XJ Rear Hatch Dome Light Switch Repair - JeepForum.com
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Go Back JeepForum.com > Models > Jeep Cherokee & Comanche Forums > XJ Cherokee Technical Forum > XJ Rear Hatch Dome Light Switch Repair

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Unread 02-24-2013, 08:59 AM   #1
M35A2
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XJ Rear Hatch Dome Light Switch Repair

I had an issue where the rear dome light would turn on with all the doors except for the rear hatch. I did notice there was a button on the rear dome light but it didn't do anything. I took the light apart and found the switch melted; turns out that is another little issue XJs have. After I fixed the switch by installing a new rocker switch in place of the burnt up one, I figured all was good 'cause the switch now turned the lights on/off when the hatch was open.

A few weeks later, we were out foolin' around in the dez, and all of a sudden the dome lights came on by themselves then went off, then came on and stayed on. I flipped the switch I had installed and the lights went out. Hmmm sumpin aint right. The following weekend I decided to try and locate a door switch for the hatch. The wiring diagram shows one, but doesn't state WHERE it is. I was figuring it likely a mercury tilt switch, but it ends up that the switch is in the gate where the latch is. If I stuffed my finger up in the hole, I could make the dome light flicker.

WTH, got nuthin' better to do, so I started taking things apart. Turns out it's pretty simple to fix and after fixing it and visiting the local junk...err, auto recycling yards and looking at the multitude of XJs there, this seems to be a very common problem. After the fix, your dome lights will come on with the hatch opening and you will be able to leave the hatch open and turn the lights off.

Tools needed;
Torx driver, vice, needle nose pliers, punch, drill and 3/16 bit, small ballpeen, small wire brush, piece of emery cloth, rivet gun with a short 3/16 rivet, your favorite adult beverage.

First thing to do is to make sure the switch works on the rear dome light. If it does, continue on, if not fix that first. Use a DVOM to check the switch operation. Resistance readings across the switch contacts should show an open circuit (OL), or a closed circuit (.002 ohms or so), based on position of switch.

After that, remove the panel on the hatch. I won't go into detail on that.

Disconnect the latch rod and use the torx driver to remove the cover plate and latch. You'll need to unplug the wires as you remove the latch as there's not enough room for one of them to be removed with the latch in place.

latch-rod.jpg   latch.jpg   wires.jpg  
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Last edited by chris87xj; 02-26-2013 at 05:11 AM.. Reason: minor polishing
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Unread 02-24-2013, 09:06 AM   #2
M35A2
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Here's the latch removed. The switch is not located correctly, there is a slot on the latch plate and a tab on the switch. The switch is bent out from the latch plate AND the switch plunger is bent.
switch-bent-not-located-right.jpg   switch-bent-latch.jpg   switch-plunger.jpg  
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Unread 02-24-2013, 09:08 AM   #3
M35A2
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Use a 3/16 drill bit and remove the switch from the latch plate. In pic 2 and 3 you can see the locating slot that the tab on the switch goes into. Use the punch to knock out the rest of the rivet.
drill-out-old-mount-rivit.jpg   switch-removed1.jpg   switch-removed.jpg   remove-old-rivit.jpg  
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Unread 02-24-2013, 09:21 AM   #4
M35A2
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Here is the removed switch. You can see it is bent in two places; one at the spot that it affixed to the latch plate, and also at the plunger and its fixed contact on the isolated tab. Put the switch in the vice, use the small hammer to straighten the mount and the plunger, do the plunger carefully. Use the wire brush and emery cloth to clean the contact areas. This switch is a ground completion switch, meaning it completes the lighting ground circuit to allow current flow through the bulb. Use the DVOM to check for a good closed and open circuit.
bent-mount-hole.jpg   bent-switch.jpg   straight-contacts.jpg   colsed-circuit.jpg   open-circuit.jpg  

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Unread 02-24-2013, 09:29 AM   #5
M35A2
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Re-attach the newly refurbished switch onto the latch plate with the 3/16 rivet. I used a steel one and think an aluminum one might not withstand the stresses. Make sure you get the switch tab in its mounting plate slot. I also peened the protruding rivit over just 'cause I wanted to. Re-install the latch reversing the order removed, don't forget to plug the wires onto the switch BEFORE installing it. Re-assemble your hatch as needed. Your dome light should now come on when the hatch is opened and you should also be able to turn the light off with the hatch open with the switch on the rear dome light.
peened1.jpg  
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Unread 02-24-2013, 09:45 AM   #6
AZ Jeff
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Nice work. This is another quirky weak link in XJ that can be fixed with some patience and skill. Thanks for posting the pictures.
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Unread 02-26-2013, 05:09 AM   #7
chris87xj
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With the OP's permission I went back and put a little polish on things here in order to help in understanding for anyone who's just getting ready to take on this repair. If you still have questions, feel free to respond post and I have a feeling M35A2 might be able to help you out.

I love these type of threads because they embody the essence of forums, in that with a little direction from someone like themselves that just went through it, anyone with a few simple hand tools and willingness to try can often easily fix problems for themselves that shops might charge hundreds of dollars for. Fix-it threads such as this one that address inherent model specific weaknesses are particularly prime material.

I'll be working on putting together a Cherokee Technical section sticky index for threads of this nature in order to make locating good information a little easier when needed. Please help me evalute the worthiness of this and similar threads for inclusion in a sticky index by posting a smilie in the thread whenever you find any information therein helpful and of value worth preservation.

I encourage anyone else interested in putting together a Fix-It thread to share with your jeepin family to go ahead and give it your best shot. Feel free to PM me a link if you want to make sure it doesn't slip past me. I'll also be happy to review any previous efforts along this line for possibly including in the Cherokee Fix-It index sticky.
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Unread 04-19-2013, 08:12 PM   #8
CherokeeTamer
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Awesome writeup, the metal plunger was bent on mine and a quick fix with pliers was all it took, hope itll last. otherwise i may have to heat treat the steel to harden it a bit. imo should be a sticky lol.
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Unread 04-19-2013, 09:14 PM   #9
bangarang
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Nice write up, definitely gonna have to dive into this one at some point.
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Unread 04-20-2013, 11:19 AM   #10
Rob K
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Nice write up for a common problem. The switch is pretty crude and exposed to the elements so the metal will oxidize or corrode again unless you apply some dielectric(non-conductive) grease on the electrical contact areas after cleaning them. It's been quite a few years since I fixed mine and it is still working well, luckily all I had to do was clean the switch contact points.
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Unread 11-25-2013, 03:01 PM   #11
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Very nice write up
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