How to replace a malfunctioning Turn Signal Switch on a 1994 through 2001 General Motors W-Body vehicle

 


     

This document pertains to the following vehicles:

Generation 1 W-Bodies:

Pontiac

1994-1996 Grand Prix

Buick

1994-1996 Regal

Oldsmobile

1994-1997 Cutlass Supreme

 

Generation 1.5 W-Bodies:

Chevrolet

1995-1999 Monte Carlo

1995-2001 Lumina

 

 

Before we begin, here are a couple of questions to ponder:

--  Will your Center High-Mount Stop Light (CHMSL) illuminate when you depress the brake pedal, but the lower/outer lights will not?

--  Do you have to hold the signal lever in a certain spot to get the turn signals to flash?

--  Do you have to hold the signal lever in a certain spot to get the lower/outer brake lights to illuminate?

--  Will the signals work in one direction, but not the other?

If you answered yes to any of the preceeding questions, your turn signal switch is likely malfunctioning.

 

**One more question before we continue:  Is the turn signal lever not "cancelling" (returning to the "off" position) after you make a turn?  If this is the case, you have a broken "cancelling spring."  Please see the accompanying section at the bottom of the page for replacement instructions.

 

Before you begin disassembly of your steering column, verify the turn signal flasher is not malfunctioning.  If your brake lights work fine, but not the signals (either direction,) then it's likely the flasher is burnt out.  The flasher itself is located underneath the dash near where the steering column passes through the firewall:

flasher.jpg (47026 bytes)

(Thanks to "digitaloutsider" for the above pic!)

 

Throughout this document you'll see me refer to the steering wheel radio controls as "RSWC."  That's GM-Speak for "Redundant Steering Wheel Controls."

 

Okay, are you ready to sweat a little?  This task is not for the mechanically inept, so back out now if you aren't sure you're up to the task.

Tools required for disassembly and removal:

Standard socket set (3/8" drive)

#30 TORX bit  (not absolutely necessary, a hex-head will work if you don't have a TORX set)

Steering wheel puller:

wheelpuller.jpg (83383 bytes)

Snap ring pliers:

srpliers.jpg (81729 bytes)

Lockplate compressor:

compressor.jpg (87535 bytes)

2 small flat blade screwdrivers:

tinysd.jpg (94032 bytes)

 

But before we begin, you do need to purchase a new signal switch, correct?

Here are the part numbers from GMPartsDirect.com .  Prices are current as of 10/26/09:

With Steering Wheel Controls (RSWC)  19005032 - $80.03

Without Steering Wheel Controls (RSWC)  19005031 - $51.37

 

Also, RockAuto.com sells Genuine AC Delco signal switches.  Prices are current as of 10/26/09:

With Steering Wheel Controls (RSWC)  D6214A - $81.79

Without Steering Wheel Controls (RSWC)  D6226A - $52.79

They also sell non-GM branded signal switches starting at $32.99 for a non-RSWC switch

 

O'Reilly Auto Parts sells BWD brand signal switches.  Prices are current as of 10/26/09:

With Steering Wheel Controls (RSWC) S3264 - $66.99

Without Steering Wheel Controls (RSWC) S3265 - $55.99

The O'Reilly's site has several detailed picutres of each of the above signal switches.  Very cool!

 

Here are some pics of my new signal switch that I ordered it from CarParts.com in 2006.  (CarParts.com has subsequently been gobbled up by JC Whitney, so I recommend Rock Auto)

tssbox.jpg (66755 bytes)

Notice the box carries both the AC Delco part #, and the GM part #.

 

Here's a pic of the new switch:

newtss.jpg (69209 bytes)

 

Allright, still with me?  Let's begin.

1.  Park the car with the steering wheel centered and the wheels straight ahead.

2.  Locate and remove the "Airbag" or "SRS" fuse in the passenger side fusebox.  There is more than one fuse for the airbag system, so I like to start the car after step 2 to verify the Airbag light in the dash remains lit.  This way you know for sure that you pulled the correct fuse.  On the Regal, it's fuse #21, highlighted below:

fusebox.jpg (65088 bytes)

3.  Remove the Negative battery cable.

4.  Remove the trim panels underneath the driver's side of the dashboard.

5.  Locate the yellow "CPA" connector for the airbag underneath the dash to the right of the steering column and disconnect.  Remove the blue (or green) pin from the center of the connector to allow for the tab to be depressed.

column6.jpg (73865 bytes)

6.  Use the #30 TORX bit (or the corresponding Hex bit) to loosen the 2 bolts that secure the airbag to the steering wheel, located on the back of the wheel.  The bolts will stay inside of the wheel.  You will have to turn the wheel to the left to get to the left hand bolt.  

7.  Lift the airbag module away from the steering wheel.

8.  Using the same procedure as described in step 5, disconnect the airbag wiring.  Also disconnect the horn wire and RSWC connector (if available.)  The horn is disconnected by following the red wire down to the white plastic "cylinder" sticking up from the column.   Press in on the cylinder and rotate it counter-clockwise, then it should pop out (it's spring loaded.)   On the Regal, there is a ground wire that "pins" inside of one one of the bolt holes for the steering wheel puller.  Be sure to remove it as well.  The Grand Prix and Lumina airbags will have a large piece of metal that acts as a spring that rests against the steering shaft (that is how the horn gets "grounded.")

