Headlights out - Team Camaro Tech
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old Jan 12th, 06, 01:07 PM Thread Starter
 
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Angry Headlights out

Looking through recent posts I see I have a problem similar to another. It's a 68 Camaro without RS headdlights. Running lights are fine, but headlights don't work. Noticed that the dashlamps were flickering, which they don't usually do. Figured it was the circuit breaker contained in the headlight swith cutting in and out. Checked for obvious wiring problems - nothing found. Took out dimmer switch and cleaned rust off contacts. With switch out and headlights switch full on jumpered high beam and low beam circuits. No Good.

Bought OEM replacement headlight switch. Can't get the original out of the dash. I depress the release pin on the passenger side of the switch and the shaft won't come out. Pushing till I've got indentations in my finger tips. Taped a dime to my finger when it started to hurt. What's the trick - why is nothing on a Camaro ever as simple as it would seem to be?

Help, getting frustrated here.

Jim
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old Jan 12th, 06, 01:55 PM
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Re: Headlights out

Jim I found it works best to pull the switch knob out to normal ON position, THEN push in the spring loaded button, then complete the pull of the knob. Then you can unscrew the holding nut , see if that helps.

Click..is Jim..former owner of a 69RS-LM1 350/255 - 700r
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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old Jan 12th, 06, 01:56 PM
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Re: Headlights out

i had to push the button in on mine when the switch was pushed all the way in
well i think it was in, you might try all 3 positions on the switch just to check
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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old Jan 12th, 06, 02:00 PM
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Re: Headlights out

here is what you cant see on the side so you have a visual of it.


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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old Jan 12th, 06, 02:33 PM Thread Starter
 
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Re: Headlights out

Thanks for the picture. I've got the replacement switch to look at and it's shown as figure 26 on page 12-16 of the 1968 chassis manual. So I'm OK there. I followed the directions in the manual which directs to pull the switch knob to on position before depressing the switch shaft retainer and then removing shaft. It's not working. I've tried all kinds of other permutations and I have found one that seems to allow for full depression . I can feel a "click" with my fingertips and the pin "locks-in" fully depressed but the shaft is still seems to be hung up on something. I've looked at the replacement switch with a bright light and magnifying glass so I understand how the internal catch mechamism is supposed to work, but it doesn't seem to be doing that.

I'm wondering if somehow the lights out and shaft probelm might be connected. That is, maybe the lights aren't working and the shaft isn't being released because something is preventing the switch from coming into the full on position. Maybe what I perceive as "on" is just not quite.

It's getting dark here in Jersey, so tomorrow I'll try out any tips I get, including non-switch issues. After that I guess the answer is to order a replacement shaft and when that comes in - lop off the old one to get the switch out.

Replacing the windshield wiper switch a year ago, in hindsight, was easy compared to this.

What do you want to bet after all this that the switch isn't even the problem?

Jim
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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old Jan 12th, 06, 04:17 PM
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Re: Headlights out

When you jump the dimmer switch, light blue to the light green, does the high beam light come on? If it does, that would indicate that the light switch is good. Or you could check for voltage at the light blue wire, which comes from the light switch.

Larry
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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old Jan 12th, 06, 09:52 PM
 
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Re: Headlights out

Did you check the ground on the headlights? Just a thought.
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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old Jan 13th, 06, 07:37 AM
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Re: Headlights out

Quote:
Originally Posted by bkcarlock69
Did you check the ground on the headlights? Just a thought.
That's a possibilty, but I believe all chevy's have a ground for each headlight, so the possibility of both grounds going out at the same time is remote. It is easier to check than the headlight switch, so it wouldn't hurt.

I've found that over the years of electrical troubleshooting that it's a balance between whether to look at the most probable cause of a problem or the most easily inspected part that might be causing the problem. Sometimes I would rather go for the long shot if it's cheaper and faster than checking something that's difficult to gain access to or is difficult to troubleshoot. Ya never know!

