Ignition switch actuator rod doesn't retract - JeepForum.com
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post #1 of 36 Old 03-17-2019, 04:33 PM Thread Starter
cptmoney
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Ignition switch actuator rod doesn't retract

So I've pulled my lower dash apart, and can feel my ignition switch pushing the actuator down into the start/run positions....but it won't retract the actuator rod when I switch the key to off or accessory.

What's that mean? Time to pull the steering wheel? Lock cylinder? What's going on with this darn thing?!

The Jeep will start and run all day long....but it won't turn off! Haha!

Tried to snap a pic of underneath the dash...but that didn't go so well...



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post #2 of 36 Old 03-17-2019, 04:44 PM
bharris68
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I would work on the switch at the base of the column first. Pull it so you can check it for bald spots and alignment.

Disconnect the battery, clean the contacts and switch plug with electrical contact cleaner and put a little dielectric grease on there

https://www.napaonline.com/en/p/ECHKS6623



If I recall correctly - there is possible adjustment in the switch location - back and forth - which can contribute to these symptoms.
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post #3 of 36 Old 03-17-2019, 04:49 PM Thread Starter
cptmoney
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Originally Posted by bharris68 View Post
I would work on the switch at the base of the column first. Pull it so you can check it for bald spots and alignment.



https://www.napaonline.com/en/p/ECHKS6623



If I recall correctly - there is possible adjustment in the switch location - back and forth - which can contribute to these symptoms.
Would the switch keep the rod from pulling back?

The key will rotate back to off, then off/luck, then accessory - but the rod doesn't move back. At all. Sounds like something a bit more mechanical in the steering column, I'm guessing.

I can grab the upper portion of the rod with some needle nose pliers and manual pull it back, and it will rotate the key cylinder accordingly (off, then accessory). It's just not doing it with the key.

Here's a better picture of the little devil from on top of the steering column...can you see the little thin rod? Running down the steering column, on the upper left? That's him. Monster!

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post #4 of 36 Old 03-17-2019, 04:50 PM Thread Starter
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I imagine a new ignition switch is in order, along with whatever else is causing this terrible anti-retract issue!
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post #5 of 36 Old 03-18-2019, 07:08 AM Thread Starter
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So - here's a diagram I've discovered; I'm wondering if I may have a broken actuator rack?
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post #6 of 36 Old 03-18-2019, 07:21 AM Thread Starter
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Does the actual switch (the rectangular component, down on the lower part of the column) have a return spring in it, by any chance? Something that would PUSH the actuator rod back up the column?

I can feel the actuator rod being pushed back from the "start" position; that part works just fine. But is there a spring that assists the rod in its return trip to "off/off-lock/accessory?

Something's gone wonky inside my steering column. That's all I know at this point. Do those sector/rack gears ever get off track? Jump a tooth or the like?

That's another theory.....but who knows. I think I'm going to have to yank the steering wheel to actually take a peek at what's going on in there.

I'm learning more about Jeeps than I EVER wanted to know. Sheesh.
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post #7 of 36 Old 03-18-2019, 10:06 AM
defmornahan
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Originally Posted by cptmoney View Post
I think I'm going to have to yank the steering wheel to actually take a peek at what's going on in there.

I'm learning more about Jeeps than I EVER wanted to know. Sheesh.
Story. Of. My. Life. (Of my 30s, anyway.)

I think your first respondent still had a good point. Disconnecting that rod from the switch at the base of the column would allow you to distinguish whether it's some mechanism between the lock cylinder and the rod that's bad, or whether the switch is hanging on to the rod and it's really the switch's fault. The switch is awful to work on, but excavating the steering wheel and column to the point of unearthing that mechanism is also bad, and I suspect a little worse. I have replaced the switch on mine and also the ignition lock cylinder and there's STILL play in the system (sometimes things stay ON or ACC when the key is at OFF...), but better than it was, so I certainly agree with you that the problem might be in that mechanism.
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post #8 of 36 Old 03-18-2019, 11:18 AM
Boojo35
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If you pull the steering wheel you need a lock plate compressor to go deeper in. There is a plate that it used to lock your steering wheel when the key is off. It has a spring underneath it and has to be compressed to remove the snap ring above it.

