Imperial Home Page -> Repair -> Electrical -> Switches
See How To Repair Your 1950s-Style Imperial Power Window Switches.
How To Clean Your Mechanical Switches- by Chris:
Any simple mechanical switch that uses contacts to close a circuit (which is to say most power window switches in Imperials) usually fails for one of two reasons:
1. The contacts get dirty.
2. The housing breaks so that contacts don't make contact.
For #1, try to see the contacts without disassembling the switch. If you cannot, gently pry apart the switch. Either way, lightly brush the surface of the contacts with the smooth side of an emery board or fine sandpaper until it's clean.
For #2, try to glue the housing back together (after cleaning the contacts as long as you have it apart) using as little super-glue as possible, then let it set and reinstall it once it's stable. You'd be surprised how many things on an Imperial can be rebuilt, keeping your car an original!
Tip from Tom:
If your headlights are flickering, you may have a dirty switch. I have cleaned many of these headlight switches. The integrity of the switches is pretty good. The best way to do this is to carefully bend the tabs holding it together. They are fragile and can only be done a couple of times. The plastic part will come off and you can clean the copper contacts with contact cleaner or alcohol along with a scotch-brite pad works well. Lightly lube the contacts with a white lithium grease upon assembly and the switch should function for another thirty years. Another thing to look at while it is out, is the rheostat for the dash lights. Be careful not to damage the wire coil while cleaning it. There is a small contact that touches the coil that is usually dirty. Scotch- brite works well on the brass contact ring in the center.
Tip from Jeff:
Another way to clean a switch is to clean it with electrical contact cleaner from Radio Shack.
Tip from Bill (1955-56):
Several weeks ago I sent my master window switch (controls all 4 power windows) out for repairs. Some posts were broken off and some switches did not work well. The cost was $200 and I was satisfied with the restored switch performance when it returned. Last week I took my front seat apart to have the lower panels repainted. This time the 2 power seat switches were going to need repairs. Not looking forward spending $100 to repair the switches I was determined to see if I could fix them. I was quite surprised to see that the phenolic sections were not glued or welded, but rather held together by two clips. I repaired the broken post and cleaned all contacts. Switches works like a charm.
Jay's Story About How He Repaired The Map Light Switch On His 1962 Imperial:
One of my projects was repairing the map light switch. This is a important repair as my wife likes to read while I drive. (She also likes to comment on my driving when she's not reading, but that's another story) We usually end up driving around with the dome light on because the map light switch is broken. At least when we do this I can see the instruments (dash lighting still not working - haven't experienced the thrill of an EL dash yet - looking forward to it!)
The original map light switch (which resides in the map light bezel along with the power antenna switch) had broken and fallen out of the socket along with the internal pieces. Enter our '63 parts car. This car had the map light bezel intact with all the switches. The map light switch was very hard to throw as the operator had to press the switch back into the bezel while simultaneously throwing the switch. Electrically, the switch worked fine. I decided to disassemble the switch in hopes of diagnosing the problem and improving its operation. I took the job indoors where I would have plenty of light and a flat surface to work on. I used pieces from both the new and the old assembly to rebuild one good working assembly.
I used a very small standard screwdriver to carefully pry the back of the switch from the metal bezel. The bezel is swaged in four places to keep the back in place, but one side was not swaged very well. This made removing the back relatively easy. The switch and the "rocker" portion of the contact were removed. The switch lever has an internal pocket or "hole" where a nylon or plastic pin rides suspended by a spring for contact pressure. The end of the pin that is exposed has a rounded tip, and this tip rides back and forth across the rocker contact causing it to open and close the circuit.
The pin was removed, cleaned and checked for wear. There was no detectable wear, so I applied a very small amount of lithium grease to the nylon pin both where it slips into the hole (and rides on the spring) and where the rounded tip rides across the rocker contact. The rocker and stationary contacts were cleaned. I added a little of the same grease to the pivot points of the switch lever. I don't know if this was necessary, but it seemed like a good idea. (I'm always looking for ways to reduce friction)
I reassembled the switch. The switch now operates smoother than from the factory due to the grease. Fearing that someday that the two "not so good" swages might give way and launch the internal parts up into the dash, I used a few dabs of super-glue to hold the back of the switch in the bezel. I guess I was feeling confident of my work when I did this as now the switch back will have to destroyed if I ever need to open it back up. I didn't think there would be any problem with the switch. Then I went back out to the car.
I reinstalled the map light assembly into the dash and closed the driver's door. I flipped the switch. Nothing happened - no light came on. NOW WHAT? I disconnected the connectors and used a piece of bailing wire to short the wire to the dash, and the light came on. Then I reconnected the wires and shorted the contacts where they come thru the back of the switch to ground. The light came on. I KNOW that I didn't assemble the switch backward, so why doesn't the switch close the circuit properly?
What I found out was this:
When I had used the super-glue to secure the back, I also dabbed some glue where the fixed contact of the switch touches the bezel. The super-glue seeped between the contact and the bezel and formed an insulator at that location. The switch worked fine, but it was not grounding well enough to complete the circuit.
Since I rendered this switch unserviceable using super-glue, I ended up taking the small screwdriver and forcing it in between the contact and the bezel, distorting the contact ever so lightly and causing it to short out to the bezel. The switch now works fine. If the switch should ever fail to turn the light on, I will check this connection as well as the condition of the bulb.
Oddly enough, your description exactly matches the map light switches on my '71s, except that in '71 the body of the switch was plastic. This same switch is used for '71 to '73, and maybe for earlier years, and like your '62, is built into a panel which also can house the power antenna switch. I remember trying to rebuild one of those switches when I was a teenager. I finally got it to work, but unfortunately, I didn't have any spare parts at the time, which made the job a lot harder.
Tip from Eric on burned out switches:
There is a good website that gives a detailed instruction how to wire the headlamp circuit through a relay. This upgrade isolates the largest load from the headlamp switch using a fused link directly from the alternator as source of power to the power hungry headlamps. I have installed the relay kit from this site on my 1972 Newport. The specific relay upgrade site is at http://www.danielsternlighting.com/tech/relays/relays.html
An informative tech overview of automotive lighting is at http://www.danielsternlighting.com/tech/tech.html The proprietor, Dan Stern, is an excellent help in this field. He is well versed in Moparaea...??
As most cars come, the power for the four 45-75 watt headlamps, the 10-15 running lights for some cars, and the many dashboard lights all route through the headlamp switch. I'm thinking that the digital dashboard probably takes more juice than a standard instrumentation light bulb system, but I don't have the specs. All this going through a standard switch that sees frequent duty could explain the burned switch problem. A relayed circuit would be the logical preventative medicine to preserve an unmelted switchbox.
Question from Kent:
I'm in the process of cleaning the switches in my 67 Imperial. Once cleaned and prior to reassembly, what type lubricate should I use in the switches prior to reassembly? Dielectric grease, et?
Yes, I use silicon grease, also called dielectric grease. It is sometimes hard to find, but any laboratory supply house will have it, as it is used in vacuum work also. I use a Dow-Corning brand called DC-4, but GE also makes the stuff.
When I did my switches, I used tuner cleaner (Radi Shack, etc)...worked great! (I even got power to my cruise control!)
As for the chrome, a Q-tip dipped in ammonia cleans them right up!
NAPA carries dielectric grease.
