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1992 Lebaron Ignition Switch Problem

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15 replies to this topic

#1 vanagon40

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Posted January 8, 2009 at 01:37 am

I own a "92 Lebaron Convertible. This morning, the key ignition switch turned about 180 degrees with no effort to start the car. Accessories came on just fine, gauges worked, but no attempt to start. I am 99% sure the problem is in the ignition switch--the switch just did not feel normal going into the "start" position (and the switch did not want to spring back out of the "start" position).

The ignition switch worked with absolutely no problem last night, and only became a problem this morning. I have owned this car for several years and never had this problem.

As an aside (or maybe not), my odometer quit a year ago, my tachometer has always been a hit or miss, and my other gauges (with the exception of the speedometer) sometimes do not work when I first start the car, but all the gauges (except the odometer (NEVER) and the tachometer (SOMETIMES)) will work properly after a short period of operation. Lately, I have seen the temperature gauge peg above and beyond the scale, the voltmeter stuck at "nothing," no oil pressure, etc. Alternatively, I have seen the gauges "stuck" where they were the night before. When the gauges malfunction, restarting the car will not cure the problem. After driving several miles, the gauges just mysteriously begin working again.

So, my questions are:

Has anyone else had this problem and if so, what do I need to do?

Can I bypass (rewire) the ignition switch, either temporarily or permanently? I have no objection to hard wiring a starter switch into my car. However, I know that this is not as simple as the 1964 Chevy I owned that had only about three wires to the ignition switch.

What are the probabilities that the problems with my gauges are related to my ignition switch problem?

FWIW, this is a 1992 convertible (not sure if it is a GTC), 3L V6 with manual transmission. I purchased this car about 6 years ago with about 125,000 miles. Now has about 200,000 miles. I have almost always been the primary driver and this car has had very few problems.

Help please.

#2 bill4253

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Posted January 8, 2009 at 09:01 am

With respect to the gauges, you could have a loose or corroded connector on the back of the gauge PC board causing an intermittant condition. Might want to remove then reinstall them to see if that's the case.

On the ignition, I would recommend replacing the switch vs. hardwiring a starter switch. If you went the latter route, then you'd have to have a second switch to power the accessories and engine circuits.

#3 billccm

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Posted January 8, 2009 at 09:37 am

A new ingition switch will run you in the range of $60, and it is not too bad of a job if you have a wheel puller. You might be able to find a mechanic that will do the work for around $150 MAX parts and labor.

Your tach issues is most likely due to the cluster's printed circuit board revits and solder connections. You can search this forum for tips on how to fix this, but unless you have solder skills, it is not a DIY job.

The odometer is out due to a cracked gear. You could pull the entire cluster yourself, and have a speedo shop do a gear swap and perhaps solder your cluster's PCB at the same time, but expect this to be in the $200 and up range. Some shops on the internet will swap odometer gears for you for about $90 plus shipping. A few members in this forum have swapped the gears themselves with success; try searching these forums for that info.

Good Luck to you, Bill

Edited by billccm, January 8, 2009 at 09:38 am.

#4 valiant67


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Posted January 8, 2009 at 01:17 pm

I'm not even sure you need to pull the wheel to change the ignition switch. I'm fairly certain (but it has been several years now) I just opened the column cover, removed the lock cylinder then changed out the switch when I did this on the old 94 Lebaron I used to own. I did need the anti-theft Torx bits (the ones with a hollow point) to do the swap though.

#5 NEMopar

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Posted January 8, 2009 at 01:33 pm

Yep, for the 1990 & up tilt columns, you don't need to pull the wheel to swap the lock cylinder. As valiant67 indicates, just remove the covers on the column. You'll then rotate the cyl w/the key in it and push a pin on the switch housing to release the cylinder. I don't recall exactly what position though.

If you search the archives, you can probably find a previous post on this.

#6 vanagon40

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Posted January 10, 2009 at 03:29 pm

Thanks for the replies.

I removed the ignition switch. As suggested, I did NOT have to remove the steering wheel. I DID need the Torx wrench for tamper-proof screws (a stupid concept in my opinion).

Now, my question is, where is the return spring for the ignition switch? Is it located in the part I removed?

Posted Image

I suspect the return spring may be in the steering column. In any event, what is the function of the indicated part in the photo? (I think it may be the return spring, and if so, mine is broken.) If it is not the return spring, what does it do. I know the bottom mechanical lever is for the steering wheel lock.

Posted Image

I am still considering putting in toggle switches and a starter button rather than replacing the ignition switch.

[As for the odometer and panel gauges, I will leave well enough alone.]

#7 NEMopar

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Posted January 10, 2009 at 04:18 pm

The part in the column makes sure the the tranny is in Park (for cars with an AT) when you pull the key. Since you have a manual I doubt it does much of anything.

