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Replacement of Steering Wheel Switches
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

Replacement of Steering Wheel Switches

Time:

1 hr

Tab:

$140 to $250

Talent:

**

Tools:

27mm deep socket and bar, steering wheel lock device, impact wrench (if you have one)

Applicable Models:

Porsche 911 (1965-89)
Porsche 912 (1965-69)
Porsche 930 Turbo (1976-89)

Parts Required:

Replacement turn signal switch, wiper switch, or cruise control switch

Hot Tip:

Some sloppy switches may have just become loose in the housing. Check the switch before purchasing a replacement.

Performance Gain:

Switches that work

Complementary Modification:

Replace/recover steering wheel, replace steering wheel bearing
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With many older 911s, there is a tendency for the steering column switches to become worn out. The replacement procedure for these switches is relatively easy. The hardest part in some cases, may be finding a replacement switch if you have an older car. The older turn signal and wiper switches have become increasingly difficult to find in either new or used condition.

The first step in replacing your switch is to remove your steering wheel. If the wheel has never been off of the car, then this might be the most difficult part of the job. The wheel is mounted on a spline, and fastened with a 27mm nut. To remove this nut you need a 27mm deep socket and an impact wrench.

The horn pad covers the steering wheel. On late-model cars, the horn pad simply snaps onto the wheel, and can be removed by pulling on it. On the earlier cars, the horn pad must be rotated counter clockwise in order to remove it. Hold the steering wheel in one hand and rotate the center horn pad with the other. When the horn pad is free, reach around to the back and carefully disconnect the wire that connects to the horn. Disconnect the battery before attempting this, otherwise your horn might sound repeatedly during the process.

If you don't happen to own an impact wrench, there is another neat trick that I developed for removing the steering wheel. First, take one of those obnoxiously large, red steering wheel locks and clamp it onto the steering wheel. The long handle on the lock will allow you to gain a significant amount of leverage on the wheel. Then insert the deep socket onto the nut. Compressing together the steering wheel lock handle and the long handle attached to the socket will enable you to loosen up the steering wheel nut. Under no circumstances should you ever turn the steering wheel all the way to the end of the rack and use the end stop to hold the wheel while you remove the nut. The steering wheel has a lot of leverage, and you can easily damage your rack and pinion if you apply a large amount of torque to the wheel.

Once you have the nut off of the wheel, simply pull the wheel off of the steering column. If the wheel is stuck on the splines and doesn't want to come off, then take a rubber mallet and gently tap the rear of the wheel until it begins to move.

Now, remove the black enclosures that surround the steering column. There are eight screws that need to be removed in order to gain access to the switches. Start by removing the two screws that hold on the horn contact piece. Then remove the four screws contained in the recess of the black enclosures. Finally, don't forget the two screws on either side of the enclosure. These screws can only be seen from the sides of the steering column. Once you have all eight of these screws removed, the upper and lower black surround should be able to be removed.

Once the enclosure is removed, then you should have easy access to the switches. They each can be removed by unscrewing them from the steering column. If you trace back the wires from the switches, you will easily see where they are plugged in underneath the dash. If you unplug them, the wires can be fed through the steering column.

Installation of the new switch simply involves threading the new wires through the steering column, fastening the new switch, and plugging it in underneath the dashboard. The switch comes with 2 cables, one is a simple round plug in, similar to other plug in cables under the dash. There is another round plug in just above and to the right of the headlight switch, by unplugging that round plug you get easier access to the headlight switch. There are 4 wires in the other cable , one is red and white, RT/WS, fits into socket # 75, grey and black, GR/SW, fits into socket #58L, grey and red, GR/RT hooks into a separate plug off the switch, white and black, WS/SW fits into socket # 56. I suggest testing it all before you put the steering wheel back on. When reinstalling the steering wheel, make sure that you tighten up the 27mm nut firmly, but don't use too much force. The steering wheel is not going to fall off by itself.

Sometimes, depending upon what is broken inside the switch, the individual switches can be repaired using parts from another broken one. Carefully inspect the switch for broken parts, and compare it to a new one if necessary. The switch itself can be taken apart, but make sure that you take a few photos of how it is put together before you attempt a disassembly.

While you have the steering wheel partially disassembled, you might want to replace the steering wheel bearings. This however, requires that the entire steering column assembly be removed and disassembled: not an easy job to accomplish in an afternoon.