Question from Dieter (1955):
Upon a routine check to my master cylinder, I noticed that the fluid level was on the low side (3/4 full). I corrected this and now my brake pedal is right up to were it should be. Before this adding of fluid, my brake lights went on at the slightest foot pressure, but now I have to press a lot harder to activate those brake lights. Did the brake light switch get use to a longer down travel? Any suggestions or tips on how to correct this?
The displacement type master/booster combined unit on the '55 is a one-year only item. Do you still have the original or has it been replaced with a different type unit? The original has the outlet on the side of the master cylinder. If you're losing fluid it could be going into the booster diaphragm.
On the original '55 displacement unit the master is mounted in front of the booster. They are serviced as one unit. The line fitting is on the side of the master cylinder. The brake fluid reserve tank is rectangular and is on top of the master cylinder. When the seals go bad it is common for fluid to leak back into the booster. This conceivably could reduce system pressure and thereby effect the brake switch.
AFAIK the '56 and later stock booster operates on the pedal and is mounted separately above the master cylinder. Master cylinder problems should have no effect on the booster. The '56 unit should be suitable for replacement of the '55 unit.
There were other dealer installed and aftermarket units, most of which were separate from the master cylinder.
There are a couple of things that bother me about this;
#1: The quantity of fluid in the master cylinder should have no effect on the height of the pedal (unless, of course, it was so low that you were pumping air into the lines, but this would mean the reservoir was completely empty).
#2: The brake light switch, (at least if it is the original type,) is operated by the pressure in the brake hydraulic lines. This pressure threshold is a design parameter of the switch, and will not change unless the switch is beginning to fail. A brake light switch in this condition needs to be replaced.
If the brake light switch has been changed to the more modern linkage operated type, I can understand why with a higher pedal you have to push harder to make it operate.
The situation with the change in pedal height must be investigated. I suspect you are losing fluid somewhere; perhaps at some time in the past, air was injected into the lines because of running out of fluid in the reservoir. In this case, you need to inspect the whole brake system to find the source of the fluid leak, and then after correcting that problem, bleed all the air out of the system. That should give you a high, hard pedal, that does not change.
If you can find no sign of fluid leakage, and your car has power brakes, pull the vacuum hose from the power unit and smell it, to see if there is any odor of fluid. If there is, you have a failing brake booster which must be repaired before the problem will go away.
If there is no odor of fluid there, or if you do not have power brakes, perform a normal brake adjustment at all 4 wheels, and monitor the situation carefully. If you continue to have erratic pedal position, take the car to a professional brake shop and let them track down the problem. (And don't go to one of the national chain stores - go to a long term locally owned shop with gray haired mechanics who have actual grease under their fingernails!).
Question from George (1956):
I need a brake light switch. My brake lights are faint to nothing when I apply the brake. Called NAPA and they said they have the part for up to '54 and then for the '65 up. Big gap and my '56 Imperial is in the gap. So, does anyone have a source for this part or have a number I can use in my search? The local Chrysler parts dept told me to call NAPA and ask for the brake light switch for a '62 Dodge truck. Will that work? It thought the truck requirement was different than the car requirement.
Noooooo - The person behind the counter was ignorant. The same hydraulic switch was used for many, many years, ending in '61 on Imperials - Mid-year for '61, they switched to the mechanical switch. Just tell the NAPA person behind the counter to hand you ANY Mopar Hydraulic brake-switch from the 1950's. When they do, you'll see it's identical to your old one.
The part number at NAPA is SL134.
Where can I find a driver's side switch for the power windows?
Try the famous Imperial Heaven... and Czar of Imperials...Bob Hoffmiester
I guess you mean the 4 button power window switch? I have a couple in the back yard from New Yorkers that are dissembled here. I checked and they look exactly like my 58 Switch in my Imperial Convert. Is this what you are looking for?
With regard to the door switches it has been my experience, through years of repairing old radio, that there may be nothing wrong with the switch other than dirty contacts. The easy way to tell is by a continuity test with an ohmmeter. If the switch is making contact there will be little or no resistance when you push the switch. If there is no contact the meter will give a reading of infinite resistance or the needle won't move. These switches are normally three position jobs so you will want to push the lever up as well as down and test for continuity across the nuts on the back. If you don't get any contact give the switch a soak in some mineral spirits and the some alcohol after that and let it dry overnight. If it still doesn't give any continuity when depressed then it has a mechanical fault which can sometimes be repaired if you're handy with such things and sometimes not. The point being that many things, such as switches or window motors, from that era tend to be overbuilt and can often be cleaned and made to work or can be taken apart and repaired.
Question from Hugh (1958):
Will the removal of the brake light switch from the brake master cylinder on a 1958 cause the master cylinder to drain completely? It has been a few years since I performed the task and I cannot remember.
On my car, the switch was on the bottom of the master cylinder. I recall some leakage but am wondering if there might be a restrictor of some kind that would prevent all the fluid draining out.
If I had to make a bet, I'd say the master cylinder would drain out rapidly.
Reply from Paul:
You can change the switch without losing very much brake fluid. If you are fast with your fingers, you should be able to have the old one out and the new one screwed in very quickly. Always check the fluid level, pump the brake a few times and everything should be fine.
It wouldn't hurt to do a thorough flush and bleed to replenish the fluid, but it shouldn't be necessary just changing the switch.
Question from Kaleigh (1958):
Can anyone help me to locate a toggle for my electric window. I only need one of. Or does anyone know in any other Chrysler products eg Valiant? Plymouth? or Dodge. The Plymouth and Dodge are still hard to come by but it may give me a helping hand.
I think all '57..59 MoPars have the same switch.
Lowell Howe might have toggle for you his # is 1-209-892-3464. He is in CA. He has a phone machine ,he returns calls prompley
Question from Denis (1958):
The tail lights on my '58 convertible came on when I parked the car tonight, and I had to remove the bulb sockets to get them to go off. Does this mean I have a stuck brake switch?
The taillight wiring comes from a separate pin on the headlight switch (because you must have the taillight on in the parking light position and in the headlight position). The pin is stamped "T" on the back of the switch but isn't very easy to access (mirror ?). Try to remove the taillight wire (black wire) from the switch and look at your taillights. If they are off the switch has to been remove (not easy..) and replaced or repaired , if the lights are still on you've some short circuit between the switch and the lights.
Check the wires that go to the brake switch, which is fluid activated and connected to the master cylinder. When this happened to me, one of the wires had slipped off and was making contact with the other one, completing the circuit and therefore illuminating the bulbs. Disconnecting the battery would have turned them off too, by the way.
If your brake light switch is on the master cylinder, I'd go for either a stuck switch or a system in desperate need of flushing and refilling with clean fluid. If your switch is mounted above the brake pedal, the master cylinder return spring has become weak, and it is time to rebuild your master cylinder.
Question from Rex (1959):
On my '59 there is a rubber line running from the engine block to the oil pressure switch on the dash. This line ruptured and I ordered an NOS one from Mitchell Motors in GA. The line arrived but it has no nut or compression fitting on the end where the hose screws into the back of the switch on the dash. Mr. Mitchell said I needed to re-use my old fitting and nut, but I don't see any way to get it off.
I wonder if a new style compression fitting will work? I don't want oil leaks under the dash, nor do I want to ruin the nos hose. Has anyone changed one of these before? I understand similar hoses were used from at least the early 1950's- 1960's. I would just like to know how someone has prepared a replacement hose for installation. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
On my "lesser" [sportier, lighter...] Mopars, the oil pressure hose replacements came with the fittings attached. What gave you the idea that you've gotten a "NOS" hose? You got this from a supplier whose integrity has been questioned by some of our members; maybe he sold you a chunk of ordinary hose and misinformed you as to its correctness.
