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1989 TC headlight switch

Sue Bell

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Well, my headlight switch is going to hell lol! I can pull it out far enough to get the parking lights on, but if I pull it out farther or play with it at all, I get a little stream of smoke from the dash in that area. Sigh! With the time change coming, I will need my headlights in the mornings.

I have someone who is willing to look at it. My question is, must the dash be removed, or is there access through the gauge panel, or any other location? I need to find out how involved the replacement process will be. I appreciate any comments.

I am also assuming I will be able to get this from NAPA or Advance.

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The way to get at it is by taking off the dash cover / plastic wood grain surround. Only tough part of that is getting the light switch knob off - there are several posts in the archives on how to do it.

Smoke coming out of the switch is not good - probably a fried switch, but the bigger question is what caused the problem? If the contacts in the switch were just going bad, the increased resistance can make them hot, but it could also be a short in the wiring to the headlights. Could also be corrosion in the wire connections to the switch making them hot.

Hopefully getting a look at the switch itself will point the way. And I don't know about finding a replacement at your local auto parts place. If not, there are lots of people parting out TCs (also listed in the archives...)

Good luck,


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Unfortunately, the headlamp switch is probably the worst task to attempt for a supposidly simple job. You must remove the instrument panel cover and to do that you must remove the headlight knob. Some say that the knob can be removed by tripping a flap of metal directly behind it, bit I never had any luck with that. There is a spring loadad button on the right side of the headlight switch toward the back of the switch. The only luck I ever had was to loosed the instrument panel cover and, using a long (10") slim flate blade screwdriver, push that button toward the switch while gently pulling and wiggling on the headlight switch lever. If you carefully look in by the side of the switch and using a shop light you can just see the release button.

Once you have the button and shaft removed you must remove the instrument panel. This is no big deal, simply remove the screws, gently pull out the panel and remove the electrical commections.

Now simply let go the retaining nut on the switch and wiggle the switch out, realizing that wiggle is a relative term!

Like Jim said, be sure to carefully check out the wiring. Hopefully it is only the rheostat this is burning.

Best of luck.


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I have been driving for a year with no dash lights. My switch gets hot when they are on, not even warm when they are turned down. They work if needed but after replacing the socket[melted], I decided I did not need to use them unless really needed. I'm guessing a bad ground somewhere.

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  • 4 weeks later...

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