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How to Replace a Dimmer Switch Actuator

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Old 05-18-2011, 08:10 AM   #1
GSjoe
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Default How to Replace a Dimmer Switch Actuator

When lowering the steering column of a friend's 1991 to remove a faulty instrument cluster, the dimmer switch rod became detached. After attaching the rod to the dimmer switch at the lower end of the column, the multi-function lever was still floppy and did not operate the dimmer at all. Upon removing the end cap below the multi-function/turn signal lever, a plastic piece literally fell on my face, as did a small piece of plastic which had broken off the larger piece. The larger piece was the actuator and I was able to buy a new one at the local Chevrolet dealership. The problem, however, is how do I put this thing back in place. I've all but given up trying to insert it from the area below the turn signal switch where it came from. I've checked the shop manual, but the directions for this little plastic actuator are not really clear to me. How do I replace this part? Do I need to remove the steering wheel, etc? Please help if you've ever done this job. Thanks in advance for any assistance you can provide.
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Old 07-04-2011, 03:14 PM   #2
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Did you ever figure out how to replace the dimmer switch actuator?I need to do this on a 1992 chevy truck.Any advice would be great.

Thanks Joe
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Old 07-05-2011, 07:55 AM   #3
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Yup, we figured it out, and it really wasn't a bad job. Once the steering wheel is off it all becomes clear. My friend, the owner of the ZR1, and I did it all in a bit over an hour and a half. We started by disconnecting the battery and leaving things at that for about an hour while we had lunch. That gave time for the airbag capacitors to lose their charge etc. reducing the risk of deployment. Disconnecting the airbag plug at the base of the steering column--first taking off covering panels, of course--removing two screws on the backside of the steering wheel and disconnecting the connection at that end allowed us to remove the airbag. Removing the steering wheel nut was next, and then came the steering wheel itself using a small puller. Next came the locking plate--again with the right tool to depress it to allow removal of the snap ring that holds the locking plate in place. Once that was out of the way, the place where the actuator went was obvious. In just a matter of minutes it was in place, and everything went back together easily. All in all we fretted over doing this job far more than we needed to. It's really pretty simple.
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Old 07-05-2011, 09:23 AM   #4
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A bad tilt knuckle or worn pivot bushings will cause the dimmer switch to have issues working and also cause that rod to keep falling out.
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Old 01-15-2013, 09:22 PM   #5
Cary Lamari
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I figured out how to reinstall the dimmer actuator without taking the steerig wheel off. I did have to take the tilt lever off to get better access to where the actuator goes in and had to loosen the dimmer switch itself to have room for the rod to move freely. and after I set the actuator in place noting that the multi purpose turn signal switch moved the actuator with my left hand i pushed the rod up toward the wheel so it had tension on the actuator then I put the cover back on. The cover is the only thing that holds the actuator in place which is the difficult part, holding tension on the rod so the actuator doesn't fall out again while reinstalling the cover. and finally I readjusted the dimmer switch on the colum and it all came together. Took a few hours to figure it out. Once you understand how the actuator fits into the turn signal switch it becomes apparent.
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Old 12-23-2013, 11:01 AM   #6
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Default Dimmer Switch Actuator

Hello. I saw your post and am stuck at this point in putting my steering wheel back together. That actuator is the last piece. do you recall how you put the plastic piece (actuator) and kept it in place while you put the cover back one?

Thanks

Dan.

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Originally Posted by Cary Lamari View Post
I figured out how to reinstall the dimmer actuator without taking the steerig wheel off. I did have to take the tilt lever off to get better access to where the actuator goes in and had to loosen the dimmer switch itself to have room for the rod to move freely. and after I set the actuator in place noting that the multi purpose turn signal switch moved the actuator with my left hand i pushed the rod up toward the wheel so it had tension on the actuator then I put the cover back on. The cover is the only thing that holds the actuator in place which is the difficult part, holding tension on the rod so the actuator doesn't fall out again while reinstalling the cover. and finally I readjusted the dimmer switch on the colum and it all came together. Took a few hours to figure it out. Once you understand how the actuator fits into the turn signal switch it becomes apparent.
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Old 12-23-2013, 11:51 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by abedj View Post
Hello. I saw your post and am stuck at this point in putting my steering wheel back together. That actuator is the last piece. do you recall how you put the plastic piece (actuator) and kept it in place while you put the cover back one?

Thanks

Dan.
You lossen the dimmer switch on the column there are two small bolts or screws, you put the rod in place then slide the actuator in from the top till it makes contact with the rod then tighten the dimmer while holding the actuator rod and then reinstall the cover. then reinstall the steering wheel . Thats how I did it. took hours of trial and error to figure it out. but after it became easy. I remember having to do it a couple times till i got it but wasn't that bad once the steering wheel is off pushing the actuator down from the top. You can slide the actuato from the bottom up and push the rod to hold it but that is a little tricky,pushing the plastic actuator from the top is the easiest way. remember to hold the rod with your left hand pushing up, keeping tension on the rod till you get the dimmer re-attached. The dimmer puts tension on the rod holding the actuator in place if that moves it will fall out again.

Last edited by Cary Lamari; 12-23-2013 at 11:59 AM.
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Old 06-11-2016, 10:13 PM   #8
RayTremblay
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GSjoe View Post
Yup, we figured it out, and it really wasn't a bad job. Once the steering wheel is off it all becomes clear. My friend, the owner of the ZR1, and I did it all in a bit over an hour and a half. We started by disconnecting the battery and leaving things at that for about an hour while we had lunch. That gave time for the airbag capacitors to lose their charge etc. reducing the risk of deployment. Disconnecting the airbag plug at the base of the steering column--first taking off covering panels, of course--removing two screws on the backside of the steering wheel and disconnecting the connection at that end allowed us to remove the airbag. Removing the steering wheel nut was next, and then came the steering wheel itself using a small puller. Next came the locking plate--again with the right tool to depress it to allow removal of the snap ring that holds the locking plate in place. Once that was out of the way, the place where the actuator went was obvious. In just a matter of minutes it was in place, and everything went back together easily. All in all we fretted over doing this job far more than we needed to. It's really pretty simple.
what was the correct tool to remove the snap ring that you are wright about in the above. I have this job to do, and it is kicking my butt. Did you drop the steering column down to do this job, or leave it bolted in place?
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Old 06-12-2016, 09:38 AM   #9
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Hi Ray,

I just read your post from yesterday and took a picture of the tools we used showing the spring plate compressor, etc. I checked your posts from this morning right after doing so and found you got the job done without my info. Congratulations! Here's the picture if you'd like to see it.

GSJoe



Last edited by GSjoe; 06-12-2016 at 09:39 AM.
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Old 06-12-2016, 01:05 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GSjoe View Post
Hi Ray,

I just read your post from yesterday and took a picture of the tools we used showing the spring plate compressor, etc. I checked your posts from this morning right after doing so and found you got the job done without my info. Congratulations! Here's the picture if you'd like to see it.

GSJoe


Yea I pulled it off without having to pull the wheel. However, this doesn't mean that I will never have to pul the wheel, so thanks for the info. Never know when it will be handy.
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