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Old 06-11-2013, 06:21 PM   #1
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Ignition Switch Replacement: HOLY CRAP!!!

My ignition switch has been acting up recently, so I bought a replacement (electrical part of switch) a few weeks ago. Tonight the switch decided to go on strike: key very difficult to remove, and seemed to turn a little too far when I started the car. I managed to get the key out, disconnected the negative battery terminal, and started the replacement process:

1. Removed heater duct. No sweat.
2. Pulled off electrical connector from back of switch. This is gonna be easy!!
3. Ground to a complete halt. WOW. I am not a large human being, but I have no idea how on earth I'm going to get in a position that will enable me to loosen those two screws.

What size / type of screwdriver have other owners used???? I am trying to use a mini screwdriver that's perhaps 3" long, and it seems way too long for the job, OR I need to be triple jointed or something. The space where I'd put my hand to turn the screwdriver to loosen the screw (mind you, so far I'm just talking about the screw that's on the console side of the switch) seems impossibly tight.

I'd really appreciate any tips or tricks anyone could provide! Thanks in advance for your help.
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Old 06-11-2013, 07:15 PM   #2
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When I did mine, I had to cut down a flat-blade mini screwdriver (plastic handle), and even then it was an issue. Plus I'm a large guy with large hands and... yeah.
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Old 06-11-2013, 08:08 PM   #3
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I had to replace mine last Summer. I got as far as you with the same ease, and bought a short, thin screwdriver.

Problem was, my forearm is too long to swing between the floor and bottomof the dash to get the screwdriver up to the screws. I had to have my 25 yo daughter crawl into the footwell and loosen the screws. I replaced the switch, she tightened the screws back up, and I put the rest back together.

If you do a search on this site, I think you'll find another way to replace the switch the side of the dash.

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Old 06-12-2013, 12:19 AM   #4
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When I replaced my switch, I had the same problem with my arm being too long to get the screw driver into position. With my elbow resting on the floorboard, I had to bend my wrist down so much that I couldn't turn the screw driver. I found a posting about going through the dash to loosen the screws, that of course, I can't find anymore.
Basically, you remove the left hand cover of the dash (part #4 in 1st pic). There are 2 torx screws on the outside edge near the door seam. You will need a short handle torx driver because there is not enough room to fit a regular length handle between the door and the dash.
Then you remove the light switch knob, there is a screw hidden on the bottom. Take out one more torx screw that was hidden under the knob, and if I recall correctly, the dash piece will come off now after you dissconnect the electrical connector.
It will expose the left elbow end of the AC duct (#6 - 2nd pic). It is held on by a single phillips screw to the firewall. You can see the screw by looking into the hole in the ducting. Remove that screw and the duct, and the ignition switch will be right in front of you. Be careful when you remove the duct screw. If you drop it, it can fall behind the carpet padding and the wire bungles, to never be seen again.
You just reach in through the hole in the dash to loosen the switch set screws and to replace the broken switch.
I keep a spare ignition switch, a short handle torq driver, and the small screw driver in a plastic bag that is stored with the tool kit. Never know when the ignition switch will go out again. The last time it broke, I was 12 miles from home, and the spare switch was sitting in the workshop at home. I have a 2000S and I am on my 3rd replacement switch.




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Old 06-12-2013, 05:33 AM   #5
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I had a set of jewlers screwdrivers sitting around that made it easy.
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Old 06-12-2013, 06:18 AM   #6
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It is a job for a contortionist. Especially if you have a racing seat with high bolsters. I actually got in there and took a good look, and then ground my own shorty screwdriver from a mini I had lying around. With the right tool it took 10 minutes. My biggest problem is that I am pretty far sighted and even with reading glasses and a miners light, I had trouble seeing those little dudes up close.
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Old 06-12-2013, 07:01 AM   #7
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+1 for Spinnkers method. I've done two ignition switches and really struggled on the first one until I removed the drivers side air vent.

One other issue is that even when I got my screw driver on the scews, I could not generate any torque to turn the darn thing due to sweaty hands (Florida humidity) and no room to work.

I ended up taking my jewlers flat blade screw driver and added some JB weld to the handle to create some wings, which allowed me to turn the screws.

One other thing, if you go the vent removal route....when you go to reassemble, it is a little tough to get the screw started for the vent tube (section directly behind the vent). Add a little dab of grease the end of your screwdriver and the screw will stay put while you reach in and get it started.
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Old 06-12-2013, 09:18 AM   #8
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Yeah....that job sucked. I chopped down a small screwdriver and got u[side down for the replacement last fall. My shoulder hurt for a month after that.
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Old 06-12-2013, 09:52 AM   #9
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That's why I recently paid 1.4 hours at my local indy to get it done. Saved my back and a ton of frustration!

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Old 06-12-2013, 10:04 AM   #10
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Man, is this a chronic problem I went through the same drill last weekend, second switch in 2 years/10,000 miles! The last time was done by my Indy for an exorbitant 3 hours of labor going in through the dash top ("we dont get under, or we'll have a workman's comp case"). I removed the seat and that made it doable from underneath (with a jewlers screwdriver hacksaw shortened). And of course I found I needed to order torx female sockets to get the seat off (a 3/8" 12 point is close, but was starting to round the seat bolts).
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Old 06-12-2013, 10:18 AM   #11
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Yes, it seems to be a chronic problem (although this would appear to be the first ignition switch replacement on my 2000). Some have suggested that using a heavy key ring increases wear and as a result, I have only my ignition key on my fob. I am also careful when using the ignition to be gentle in turning and removing the keys. Only time will tell whether this helps.