Gary Goers sells also the rubber hose and says: " .. you must use your original nut at the oil press gauge since it has an oddball thread that is not available. A new crush sleeve is provided ". # 537 A on catalog ('57-'59 oil pressure gauge line); $15.00 On my car before restoring it there was a leak at the gauge fitting and I had drops of oil on my shoe. The gauge is exactly above the accelerator pedal! I replace it with a gauge line from a wrecked Imperial. This hose (1313 643) is also used on Chrysler and nut/sleeve/elbow are identical on all '57 Mopar (I haven't the 58-59 parts manual). It seems you need also 657039 elbow and 137396 nut.
The nut should have been on it already. Take an old line and a new one to a hydraulic line reproducer and they can recrimp the pieces together. Try someplace that makes replacement lines for autos or the trucking industry.
We had a member with a '59 that replaced his with a metal auto parts store line rather then pay Mitchell's price.
Question from Bill (1959):
Anyone know where to get a brake light switch for my '59? My mechanic thinks it is the reason my tail lights won't turn off, and after see the smoke coming out of it I do to.
If you want original go to Andy Bernbaum. (617-244-1118). Otherwise a modern replacement can be found at NAPA. I believe you need a converter to get the original to fit.
It's NAPA part number SL 136.
Here's the scoop. My 58 uses the same thing. You cannot get an exactly correct brake light switch for these cars anymore. But the SL 136 works just fine, with an adapter. Check your master cylinder and you may find that it already has the adapter fitted. If not get one that the switch will screw into that takes the screw size up to the next smallest size. That's what I told my NAPA folks and they knew exactly what I meant - even if I didn't - and then it turned out I had the adapter anyway. You need this one to have the correct male and female electrical fittings. With the adapter in place its just about impossible to see. All you can see is an additional hexagonal nut, very thin, as the top part disappears into the master cylinder, and the brake switch encompasses the bottom part of the adapter.
Question from Denis (1962):
I have two 62 Imperials that the dome light stays on all the time. I removed the bulbs so as not to over heat, or shorten the life of the battery. I assume it's a short in the wire, but do not wish to mess up the headliner. I'm mechanically challenged, can take anything apart, but can't put anything back together, without a sludge hammer.
Reply from Dave:
Have you checked the condition of the Light switches, in the posts, A +B . And the switch above the drivers door.
Question from Chris (1965):While attempting to replace some burnt out bulbs and doing some general clean- up on the dash of my 65, I am stumped by a seemingly easy task. How does one remove the headlight switch knob? The service manual says "Remove the knob and shaft assembly". Duhhhhhh! How I ask, how. Does the book tell? NO! Unlike the knobs for the wipers and AutoPilot, there are no set screws. Help......
The switch has a retainer button that you have to reach under the dash to feel, there is no easy way to describe this, but if you have access to a switch that is out in the open, look at it and you will see a button that sticks out of the switch about 1/4 inch, with a little coil spring pushing it out of the main body of the switch, near the center of the switch body somewhere. You need to depress this button while simultaneously pulling out on the knob. If you have to work blind, just snake your hand up there and pull gently on the knob past all the way out, while pushing on everything you can feel on the switch body that will move when you push on it. One of those relays will release the knob.
My 66 headlight switch knob has a push button release for the shaft on the switch body. Do not pull on the knob unless you have the release tripped, except if you want to break off the shaft.
Question from Marc (1967):
The headlight switch on my '67 started smoking and subsequently I have no running lights, brake lights, and dash lights. The headlights are still working and no fuses appear to be blown . Has anybody had any kind of experience with this sort of problem ?
Reply from Phil:
This is a common problem on '67 and '68 models, where the factory switch can't handle the amperage load anymore. There was a tip of adding a relay, to take the amperage, and using the original switch just as an on off switch for the relay. I can see where I may have to do the same thing to my coupe, I've had a couple of on and off headlight flashing problems myself. I tend to only drive the car during the day, due to this.
Question from Tim (1967):
My long-suffering mechanic is having trouble installing a new back-up lamp switch into my '67 Crown. This is also the switch that triggers the automatic parking brake release, Mopar #2857-486.
Here's my best attempt to relay his description of the problem:
The switch has a little plastic, spring-loaded lever. It appears that the lever is supposed to be inserted into a slot in a tube that lives inside the steering column. Putting the car into gear causes this tube to rotate, and this is supposed to move the lever.
The problem is that the lever isn't getting moved. He says it's as if the lever isn't long enough to reach whatever structure in the tube is supposed to push against it. Or maybe the thing that's supposed to push against it is missing? The factory service manual doesn't appear to contain any useful info.
Some info that might be relevant:
-- The switch is NOS (and lemme tellya, *that* wasn't easy to find!), and I have several non-working ones to compare it with, so I'm pretty confident that the full length of the lever is present -- it hasn't been broken off.
-- I have the tilt-and-telescope steering column option.
-- When I bought the car, the original switch was lying on the floor with its lever snapped off at the base, and this is my first attempt to have it replaced.
-- Long ago, I had a lesser mechanic replace my turn signal switch. Maybe he didn't reassemble the steering column quite right?
Any hints or speculations greatly appreciated!
This sure causes major confusion on my part (not tough to do, though). I have no backup lights on my 67 also. Mine's a standard Imperial, but it also has the tilting/telescoping steering wheel. I had a mechanic tell me it was vacuum actuated and that in my case, there is a plastic T in the myriad of vacuum lines under my dash that is cracked and causing the problem. He said he tried to silicone it and that made it work at least half the time, but by the time the wife got it home and I tried it out, it was inoperable 100% of the time. I wonder if that auto brake release is an option that I don't have making yours different than mine...or maybe the mechanic is all wet. The actual switch on mine is apparently on the side of the transmission.
Reply from Leo:
Someone has swapped the neutral safety switch to the three terminal combo (neutral-reverse) switch and wired your backup lights to it. Originally the switch under the steering column was your E-brake release and backup light switch.
Fun, isn't it! You have to use a drill bit to pre align the switch. Shifter in park. You'll find the instructions on page 5-18, under Parking Brake Vacuum Valve (Imperial) in your service manual. You have to be careful, it's tricky. One more thing, make sure the nylon bushings on the shift linkage by the transmission are in good shape. I had my switch aligned perfectly, then it jumped out when I put the trans in low, Grrr. It turned out that the bushing by the trans was broken. Also I had to replace the transmission mount. Enjoy. :-)
YOU'RE the guy who outbid me on that switch, aren't you, Timmy! Well, you can just boil in your own juices, then, I ain't going to help!
OK, settle down, Dick........ (Just kidding, of course, the person who bids the highest is the right person for the part - that's the American way>)
The turn signal switch replacement is completely separate, there are no common parts involved here, (unless the steering column itself was replaced at some point in the past, and is incorrect for this car.)
You should be able to feel the metal part that moves the plastic lever on the switch. Be careful, don't stick your finger in there, the edges are sharp. Get a good light and a dentist's mirror to look down into the slot while someone rotates the shift lever, there should be a part that is easy to see from the slot in the steering column outer jacket that moves in such a way as to contact the plastic lever. The switch has a line-up hole through it that positions the lever in the right position for installation, the FSM describes this operation accurately. The mounting flanges for the switch have elongated holes that allow you to position the switch properly, and adjust it if necessary very slightly so that the backup lights come on exactly when you enter "reverse". If you have it set that way, the brake release should also work properly in R, D and L, and not release in P or N.
