Removing and Cleaning the Door-mounted Interior Light Switch
Removing and Cleaning the Door-mounted
Interior Light Switch
Even if you don't have ready access to parts, there's no reason to put up
with interior lights that don't turn on (and, in the case of the driver's
door, a key-in-ignition buzzer that doesn't sound) because the door
switch has failed: just clean the switch.
I did both my front doors last night in less than an hour. They get used
the most, so their switches fail first. The job might be a bit more
difficult on the rear doors, because those switches don't seem to have as
much slack wire, making them more difficult to pull out from the door
frame. My rear switches are OK, so that's a challenge for another day.
Removing the switch is obvious: it's held to the door frame with two
phillips head screws. Pull the unit out of the frame: on the front doors
the wires have about 6 inches of slack. You'll see where the wires
connect to the switch. jump these connections with a piece of wire. If
the lights go on (and, if the key is in the switch, the buzzer sounds)
you know the switch is bad. If the lights don't go on, the problem may be
the bullet connectors. Here's some advice from Lew Plummer for dealing
with bullet connectors:
Try moving the bullet in the rolled socket, if it moves
easily you've probably found the problem source -- the current is
dropping across the poor connection ... If this
connection feels good then proceed to the next one, kinda like series
Christmas tree lights. Also note that the bullets are usually hard to
pull past the locks even when loose in the socket but pull it anyway,
clean and carefully re-roll the receiving socket to tighten the
connection. I like to use a small amount of electrical paste like Gold
Bond or Cool Amp to inherence the connection and keep dirt out.
Assuming the lights did go on when you jumped the switch, pull its wires
out from their bullet connectors and take the unit to your workbench.
Notice that it is held together will four little tabs. Bend these tabs
back and the unit will separate into a base plate and the switch. The
switch is basically a tall tub holding a hollow plunger with a circular
base. Two flat metal strips run up the sides of the tub and, at the rim,
are bent at right angles to form prongs pointing in. These strips are
connected to the wires. When the door is closed, it pushes the plunger to
the bottom of the tub. When the door is opened, a spring inside the
plunger pushes it out of the tub until the base of the plunger makes
contact with the prongs, completing the circuit.
The source of the problem in my units and, I betcha, yours, is the
circular base of the plunger and the ends of the metal strips. They get
dirty and prevent good electrical contact.
Remove the plunger from the base unit by bending one of the prongs out of
the way: the spring is inside, so take care not to let it fly away Rub a
piece of emery paper around the circular base of the plunger to clean it
up. Do the same with the underside of the prongs. I couldn't get the
emery paper to get a good bite on the prongs, so I just scratched them up
with a screwdriver bit.
Everything goes back together the way it came apart. You should get
interior lights as soon as you snap the bullet connectors together. This
is a pleasant and useful fix for a reasonable expense: zero.
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