1966 Chevelle Ignition switch - Chevelle Tech
Electrical & Wiring Troubleshooting electrical problems.

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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old Jun 13th, 11, 8:55 AM Thread Starter
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1966 Chevelle Ignition switch

I believe my ignition switch on my 66 chevelle is starting to die out on me, I turn the key, dash lights come on, radio, etc lots of power from the battery but when i go to turn the key to start, about 40% of the time nothing happends. not even a click, or roll over, nothing, comlpetly dead! Thought it was a possible starter problem so i replaced it, no better, Thought my battery wasnt charging properly because as soon as i put a charge on the battery or give it a boost it starts no problem, so i switched the voltage regulator, alternator and battery still no change, Now my next plan is to change the ignition switch, thinking possibly the contacts are worn and as soon as it gets a bit of a charge or boost, its enough power for the contacts to work maybe ???? ......Im running out of ideas!

I was just wondering if theres any easy way to change my ignition switch without dropping my whole dash?? I am aware of the small hole on the face of my cylinder to remove my ignition lock cylinder but I want to avoid dropping my dash to change my ignition module behind the dash. I know its a tight spot in behind and want to make sure it is possible to change it without dropping the dash before i spend a couple hours on it without getting anywhere with it.

Thank you very much!
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old Jun 13th, 11, 10:24 AM
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Re: 1966 Chevelle Ignition switch

Almost impossible to change out the switches on 66/67 dash without at least dropping it unless you have long arms and very small hands and long fingers.

Luckily you don't have to remove the dash completely, just drop it enough to get your hand behind the switch to disconnect the wiring harness and pull the switch back an inch or so to remove it. A few bolts across the bottom of the dash (4 I think), a steering column brace or two and the small screws below the dash pad should allow you to maneuver the dash down and out enough to reach the switch and wiring.

The ignition switch itself either works or doesn't work. No amount (or lack of) electrical power from the battery will be of consequence as far as the switch is concerned. Worn contacts on the switch can cause hit-and-miss operation, but putting more power to the switch isn't the solution.

I can offer some basic troubleshooting but I'm far from an electrical wizard.

Turn on lights.

When starter does not crank engine...
If lights stay bright there's an open circuit at starter switch or starter motor;
If lights dim slightly there's resistance at starter motor or switch;
If lights get very dim or go out generally bad battery or bad battery connection.

Hopefully someone will stop by with a good knowledge of the electrical system and guide you in the right direction. I just hate electrical problems, ARGH!
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old Jun 13th, 11, 10:25 AM
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Re: 1966 Chevelle Ignition switch

You can remove and replace the ignition switch w/o removing the dash, but it may be easier just to drop it. I have done it both ways.

If you have a nicely finished dash, plan and be careful how you unscrew the threaded bezel so you do not scratch it. Mine is raggedy so I can use pliers. I leave the cylinder in it, unscrew the bezel and fish it out from the back. But I have never changed the switch itself. Then unplug the connector.

All of that said, I would troubleshoot some more before doing the switch. Make sure the neutral safety switch is properly adjusted and working, and that all the battery and engine to frame, body and battery negative ground connections are clean and tight. Also, does wiggling the key help, and does wiggling the safety switch help?

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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old Jun 13th, 11, 11:41 AM
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Re: 1966 Chevelle Ignition switch

Neutral safety switch was my first thought. Jiggle the shifter next time it happens.
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old Jun 13th, 11, 11:19 PM
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Re: 1966 Chevelle Ignition switch

Welcome to TC, Chris----


---1965 Malibu SS Ragtop 283/416 heads/700r4
---2009 Corvette Coupe

"Whatever it is, I'm against it." --Groucho Marx
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old Jun 14th, 11, 12:21 AM
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Re: 1966 Chevelle Ignition switch

I hate to jump in and say this but it sounds like a familiar problem many of us have or have had...Its probably not your switch.

Like Dale said they usually work or they dont.

Have you checked your voltage to your stater solenoid while ignition is in the starting position?

The fixes for this type of problem can be 1 of many!
Do a search for Solenoid and you will get an education.

Make sure when you finally find your problem you let us
all know what it was.
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old Jun 14th, 11, 3:41 PM
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Re: 1966 Chevelle Ignition switch

sounds like the same problem I had awhile ago. Went thru most of the steps you're doing (including replacing the ignition cylinder). Ended up being in the wiring harness bulkhead on the firewall. The spade connectors had become rusty/corroded. It was pretty nasty inside the harness...and because there was a voltage drop across the bad connection(s), some were pretty burnt. Snipped and replaced the little spade connectors...problem solved. (an easy thing to visually check...just be careful since that plastic harness can be brittle)
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old Jun 15th, 11, 10:55 AM Thread Starter
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Re: 1966 Chevelle Ignition switch

Thanks for all of the great replies and ideas, I'm going to get back at it this weekend. I'm going to try it step by step using all of your ideas and try to narrow down the problem. ill let you know as soon as i know.

thanks again

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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old Jun 15th, 11, 12:03 PM
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Re: 1966 Chevelle Ignition switch

If you do decide to remove the ignition switch; try attaching a 4 foot piece of very thin wire to it and push it through the dash and let it fall to the floor.

When finished repairing or attaching a new one, fish it back up to the mounting hole in the dash with the same wire that you left in place and tied off to something.

That method worked for my wiper switch replacement.
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old Jun 20th, 11, 12:33 PM Thread Starter
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Re: 1966 Chevelle Ignition switch

So Friday I got home and starting working at it, Since I had already ordered and recieved an ignition switch I decided to put that in first, I replaced the ignition switch and drove the car around all weekend with no more problems.

I was able to change the switch without dropping the dash. First I removed the lock cylinder, then unscrewed the bezel, Hoping i could drop the switch just enough so i could reach it underneath with no sucess because the wires on the connector werent long enough. then I removed my glove box and dropped my radio. then I was able to reach my switch and actually see it through the hole where my radio was, So I worked at it through the radio hole, which made it very easy to unplug the connector and replace the switch..........Kind of a bizzar way to do it but it worked for me!

Thanks to everyone for all of the help and Ideas. I really appreciate it!!
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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old May 8th, 14, 1:37 PM
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Re: 1966 Chevelle Ignition switch

I'm having a similar issue with my 66' chevelle SS, 4 speed Trans. New Battery, tested the starter motor last night on a stand, and it worked fine. Turning ignition to accessory mode gives power to console but will not send any juice to the starter to even make it click.

Not sure what other components are in between the ignition switch and the starter motor solenoid.

The car has been sitting for many years, but I was told it worked fine when it was parked. Do you have any idea what was wrong with your old ignition switch? Just corroded?
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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old May 8th, 14, 7:07 PM
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Re: 1966 Chevelle Ignition switch


For simplicity, please start a new post (new topic) here in the electrical section. It's good to do a search, but you've added on to a post nearly 3 years old. Some members aren't even on here anymore.

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