If you just can't seem to make it work, though, send me the switch and I'll check it out for you on my car. If it works well, I'll tell you all about it. Just you try to get it back, though!
Follow-up Question from Tim:
My mechanics read all your advice and they tell me they've done it all. But the metal thing inside the steering column that's supposed to move the switch's lever is actually contacting the lever only at the tip -- and that doesn't provide enough oomph to actually move it. If the lever were half an inch longer, it might work, but currently all that happens is that the metal thing makes an indentation in the plastic at the very tip of the lever.
But I'm *sure* the lever is complete, and hasn't been broken off. So that makes me think that the metal thing in the steering column is broken or misaligned. Or maybe I'm missing some third part that's supposed to bridge the gap between them somehow?
Any further ideas, anyone?
Failing that, is there any hope of making some other backup-lamp switch work? I don't so much mind if the parking brake auto-release doesn't work, but I do actually find backup lights to be a useful feature.
It's just a sheet metal collar that rotates in the column. You can try pry the lip of it up with a screwdriver so it catches more of the lever on the switch. Otherwise replace your existing neutral safety switch on the transmission with a three terminal neutral-backup light switch and wire into it.
The suggestion to put the regular folks type transmission operated backup light and neutral safety switch on the car will certainly solve the backup light problem. Just ask for a neutral safety switch for a 67 Newport or some other MOPAR that didn't come with the automatic brake release. This mounts on the side of the transmission, and has 3 terminals on it, one for the neutral safety switch, and the other two for the backup light switch.
It is a shame that you can't get the brake release to work, though, as it is a nice feature to have, and certainly saves wear and tear on your left foot's big toe nail (to operate the manual [or is it footual] release for the parking brake).
I'd think you could somehow extend the metal contact part from the inside of the steering column so that it will operate the plastic lever on the normal switch, perhaps as Leo suggests, just by bending up the metal part. You may have to drill and tap the metal tube to install a screw and locknut, if the tube is worn away to the point where it just won't extend far enough to operate the switch. The other possibility is to buy a replacement steering column from one of our good vendors, with a known good backup light and brake release switch operating inner sleeve. I think you need to look at all this yourself, not rely on your mechanic, who probably just wishes that you would go away, and take your damn 67 Imperial with you!
Question from Tim (1967):
When my '67's dash dimmer switch was working, it had no effect on any lights other than the dash lights themselves. Anyway, one day my dash lights suddenly stopped working, and my mechanic found that he could make them work again by bypassing that thumb-wheel switch altogether. Now my dash lights come on (full strength) when I turn the headlights on, and I can't dim them -- but then I've never wanted to dim my dash lights anyway. Does anyone ever actually do that?
Reply from Leslie:
The only problem you run into bypassing the wheel/rheostat is that you lose your interior lights as well, as that's the on off switch for them.... The wheel is easy fixed with some electronic cleaner and by rolling the switch back 150 times... This cleans, gunk, corrosion and what not off the contacts and makes it work again....
Would anybody know where can I get a headlight switch for my 67 crown coupe? At times my headlights will flicker off and on.
The switch may actually be fine -- pull it out from the dash, and CAREFULLY check all the connections! Often, the clips will loosen over time, and you will have a bad connection at the switch. Use of a can of contact cleaner (available at Radio Shack) and some gentle pressure with a pair of needle-nose pliers may well solve your problem.
I am sure Bob Hoffmesiter will have a switch for you, but one thing to try is to get some electrical contact cleaner from Radio Shack and clean your existing switch first. It worked on my 68.
It may not be your headlight switch. I've had the same problem with my 64 Crown convertible, and I've fixed the situation by doing two things: I disconnected the auto headlight dimmer (don't know if you have that feature), and I put in a new floor-mounted dimmer switch button (available easily at an auto parts store). So far, I've not had the problem again. But, of course, I don't have an operable auto dimmer now, but it's a feature I don't use anyway!
When encountering flickering lights a number of conditions could be the source. As someone mentioned before there must be good clean and tight connections at the headlight switch and also at the circuit breaker for the lights. Don't overlook the ground connections for the headlights which are usually under the hood. You never know what someone may have had loose for various reasons over the years. A bad ground is just as bad as a loose supply lead or bad switch contact. Loose connections can cause the circuit breaker to cut off & on whether it is caused by a bad ground or supply side connection. I have been helping my son repair a Dodge "Little Red Express Truck" lately and we found just such a problem in it. There was a single large ground lead for the headlights and parking lights near the radiator which was not clean. Removal and cleaning plus a good star washer underneath the terminal lug and some grease to prevent corrosion and voila it was fixed.
Question from Bill (1968):
I am looking for a headlight toggle switch for my '68. Does any one make one after market that looks right?
Reply from Mark:
As far as I know there aren't any switches which look like the original. I have seen black plastic toggle switches (I think from Radio Shack) which people have stuck in there-- I've even seen the GM style pull type switches-- but in my opinion these ruin the appearance of the dash. However, there are people on this list who have correct switches you can buy, like Murray Park in Ohio (I'm pretty sure he has them; he has most everything else) and some others.
Why do you think you need a new switch? Sometimes they get corroded and can be taken out of the dash and cleaned, or if it's the dimmer wheel for the speedometer lights you can work it back and forth 283 times (I think Dick Benjamin determined that to be the number) until it works. You could try that with the toggle.
Mine will only work if you push it all the way up and then ease back on it just a hair. Have you tried jiggling it in the on position?
Question from Ken:
It was once mentioned to me that power window switches that no longer function could be rebuilt, however, when I broach the subject with the local auto/electrical people, I just get blank stares. Has anyone had any personal experience with getting switches rebuilt?
The repair shop that is working on the power windows on my 64 told me beforehand that the switches could be taken apart and cleaned if they were the part that ended up being bad. Apparently it isn't a big job to do. You might could even do it yourself.
My switches were another victim of the evil tobacco, as almost every switch on the car was bad initially. Extensive cleaning of just about every switch and every surface made me glad I don't smoke. Mine were easy; required only patience.
With very few exceptions, power window switches *can* be rebuilt -- and it's usually (though not always) pretty easy work. The only thing you need to buy is a spare set of switches (and it doesn't matter if they are functional or not). I've rebuilt a bunch of switches of the type used on '71 - '73 Imperials. On these switches, problems are most commonly caused when the toggle buttons themselves (which are plastic beneath the chrome tops) break within the switch assembly. The problem is relatively easily cured by removing the assembly, and swapping out the offending toggle. Only once have I seen a switch assembly which was actually broken beyond reasonable repair. I've not had personal experience with earlier years, but I'm willing to bet that if you take the time to remove the switch assembly yourself, and examine it closely, you'll be able to fix it on your own. Just remember, in the minds of many mechanics, old cars aren't worth fixing -- AND, if it's something they've never worked on before, then it *can't* be fixed.
Question from Kerry (1964):
Trying to get my backup lights working on the 64. Pulled the lenses last night and found no voltage. Check the wiring harness and found no voltage. I suspect the backup switch. I expect this switch is somewhere on the pushbutton controls. Has anyone ever worked on this? Can it be reached from below the dash or must the pushbutton unit be pulled. If so, how? I don't want the backup lights enough to spend a ton of time.
