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Old 04-08-2008, 09:43 PM   #1
saw22
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Default Ignition Switch Replacement

EDIT: This thread is more about starting problems, fuel pump not priming on ON, ground connections, etc. It includes the ignition switch discussion but much more.

I'm also having problems keeping my car started. I had these problems last Fall and thought cleaning/tightening grounds fixed it but I guess not. It came back yesterday. I cleaned the grounds again but it didn't help. Now I'm thinking I'm another victim of a bad ignition switch.

Symptoms:
- Start the car and it cranks/fires just fine but only runs for about 4-5 seconds before dying. Everytime it says "low oil level" (but it's not low).
- If I hold the key in the "start" position, the car runs and idles normally but none of the gauges, lights, radio, etc. will work. It will throw several random codes relating to different modules. It will also give "Service Engine Soon", "Service Active Handling", all the normal bogus messages.

So, we removed the ignition switch and opened it up, per Bill Curlee's thread about repairing it. 3 contacts were a little burnt looking but not much. We didn't have sand paper at the time but did a quick scratch-off with a screwdriver until the black was gone. We also bent the arms slighlty, as shown in Bill's thread. Admittedly, we half-assed it compared to the effort he used but it looked better and made sense that the contacts would be better.

So we plugged it back up and tried to start the car. First start, same exact deal. The next 3-4 starts the car just cranked but never fired. Then we got it to start, held it to the crank position, all the codes again, etc... let go of the key (back to "on") and it shuts off. We found one very narrow area, just past "on" (towards "start") where the car would idle smoothly and everything appeared to work normally.

So, it seems like something is still screwy in the switch. Rather than mess around with this one, I think I'm just gonna get a new one. My question is, what's the deal with the lock cylinder? Napa has a switch on their site and I see the cylinder is not part of what you buy. Is there any reprogramming that has to be done and if so, how?
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Last edited by saw22; 04-11-2008 at 10:49 AM. Reason: Thread topic is a little different
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Old 04-09-2008, 02:06 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saw22 View Post
I'm also having problems keeping my car started. I had these problems last Fall and thought cleaning/tightening grounds fixed it but I guess not. It came back yesterday. I cleaned the grounds again but it didn't help. Now I'm thinking I'm another victim of a bad ignition switch.

Symptoms:
- Start the car and it cranks/fires just fine but only runs for about 4-5 seconds before dying. Everytime it says "low oil level" (but it's not low).
- If I hold the key in the "start" position, the car runs and idles normally but none of the gauges, lights, radio, etc. will work. It will throw several random codes relating to different modules. It will also give "Service Engine Soon", "Service Active Handling", all the normal bogus messages.

So, we removed the ignition switch and opened it up, per Bill Curlee's thread about repairing it. 3 contacts were a little burnt looking but not much. We didn't have sand paper at the time but did a quick scratch-off with a screwdriver until the black was gone. We also bent the arms slighlty, as shown in Bill's thread. Admittedly, we half-assed it compared to the effort he used but it looked better and made sense that the contacts would be better.

So we plugged it back up and tried to start the car. First start, same exact deal. The next 3-4 starts the car just cranked but never fired. Then we got it to start, held it to the crank position, all the codes again, etc... let go of the key (back to "on") and it shuts off. We found one very narrow area, just past "on" (towards "start") where the car would idle smoothly and everything appeared to work normally.

So, it seems like something is still screwy in the switch. Rather than mess around with this one, I think I'm just gonna get a new one. My question is, what's the deal with the lock cylinder? Napa has a switch on their site and I see the cylinder is not part of what you buy. Is there any reprogramming that has to be done and if so, how?
No reprogramming but you will have to take the cyl and a new GM uncut key with your chip code to a locksmith to have the new one re-keyed ($15), installation is easy and you can get a new GM cyl off fleabay for about $60.
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Old 04-09-2008, 06:51 AM   #3
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So you can't just get the current lock cylinder out of the switch and put it into the new one? I notice they sell the switch and lock cylinder seperately, so I assumed you could do that.
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Old 04-09-2008, 07:10 AM   #4
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i found bill curlee's description of how to repair the ignition switch. i need to remove mine also and i'm not sure of the order in which to remove the dash panels. does the plate directly under the steering wheel come off first?

