Replacing the Ignition Switch

Ignition Switch IconThis technote and the pictures were provided by Carl Maxwell (AKA ginster86roc on VWVortex’s Scirocco Forum). Big thanks!

Are you tired of throwing your key into the ign lock cylinder and turning it…only to be disappointed by the lack of startage of your motAr? Read on…

…of having to reset the key to the ‘off’ position and trying to restart again.. only to be greeted by blinking LEDs in your instrument cluster?

…of having to crank your key extra h-a-r-d to get your rocc to rumble?

if ^this^ sounds like you, then read on my brethren and sis(tren)…for i have a cure for you! 
as stated above…my ignition switch had been starting to give me fits lately. basically i was tired of the car not firing on the first crank of the key. the lock cylinder on the column was working perfectly. the problem lay with the electrical portion of the switch…a problem i have experienced before.
so let’s begin shall we? (pay note to the time on my dash clock  )

sit in front of your steering wheel and admire it for a sec…less time if yours is less savory to look at:

Steering Wheel

remove the center pad with a small s/driver etc…it pries right up. you’ll be looking at this; that large nut at the center? it’s a 24mm. Get an extension, or a deep socket to reach it.

02_coveroff.jpg 03_24mmnut.jpg 04_24mmsocket.jpg

remove steering wheel and fastening hardware and reserve for later…you’ll be looking like this:


loosen the 3 screws (10,2 and 6 o’clock) that secure your t/s and wiper switches to the column.


go underneath the column so’s you can locate the 2 screws that affix the upper/lower column trim. remove them:


remove the lower cover and set it aside. now you have access to the harness connections @ the ign switch, wiper switch and t/s switch:


disconnect them and let them hang out of the way. pull your t/s and wiper switches off the column as a unit and set them aside.

now…you need to drop the column a lil bit so’s you can remove the upper trim from the column. there are 4 allen-headed screws that hold the column to the water-box area of the car. loosen them, but do not remove them. there are 2 down near the bottom of the column and 2 up top:


with all 4 screws backed off, you can rap down on the end of the column w/ your palm and make it drop…so you can now remove the upper cover:


now you should look like this:


remove the allen bolt visible to left in the pic ^above^. you’ll note the large nylon black bushing/sleeve on the steering column…it has to come off. with a pair of channel-locks, you gan grip the sleeve lightly and twist it in a ccw motion while pulling it out towards you:


a couple a turns and you should be good-ta-go. 

with that sleeve outta the way, the lock housing is free to come off of the column, IF you remember to insert your key and unlock the steering column first:


if you tap lightly on the backside of the housing, the whole deal will slide off the end of the column:


the frontside will look like so:


work the housing off the column and you’ll look like this:

15_column.jpgthe notch to the left btw? it is what ‘locks’ your steering wheel when you remove the key and ‘click’ the s/wheel til it locks in place:


thanks to this little plunger, which retracts when the key is inserted and the cylinder is turned:


a look down into the housing shows us the screw that secures the ignition switch to the housing…the whole reason we’re doing all this work anyways:


remove that screw and withdraw your switch. you should be looking at the end of the ignition lock tumbler like so:


see how the end of it is somewhat ‘key’-shaped? this is designed to mate snugly with the nose of the ignition switch:


over time the harder metal of the tumbler erodes the plastic of the softer switch. note how w-i-d-e the lower portion of the keyway is here:


the extra clearance between the tumbler and the switch is what was causing my switch reach a dead spot…the tumbler could turn no further, and the switch was not fully thrown as a result.


we have found our problem.

new switch vs old switch:


be careful you don’t lose this lil bugger of a fine-threaded 3mm screw either. it holds the switch in the housing:


reassembly is the reverse of removal.  😀

so with your new switch secured with that tricksy screw, insert the key into the lock cylinder and twist it to the ‘on’ position…this will retract that lil plunger again:


so’s you can align the groove in the column with the plunger on the housing:


you tap the housing back into place on the end of the column far enough to allow you to align the securing allen-headed bolt, and re tighten it. reinstall the plastic bushing at center with the channel-locks opposite of how you removed it.

replace your harness connections to the t/s switch first… reinstall the switch ass’y to the end of the column. secure the 3 screws. slide upper column trim into place and bolt up the 4 screws you only loosened to drop the drop the column earlier.

everything back in place before securing the lower colum trim:


realign your s/wheel to where it was before you removed it (you DID record that somewhere, right?). if not…eyeball it.

install s/wheel and secure that center nut. install s/wheel center pad.
yer done!

now go pick up your ever-loving tools and clean up your workspace!

go throw the key and revel in how smartly your car now turns over on the first try. 
note the elapsed time on the dash clock:


57 mins from start to finish!

so if this problem has been buggering you for awhile, ask yourself this: can’t you spare an hour for your scirocco?

Cool, The original thread on the vortex is here ->