An excellent method for removing the steering wheel involves the use of a steering wheel locking device.
Figure 1

An excellent method for removing the steering wheel involves the use of a steering wheel locking device. These locks are excellent for being able to grab onto the wheel, and they give you a tremendous amount of leverage when removing the center nut. In this configuration, simply squeeze the two levers together, and the nut should easily loosen up. Make sure that you don't turn the steering wheel until it stops and then try to remove the nut. This can most certainly damage your steering rack.

The black plastic housing underneath the steering wheel has eight screws holding it on.
Figure 2

The black plastic housing underneath the steering wheel has eight screws holding it on. The two yellow arrows indicate the horn contact piece that needs to be removed. The white arrows point to the four small screws that hold the housing to the steering column (the fourth one is hidden underneath the horn contact strip). There are two more screws on each side of the plastic housing that also need to be unscrewed before the upper and lower black plastic housings can be removed.

Removing the black plastic housing shows the switches underneath.
Figure 3

Removing the black plastic housing shows the switches underneath. Removal of the switches is easy: they are simply bolted onto the steering column. The wires that connect them to the chassis wiring harness are threaded down into the steering column. Replacement is an easy task from here.

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Comments and Suggestions:
Carl Comments: I wrote you about a high beam headlight issue and waited several days for your expert advice. I was surprise by the highly technical reply of " yes you can monitor the wire that activates the high beam". Great informative answer. Are you sure my question was reviewed by a competent person who knows anything about Porsches and how to answer a question from a customer? I would expect a more professional answer that would help me to troubleshoot this problem. What I received was a reply from someone that did not know or could not be bothered to answer correctly. I guess this forum is not intended to be taken seriously, but only as a joke.
October 2, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: My answer was a direction for you. Monitor the wire from the switch that activates the high beams when you turn them on. I do not have wiring for your vehicle, so i can't give specific terminal or wire color advice. The test may seem obvious, but most fixes are simple, not complicated. Sorry you found my reply not helpful. if you need specific information, seek a repair manual with wiring diagrams and flow charts. I can only offer advice on the information you provide, I can't guess or make assumptions.- Nick at Pelican Parts  
Dennis Comments: Hi I replaced the turn signal/dimmer switch on my 1985 911 due to the high beam turning on when hitting a bump.