Last edited by aquaholic; 04-09-2008 at 07:20 AM.
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Old 04-09-2008, 07:22 AM   #5
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This is for fixing up the switch once you have it in your hand:
http://forums.corvetteforum.com/show....php?t=1951626

You can get the driver's side knee panel (under the steering wheel) off first and then the whole center console piece. There are also descriptions of doing at least the center console, usually found with threads about putting in a shifter. It's pretty easy - 2 10 mm nuts on the back of the console under some black tabs, two more in front of the lid (I think), unplug the cig. lighter, airbag light, etc.., 2 torx screws inside the little door where the other outlet is (in front of the shifter), one more torx screw behind the grated plastic piece near the key hole (just pry it out). Also lift up the shift boot. I think that's it for the center. The arm rest portion slides back and up. The rest of it, all the way up above the radio will kind of pivot out, maybe lift up from the bottom part and jiggle around to release the pins retaining it around the radio and such.

Last edited by saw22; 04-09-2008 at 07:25 AM.
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Old 04-09-2008, 08:53 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saw22 View Post
So you can't just get the current lock cylinder out of the switch and put it into the new one? I notice they sell the switch and lock cylinder seperately, so I assumed you could do that.
Yes you can, your lock cylinder can be transfered over to the new ignition switch.
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Old 04-09-2008, 10:25 AM   #7
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Well, scratch all this idea of getting a new switch and all (hopefully). I decided to not be lazy and make an honest effort at reconditioning the stock switch based on BC's thread.

http://forums.corvetteforum.com/show....php?t=1951626

My advice is to FOLLOW THAT THREAD. I'll admit that I often have a fear of the unknown type of issue with things like that but it really is easy to deal with. My #3 and #5 contacts (especially #3) were NOT making contact when they should. Note that #3 is only used when the car is ON (which is my problem) so I immediately suspected that one to be bad.

After 30 minutes of playing with the switch, sanding the contacts, cleaning with alcohol as BC suggests, and adding a little more bend to the arms, all my key positions register the proper resistance on each contact (0 ohms if down, "infinite" if up).

I can't wait to get home this afternoon and plug the switch back up to make sure this finally solves my off/on starting issues. I will report back either way.
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Old 04-09-2008, 05:24 PM   #8
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i took out the screws (2 torx) underneath the steering column but cannot seem to pull that panel loose. looks like it tucks under the center console panel. does the center console glovebox need to come out first?
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Old 04-09-2008, 07:07 PM   #9
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2 torx underneath and then 1 on each side of the steering column up top. There is either a small removable panel on each side or in my case a hatch switch on the left and a climate control temp sensor on the right side of the column. Remove those and there will be a torx behind each one. Push or flex the console out of your way and pull the panel off carefully. That should be all. After that, you'll have some 7mm or 9/32" bolts to remove the steel knee bolster or whatever you want to call it.
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Old 04-09-2008, 10:44 PM   #10
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Ah man, this is getting terrible now. We reworked the new switch a few different times and it still doesn't work. We even used jumpers to start the car without the switch and it STILL does the same thing. False messages, won't stay running on "ON". There is a "sweet spot" with the key just past ON where the car runs normally.

We took voltage readings on the wires so much that I can't even remember what was what but it all defied logic. In one case we jumpered a wire getting 12V to another only getting 6V and the 6V still only got 6V. The strangest part of the whole night was that the car did start and run normally in the ON position ONE TIME... when we had the hood open and it started raining. We also checked all the grounds under the hood with the volt meter and they were all good.

