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When lowering the steering column of a friend's 1991 to remove a faulty instrument cluster, the dimmer switch rod became detached. After attaching the rod to the dimmer switch at the lower end of the column, the multi-function lever was still floppy and did not operate the dimmer at all. Upon removing the end cap below the multi-function/turn signal lever, a plastic piece literally fell on my face, as did a small piece of plastic which had broken off the larger piece. The larger piece was the actuator and I was able to buy a new one at the local Chevrolet dealership. The problem, however, is how do I put this thing back in place. I've all but given up trying to insert it from the area below the turn signal switch where it came from. I've checked the shop manual, but the directions for this little plastic actuator are not really clear to me. How do I replace this part? Do I need to remove the steering wheel, etc? Please help if you've ever done this job. Thanks in advance for any assistance you can provide.
Yup, we figured it out, and it really wasn't a bad job. Once the steering wheel is off it all becomes clear. My friend, the owner of the ZR1, and I did it all in a bit over an hour and a half. We started by disconnecting the battery and leaving things at that for about an hour while we had lunch. That gave time for the airbag capacitors to lose their charge etc. reducing the risk of deployment. Disconnecting the airbag plug at the base of the steering column--first taking off covering panels, of course--removing two screws on the backside of the steering wheel and disconnecting the connection at that end allowed us to remove the airbag. Removing the steering wheel nut was next, and then came the steering wheel itself using a small puller. Next came the locking plate--again with the right tool to depress it to allow removal of the snap ring that holds the locking plate in place. Once that was out of the way, the place where the actuator went was obvious. In just a matter of minutes it was in place, and everything went back together easily. All in all we fretted over doing this job far more than we needed to. It's really pretty simple.
I figured out how to reinstall the dimmer actuator without taking the steerig wheel off. I did have to take the tilt lever off to get better access to where the actuator goes in and had to loosen the dimmer switch itself to have room for the rod to move freely. and after I set the actuator in place noting that the multi purpose turn signal switch moved the actuator with my left hand i pushed the rod up toward the wheel so it had tension on the actuator then I put the cover back on. The cover is the only thing that holds the actuator in place which is the difficult part, holding tension on the rod so the actuator doesn't fall out again while reinstalling the cover. and finally I readjusted the dimmer switch on the colum and it all came together. Took a few hours to figure it out. Once you understand how the actuator fits into the turn signal switch it becomes apparent.