if bent wrong will render the thing a bear to fix.

I further screwed up my switch when testing operation I forced the light switch position and broke this little very important and super brittle tab. yah! To fix I drilled a pilot hole into where the tab used to be, found a small machine screw, dremmeled the top off, cut a slot in the top for a screw driver, set it to the right hieght and then covered it in epoxy. Phew!

Now I am stuck. Everything looks to be in the correct position and is fuctional but when I screw down the rear cover to the assy the thing stops working. You know what? I think by writing this out I figured out the problem and will check it. That screw I used as a replacement tab is probably too high and when cranking down the lid it is seizing the internal slide it is supposed to move. Now why did i epoxy that into place again???
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Update: I fixed it thanks to this DIY. it ended up being a spring loaded copper contact that wasn't moving freely within its socket. A little work with the needlenose pliers and its back in business. Considering how bad I hacked this project I'm lucky to be back up and running. Good luck and thanks!
i know this topic was posted a long time ago but i just started having this problem and i clean everything up but the problem is that where the connector connects to the back of console there the 2 wires that power all the backlights , im getting 2 positives instead of one negative and one positive. when i connect a battery dirrect to the copper strips a positive and a negative then all the lights turn on. so i was wondering if i should just cut one wire and ground it to something?? thanks fro ur help
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