Turn signal switch woes

Sometime in the last few weeks the turn signal switch failed.   A very nice diagram I found online shows the circuit.  I first noticed that the left rear brake light was not working when I pressed the brakes.  So I did some troubleshooting.

  1. The tailight and backup lights worked.  That rules out a ground problem
  2. When the 4-way flashers are on the left rear light does not blink but all the others do.
  3. When the left turn signal is on the light DOES blink.   That rules out a problem with the blue wire that feeds that stop/turn signal.
  4. When the right turn signal is on the left rear brake light DOES work.

The only point of failure that can explain all of those is the connection inside the turn signal switch with the orange arrow pointing to it.  Rats.

Plan A is to fix the switch.  First step is to pull the steering wheel.  The last time I did this I purchased two bolts the right size to use to pull the wheel.  now 6 months later I can only find one.  I am totally at a loss to explain that.  So I went and bought ANOTHER bolt and pulled the wheel.

As best I van figure the contact that is failing is inside the lower half of the turn signal switch.   I figured there is no harm in trying to take it apart.  I did some prying on the spring fastener in the middle of the switch.

And it broke.  More rats.

The funny thing is that even with the clip gone the switch is still riveted firmly together.  I decided to quit while I was ahead and try plan B, which involved spraying brake cleaner and WD-40 into the switch to try and get it more enthusiastic about doing its job.  No luck there.  Plan C is to replace the switch.  So I sent $100 to Parts Dude 4×4 and received a genuine reproduction switch.

Replacing the switch means I have to snake all the wires except the horn wire from this connector up the steering column to remove the old switch.   Then the wires from the new switch have to come back down the steering column and plug into the connector.  This hurts a little because I spent a lot of time soldering and splicing these wires last September.

Oh well.  Easy come, easy go.  I snipped them all right at the splices.

Now I can start pulling the wire bundle up the column.  It came hard at first.

It occurred to me that now was the ideal time to think about snaking the wires back down the column.  So I tied a string to one of the wires for later use.  This was probably the smartest thing I did all day.

Old switch and new switch.  The old switch has the wires taped together but I am not going to try to do that.

I also found this on the power line that feeds the 4-way flasher circuit.  Not good.

With everything out of the way I cleaned the top of the steering column out.  The wire you see is the horn wire, which remains in place.   You can also see my string.

While I was in here I cleaned the top bearing parts as best I could and lubricated them.

I then starting taping the string to the wires and snaking them down one at a time.  I tried to be methodical about it so the wires did not end up tangled or crossing each other.  This got harder as I progressed.

I also started having problems with this vinyl sleeve that encloses the wires inside the column.  It kept getting pulled down inside the column which made snaking the wires harder.

I just pulled it out temporarily and wedged it in place.  This helped a lot.

Discouraging, ain’t it!  This what the top of the column looked like when the last wire was run through the column.  I starting organizing the wires and tucking them into place.

Eventually I got here.  This looks pretty good.  The only real mistake is the orange wire at about 11:00.  I got it wrapped around the rest of the bundle.  But that should not hurt anything.

All of the wires to into the factory 9-pin connector except the two power wires.  I put fuses on these so I will have to solder the new switch to the fuse holders.  Here are the ends of the fuse holders with the cut ends of the old switch wires soldered on.

When I peeled off the shrink tube I was surprised at how poor my soldering job was.  Hopefully I can do better this time.

Fuse ends ready for the new wires.

I used a small screwdriver to release the old female spade connectors from the 9-pin connector.  As I removed each old wire I snapped the new wire into place.  The crimp connector up to is feeding the horn.    That is all old but works so I left it alone. The two power wires have had the ends cut off and are stripped for soldering.

Fuses are soldered on and insulated.

I bundled the wires up with cable ties.  Time to test!

I closed my new battery switch.  This is much better than pulling off the negative cable like I used to.  Then I tested everything and found that the 4-way flashers do not work in the rear of the Jeep.  Sad.  I did some more poking around and found out that the flasher switch in my new turn-signal switch is defective.  It does not make the connection pointed to by the green arrow in the diagram at the top of this page.  I tested with a meter and compared to the old switch to prove that.  Very frustrating.   The only good news here is that I traded a down to a better failure mode.  Now I have brake lights and turn signals but not 4-way flashers.  Which I don’t need in day-to-day driving.   I will contact the switch vendor to see what they suggest.

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