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diluded000

Rotary headlight switch fix

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Since I got the Nimrod (85 DL wagon 4wd) last year the headlights have never really worked right. The headlights would come on if the switch was wiggled just so, but after six months sitting under the deck waiting for snow they were almost impossible to get turned on. So last night while waiting for the gumout-like oil additive to circulate I fixed this problem.

 

The dimmer knob pulls out, then the headlight knob pulls off the shaft of the switch. There are two screws behind that that hold the plastic switch body in place. After removing these screws I jerked on the dash panel and was able to get it open enough to slide the switch assembly and wiring connector out.

 

With the switch on the bench it can be taken apart enough to clean the contacts. There is a rectangular plastic housing that covers a small circuit board, but this doesn't need to be removed. There is a screw that holds the cover on the rotary portion of the switch that needs to come off. Opposite the screw there is a plastic clip that has to be worked loose to get to the inside off the switch. I broke the clip in the process, but it went back together OK. A little heat on the plastic might help prevent this. When the housing does come loose pull it off slowly, as there are two spring loaded ball bearings that press against this piece. When the cover is removed, the bearing drop out.

 

With the switch innards exposed, the contacts can be cleaned. Since I had a piece of 150 grit sandpaper within reach from cleaning the thermostat cover for a new gasket from the night before, I used this to clean the contacts even though a finer grit would likely help prevent rubbing the contacts out of existence. There are a variety of spring loaded contact points you can see at this point. I worked the sandpaper between all of the contacts and rubbed until I could just see bright metal. I also squirted some electrical component cleaner on the contacts, but don't really think this did much good. Cleaning up the contact points is all that really needs to happen.

 

I didn't make a note of how the switch was rotated relative to the housing I removed, but this would be a good idea. I had to put it back together a few times (don't forget the ball bearings) and see what lights came on to get it right. But now you can feel a more positive difference between the switch positions, and the lights come on every time. It may be my imagination, but I think they are brighter now as well. Sorry, no pictures - I was all messy from replacing a water hose and spark plugs so I didn't want to go inside for the camera.

 

- James B

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Hey, that's some good info. Thanks for doing the mini-writeup.

 

I have a question:

 

My '83 EA81T does something similar to a smaller degree. Every once in a while, the headlights don't come on when i turn the knob. then I flick it back and forth and they come on after a try or two. If I ever want to address this issue, is that where I should start? (I'm pretty sure I don't have a dimmer....havent seen my car in months)

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My '83 EA81T does something similar to a smaller degree. Every once in a while, the headlights don't come on when i turn the knob. then I flick it back and forth and they come on after a try or two. If I ever want to address this issue, is that where I should start? (I'm pretty sure I don't have a dimmer....havent seen my car in months)

That sounds just like what mine was doing before I cleaned the contacts.

 

- James B

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