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Old 06-12-2013, 10:36 AM   #12
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I accomplished this with a small screwdriver and a small set of vice grips.

I am 5"11 and 185lbs and it sucked getting into position. I removed the carpeting (even that extra .5" helped). My biggest problem was not getting the screwdriver in place, it was getting enough torque on the tiny driver to break the screws loose (mine were painted with mechanic's lacquer). I solved this by griping the screwdriver handle with the small vice grips at a right angle to the driver. I used one hand to hold the driver in place and the other to turn. It worked, but was a PIA. The worst part is that I did it for no reason; the issue turned out to be a bad clock spring.
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Old 06-12-2013, 12:27 PM   #13
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Thanks for all the responses and suggestions. I am ~65% of the way there. Left screw is loosened, and I believe I've got the right (door side) screw started. I'll post some pics of the screwdriver I'm using, which is readily available in the U.S. Also, there's at least one tip I'd offer to anyone doing this for the first time. More later...
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Old 06-12-2013, 02:09 PM   #14
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I gave up on mine and took it into the shop.

And I say that without shame. Absolute friggin' nightmare.
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Old 06-12-2013, 04:48 PM   #15
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Had the same challenge. I had tried a couple different jeweler-type flat screwdrivers, but I couldn't get enough leverage to torque it out. Home Depot guy says, have you thought about wrapping the handles with duct tape so you get additional torque?! Felt like an idiot, such a simple solution & gosh that makes perfect sense. Go home, worked like a charm & anybody thinking mechanic should stop & try this. Immediately came out, no issue, same mechanic paint deal was no problem once I got a bit more torque. Hope this helps someone now or in future.
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Old 06-12-2013, 06:34 PM   #16
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New switch is installed and works perfectly, 24 hours after my initial post.

All in all, what seemed like a nightmare turned out to be not all that bad. I wouldn't rate it in my Top 10 Experiences of All Time, but it beats getting a root canal or having your mother in law visit for a week.

For the record, I'm about 5'9", weigh about 165 lbs, and am right handed.

A few thoughts:

Finding the right screwdriver is essential. I started out with a "standard" hardware store mini flat blade screwdriver, and it just looked like it would be impossible to use. In retrospect, I was right. I went to an Ace Hardware and looked at every small screwdriver they had. Just as I was about to give up, I noticed a cheap 4 blade plastic screwdriver with a pocket clip selling for the princely sum of $2.99 (first pic).

I cut the handle in half with a coping saw, and then trimmed one of the pieces further; the 2nd pic shows what I used for this project.

Also, as I think someone pointed out, the factory paints each screw with red lacquer. You need to scrape off the lacquer to make any progress. As you try to find the slot in the screw, you'll end up removing the lacquer.

I did the screw on the console side first. (Keep in mind I'm right handed.) Holding the cut down screwdriver in my right hand and cocking my hand backward, I was able to get the first screw backed off fairly easily. The whole thing took about two minutes. The underside of my right forearm pressed against the lower edge of the dash quite a bit, and got scraped up as a result. No biggie, however.

The door-side screw was harder. I had to push deeper into the footwell before I could get the screwdriver oriented properly. Eventually, after a few minutes of trying, I caught the slot in the screw and was able to turn it a few turns. Tugging on the old switch, it was clear it was ready to come off.

I actually used my left hand to pull the switch: it seemed I had a bit more leverage with that hand.

The new switch installed quite easily. Please note that the switch can only go in one way: one of the tabs is thicker than the other. Tightening the console side screw was easy. For the other screw, I again had to push as deeply into the footwell as I could (my clutch pedal was hitting my forehead) so I could see the edge of the tab the screw is in and occasionally glimpse the screw itself. I HELD THE SCREWDRIVER WITH MY LEFT HAND and in two attempts was able to tighten that screw. (I turned the screwdriver with my left hand as I kept it in place/applied pressure with my right index finger.) YMMV, but using my left hand proved to be easier when installing that screw.

Next I reinstalled the electrical connector and heating/cooling duct, and the new switch works perfectly. Oh - I forgot to mention that I used a small LED "flashlight" for the project, sometimes resting it on the brake and clutch pedals, sometimes holding it in one of my hands. An LED headlamp would be much, much better!!

As with all difficult projects, taking your time and making sure you don't get frustrated is important. Hope this helps someone else!!
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Old 06-13-2013, 06:38 PM   #17
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By the way, I paid $11 for the switch including shipping. Purchased on eBay from a seller named ANHautoparts. Here's a link: Audi Porsche Volkswagen New Ignition Switch 4A0905849B | eBay
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Old 10-05-2013, 09:18 PM   #18
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I can't turn my key at all and it was hard to remove the key from the ignition... so is the ignition switch the problem in my case?
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Old 10-06-2013, 01:02 AM   #19
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Yes - did you think it was anything else - unless its the steering wheel lock which needs you to wriggle the wheel to engage the key....?
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Old 10-06-2013, 03:36 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Tinker View Post
Yes - did you think it was anything else - unless its the steering wheel lock which needs you to wriggle the wheel to engage the key....?
Yup, what he said.

When my switch went, the key spun (what seemed like) too far, and was nearly impossible to remove. (See the 1st post in this thread.) Get a new switch.
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