The key cylinder (more specifically the tabs on the inside edge) is what's probably broken. Follow the steps in the FSM to remove the key cylinder from the ignition switch and swap it with a key cylinder. The spring is probably not broken.

#8 vanagon40

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Posted January 10, 2009 at 04:52 pm

The part in the column makes sure the the tranny is in Park (for cars with an AT) when you pull the key. Since you have a manual I doubt it does much of anything.

If I understand you correctly, the indicated part in the photo would prevent me from moving the key to the "OFF" position if I had an automatic transmission. (I actually had this happen to me last month in a new (rental) Pontiac G6. I could not figure out how to remove the key until I realized I had not put the automatic transmission in park.)

With the ignition switch removed, I do not get the correct continuity when placing the ignition switch in the various positions (and there is no return (i.e., spring) from the start position. I will pull the key cylinder and see what I have.

I cannot find a wiring diagram for the ignition switch. Can someone help me as to what should be connected in each position? The seven wires to the switch are as follows (per the Haynes manual and my personal confirmation):

1. Starter Relay
2. Ignition Run/Start
3. Brake Warning Lamp
4. Ignition Switch Battery Feed
5. Run Accessory
6. Accessory
7. Ignition Switch Battery Feed

I know to turn the starter, No. 1 must connect to No. 4 or 7.
To start, No. 2 must be connected to to No. 4 or 7.
To run the gauges and accessories, Nos. 5 and 6 must be connected to No. 4 or 7. I assume 5 and 6 are disconnected in the "START" position. I assume in the "ACC" position, only No. 6 is connected to No. 4 or 7.

What about No. 3 (Brake Warning Lamp)? I have not figured this one out.

Again, thanks for the responses.

#9 vanagon40

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Posted January 10, 2009 at 05:51 pm

OK, I pulled the key cylinder. There was only one tab, and it appears to be in good condition.

Posted Image

The slot at the bottom of the key cylinder was broken, but the missing (broken piece) remains in the ignition switch, so I do not believe this was the problem. Appears the key cylinder works fine and the problem is with the electrical ignition switch.

Posted Image

Still think I will go with toggle switches and a starter button rather than paying (and waiting) for a replacement starter switch.

So my question is again, the function of the "Brake Warning Lamp" wire to the starter switch.


#10 NEMopar

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Posted January 10, 2009 at 07:30 pm

Again, the broken key cylinder is the problem, not the switch. It's happened to me and to others....

link to post 1

link to post 2

Replace the cylinder with an aftermarket key cylinder for about $20 and you're done. You'll just need two keys for the car then.

#11 vanagon40

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Posted January 11, 2009 at 02:44 am


Thank you for the advice, but...

When I try, both of your links are dead.

Second, why are you convinced the problem is with the key cylinder? That part looks good and seems to work fine. Seems to me the problem is in the electrical switch.

In any event, I have some toggle switches and a starter button about ready to install.

Any advice on the Brake warning lamp wire?

#12 NEMopar

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Posted January 11, 2009 at 10:40 am

It's not working because the end of the cylinder casting is broken.

Try these:

1991 Shadow

1994 Spirit

..one more

#13 george w

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Posted January 11, 2009 at 05:27 pm

I've seen these ignition switches go bad. It causes all sorts of odd problems. The internal contacts burn up. Look at the switch housing carefully for signs of scorching. Check the connecting plug too. I've seen the connectors and their wiring show signs of overheating. Make sure the plug connections are clean.

As far as the intermittent tach, you most likely simply need to clean the contacts on the tach circuit board connector. The tach board is plugged in on the back of the instrument cluster, directly behind the tach. You'll need to remove the cluster, a 5 minute job. Just unlug the tach board and clean both the printed circuit lands ( contact tabs ) on the main pcb and clean the contacts in the tach board connecting plug. A clean pencil eraser will work on the main board contacts but you'll need contact cleaner for the plug. Most likely just cleaning the main pacb board lands will do the trick.

You can also use an old toohbrush dipped in a paste made with some water and Bar Keepers Friend cleanser. BKF does an unbelieveably fast job at removing tarnish and oxidation from any metal surface. It's great for cleaning circuit board contact surfaces.

#14 vanagon40

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Posted January 11, 2009 at 09:31 pm

OK NEMopar, you were of course right.

Here is my makeshift ignition switch until I can get a new one.

Posted Image

Thanks for all the replies and assistance.

#15 Wizard


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Posted January 11, 2009 at 10:03 pm

Don't leave it in the car. Take that with you. Good makemanship. :D

Cheers, Wizard

#16 NEMopar

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Posted January 12, 2009 at 12:50 pm

Glad to see you got it running, without having to really cut into the wiring.

That temporary key cylinder is, seriously, a fine piece of backyard engineering. :) I agree with Wizard, keep it in your pocket.


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