VCI logo Archive Index | Current Issue
Replacing Coil / Ignition Switch

Since we're putting a new coil in this car we're babysitting (referenced in Checking a Coil), we have to take the key tumbler out of the original ignition switch to go in the new switch that is attached to the replacement coil by the dreaded and feared "armored" cable. This doesn't look so easy.

Or, another approach: Most people have a least a few broken ignition keys that were ultimately fatigued by what has to be world's stiffest ignition switch. Long ago, with a different 1800, I finally got tired of breaking keys, so I removed the ignition switch from the dash, cut through the dreaded armored cable and put in an aftermarket auto parts store switch.

If someone could take a moment to advise on the relative wisdom of this undertaking... ease, or lack of it, in getting the switch out of the dash, and if a new switch is not installed, then switching the key tumbler so the original key may be used (the replacement used coil / cable / ignition switch assembly I got did not have a key). If the original (stiff) switch is retained, is there any way to lubricate or otherwise decrease the friction?
Bob Burleson

Phil says: I once walked into a locksmith's with my cracking four-month-old key of the moment to have another four or five replacements made. The locksmith took one look and said, "Oh, I see you have an old Volvo!"

I'm still using the same switch in that particular car (our Amazon), but I only use it to turn the ignition on and off. The starter is operated by a separate momentary push-button switch, and I've been using one key for five years now. You'd have to hunt around to find a good place to put such a switch in an 1800S, but that's one possible solution.

As for replacing the coil / cable / switch assembly, first disconnect the battery, then tag and unbolt the wires from the back of the switch. Locate the small hole in the side of the switch body just behind the dash. Turn the key halfway between the "off" and "run" positions, and press the end of a paper clip into the hole to release the tumbler. You can then undo the switch itself.

The coil is held in by two bolts that undo from the inside of the firewall under the dash. You will have a better time with all this if you first remove the driver's seat (four nuts under the seat cushion) and put down some sort of padding to lie on.

I don't know of any good way to lubricate the switch (and it's the switch, not the tumbler, that's the problem). I'm guessing that the stiffness comes from wear -- the new switch that's attached to your new coil should take years to develop excessive stiffness. I wouldn't recommend using an aftermarket switch.

Back to the Top