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Headlight switch failed. Decided to repair instead of replace…

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Old 09-30-2007, 08:05 PM   #1
MIKER
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Default Headlight switch failed. Decided to repair instead of replace…

My headlight switch failed. The headlights would come up and turn on but the dash lights and tail/running lights were not working. I searched the forum archives and found that this is a very common problem. The price for a new switch ranges from ~$150 - ~$200. Apparently dealerships charge up to ~$700 for parts and labor.

I decided to do exploratory surgery on the switch being that it was already “broken.”
I referenced the following thread for information on removal of the switch:
Multi-function switch swap questions
http://forums.corvetteforum.com/show....php?t=1274548

Opening the switch and finding the problem was easy. Initially I completely removed the switch but ended up plugging it back up while diagnosing the problem.
I found that the contact points that actuate the dash and running lights had lost too much spring tension to close tightly enough to make a good electrical connection.
To sum it up quickly I simply increased the tension of the contacts so they will close with more force. Problem solved. Price $0.
How long will this repair last? I have no idea but I will update this post if it fails before this thread goes into the archives.

In reality, it took me a few hours of trial and error to finally figure it all out and get it right. I could do the job MUCH faster now. It takes about 30 to 60 minutes to disassemble the car, remove the switch, reinstall the switch, and re-assemble the car.
Between all that, the switch repair should take less than an hour.

Here’s a few quick pics to give an idea of what it looks like:



You only need to remove the three long screws. The short one holds the other half of the switch together.



Remove the grey colored shield/cover.


This contact point fails to close properly causing your dash lights and running lights to remain off. When the headlights are turned on.


To adjust the tension on these contact points, use needle nose pliers to slide the two modules out of the switch. The arrow points to good places to pull from.


To increase tension on the contact points, bend these tabs outward. This forces the points to close together tighter.
If simply bending these tabs outward doesn’t create enough pressure on the contacts, you can bend these tabs inward, thus raising the contacts, then bend the contact arms downward followed by bending the tabs outwards for increased overall pressure.
I cannot think of a better way to word this so just study your options carefully while performing this adjustment.


Just another view.


Based on research about improving the performance of contacts, do not use dielectric grease on the contacts. It will reduce their performance. Dielectric grease is excellent for electrical contacts that are bolted together, clamped together, plugs, etc. but not for contact points.

I ended up lightly cleaning the contacts with 2000 grit sand paper followed by alcohol and a toothbrush. EDIT TO ADD: >> Do Not Sand Electrical Contact Points. I have learned that sanding the contact points removes the protective layer and this will cause it to fail prematurely!

IMPORTANT: After re-assembling the switch, be sure to plug it in and verify that each and every function of the switch works properly prior to reinstalling the switch and interior parts. << END OF EDIT.

This repair certainly isn’t for everyone as buying/installing a new switch is a sure cure but for those who like to tinker should find it to be a worthwhile adventure.

I plan to shop around for a good deal on a spare switch just in case this one doesn’t hold up.


Last edited by MIKER; 02-04-2008 at 10:46 PM. Reason: Added warning about sanding contacts. Added note about function checks.
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Old 09-30-2007, 09:49 PM   #2
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Nice work!


EDIT: The one exception to the "don't sand" rule - If the contacts are black from arcing, they're already
toast, so you should sand them down with 400+ grit sandpaper until they're shiny again.

Last edited by SilvaDragon; 03-14-2008 at 09:55 AM.
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Old 09-30-2007, 10:10 PM   #3
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I really appreciate when people like you take the time to docuement repairs to this level...TNX!
RGaz
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Old 09-30-2007, 10:21 PM   #4
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WOW! EXCELLENT WORK!! Thats what I call well documentated!!

Thanks for the very detailed write up and picts.. EXCELLENT edit info also!!!!!!!!!!!!

Bill C

Last edited by Bill Curlee; 03-13-2008 at 09:34 PM.
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Old 09-30-2007, 10:26 PM   #5
Dan_the_C5_Man
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Fantastic post, one for the "DIY sticky".
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Old 09-30-2007, 11:19 PM   #6
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Nice.

I'm really surprized there isn't something pushing the contacts closed on the other side. Typically a spring or arm part way between the contact and fixed end is used to make sure they close.

Peter
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Old 10-01-2007, 12:04 AM   #7
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Great work MIKER!
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Old 10-01-2007, 01:37 AM   #8
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Thats an outstanding post and thanks for taking the time to document it. Definitely one for the DIY thread in Tech.

This is one problem that comes up often and I suspect you just saved a few members quite a few $$$

Great job
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Old 10-01-2007, 01:47 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TNX ZORA View Post
Great work MIKER!
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Old 10-01-2007, 08:18 AM   #10
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Great post. This is what I like best about CF.
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Old 10-01-2007, 09:57 AM   #11
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I love it when Guys figure out how to beat the high cost of Corvette ownership and then share it. Very well done.
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Old 01-06-2008, 01:51 PM   #12
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This is the problem I'm dealing with right now. I'm going to go see if this will work!

Thanks
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Old 01-06-2008, 02:28 PM   #13
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Thanks for sharing your info! I'll be saving this for future reference. Certainly worth a try and I'll bet this will work for quite a while!
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Old 01-06-2008, 06:44 PM   #14
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MIKER

I have to complement you again on this post!! IT's EXCELLENT!!!!!!!!!

It will also save people tons of cash!! Great JOB!!

Bill Curlee
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Old 01-06-2008, 07:33 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Curlee View Post
MIKER
I have to complement you again on this post!! IT's EXCELLENT!!!!!!!!!
It will also save people tons of cash!! Great JOB!!
Bill Curlee
Great Information.....Hope I never need to use it. But, I saved it just in case.
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Old 03-13-2008, 07:50 PM   #16
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Another satisfied customer! My money is still in the bank!
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Old 04-01-2008, 03:23 PM   #17
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YOU ARE THE MAN!

Used the first thread to take it out, then this thread to fix it..

SAVED ME 800 dollars that the dealership quoted me at
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Old 04-06-2008, 10:28 PM   #18
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thank you so much for the write up, I did that but problem still there, kinda upset, but later found out that when I "hang" whole switch while still connected to the car, my headlight works perfect, then I removed the factory "zip/cable tie" thing which holds the swich's wires and bolts the switch back to the steering wheel, guess what, evething works fine!!!!! I think that due to the stupid zip tie thing, the wire inside maybe almost broke due to that zip tie "bend" the whole wires 90 degrees, what a bad design.

So for now my headlight delay pop out problem sloved, I hope dealer sells just the harness for the switch if mine couldn't hold up... Just some tips before people spent $200+ to replace entire switch...
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Old 04-18-2008, 12:39 AM   #19
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Thanks so much MIKER... After i had guage light failure symptons, I immediately referred to the Corvette Forum and becuase of your post, i diagnosed my problem in 3 seconds, (no tail lights, gauge lights on when door open) and I went at it. 1 hour later problem solved. Your right up saved me (and a lot of people) many hours. Thanks again.
John

http://forums.corvetteforum.com/show....php?t=1997638
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Old 04-18-2008, 11:16 AM   #20
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I fixed mine three months ago not a problem yet

Last edited by z06801; 04-18-2008 at 11:18 AM.
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