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Steering Column Repair/Ignition Switch


QUESTION: I have a 1984 K10 Chevy Suburban with tilt steering that will not start.  When turning the key nothing happens, no lights or anything.  I am assuming it is the ignition switch.  How do I locate and install a new one?

ANSWER: Hi Scott:

There are a few steps to determine the cause of the problem rather  than just throwing parts at it that might be the problem.  Let me ask you some questions and that will help us determine the cause and solution.
When you turn the key, do you have and feel ALL the key positions ("Accessory", "Lock", "Off", "On", "Start") or does the key simply turn freely without clicking or springing back?
If you do not feel any key positions or spring action, does the key &  lock rotate to the full extent it used to?
If you do feel the same positions and spring action when turning it, do ANY light come on in the dash, in ANY key position?

Let me know these answers and we will go to the next step.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: The lock cylinder behaves as it always has.  A couple of times I had lights in the dash.  When turning to start it all goes dead.  Now I no longer have anything.  I've tested the battery and checked connections and found no problem.

GM ignition switch
GM ignition switch  

new fusible link
new fusible link  
Thanks for those answers.

If you have a test light, you will now need to test the wiring to see what circuits are carrying power when you try to start the car.  Power comes from the starter (the large terminal).  I bring this up because very often the wires from the start become damaged or burn out causing this intermittent power feed.  At the starter are 2 'fusible links' that are designed to melt if there is too much current or a short.  You will have to test those.  Poke the test light through the wire insulator AFTER the fusible link.  You should have power.  tug on the link to make sure it is a secure wire inside.  The insulation will not melt but the wire inside does.  If it's good, it will feel like pulling on any wire.  If it's bad, it will feel like a rubber band.

If the power is present beyond the fusible links, then you should test the ignition switch on the column.  The ignition switch is located on the top of the steering column tube just above your ankles when sitting in the car.  This test 'may' be done without lowering the column, but sometimes you need to.  If you do have to lower it, be sure to remove the small string for the shift indicator attached to the column BEFORE you lower it.
Once you find the switch, you need to identify the 2 red wires going into it.  Those are the power wires that feed the switch.  Make sure they have power all the time.  If not, go back to the starter and check those wires again.
If the red wires in the ignition switch are good, then you probably have a bad ignition switch and you will have to lower the column to replace it.  I've attached pictures of the fusible links and the ignition switch.

That is about as much diagnosis as I can do on the web.
Good luck

Steering Column Repair

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Douglas Gan


My specialties are stolen vehicles, steering column and ignition locks repair, airbag service and installation and diagnosis. My work includes both domestic (USA) vehicles and foreign designs.


30 years owning a company that specializes in steering columns, ignition & airbag related problems

GM certified, ASE certified, 4 yrs college, Mech Tech degree
I own multiple auto repair companies and can help you professionally through any of our websites at: ---- we stock many older steering column parts and can rebuild your column if you ship it to us --- we sell airbag replacement information (no parts) -- we perform investigations for many types of vehicle claims
Please feel free to contact us through any of our websites for more information or help

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