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VW MKIII-A3/B4 TDIs This is a discussion about MKIII-A3/MkIII Jetta/Golf (<99.5) and B4 Passats (96,97) TDI's. Non TDI related postings will be moved or removed.

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Old September 11th, 2010, 16:29   #1
BKmetz
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Default A3/B4 Ignition Switch Replacement Procedures

As all the A3/B4 TDIs are up in years now, the ignition switches are wearing out. I'm talking about the electrical switch, not the column-lock key-tumbler assembly.

If you need to replace the key tumbler assembly, you will have to order a new ignition key lock-set from VW. VW will NOT match your original keys. If you want your new ignition key to match your car, you will have to go to a locksmith and have him change the tumblers. This will take a few extra days as the locksmith has to order a new bezel ring. The black metal bezel ring around the key slot is a press fit and has to be destroyed to remove the tumblers.

Usual ignition switch failure symptoms: lights, wipers, HVAC, and engine randomly quitting for no reason. The brass contacts in the switch are wore out and cannot maintain contact. Fix ASAP. It will just get worse and leave you stranded.

Someone was nice enough to do a detailed write up with photos. The procedure is almost exactly the same whether you own an A3 or B4 car. This is a DIY job if you have all the tools. Allow your self an hour if you read through the tutorial first and get familiar with all the steps.

http://forums.tdiclub.com/showthread.php?t=105906


One caveat with using drop the steering column method: Dropping the steering column is one way, not the only way. MAKE DAMN SURE the column is tightened back up correctly when putting everything back together. One guy had his steering column come loose after.

The preferred VW way is to pull the collar. This is easier if you have a puller and can rig up something behind the collar to help pull it.

http://forums.tdiclub.com/showthread.php?p=640724


When I changed my switch I cut the collar off as I couldn't find a puller that would work and a new collar is about $10. In my case it was cheaper to buy a collar than a puller. I already have a Dremel Tool.

http://forums.tdiclub.com/showthread.php?p=677529


I just replaced the ignition switch on my 96 Passat yesterday. I used the gear puller method this time. I have a generic gear puller which by itself will not work. Here is what I did to get the collar off the steering column. For lots of detailed photos, refer to the first link in this post.

The problem: the ignition switch is held to the inside of the aluminum steering lock assembly by a tiny #1 Phillips screw:



To get the lock assembly off you have to remove a collar which has splines and is a press fit onto the steering column. Most guys who use a gear puller have ground down the fingers to grip the spring behind the collar, or use a gear splitter clamped behind the collar. There is a tiny ridge (around ~1/16"?) on the collar. I was able to come up with a cheap solution to use my generic gear puller to grip that ridge.

I went snooping in my local hardware store and found these large clips for around ~$1/each. The outside diameter is 1.25"(~3.25cm).



I snapped 2 clips onto the collar and it was enough for the puller to get a good grip.



I then used a large C-clamp to hold the puller on and slowly pulled the collar off. It was very easy once I got the C-clamp to stay in place.



The collar got some scars when it was all over but it was a lot less work then dropping the steering column or cutting off the collar like I did the first time. I hope this saves some time for the next guy and avoid taking the car to the dealer for what is really an easy job.


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Last edited by BKmetz; September 14th, 2010 at 03:47.
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Old September 11th, 2010, 18:10   #2
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Having just done this, there is another way, with no puller required.

Remove the column entirely, and undo that pesky philips screw above with a slightly bent #2 philips screwdriver.

This requires undoing the pinch bolt at the bottom of the column at the u-joint, and the t30 at the top of the column. Take the column out of the car and remove the philips screw which will release the switch.
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Old September 11th, 2010, 19:03   #3
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Brian! Clever thinking on the 'flange extenders'! I'll have to try that next time.
As it is I've been using the Dremel and cut-off wheel method and have been changing the switch contact sets in 30 minutes total (from stop the engine to re-start).
Your snap ring method is worth pursuing and might get me to under 15 minutes.
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Old September 13th, 2010, 09:25   #4
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Very clever!