Larry
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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old Jan 13th, 06, 10:17 AM Thread Starter
 
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Re: Headlights out

I had visually inspected the two headlight grounds to make sure they were connected and not broken. I pulled the pigtail leads off this morning and cleaned them off with a little sandpaper before re-attaching. I re-pulled the dimmer switch and with the headlight switch on jumpered from the Light Blue to the Tan and then Light Blue to Light Green. No result from either. Cleaned the connector contacts again with a small screw driver that has tiny ridges on the flats of the blade and worked the switch in and out of the connector a few times. Repeated the jumper procedure with the same results. Connected my voltmeter to the contact for the Light Blue and various grounds with the headlights on and got zero volts.

Clearly there is at least a problem with the switch. Still puzzling over the difficulty in removing the lightswitch shaft. Been looking at the replacement's inner guts under a strong light with a magnifying glass. It seems straightforward. Depress the pin and the retainer moves out of the way. Maybe it's possible that you can push too hard? I've tried all kinds of combinations of switch positions and pin pressure combinations.

Played with the old switch for a while. I can feel the detent for running lights and, leaning away from the car, can confirm that it corresponds with the running lights coming on. Very short throw after that to full on. I don't remember it working that way before. Maybe I'm wrong, but I thought it used to be a slightly longer pull and that I would also feel a detent at the full on position. May be it's my imagination, but the throw seems to be too short.

Maybe somebody can check that for me? Right now I'm thinking that maybe I was right in suspecting that there's something mechanically wrong with the switch that prevents it from coming into the full on position and that's what's giving me the problem with the retainer release pin.

Thanks guys,

Jim
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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old Jan 13th, 06, 10:33 AM
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Re: Headlights out

Definately sounds plausible. I think you might be on to something. My switch pulls out to about 3/8" for parking lights and another 3/8" for headlights, for a total of 3/4" when the headlights are on.

Larry
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post #11 of 14 (permalink) Old Jan 13th, 06, 10:56 AM Thread Starter
 
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Re: Headlights out

Thanks Larry for checking on that. That's not what I' getting. I get a movement to the first detent that approximates 3/8 of an inch (I didn't measure as you did). Then I get a noticeably shorter (not equal-sized) movement after that without feeling a second detent. It just doesn't feel like it's seating.

I'm going to order a replacement shaft and hacksaw off the old one when it comes in. When I do so, I'll do a post-mortem and let you guys know what I find so you can add it to your knowledgebase.

Jim
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post #12 of 14 (permalink) Old Jan 13th, 06, 11:50 AM Thread Starter
 
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Re: Headlights out

Just for the heck of it I took a wood ruler out to the car. With the ruler placed against the dash, the rear of the knob for the lightswitch has a standoff of about one inch. The first detent for running lights is a movement of about 3/8 of an inch. After that I get another 1/16 - 1/8 of an inch of movement. Way, way short of what Larry got for the movement to the second detent position.

Jim
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post #13 of 14 (permalink) Old Jan 13th, 06, 11:53 AM
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Re: Headlights out

Yeah, it sounds like the plastic slider inside might be catching on something or the contacts themselves might be worn to the point where they are out of postion to slide freely. I guess the hacksaw is the only solution at this point!

Larry
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post #14 of 14 (permalink) Old Jan 19th, 06, 10:13 AM Thread Starter
 
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Talking Re: Headlights out

Well, the replacement headlight switch shaft arrived. Hacksawed off the old shaft. Kind of tough on the fingers since you can't use the blade in a frame. Pulled the old switch out easily through the air vent duct hole in the dash. New switch installed and tested. AOK, except one low beam is out. Time for a new headlamp.

Pulled the old switch apart and found that a broken-off contact was impeding the movement of the switch. It prevented the switch from coming into the full on position. That's why I had no headlights and why depressing the shaft retainer pin wasn't doing me any good.

I couldn't figure out where the contact came from at first. I finally realized that it was one of the contacts from the circuit breaker. The circuit breaker has an arm that fits over a copper contact. The contact was blown off the arm, which does show signs of melting at it's new end. Now the breaker isn't in the way of the switch mechanism, so I assume that the failure was forceful enough to cause the contact to blow off to the side as it fell down and then get swept up by the switch mechanism.

I don't see signs of a short. Guess it just failed from old age. I hope this post-mortem is useful to someone in the future.

Jim
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