9.  Set the airbag aside.  Carry it with the driver's side facing away from you.  Set it down on a workbench facing up.

10.  Point the wheels straight ahead once again.

You should now see the following: 

11.  Remove the steering wheel nut.

12.  Install the steering wheel puller and remove the steering wheel.

tss2.jpg (41482 bytes)

You should now see this:

What you see exposed now is the airbag clockspring.  The wire with the yellow connector is for the airbag, the one with the flat, black connector (on the bottom with the blue on the top) is for the RSWC.

13.  Remove the snap ring that retains the clockspring.

tss3.jpg (37451 bytes)

14.  Lift the clockspring off of the steering shaft and let it hang.

*WARNING*   Do not allow the yellow inner ring of the clockspring to rotate, otherwise you will have to reset it later.  Draw a mark across the black and yellow rings for alignment purposes, and place a piece of tape across the rings to prevent them from turning...

15.  Remove the "wave" washer.

tss4.jpg (57891 bytes)

16.  Remove the plastic cover on the left side exposing the washer and dimmer switches.

17.  Pull the multifunction stalk straight out and disconnect the cruise control wiring from the washer switch.

You will now see the following:

The part that's exposed now is the Lock Plate.   It has a spring pressing up against the back of it, and it is held in place by a retaining clip.  You will need to use the lock plate compressor tool to press down on the lock plate to take tension off the spring in order to remove the retaining clip.

18.  Use the lock plate compressor to depress the lock plate.  The center of the tool threads on to the steering shaft, and the 2 "forks" press down on the lock plate.

Here's a pic of the Lock Plate Compressor tool installed on the column and pressing down on the lock plate:

column10.jpg (66162 bytes)

19.  Use the 2 small screwdrivers to remove the lock plate retaining clip.  Have patience with this step, 'cause it takes a while to work the clip loose.  If you bend the clip, no worries, you can easily bend it back into shape.

tss6.jpg (48660 bytes)

20.  Remove the lock plate compressor.

21.  Lift off the lock plate, paying attention to where you have it aligned.  You will need to align it in the same position when reassembling the column.  (Look 3 pictures up to see how it should be aligned.)

tss7.jpg (67102 bytes)

22.  Carefully remove the hazzard flasher knob from the top of the column.

23.  Remove the cancelling cam and spring.

tss8.jpg (46767 bytes)

You will now see this:

24.  Remove the 2 screws that hold the dimmer switch to the signal switch.

tss10.jpg (72330 bytes)

 

tss11.jpg (71232 bytes)

tss12.jpg (72672 bytes)

25.  Remove the 3 screws retaining the signal switch in place.  You will have to move the switch into the "right signal on" position to remove the final screw.

26.  Locate the bulkhead connector underneath the dash to the right of the steering column, loosen the large (red in the picture) bolt in the center of the connector and pull the connector straight out it.  The bolt has an 8mm head, BTW.

Here's an overview of what you'll see under the dash:

column9.jpg (72764 bytes)

 

Here's a pic of the Bulkhead up close with the signal switch harness hilighted (actually it's the harness on top, not the lower one pointed to in the pic.)

column8.jpg (76537 bytes)

27.  The signal switch harness piggybacks to the ignition switch harness.  With the Bulkhead connector unbolted and removed, remove the blue retaining tabs and slide the signal switch harness *backwards* to remove it.  It only slides in one direction, BTW.  You may need to wedge a tiny screwdriver in the center of the signal switch harness to get it to disengage from the bulkhead.

28.  If you have RSWC, disconnect the RSWC connector from the signal switch (there's a pigtail harness running from the signal switch to the connector)

column7.jpg (65040 bytes)

29.  Feed the wires up the column.  You will have to first angle the harness so it will slip into the channel of the column.   Pull on the signal switch to aid in feeding the wires up.

tss13.jpg (46816 bytes)

 

tss14.jpg (70939 bytes)

30.  Installation is the reverse of removal.

31.  When you get to point of reinstalling the clockspring, align the tab at the top centered with the notches near 12 O'Clock on the column.

 


Here's how you replace a broken cancelling spring:

Follow the disassembly instructions above from Step 1 through Step 23

 

Here's what the signal switch looks like with one of the cancelling springs broken:

column11.JPG (72130 bytes)

The springs are easily removed with a needle-nose pliers.  They are installed the same way they came out.

Here's a pic of the switch with the new springs installed:

column12.jpg (62600 bytes)

Reassembly is the reverse of removal. 

Before you install the clockspring, go to Step 31.


Just in case anybody was wondering how the column is assembled, here's a diagram I found on the GMPartsDirect website:

diagram.jpg (82608 bytes)

Whatever you do, don't e-mail me asking what each numbered part is called.  There was no list available that had the breakdown.


 

Any questions or comments?  Feel free to drop me a line at discostudd@likeabigdog.com as I am always open to suggestions to improve this document. 

 

Please visit gmwbody.com if you have any other Gen 1 or Gen 1.5 W-Body related questions.

Thanks for reading, and as always, thanks for your support!

 

This page was last updated on 10/26/2009

1994 1995 1996 Buick Regal Signal Switch, 1994 1995 1996 Pontiac Grand Prix Signal Switch, 1994 1995 1996 1997 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme Signal Switch, 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 Chevrolet Lumina Signal Switch, 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 Chevrolet Monte Carlo Signal Switch

Copyright 2004, 2009 by Kevin Bloomquist (a.k.a. "DiscoStudd" on various GM related forums) for LikeABigDog.Com.   The text in this document may be reproduced without permission.  Images are property of the owner and may not be reproduced without permission.  All Rights Reserved.