Gonna go ahead and get a new ignition switch for the heck of it but not expecting it to work. This is getting extremely frustrating!!
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Old 04-09-2008, 10:50 PM   #11
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One more note is that we hear the fuel pump fire up in the ON position ONLY when the car actually ends up working right. How the heck does it even work in the "sweet spot"?
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Old 04-10-2008, 01:14 AM   #12
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Default saw22

Is the security light on or flashing? Perhaps it is the contacts for the resistor located on the front of the cylinder lock.
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Old 04-10-2008, 07:15 AM   #13
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We did so much to the car that I honestly forget which it was. I'm 99% sure I saw both happen, on all the time and flashing, at different times in our testing.

I remembered a couple more things, now that my head is a little more clear from getting some sleep.

1. When the problem is going to occur (a start and then die), the fuel pump does NOT make noise when the key goes to ON.
2. I mentioned a wire getting only 6V... The orange wire (accessory I believe) gets only 6V when I'm on the "sweet spot" just past ON and the car runs smoothly with all gauges and everything working (but throwing codes, warning messages). When it is in the sputtering mode, at the ON position, that wire is actually at 12V. I know this relates to the switch position, which we tested is actually making contact on contacts 1,4,5 (relating to BC's ignition switch rebuild thread linked above).

Relating to #1, how can there even be a "sweet spot" where the car runs fine, revs up fine, etc. if we never hear the fuel pump come on?
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Old 04-10-2008, 07:43 AM   #14
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check the fuse block under the dash and the one under the passenger toe board. Make sure the large cable leads that are retained with NUTS did NOT loosen up.
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Old 04-10-2008, 07:58 AM   #15
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Ok, will do. Thanks for the idea.
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Old 04-10-2008, 09:00 AM   #16
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Something else to add that's probably not important but I'll throw it out there anyway. When this problem started again the other day and I checked the grounds, the ground on the top of the passenger's side of the engine was literally finger loose (don't ask how, it was tight in the Fall). It appears the only thing grounded here is the starter, just one wire/eyelet running up from down there. When I first found that, I obviously thought I found the culprit but I guess not.

Another suspicion is the PCM. I know of one other unexplainable problem the car has - after we replaced burnt O2 sensor wires and the harness with brand new stuff (including a new sensor), I would still get DIC messages about the sensor being lazy. We confirmed that with EFI Live, it hangs out around 80 mV all the time. If it was the PCM, though, I would expect the problem to happen all the time, not on for a week then off for 5 months now back on again.
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Old 04-10-2008, 09:23 AM   #17
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i to am obviously having ignition problems at this time. i did the bill curlee fix last night on the ignition but cant install it in the car until friday evening. i'll let you know how mine turns out.
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Old 04-10-2008, 09:33 AM   #18
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So are you're symptoms the same as mine - hold the key and it runs, crazy false messages, etc etc?
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Old 04-10-2008, 07:22 PM   #19
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I thought I had the answer today, since the fuel pump isn't coming on at the ON position, it must be the fuel pump ground, right? Cleaned it up, tightened, dialectric greased it.. no dice. Same deal, I don't hear the fuel pump run at ON but the engine will run if you hold the key to start.

Starting to suspect the PCM is bad. Any other ideas?

EDIT: Some more info -
1. We swapped the fuel pump relay with the horn relay and it still does the same.
2. We hear like a relay clicking near the fuel tank when it goes to ON.
3. We hear a high-pitched buzz under the hood at ON (air pump?).
4. Only code that sticks around from a "no start" is B0338 because the inside air temp sensor is unplugged, with the dash apart.

Where the heck is the fuel pump fuse?? We looked in both boxes and didn't see it.

Last edited by saw22; 04-10-2008 at 07:28 PM.
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Old 04-10-2008, 07:31 PM   #20
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First thing I'd do is check for DTC data, it is quite likely the PCM has posted one or more codes for the problem. Display the codes on the DIC and post them and someone caan help you in determining what is wrong.

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Old 04-10-2008, 07:31 PM
 
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