My 64 had a salvage title when I bought it. Which, in California, means I had to have a "brake and lamp" inspection done before I could register it. This inspection consisted of going to a state certified "brake and lamp" inspection mechanic, and having him check that ALL the lights worked properly, and that the brakes were in good working order. The only problem I had to repair before the inspection was the reverse light switch... You are correct that the switch is in the dash directly behind the reverse button of the push button gear selectors. I'm not sure if you've been able to visually locate it, or not, so I will describe it as: round disc about one inch diameter by 3/8 inch thick, surrounded by a metal ring. Creamy tan in color, and attached to a squareish steel bracket by means of metal tabs. There are two electrical "prongs" that protrude from the bottom as you look at it from under the dash) where the brake wires attach. From it's side, there is a "Y" shaped lever that is what actually catches the push button as it comes back and switches on the lights. The most difficult part of this process for me was finding a replacement switch. I can't remember where I got it, but I know I found the ad in Hemmings. Some sort of NOS electrical company out of Florida. I got his last one I believe, but you could probably find one working used from a guy like Lowell Howe. You can reach the switch without removing the dash, or push buttons. Just be sure you have some LONG and MAGNETIZED tools to work with. A flashlight that attaches to your head by means of a head band would probably help, too, because by the time I was done working on mine, my entire jaw and mouth had cramped and I'd drooled all over myself trying to hold a flash light in my mouth. It took about an hour from start to finish, and quite a bit of contortionism, but it wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be. The NOS box mine came in is labeled Mopar/Chrysler parts, "switch 1972 052" followed by a "CL" and a "CZ". If you buy one NOS, you'll just get the switch, so you'll have to loosen the metal tabs to remove the old switch from the bracket, then attach your new switch to the old bracket by bending it's tabs into place.
1960-1964 Chrysler Corporation cars with pushbutton transmissions had the back-up switch mounted on the pushbutton housing in the dash. It is a small circular switch with two white wires running to it - one goes to the lights at the rear of the car, and the other, on your 1964, goes to the windshield wiper switch for power. The cable-operated Torqueflite transmissions in 1965 had the switch at the base of the steering column for the column mounted gear selector, or in with the floor selector on models equipped with the floor shift. I don't know how complicated this would be on an Imperial, as I have only worked on Valiants, Plymouths and Dodges from that era which were not that difficult to access. Of course, these cars did not have A/C or any other electrical gadgets that Imperials came with, and which tended to clutter up the back of the instrument panel with wires. The switch on the 1964 Imperial was used on the 1960-1961 Plymouth, 1960-1961 Dodge Dart/Matador/Polara, 1962-1964 Dodge 880/Custom 880, 1960-1961 DeSoto, 1960-1964 Chrysler and 1960-1964 Imperial. (In other words, the A and B body backup switch is different - just how I don't know.)
Can anyone tell me how the light switch knob is attached to the switch stem? The manual simply says to remove knob and stem. Any insight anyone can offer?
Reach behind the dash , find the back of the headlight switch, locate the metal push nub on the side of the switch back and push it in while removing the headlight switch knob by pulling it straight out from the other end, all the while being sure to accumulate your fair share of cuts and scrapes from the unnatural position your hand, arm and body will assume during this exercise. On any old Mopar ( especially Imperials) you can be certain that if you place your hand or arm up in to the dash where you can no longer see it, you are assured of numerous cuts scrapes and bruises for your trouble.
If these are the same as 61-63, which likely they are, there is a button on the switch assembly where the wiring harness plugs into it. Press down on this button and the knob & stem will pull right out. DON'T try to separate the knob from the stem. I found this out many years ago after breaking 3 or 4 in salvage yard.
Question from Tim (1965):
Where is the back-up light switch located on a '65 Imperial?
I believe the backup light switch is at the base of the steering column near the firewall where the column shift converts to the cable mechanism. There's a notched piece of steel that bumps the vacuum valve for the park brake release, and I believe the backup light switch is there too. The neutral switch is under the car on the side of the transmission, and is activated from within the transmission case.
The back up switch is located on the steering column near the gear selector.
Since a '65 has a column shifter, it should be the same location as our '66. There is a metal plate that covers the bottom of the steering column just under the dash. Remove the four screws that hold the plate to the bottom of the dash. You should see a screw that holds the end of the cable that controls the shift indicator. You should also see a white plastic thing mounted to the steering column with either one or two screws. This is white plastic thing is the back-up light switch. The switch has a "sliding" mount that will enable you to loosen the screw, and move the switch back and forth in order to position it so the "on" position of the switch is triggered when the shifter is placed in Reverse. If you want to have a little fun, position the switch so the back-up lights come on when the shifter is in Low2 gear. Now when you are waiting at a traffic light and there is a car behind you, shift from Drive to Low2 right after the light changes green. Hit the gas and take off. Really scares the person behind you!
Question from Tony (1967-68):
How do I get the switch out of this tilt steering column? I have removed the 3 screws that hold the switch, and it is loose but will not come out of the upper end of the tube. The opening in the top of the tube is just too small for the switch to pass through. What am I missing??
I have taken my turn signal switch out of my 68 with tilt-o-scope, but it was not fun. You have to remove the individual wires from the connector on the steering column under the dash, and fish them all the way out the top. You need a special tool to get the steering column back together because you have to loosen the tilt-o-scope assembly to get the stuff through and out. If you possibly can, try to repair the switch in place, without removing it. If you disconnect it electrically, you should be able to pull it up far enough to work on the contacts.
First, find a new switch. My local C-P dealer (Prince in Inglewood, CA) had one in stock (it looked like it had been on the shelf since 1973). *Before doing ANY electrical work on any car, always disconnect the battery! *
Second, put the steering wheel in a straight-ahead position (so you can reinstall it correctly later) and remove it. You need to remove the horn switch assembly (the chrome crossbars and center ring) and the tilt-a-scope adjuster (careful! There's a big coil spring back there!). It's all pretty obvious up to this point.
You'll need a steering wheel puller to remove the actual wheel once you loosen and remove the central nut. Pullers cost about $10 at any Napa store or similar. Worth having...
Once the steering wheel is off, you'll see the plastic switch (actually it's about all you'll see in there). Remove the turn signal lever (there's a screw holding it on, I believe), then the screws holding in the switch, and then get out your flashlight and look at the lower end of the steering column. You'll see the wiring harness coming out the other end (you can match colors from the top of the column to identify it), and it won't look small enough to fit up through the steering column, but it does with a trick:
Tie a small but long wire or string around the wires and above the connector (you'll be using it to guide the new wiring back down, so make sure the bottom end of the string doesn't come up with the wiring).
Then, reset the tilting column so it's parallel the whole way. This will leave as much room as possible. Go back up to the switch and work it out the top of the column. (It will seem not to fit out the rolled edge of the column sleeve, but it does.) You'll have to work the wiring up through the column and you'll be tempted to cut off the connector but it will come out. Make sure the string stays in the column!
When it's out, take a much needed rest stop, wipe off your brow, and untie the wire or string. Tie it to the new harness in the same place, then feed the wiring into the column until the switch is almost in place. Go underneath and use the string to pull the harness down, and then work the new switch and wiring into position. Plug it all in, reattach the horn and steering wheel, reconnect the battery and signal away!
Question from Tim (1967):
The headlight switch used in '67 Imperials has a circuit breaker inside the switch itself. But Chrysler saw fit to use a different headlight switch in all of their other cars that year. Does anyone know whether the '67 non-Imperial headlight switch also has an internal circuit breaker? If so, is it likely to have the same amperage rating as the Imperial's?
