Replacing a Headlight Switch

Old 02-18-2013, 09:04 AM
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Default Replacing a Headlight Switch

Symptoms of a bad headlight switch:
  • Dash and running lights come on, but no headlights
  • Headlights work, but no dash lights or running lights
  • Headlights won't turn off

When mine failed, it looked like the first option: dash lights come on, running lights front and rear come on, but no headlights.

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Causes: Jeep, in all their infinite wisdom, thought it'd be a great idea to dump all the current required to power the headlights through the headlight switch, then out to the headlights, instead of using the switch to trip a relay that would then power the lights. If any little thing goes wrong, the switch fails and the plug that plugs into the switch melts, causing, at least a melted plug, and at worst, a fire.

'87-'91: BDW switch PN: S940
'92-'93: BDW switch PN: S2036P
'94-'96: BDW switch PN: S2064
'97-'01: BDW switch PN: S2036P

I got these PN's by looking at Advance Autoparts website. Please verify for your particular flavor of XJ (SE, Country, Briarwood, etc) before purchasing.

You may or may not want to disconnect your battery before doing this, as the switch is left in the "on" position by removing the ***. That means all the juice that powers your lights is running through the connector as you're messing with it....(*hint *hint....disconnect the battery....)

To get at it, you've gotta remove the lower dash, but you can leave everything connected.

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There are around 10 screws (didn't count), then the thing comes off. You've got to have the shifter in Drive or 3rd gear to have enough room to get the thing off.

In my case, clearly this has been done before, as the black plastic bezel around the switch is gone and has been replaced with a painted washer

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If you look under the switch, from below, there's an access hole. You've got to shove your finger up there and push on the little plunger to remove the ***.

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Access hole:

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This is the bottom of the new switch, but for illustration, the thing you're looking to push on is that small button with the spring around it. You've got to push pretty hard, then the *** will disengage and you can pull it right out of the front of the switch.

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Next, use a flat blade to unscrew the retainer that the *** just came out of.

The switch is now loose behind the dash. I've read accounts of not having much room to work, but I was able to pull everything down and have some room to work. If not, use a flat blade to wiggle the connector off the switch - there is a tab on each of the long sides of the switch where the connector clicks into. There is also a ground wire that plugs into the lug on the back.

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One of the tabs on my connector had broken off at some point.

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Clearly, something got warm

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Didn't have time or resources to replace the plug right then, so I shoved it onto the new switch, tested it, and back together she went.

Total time spent was less than 15 minutes.

This is a good excuse to upgrade your lighting harness and bulbs.

See here for cruiser54's guide for that.
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Old 07-04-2013, 08:31 PM
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Good write up. I'd like to add a symptom though.

Flashing or blinking headlights, that's how mine failed. Going up a long curvy road at midnight telling ghost stories they started randomly turning on and off. Freaked us the hell out.

Last edited by PNWjeeper; 07-04-2013 at 08:33 PM.
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Old 07-19-2013, 12:56 AM
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Originally Posted by PNWjeeper View Post
Good write up. I'd like to add a symptom though.

Flashing or blinking headlights, that's how mine failed. Going up a long curvy road at midnight telling ghost stories they started randomly turning on and off. Freaked us the hell out.
Lol thats freakin awesome. Def the best switch fail yet!
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Old 07-30-2013, 06:34 AM
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I have this problem, but only my dash won't light up. Would it be okay to move the wire from the original spot to another on the switch?
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Old 11-06-2013, 07:01 AM
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Could this also be a symptom???
Say I pull into my destination, turn my headlights off, then turn my jeep off; no issues.

Now let's say I pull into my destination, turn my truck off, THEN turn my lights off. My dash lights and parking lights turn off, as well as the chime, but my headlights do not.

Just something strange I noticed and figured out over the past couple days.
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Old 11-06-2013, 08:41 AM
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that would be your courtesy light package.
when you hit your switch after you shut down your jeep, the headlights are supposed to stay on so you can see your way to the door of your house. the headlights will shut off in about 30 seconds or so.
it's a factory standard option.
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Old 11-06-2013, 09:23 AM
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Interesting. I never knew of this. Thank you.
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Old 11-16-2013, 03:20 AM
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I just replaced mine hoping it would fix my running lights, tail lights, and cluster lights no luck but def worth replacing thought easy change.....
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