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Headlights do not work/removing light switch


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Hello everyone.  I juts bought my 1st Buick ever, a 57 Special. So I am learning and doing the best i can.  I am having trouble getting the headlights to work.  Every other light works except the headlights.  I have read the owners manual and it pretty much says to remove/test the light switch. I would test it while it is still installed but I cannot reach behind the dash to get to it.  

 

Anything information helps and sorry if I am leaving anything out.  My mechanical skills only go so far and this is my first project car.  The oldest car I have ever owned is my 98 Pontiac. 

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Should be spring loaded pin on the flat metal side of the switch, push the pin in and hold while pulling on the knob and pull it completely off.  Then there is a large nut holding the switch to the dash (now revealed by the knob being out of the way.  Use a really wide screw driver or other tool to turn it out.  Once removed, the only thing holding the switch in are the wires.

 

I would check the wires where they are screwed into the junction strip for corrosion on the connectors as well as the connectors on the switch while I was in there.

 

Mark

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M1824,

 

I cannot even reach the spring loaded pin.  That is my problem.  From laying on the floorboard I cann ot reach the light switch.  My next time would be is to take off the panel were the EM brake light is.  

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I would begin with checking if power is reaching the lights as Beemon asked.  Could be both bulbs burned out. Unlikely, one will not know until tested. THEN follow follow back towards the headlight switch.   Dollar toi a donut, ou will find power TO the dimmer switch, non FROM same.   The dimmer switch is located just about above where your left foot sits when driving. Might even try switching [ pushing with your foot ] first.  Turn the head lights on , step on the dimmer.

 

  Ben 

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32 minutes ago, Ben Bruce aka First Born said:

I would begin with checking if power is reaching the lights as Beemon asked.  Could be both bulbs burned out. Unlikely, one will not know until tested. THEN follow follow back towards the headlight switch.   Dollar toi a donut, ou will find power TO the dimmer switch, non FROM same.   The dimmer switch is located just about above where your left foot sits when driving. Might even try switching [ pushing with your foot ] first.  Turn the head lights on , step on the dimmer.

 

  Ben 

 

 

Dimmer switch! Good call sir. Good call. 

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Here's a pic of the switch. I am pointing to the button. You don't have to see it. Just feel it and push down and pull on the knob. Do this after checking the dimmer switch.

IMG_0269.JPG

IMG_0271.JPG

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g-g-g0,

 

The issue is I cannot even reach the the light switch, its tucked up under the dash pretty good. There are so many other wires that I cannot even get close to the light switch, my hand doesn't even come close lol Also the dimmer switch is the light switch, for mine anyways. You turn the light switch clockwise and counter clockwise to dim the lights.

 

I am going to retest the voltage for the headlights and work my way back again and hopefully I missed something so I do not have to mess with the light switch

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@Ethan

The "dimmer" switch on the floor  is for switching the headlights from hi bright status to normal status.  The instrument panel lights are controlled by a rheostat that is built into the light switch, where you twist the headlight knob to make them brighter or lower.  

 

 

Edited by JohnD1956 (see edit history)
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29 minutes ago, JohnD1956 said:

 

The "dimmer" switch on the floor  is for switching the headlights from hi bright status to normal status. 

 

This is what we are all talking about. ALL headlamp power goes through the dimmer switch. No dimmer switch working, then NO headlamps. 

 

Step on the switch hard many many times and see if it recovers temporarily. Also see if the wires corroded off of it, as happens in salty areas.

 

BTW, that should be High beam status to Low beam status. No shop manual refers to normal status.😁

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  Ethan, Ethan!  Do not question us old folks.   I had probably driven as many miles as you have by the time that '57 came out. As Frank said, turn the lights on and stomp the dimmer switch. It is sticking through the floor about an inch and a half. It is about an inch , maybe a little less, in diameter. Look for it, you will find it.

 

  Ben

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11 hours ago, Ethan said:

g-g-g0,

 

The issue is I cannot even reach the the light switch, its tucked up under the dash pretty good. There are so many other wires that I cannot even get close to the light switch, my hand doesn't even come close lol Also the dimmer switch is the light switch, for mine anyways. You turn the light switch clockwise and counter clockwise to dim the lights.

 

I am going to retest the voltage for the headlights and work my way back again and hopefully I missed something so I do not have to mess with the light switch

Ethan...couple things.  First, folks are not talking about the function to dim the dash lights - that is indeed a function controlled by a rheostat within the headlight switch.  They are referring to the switch on the floorboard that switches between High and Low beams.  Check to confirm this is working correctly first.

 

If you still have a problem that requires getting to the headlight switch, remove your dash pad and you will gain much better access.  It can be removed in 5 minutes.  1) remove a couple screws under front lip of dash pad (may be recessed within vinyl/padding) 2) remove center trim piece directly behind windshield 3) remove small bolts holding dash pad, now exposed from removing trim.  You can also gain better access from underneath by removing the small panel to the left of the steering column at bottom of dash.

 

Good luck! 

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... Not to highjack this post but this all reminds me when I had my 57 Caballero out on it's first road trip after buying it a month or so earlier for $ 35 dollars from a dealer who had it sitting in the back their lot as a trade-in but with the reverse anchor out of the dynaflow.  Surprising because the car was in real good condition overall and ran like a champ.  Summer 1973, it was mid summer on a Friday after work and I left town around 7:00. The trip involved about a 2.5  hour drive running on old 2-lane highways and it was starting to get dark.  I pulled on the light switch but no headlights as they were working just fine the night before.  I drove as far as I could but had to eventually pull over out in the middle of nowhere before it got too dark so I could check things out and see what i could do to fix things.  Long story short eventually and with aid of a small dim flashlight I ended up having to melt off the rubber of a small section of the headlight wire with a match.  My tool box luckily had about 3 feet of wire at the bottom so I used that  to splice onto the hot wire to the headlight harness and jumped over to the battery positive terminal to get the lights to work independent of the headlight switch.  When I arrived I just had to remove the wire from the battery post.  I never did replace that headlight switch and just drove it that way and when I needed head lights I just connected my wires back up after splicing in a toggle switch and in-line fuse.   Kinda lame but back then and in college had little time or money for cars or car parts.  So Ethan. if you have to one can  always run a wire with a fuse and switch through the firewall and hook it up under your dash for control of the headlights until you get around to replacing what you need to get things done right. 

 

 

Edited by buick man (see edit history)
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On ‎10‎/‎6‎/‎2019 at 10:45 AM, Ben Bruce aka First Born said:

What did the light problem turn out to be, Ethan?

 

  Ben

 

I am still not sure. There is not power going to the headlights or the dimmer switch. I need to make my way to the light switch. But the guy who owned the Buick before myself re upholstered the dash and covered up all the screws to the top of the dash so that makes things difficult since I cannot reach it from under the dash.  I'll figure it out in time. 

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