Here's why I ask...
My '67 Imp's headlight switch has the classic symptom of switch age -- its internal circuit breaker overheats easily, causing the headlights to flash or turn off altogether. I've searched in vain for a good, correct replacement switch. It was an Imperial-only part, and was used only in the '67 and '68. Obviously all of the existing ones are just as aged as mine, so it seems that the odds of ever finding a good one are pretty slim.
So I've gotten my hands on a recently-made third party replacement switch for the one that was used in the *other* full-size '67 Mopars. As I type this message, a mechanically experienced friend of mine is busy grafting the wires from a bad Imperial switch onto the spade terminals of this pseudo- Chrysler switch, in the hope that the resulting "Frankenstein" creation will work in my Imperial.
But we're wondering whether it would be a good idea to put an external 30-amp circuit breaker in line with it, in case this non-Imperial switch doesn't have one inside it. Is there any reason not to do so, just to be safe?
Definitely put a circuit breaker in line after the switch. Earlier International high way trucks had real neat toggle switch for parking and headlights. It would look right at home on the '67 Imp.
It could not hurt anything to add an additional 30 AMP circuit breaker to the circuit. Rather than have an odd looking switch in your car, though, why don't you disassemble the original switch and bypass the internal circuit breaker function, then add an additional 30 AMP circuit breaker outside the switch, but still buried behind the dash. That gives you an original looking switch with a reliable circuit breaker.
The old circuit breakers seem to get too sensitive with age, I've had this problem on most of my collector cars, and the cure is always the same, namely putting a new circuit breaker in the line.
Here's what I did with my headlight switch - once it was out of the dash and on a bench I drilled a very small hole in the plastic case, with that done I sprayed contact cleaner inside and watched all the gunk come out . Is your circuit breaker kicking in and out causing your headlight flashing?
Have you guys with bad switches thought of using a relay to take the load off the old switch so it doesn't overheat? That's what I did.
Follow-up from Phil:
That is a good idea, Tristan. What brand switch did you use and where did you get it. Is 30 amps enough and would a useable circuit breaker be available at Radio Shack, for instance? I had a headlight flicker problem on my 68 coupe, a few months back, coming home at night from a local car show. I toggled the switch and the problem went away. But since then I've been a little leery of driving the car at night. I plan to go thru the coupe this fall and winter, so this is one more project I'm looking into.
Reply from Dick:
The place to get automotive circuit breakers is at NAPA, and perhaps other quality auto parts places. They stock all sizes. If the counter man seems confused, ask to see their "Buyer's guide" for electrical items. This is an illustrated catalog with all the specifications that matter listed. If you expect to be using modern headlights, I'd put in a 40 AMP or 45 AMP circuit breaker. I've recently converted my 47 Packard to Halogen headlights, but still at 6 volts. This means the current drain is 18 Amps for the two headlights alone; the circuit breaker rating should be at least twice the normal current drain.
Question from Carl (1967):
Anybody know if that thing on the inside, top part near the end of the steering column where it goes through the wall is in fact a back up light switch. I've tried Pep-Boys, NAPA, Forest city auto, Track-auto and several Chrysler dealers only to keep hearing I need a Neutral safety switch. Which I've also tried. Since no one out there has one, any ideas where to possible fine one. Junk yards in this area are depleted of anything usable as fast as they come in. Am I the only one that's ever had a back up light system go out?
Yes, it's the backup light switch. Problem is, it's also the parking brake release control, which makes it unique to just a few cars, and very hard to find (and adjust). If your parking brake release works right, then your problem is electrical, and it may be this switch or it could be somewhere else in the circuit. I assume you have satisfied yourself everything else is OK by using a test light or a meter to verify you have backup light juice getting to the switch but not through it? A junk yard is probably your best bet, have you asked Bob Hoffmiester or one of the other dealers in used parts? Only one I know will work is another 67 Imperial, but probably a 68 is the same, and possibly many other years with automatic brake release.
I had the same problem on my 68. Go to NAPA and get a transmission mounted switch for a 1970 Fury or anything like it with a 727 trans, pull out your single wire switch. (you will loose trans fluid so be quick) and put in the new 3 wire switch. Then wire it up using the 2 outside terminals for your backup light switch (use the 2 wires from the switch on your steering shaft) and the center terminal will be for the neutral safety switch (the wire that was there before. I used wire butt connectors to plug wires on the new switch. Hope this helps, this is a lot cheaper than trying to find the one for on the steering shaft which also operates the vacuum brake release.
The neutral switch should be located on the tranny itself. The back up switch is in the steering column. I wish I had a part number for you. The operating lever for this switch is a suspect part. If you R and R the column, it has to be replaced because it breaks off. This may be your problem. The switch is also adjustable. Do you have a FSM? If so the procedure will be explained in there. If not, I can fax you the info from a 68 manual. We need someone that can give us the part numbers for the switch and the operating lever. If we can find those, I bet a search on Parts Voice will find the parts for you.
Question from Santi (1967 Stageway):
My switch problem is that I have and have gotten original switches and don't want anything that isn't original to the car. I've been to used car parts places and they always give me parts that just die after a week. loose connection I'm sure but in the switch. The rubber is all rotting away, the switches are loose and sometimes the stick comes right off. Asking for a miracle here but where do I find new ones.
Reply from Dick:
I'm not familiar with the converted cars switches. Do you know if they used the same switches as the originals? If so, they should be readily available from any of our vendors as listed on the club's resource pages. I am concerned that you have repetitive failures - this is not a common problem with these cars, and I wonder if something is wrong electrically that is making them handle too much current. Step one would be to learn the part number, step two would be to run that number on "partsvoice.com". That will tell you who if anyone stocks them. You may be able to read the part number off the old switches, it should be a 7 digit number, and will start with a 2. There will be other numbers on the switch also, but the Chrysler number is the one you want.
Question from Mopar1(1967):
The two back windows on my 64 will not go up or down, I've tested the motors and they work fine, could this be the switches on the drivers side door? If so were could I fine them.
Have you checked if you are getting power to the rear switches? If you don't have a hot/live wire coming into the rear switch, the windows won't work. If the wires show voltage (and you'll get better advice from others on testing under a load), the next step is to check continuity through the switch. The most common problem is bad contacts and the easiest thing to first try is a good contact cleaner. Note - I'm not an expert - my rear windows on my '66 are still a little flaky and I haven't taken the time to figure out whether it's the front switch or the rear one.
If you hear any clicking noises in the door when operating the switches, this will tell that the switch is working. If no sounds or the ammeter doesn't move "with engine running" & operating the switch, this is likely the problem since you know the motors operate. Even if the motors are a little tired, you would get a response. If you get clicking, the works are likely gummed up. Often the nylon rollers get frozen & sometimes even wear a flat spot on them. These would need to be disassembled & cleaned & re-lubed.
Follow-up question from Mopar1:
Thanks all, I now have them working, had a bad contact ,Do you all know of any good contact cleaner out the. They still don't work on the drivers door? Just on the back doors?
Reply from Bob:
I did not have good results with "Super Contact Cleaner" (poly phenyl ether) on my switches but had GREAT results with Rail-Zip! Use a Q-tip or dribble it in the switch from the top. As I've mentioned before, this is sold at train hobby shops to clean tracks but has sort of an underground following in the hi-fi world. Only $5. There are many, very expensive cleaners that make great claims. Too much $$ for me (1/2 oz. for $50!). I think other have written about good results from Radio Shack's contact cleaners.
