1996 Chevrolet 1500 Truck Ignition Switch

1996 Chevrolet 1500 Truck came in with an intermittent no run condition. When the no run condition would occur the dash warning lights would not come on either. After cycling the ignition switch several times the lights would come on and then the engine would crank and start. I checked basic battery and cables for loose connections and found none. I felt like this was an ignition switch condition, so I picked it as a starting place. In order to fully access the ignition switch and wiring some disassembly is required. Disable the airbag system and disconnect the battery according to manufacturers instructions.

The upper dash bezel and the lower dash knee bolster have to be removed.

To remove the upper dash bezel I grabbed the edge and pulled straight towards the seat. Then I repeated the process all the way around the bezel until it was fully released.

Next I had to remove the harness connectors from the bezel mounted switches. The headlight switch has a locking tab that has to be depressed.

There is a push button tab on the cargo light switch that has to be depressed before the harness can be removed. For some reason I find this switch particularly hard to release but perseverance wins in the end. Sometimes there are several switches at this location.

After I had released all of the harness connectors, I tilted the steering column fully down and moved the shifter to the drive one position. Then with a little bit of flexing I removed the bezel.

The next step was to disconnect the park brake release cable. I first pulled the release to make sure the parking brake was not set. It can be very painful if it was set and it released while removing the cable. I have been pinched and beat over the years by not remembering to do this, in fact I could not wear a ring for two years due jamming my finger one time. To remove the cable I next pulled the forward lever towards me so that I could remove the cable end. Next I used a screw driver to force the plastic cable housing from the park brake assembly. There is also a hold down clip that has to be removed or opened a little further up on the steel dash framework. I could not get the camera positioned for a picture however.

There are four 7 mm headed screws that have to be removed from the lower edge of the knee bolster. After that I pulled the panel towards the seat and removed it.

After the plastic panel was removed I had to remove the two steel panels. one is held on by two 7 mm headed screws and the other is held on by four 10 mm headed screws.

Next, I removed the heavy steel bar under the steering column, it is held on by four 15 mm nuts. This one and some extra wiring attached to it for a XM radio that I had to remove.

Next I located the ignition switch junction block at the left side of the steering column. It has a 7 mm headed screw in the middle of it.

With all of that removed I could now access the wiring for the ignition switch. I also decided to remove the lower steering column cover. There are two torx screws that have to be removed.

Next the tilt handle had to be removed. I grabbed it and pulled it straight out towards the driver’s door.

The lower cover has to be flexed and rolled so that the lip can be released from under the steering wheel and then pulled from the rear hinge pins. the correct procedure is to remove the steering wheel but I have taken hundreds of these apart using this procedure.

There are two screws that hold the upper cover in place. The left one can be seen slightly above center of the upper picture. The right one can be seen in the center of the lower picture just above the ignition switch.

For testing purposes I removed the plastic cover over the ignition switch wires and reconnected the battery. I checked power on both of the pink wires while switching the key on and off.  The pink wire towards the front of the truck would not power up sometimes or it would have a delay. Time to change the switch.

After removing the two screws mentioned earlier, I could lift the upper cover to gain access to the lock cylinder release pin. The battery has to be disconnected before removing the lock cylinder because the cylinder has to be turned to the full crank position before the pin can be depressed. I use a hooked tool that is actually designed for loosening coolant hoses but a hanger can be cut and bent to do the same thing. Again with the key turned to the full crank condition, I depressed the pin and pulled the lock cylinder out.

The following picture shows the access hole for the lock cylinder pin.

There are two screws that hold the actual switch to the steering column and now I could finally get to them.

After removing the screws and sliding the switch out, I had to remove the key in switch from the steering column housing. It has a small clip that has to be depressed and then it has to be rotated and lifted out of place.

Dash 42


There are several wire ties and a piece of abrasion cloth that have to be removed from the wiring harnesses. The combination switch wiring has to be unclipped from the ignition switch terminal block that was shown earlier in this post. Make sure that all wire ties and the abrasion cloth are put back in place as they are there to prevent future shorts. Reverse the procedure to reassemble. Although this post is quite long the actual time is about thirty minutes after you have some experience. I would imagine a first timer would need about an hour depending on general experience level.

43 discussions on “1996 Chevrolet 1500 Truck Ignition Switch”

  1. I have a 97 z71 and fuse number 20 keeps blowing its labeled prndl and the tac wont work speedometer wont work and the shift illumination light wont work and the truck seems to be stuck in 3rd gear ive already changed the ingnition switch what yall think can be the problem

    1. Fuse number 20 should be labeled “trans” and it supplies power to the transmission and the instrument panel on a pink wire. Although the short could be anywhere normally it will be in the transmission area. Usually the harness will either be laying on the exhaust or the front drive shaft.

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