When I tested it, all seems to work except for the flashers. I obviously have connected something wrong. Does anyone have any thoughts how to correct? I should have taken pictures before I disconnected, but didn't.
September 29, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: See if this wiring diagram matches your vehicle. Double check the connections using it. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Carl Comments: Hi, I am having a high beam electrical problem on my 1985 911. the turn signals work L/R and the low beams work fine. Also, when I pull on the lever towards me, the high beams do work. Only when I push the lever forward does the high beams not work. how do I troubleshoot this problem? Can I check voltage going to and from the dimmer switch at the column? Thank you, Carlos
September 28, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Yes, you can monitor the wire that activates the high beams. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Steve Comments: After further inspection I realize that with the low beam on the high beam would ALSO come on. Not come on instead. Make any difference? I guess I'll have to take that stalk out and see if there is an adjustment on a position stop or something.
September 13, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Sounds like a short. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Steve Comments: I changed the turn signal / high / low beam stalk on my 88 911 because when the lever was in low beam the high beam would come on. I could pull the lever back and it would go back to low beam but then I'd hit a bump and the high beam would come on. The lever was firmly in the low beam position. After a few days the new one did the exact same thing. Any ideas?
September 10, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: If the switch is new, I doubt the issue is with the mechanism moving. I would assume there is a wiring harness issue instead. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
911truther Comments: 81 sc the high beam will not activate or turn on the high beams by pulling back on the blinker unless the lights switch is turned on ... when pushed forward it will turn on the high beams as well as pulling back towards the driver but only with the light turned on is this normal operation of should you be able to shine the highs by pulling back the on the blinker with the lights turned off
July 4, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Your headlights should flash when pulled back. There may be a switch or wiring issue. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Gemallia Comments: Forgot to mention: 1987 911 Carrera. Headlights work fine from switches high/low and on/off.
May 28, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Ok, thanks. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Gemallia Comments: I replaced the turn signal switch but it does not activate the turn signals. The 4-way flashers work fine, so it is not the relay. I believe all wires are connected properly. Any suggestions on what else to check?
May 28, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Test the voltage at the switch. Grab the wiring diagram, then trace the circuit as needed to determine the correct voltage. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
John Comments: Daytona asks about the brown wire hanging in Fig. 3 above. Anyone know for sure what it connects to, please?
February 24, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: It should be the ground for the horn contact. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
larryT Comments: After I asked for that photo, I was provided with this showing the rear of the headlight switch with wire colors and position. This was provided to me on Pelican Forum by user Donporfi - and I thank him for this great image!
November 2, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: AWESOME. Thanks for sharing that one. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
l_turn9 Comments: Note to Jerry with the 911SC - the headlight switch comes out by unscrewing the knob. Then unscrew the round trim plate which has 4 small holes in it. I use a pair of pliers that have small round grippers. Or a pair of snap ring pliers. Anything really that will have small round, but strong, fingers to turn the trim plate. Once loose, it can be spun off by hand. Then the switch can be pushed back into the dash being careful not to dislodge any wires. Be careful with the thin cardboard washers that mount on the switch so they are against the inside of the dash...
October 30, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the input on this one. We appreciate the help.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
l02turner Comments: that photo with the terminal #s and wires with color code would still be appreciated! ;-
October 30, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I wish I had one to share. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Oneredspyder Comments: I want to add a few comments to the above post. The switch comes with 2 cables, one is a simple round plug in, similar to other plug in cables under the dash. There is another round plug in just above and to the right of the headlight switch, by unplugging that round plug you get easier access to the headlight switch. There are 4 wires in the other cable , one is red and white, RT/WS, fits into socket # 75, grey and black, GR/SW, fits into socket #58L, grey and red, GR/RT hooks into a separate plug off the switch, white and black, WS/SW fits into socket # 56. I suggest testing it all before you put the steering wheel back on. Have fun.
April 21, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the additional info. We appreciate it. I will have the article updated.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Oneredspyder Comments: I recently changed the blinker and high beam switch on my 1986 Carrera. This guide was very helpful, I did however run into some problems. I found it impossible to reconnect the wires to the top of the headlight switch, with the switch in place. The job is much quicker if the headlight switch is removed from the front of the dash and allowed to drop down so you can get a good look at the plugs. Also over time the colors of the wires are not what you think they are and you have to look real close at them. The color codes on the wiring diagrams are in German, not English duh, my confusion. My 1986 has a heavy, 1.5 grey and black wire piggy backed to another .5 grey and black in position 58 L, this is not on the Internet as far as I could tell. It was one of the 4 wires coming off the switch harness.
April 21, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for sharing your installation process and experience. These type of comments add so much to the Pelican tech community.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Billy Comments: this didnt answer my question . Im looking how to take the ignition switch out of the steering column on a 1973 Porsche 914
December 9, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I am going by memory, but I described how. The switch is part of a large aluminum bracket, the bracket is removed as I described. If you find this to be incorrect or not to match your vehicle, I would grab a repair manual. It will have the procedure, special tools and torque specs.

Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. - Nick at Pelican Parts
 
wasaracer68 Comments: Careful trying to get the knob off the headlight switch. Once you have disconnected the battery as always pull the headlight switch and the control rod that the knob is connected to has a small hole in it. You can put an awl or allen key in there to keep it from rotating. Lightly try to rotate the knob counter-clockwise. If it resists you may be able to pry the headlight emblem out of the rubber knob to expose a 10 mm nut. You can imagine how I figured this out.
October 8, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the additional info and feedback. We appreciate it.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Daytona Comments: In figure 3 above, there is a loose cord/wire hanging in the bottom of the pic: Where does this connect?
August 20, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Going by memory, to the backside of the switch. There should be a large lug to bolt it to. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Porsche Kid Comments: Article definately needs pics on how to remove turn signal switch from steering wheel plus under the dash connectors ! Thank you for your help
January 23, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. If we get chance to grab the photos we will add them t the article. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Jerry Comments: I forgot to indicate that I am replacing a turn signal switch on a 1982 911 SC and I am trying to remove the headlight switch to access the connections under the dash and did not want to break the headlight switch by pulling on it if it comes off some other way. Thank you
January 5, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks, got it. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Jerry Comments: This is very helpful. I am waiting for the turn signal switch to be delivered and I am preparing by removing the steering wheel. This forum has been extremely helpful. However, I am not sure how to remove the headlight switch so I can access the connections under the dash. Does the headlight knob just pull off and then the switch screws off? Thank you for your help.
January 5, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: If I remember correctly, the knob pulls straight off. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
airhead Comments: Although no problems with the switches on my 1970 911T, I feel that horn contact finger might have fallen into the steering column, how do I retrieve it?
September 7, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: If you cannot see it or grab it with a pickup tool, you may have to disassemble the column, or remove it and shake it out upside down. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
steve donatelli Comments: Unfortunately this is incomplete without a color picture of the wiring pattern of the back of the headlight switch
June 3, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. If we get the chance to take the photograph, we will add it to the tech article. - Nick at Pelican Parts  

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