Reply from John:
I use CRC brand QD Electronic cleaner. Its quick drying & leaves no residue.
Question from Glenn (1967):
I am having a problem with my headlight switch getting hot to the touch. Does anybody have any ideas what the problem is?
Just switch or switch and rheostat?
Just go to NAPA and they had one. If I recall it was only about $25.
On a 67, the rheostat is in a separate assembly from the headlight switch. If the toggle lever on the panel is getting warm, your problem is the headlight switch, as you suspect. It can probably be repaired, don't throw the old one away!
Question from Clay (1967):
I need help!! My local trusty NAPA dealer and I have run into a brick wall while trying to find a replacement brake light switch for my 67 Crown Coupe. The switch his book shows looks NOTHING like the one I removed. My switch has flat plug in leads at the top and bottom , while his has two round leads at the top. Would this switch still be stocked by Chrysler/Plymouth dealers? Any info someone has about where to find one of these switches would be appreciated.
Reply from James
If you have a real helpful Mopar parts man, he can do a dealer inventory search, if you have the part number. That's how I found a replacement AutoTemp 2 switch unit.
Question from Bill (1967):
After driving home from work last night (third shift) I touched my headlight switch to turn it off and noticed it was really hot. It is a reproduction switch I replaced when the original went out. Is this normal, should I worry, is my switch about to kick the bucket.
Can anyone shed any light on this subject.
The heat is probably coming from the dash light dimmer. That is a resistor, which gets very hot, especially if you have the dash illumination about half way between all the way bright and totally out. Try driving the car the same distance with the dash lights on full bright - if this reduces the heat you feel, there is probably nothing wrong. If it makes no difference, you probably have a bad headlight switch. You mention that this is a replacement switch - it is a new part that is identical to the original, or is it an aftermarket off brand product?
In general, heat is the result of current passing through a resistance. For a headlight switch, while the current is very high, the resistance is supposed to be zero or very close to that, thus there is very little heat generated. If the switch is defective, or hooked up wrong, it could develop excessive resistance which would cause the toggle handle to get very hot.
Where did you get the reproduced switch? The original switch has a built-in circuit breaker and as they get older they begin to heat up, nothing to be alarmed about unless it is really hot which is a sign of excessive resistance in the headlight wiring which should be checked.
Why don't you simply install a relay, at least for the low beams that are used most of the time. This will reduce the current to your switch, and even if it is deffective, it will still last. We all know how tough it is to remove the dash on a '67-'68 to remove the switch, or even worse, to get a switch.
Question from Erik (1967):
Just picked up a '67 crown for next to nothing, runs great, is in good shape, but........ no headlights, tail lights, or dash lights. I assume this is the headlight switch. I went to every parts house in the Eugene-Springfield area today, trying to find one, but no luck. Where should I look? Will switches from any other year or make interchange with the '67??
I'd suspect a couple of fuses (or simply a disconnected headlamp switch) before I sought out a replacement switch (which, by the way, can be from a '67 or '68 Imperial but nothing else). It is odd that all those functions would go out together (and unlikely that the previous owner let all of them fail one at a time). The switch is fairly easy to get at. You need to remove the instrument cluster, which means about ten screws, disconnecting the cable behind the speedometer, and unplugging a few connectors. Once it's out, I'd remove the headlamp switch from the instrument panel and reconnect it, checking for loose or dirty connectors and jumping the wires to see if bypassing the switch illuminates the lights (sorry, don't have the schematic handy but I could get a copy of it to you in a few days if needed... I recommend buying a factory service manual). If you have twilight sentinel, this could be the culprit, too. And I'm sure one of our vendors on the website (Bob Hoffmeister, Murray Park, etc.) can find you a switch if you end up needing one.
Your choices are either 1967 or 1968 Imperial and several years of Chryslers "C" body switches. 1967 and 1968 Chryslers, Plymouth and Dodges also used the same type flip switch for the headlights. Obviously, these are more common in the salvage yards.
A switch from a 68 will fit a 67. Does your car have the auto dim and the sentinel? If so, this might be your problem.
It could indeed be the switch, but if it is, it can be repaired. If you are not comfortable doing it yourself, there are others on the list that will repair it for you (myself included). But, before you go to all that trouble, check to see that your twilight sentinel (if equipped) is not causing the trouble, and that the circuit breaker is not open. If you have an FSM, these parts will be easy to check. If you don't, I'd advise getting one. These cars are very complicated electrically, it is virtually impossible to repair them without a manual.
I had this problem on a 60 & it turned out to be the high beam switch was bad.
Follow-up question from Steve:
Does anybody have the correct part number for the '68 headlight switch? Is the switch the same with cornering lamps? Are '67 and '68 switches the same?
Reply from Bill:
There is a variety of numbers for both years. The cornering lights don't make a difference but the Sentinel and Auto Dimmer options do. Here is what I have. These are original part numbers and probably have been updated but your Mopar dealer should be able to find them from these.
1968 Standard=2809048 (same as 67)
w/Sentinel & Dim=2864283
Question from Mark (1968):
Can someone tell me how to remove the toggle switches on my '68's dash? I'm trying to clean them up and you really can't get down in there, even with a q-tip.
Reply from Elijah:
Oh, you probably won't like this, but those toggle switches on '67s and '68s have to come out from the back. It's not a terribly traumatic experience to get the instrument cluster out of the dash, but just be careful to remember where all the wires go! If you do pull the instrument cluster, this would be a good time to go to Radio Shack and get a can of contact cleaner and make sure all the connections are nice and shiny -- and fit snugly! This is especially important for the two wires going to the Alternator guage -- the nuts that hold these in place tend to wiggle loose over the years (not unlike us nuts who love these cars!). :-)
Question from Jack (1968):
I wonder if anyone knows where the little timer for the lamp on the ignition switch is located. My light won't shut off. I suspect the points are melted together. I've torn all kinds of stuff out from under the dash trying to find it.
Reply from Dick:
This is a three terminal round device mounted near the power antenna switch. Follow the yellow wire which goes to one of the three terminals from the ignition switch illumination bulb.
Question from Mark (1968):
I am having a wiring problem with my '68. I have headlights and parking lots, but no taillights. I replaced the taillight fuse and rechecked it and it has not blown. However, I don't think the problem is in the turn signal. I had problems with those before this happened for a long time; don't think they would suddenly cause the taillights to go out. I think the problem is in the headlight switch itself. What used to happen is, the dash lights would go out, and I could get them to come back on by jiggling either the dial for the dimmer, or the toggle switch for the headlights. So obviously there is a short in there - ? I think what happened is, months ago, I took out the instrument cluster. I think when I put it back I either pinched something -?- or the switch has just gone bad with age. Can you clean these switches? Take them apart or use contact cleaner or compressed air or something?
Reply from Dick:
I agree, the problem with the tail lights is very unlikely to be related to the turn signals, the circuit is quite independent. Another IML member suggested the connection to the turn signals, but I think this is not going to fix your problem, also, that turn signal switch is a NIGhtmARE to get into and repair, lets hope your turn signals and brake lights are OK. Even if they are not, that is a separate problem, 99% of the time.