Auto zone or somebody may have a loaner tool. They are not expensive to buy either.

https://www.autozone.com/loan-a-tool...ver/112102_0_0
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If you cannot fix it with a hammer then it has to be an electrical problem.
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post #9 of 36 Old 03-18-2019, 11:21 AM
Boojo35
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The diagram you found is if I am not mistaken for a tilt steering column. There were some differences between standard and tilt.
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If you cannot fix it with a hammer then it has to be an electrical problem.
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post #10 of 36 Old 03-18-2019, 05:37 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Boojo35 View Post
If you pull the steering wheel you need a lock plate compressor to go deeper in. There is a plate that it used to lock your steering wheel when the key is off. It has a spring underneath it and has to be compressed to remove the snap ring above it.



Auto zone or somebody may have a loaner tool. They are not expensive to buy either.



https://www.autozone.com/loan-a-tool...ver/112102_0_0
Is that the puller I need? Or does that tool just give me the pressure to pull the retaining clip? Looks like I'm going to need one. Grrrrr.

So here's what I've learned this afternoon: I was able pull the ignition switch (the actual switch down on the column)....and it was incredible sticky/gummy. Not good. Was super tough to get it to pull back into the off/off-lock/accessory. After I worked with it for ten minutes, it started to free up a bit, but still was super sticky.

Here's the grim part: when I turn the key without the switch in place, the rod just flips around. Won't retract at all, even without the switch. It actually feels gritty and "notchy", almost like some of the plastic teeth are broken or maybe missing. Chunky and clunky.

My theory is this: the switch became so sticky that eventually the upper end of the actuator rod (and some or all the accompanying parts) was stressed up to the point of failure. What part(s)? Not sure yet. Gotta yank the steering wheel and take a peek at what's going on inside. Going to be exciting.

What else should I replace while I'm in there? Turn signal switch? Emergency flashers switch doesn't work, so that is on my radar. What else? Key lock cylinder? I've come this far; might as well go all the way. I don't want to be doing this again anytime soon. It's no party.

Here's a few pics of my switch and actuatir rod:


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post #11 of 36 Old 03-18-2019, 05:40 PM Thread Starter
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Hopefully those parts are available without having to go to a boneyard. That will at least save me a little time....maybe.

Would you replace your steering column parts with used parts? Such a pain to get in there, hate to do it halfway. Want this thing to be brand spanking new when I'm done with this job.
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post #12 of 36 Old 03-18-2019, 06:20 PM
1project2many
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Late to the party but I have lots of practice with GM columns.

The rack gear for the non-tilt wheel is different than what's in the tilt column picture.


The rod has a 90 degree bend at the top which slides into the rack gear. Here's a picture of an earlier version with the rod and the wheel lock pin.

At the bottom the ignition switch keeps the rod from falling out. The rack is pushed toward the ignition switch when the key is turned toward start. When the key is returned to "off" or "acc" the pressure from the ignition switch pushes the rod toward the wheel which pushes the rack gear back up into the column.

Try applying pressure to the rod while turning the key toward start then back to off. If the rod works properly in both directions then you're probably ok with just installing the new switch.
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post #13 of 36 Old 03-19-2019, 07:55 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by 1project2many View Post
Late to the party but I have lots of practice with GM columns.



At the bottom the ignition switch keeps the rod from falling out. The rack is pushed toward the ignition switch when the key is turned toward start. When the key is returned to "off" or "acc" the pressure from the ignition switch pushes the rod toward the wheel which pushes the rack gear back up into the column.

Try applying pressure to the rod while turning the key toward start then back to off. If the rod works properly in both directions then you're probably ok with just installing the new switch.

So I tried moving the actuator rod with nothing more than the lock cylinder; no dice. I didn't give it steady pressure, so I'll try that again this evening....but it just feels - wrong. Busted. Broken. I'm thinking that something is in pieces within the steering column itself.

@ 1project2many....looks like we're going to be getting acquainted. I wish it would have been under different circumstances!


Do I need a puller AND the tool to put tension on the lock plate? Or will the steering wheel just slide off by removing the large nut? Just want to get that tool in motion; the local parts house charge $15/day to rent it. Looks like I can buy one for less than that. I'll just get it on order so I can address it this weekend, hopefully.

Is this the one I need? Here it it:

https://www.autozone.com/loan-a-tool...d43737-8-11065
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post #14 of 36 Old 03-19-2019, 01:29 PM
Boojo35
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Originally Posted by cptmoney View Post
So I tried moving the actuator rod with nothing more than the lock cylinder; no dice. I didn't give it steady pressure, so I'll try that again this evening....but it just feels - wrong. Busted. Broken. I'm thinking that something is in pieces within the steering column itself.