I've come to like the method of removing the entire column myself (as Windex describes). That way I don't worry about pressing the collar back on, which can be tricky to do correctly without forcing the entire column towards the firewall accidentally.

It's slightly tricky to get at the screw holding the switch in place since the column is still with the column lock but very doable.
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Old September 13th, 2010, 11:13   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt-98AHU View Post
Very clever!

I've come to like the method of removing the entire column myself (as Windex describes). That way I don't worry about pressing the collar back on, which can be tricky to do correctly without forcing the entire column towards the firewall accidentally.

It's slightly tricky to get at the screw holding the switch in place since the column is still with the column lock but very doable.
*Reserved* It's not that hard, if you bend a philips #2 slightly to get at that screw. With a cheap screwdriver and the righ bend, that screw is not very hard to remove and replace. I will grab a pic of the one I modified for this purpose and post once I get home.
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Old September 13th, 2010, 16:59   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt-98AHU View Post
I've come to like the method of removing the entire column myself (as Windex describes). That way I don't worry about pressing the collar back on, which can be tricky...
I put the collar on the shaft finger tight, put the steering wheel on, and use the steering wheel nut to pull the column up while the wheel pushes the collar down.
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Old December 22nd, 2010, 08:29   #7
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Seems it's time for me to do this fix, been getting lights and fan intermittent. Car has a mind of it's own flashing people at night...

I kinda wanna get this done quickly, is there any reason to think that the dealer would sell a better switch than aftermarket places? Just gave them a call and it's $45 and I could pick it up tomorrow. Also talking about Canada here so it's not as easy to get parts as down south, but I think I'll send Brian from NS an e-mail.
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Old December 22nd, 2010, 11:24   #8
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Brian comes through again, a quality switch at a great price. Since he said he wouldn't use certain switches as they weren't his brand preference, I'll have to assume there are some out there which aren't as good. But I know I'm getting a good part.
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Old December 22nd, 2010, 17:24   #9
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Last time I did this I replaced the turn signal/cruise and wiper stalks while I had everything apart. They were very sloppy. Everything is nice & tight and has a crisp feel now. The stalks are not cheap but it was worth it to me.

I don't know if there is any difference in quality between aftermarket switches and VW switches. I've taken old ignition switches apart. The internals are a bit different between the white nylon switches to the black nylon switches, but I have no idea if one design is better than the other.


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Old February 27th, 2011, 20:04   #10
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Just replace the switch mod today. I have to say after reading all the different way to do this I settled on pulling the whole shebang with steering wheel in place. Took 45min. Boy, sticking your head up under the dash with your butt hanging out the door is something. You really don't have to pull the knee panel. Now to fix the cig lighter. Heard the fuse Is up on top of the fuse panel, have to drop that and mod so I can change the fuse without pulling the panel.
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Old March 22nd, 2011, 13:43   #11
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Yeah, I've done this three times now, and I have to say I'm fond of pulling the entire steering column with the steering wheel attached. The last time I did this I screwed up the airbag somehow and now the airbag light is always on.

First time: try to repair the switch.
Second time: replaces the switch.
Third time: 6 months later, replaced the crappy replacement switch, used a different brand.

Sorry, I don't recall the crappy brand I used the first time.
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Old March 23rd, 2011, 16:57   #12
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Cross your fingers. The switch I used ran $9.99 with shipping incl.
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Old March 24th, 2011, 06:12   #13
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I had good luck using pair of Vise Grips. Clamp them lightly behind the collar and then pull on the Vise Grips with your puller. I used the steering wheel to push the collar back on.
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Old April 27th, 2011, 00:59   #14
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I used the vise grip method as well. Had to replace my ignition switch last fall when I put the glow plug relay in the wrong spot... thanks haynes manual. wish I would have found this write up before I had to change mine out. Very good write up.
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Old August 9th, 2011, 04:23   #15
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Next time I'm in here I might try to rewire the wiper lever positions. Am I the only one who is bugged that the lowest lever setting is "intermittent," not "off"? =)

I want it to go off>int>low>high, which only makes sense.
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