If you have dash and front parking lights, but not any tail or license lights, the problem is not in the headlight switch. If your dash lights act up so that you have to wiggle the dimmer rotary dial to get them to come on, this is a separate problem, one that I have addressed extensively in the past, but it is easier to repeat myself than to go looking for the previous posts on the subject. Basically, the rheostat that controls the dash lights gets cruddy with age and disuse, and the cure for it is very simple, just rotate it from one extreme to the other 187 times, and it should be cleaned up enough to work reliably. If not, you can take the switch apart and clean things with a pencil eraser, but be sure to remove all residue from it when you are done.
NOW -- the tail lights. These are powered off the same source on the headlight switch as the parking lights and the license lights. If they are ALL out, there may be something wrong with the headlight switch, especially if they work on parking light position and not on headlight position. BUT if ANY of the above mentioned lights work properly, the problem is NOT with the switch. In this circumstance, you are just going to have to follow the wiring diagram (it is not difficult to understand, the nomenclature on the wiring diagram tells you which circuit each wire is, the color and size of the wire, and where and through which connector the circuit is routed throughout the body). Just study the diagram and read the description in the front of the wiring diagram section, it ain't rocket science. If you aren't blowing fuses, then you are not looking for a "short", you are looking for a broken or disconnected wire that is keeping one or more lights from getting their juice. Just trace the circuit, starting from the last light that works on the circuit, and follow it back to the rear of the car. Most likely you are going to find the problem around the left kick panel or in the sill area of the driver's side. Possibly there is a disconnected wire in the trunk area, check there also. The FSM tell you what color and size wire you are looking for. If you want more help with interpreting the FSM, let me know, I will dig mine out and we'll go over it wire by wire until you find the problem. I assume you have either a VOM or a good test probe? In rereading your post, I notice you have had the dash apart. Is it possible you have forgotten to plug in the tail light wire to the headlight switch? Look at the FSM, it will tell you which wire goes to the tail lights, then dive under the dash and see if said wire is waving in the breeze under there.
Question from Brad (1968):
I am attempting the removal of the signal light switch from a 1968 Imperial LeBaron with tilt/telescope. I am not interested in reinstalling the part(s) as they are just for sale. I have the switch out but I can't for the life of me imagine how to get the lower electrical connector between the shift ring and the steering column. I don't want to cut the wires for obvious reasons.
Reply from Dick:
Assuming you mean the turn signal switch, the FSM describes this procedure well. You need a tool to remove the individual connectors from the plastic housing in which they are inserted, then the wires will snake out through the small clearance in the steering column. You can make the required tool from a piece of spring steel, about 3/4 inch long, less than 0.030" thick, and about 0.090 wide. You must slip it into the connector housing from the front (away from the wires) side, and depress a tiny brass tang to release each terminal from the housing. You need good eyes, a strong light, patience, and a lot of luck. The first one you do is a bear, then they get harder.
Question from Barbara (1968):
The dash light and the front door courtesy lights as ON, cannot get them to go off. The dome light and the rear door lights still respond to the door switches. Any ideas?
I'm willing to bet that you have a bad door switch (that little plunger thing in the door jamb that looks like the head of a nail that sticks out when the door is opened). This switch threads into the body and if it is too far in, it will not be depressed enough when the door is closed and thus not break the circuit allowing the map/courtesy lights to shut off. Another problem with the switch may be that it is shorting out, causing the lights to stay on. Fiddle with the switches in both (perhaps all) doors. Remove the switch. There should be one wire connected to it. Check for evidence of the wire shorting to the body. When the switch is out, the lights should be off. If not, remove the other front door switch. If you remove a switch and it causes causes the lights to go out, you found your bad switch. If you get both door switches out and the lights STILL remain on, your switches are probably alright and we need to look for a short somewhere else.
I had a problem like this on the first '69 LeBaron that I owned. It seemed to only happen in very hot weather. Sometimes when using the power door locks, this happened. It happened many times. Disconnecting the battery for a while made it go away. I never did find out what caused it. so far, this hasn't happened to the one I own now. When the lights were stuck on, pressing the power lock button would make sort of a sick sounding buzz. most likely from the relay.
Question from Joran (1972 rim blow horn switch):
I need some help in finding a rim blow steering wheel for my 1972 Imperial. Is that possible to find, or do I have to change the steering wheel?
After some looking, I've discovered a place to buy new rim blow horn switches. Here is the website:
Looks like the rim blow switches for our cars are $125 (ouch) but I'd say it beats trying to convert the car over to a different steering wheel.
From what I noticed in earlier times, all of the C-body steering wheels should all interchange, except possibly for the Tilt-A-Scope wheels, in the 1970 era vehicles and probably up to 1978 also (just my suspicion). In other words, a non-rim blow steering wheel should bolt on. I suspect that if there's anything different in the way the horn contact wire plugs in, if you get all of the related parts, they should swap out. Again, that should work for the non T-A-S columns. On the new steering wheel I bought from Chrysler in the late '70s (with the rim blow installed), there's a recess on the bottom of the wheel that would coincide with where the tilt/telescope "lock lever" is. It might be possible to grind that deal out too and then put the longer brushed stainless sleeve on the back of the non-telescope wheel (maybe). But I'll bet that if you find a middle '70s or so steering wheel for a tilt/telescope column, it'll probably be an easy! swap in place of the rim blow wheel.
With the correct paint, the steering wheel can be recolored too, plus the center pad redyed to match.
These are the basic things I recall when I was researching getting something else on my '70 Monaco with the factory rim blow.
Question from Zack (1974):
Last summer I had to repair the hazard light switch in the steering column, and when I removed the wheel, which is a tilt-a-scope wheel, a small plastic ring under the spring broke into about 10 tiny pieces. I didn't think much of it until when I put the wheel back on, the horns sounded and wouldn't stop. I talked to my mechanic and he thought it was the grounding ring for the horn. I tried to glue mine back together, but I'm missing a couple of pieces, and I can't even figure out how to put it back in. Anyway, I disconnected the horns but I'm trying to find a plastic grounding ring. My horn is the type where it's a rubber ring around the entire wheel, but I think any wheel that's a tilt-a-scope should have the ring.
Reply from Bob:
This Tilt-A-Scope steering wheel was built by General Motors Saginaw Div. and they made millions of them. A Chrysler Service Manual may have a breakaway assembly of the whole thing, but a good GM parts guy can get you one of these rings.
Question from Andrei (1974):
My inside lights are on all the time. Someone recommended that I play with the cruise control - it did not help. I think maybe the problem in the relay? Unfortunately I don't have a wiring manual and I don't know which relay I should check or where it's located. I checked the door switches and found out one thing - the left switch was connected with 3 wires but right only with one. Is that OK? Plus the light near ignition key is on all the time.
Did you turn the headlight switch knob?
It could be the headlight switch if the rotary rheostat for the dash lights is not working, and the moveable contact is stuck on the "all interior lights on" position. If your dash lights change illumination level as you rotate the headlight switch knob, this is NOT your problem, however. If that is your situation, I think you have a short in the wiring at one of the front door switches.
You can take these switches out of the hinge pillar. Removing them will interrupt the ground contact and should make the interior lights go off, even if you have a bad door switch. I'd try unscrewing the driver's door switch and the passenger's door switch, then see if your interior lights are still on.
If none of this turns them off, there is a wiring error somewhere, or a bare wire touching ground or another wire. You are going to need a wiring diagram to track this type of problem down.
Have you tried pulling the fuses to see which one will turn out the light? You may have a bad ground somewhere feeding back to that light.
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