@ 1project2many....looks like we're going to be getting acquainted. I wish it would have been under different circumstances!


Do I need a puller AND the tool to put tension on the lock plate? Or will the steering wheel just slide off by removing the large nut? Just want to get that tool in motion; the local parts house charge $15/day to rent it. Looks like I can buy one for less than that. I'll just get it on order so I can address it this weekend, hopefully.

Is this the one I need? Here it it:

https://www.autozone.com/loan-a-tool...d43737-8-11065
My YJ lock cylinder and rack gears just needed a lot of cleaning and lube. Could not turn the key at all. Maybe yours is similar. No way to tell.

The plate compressor may or may not be totally correct. I have a 40 year oldish snap on or blue point that works on several different columns. It has different screw collars for the center. A lot of steering column stuff is pretty generic so it may work. I have to change my center screw on column on my tool from time to time though for certain columns.

Steering wheels can sometimes be pulled without a puller. Remove the nut and apply upward "wiggling" pressure with your hands 180 degrees apart on the wheel. Sometimes having somebody giving a slight tap with a hammer and center punch in the dimple of the center of the steering shaft while applying your upward pressure will pop it free. Disclaimer..... I did not tell you to beat the hell out of it and in any way damage the steering column threads or bearings. Use at your own discretion.

I really regret not doing a pictorial write up when I tore my column apart. I still may do it cause it is not that hard. Just need free time that I am not really needing to fix something though and just kinda showing off. LOL.
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If you cannot fix it with a hammer then it has to be an electrical problem.
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post #15 of 36 Old 03-19-2019, 05:46 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 1project2many View Post
Late to the party but I have lots of practice with GM columns.

The rack gear for the non-tilt wheel is different than what's in the tilt column picture.


The rod has a 90 degree bend at the top which slides into the rack gear. Here's a picture of an earlier version with the rod and the wheel lock pin.

At the bottom the ignition switch keeps the rod from falling out. The rack is pushed toward the ignition switch when the key is turned toward start. When the key is returned to "off" or "acc" the pressure from the ignition switch pushes the rod toward the wheel which pushes the rack gear back up into the column.

Try applying pressure to the rod while turning the key toward start then back to off. If the rod works properly in both directions then you're probably ok with just installing the new switch.
So I spent a few minutes this afternoon really being attentive to this action. I applied just a bit of pressure on the actuator rod (pushing back up the steering column toward the key lock cylinder while I moved the key) and tried to tell what's going on. Here's what I noticed:

When starting with the key in "off/lock", the key comes in and out of the lock cylinder just fine, and the cylinder rotates forward just fine. Pushes the rod forward all the way to what I believe will be "start" just fine, and will even turn back to off without a hitch. Seems smooth (smooth enough), and I went through this motion several times without missing a beat. Here's where things get weird.....

When I turn the key back to "accessory", even with the same amount of gentle pressure, the rod is reluctant to go all the way back. It did, however, go all the way back to accessory several times...just not every single time. Furthermore, once the key AND rod were both in accessory position, the key would then turn back forward to off/luck, but the rod would not move forward. The rod didn't make this transition back to OFF on its own - ever.

Now if I turned the key back to start/run/off, it would "catch" and push the rod back into play, and things were in motion again. But again, if I ever took the key all the way back to accessory and the rod should make it back as well, the rod would not scroll forward until I turned the key forward to start or run.

Clear as mud?

Basically, it feels like the gears that rotate the key cylinder (and ultimately the actuator rod) BACK to accessory are broken/gone/worn to nothing. In cabling that all I've really lost at this point is ACCESSORY, but nothing else....as long as I install a new ignition switch.

Here's what I might try for now: replace the gummy ignition switch at the lower end of the steering column with a new, smoothly operating ignition switch. Bolt it all back together and see what she looks like. If the only thing I've lost at this point is accessory, I can live with that. Some spring weekend when I'm feeling froggy and daring, I'll rip the steering column apart and see what's hiding in there. That would be best case scenario at this point, I feel like. If the Jeep won't start OR turn off, then I'm right back where I started, except that now I've got a shiny fresh ignition switch already installed on the lower end.
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