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Old 01-09-2010, 06:47 PM   #1
Bookemdano
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Default HEAVY smoke from steering column

1996 Saturn SL2, 140,000 miles.

After reviewing these forums, Iím not the first person to have a similar problem. Although most of the post I read concerned the ignition switch, my problem appears to from the light switch.

After retuning to the Saturn after a stop at the gas station, I start the car and within seconds I thought I smelled something hot. Not long after that smoke started rolling out of the steering column. I shut off the car, waited about five minutes, and turned everything off (radio, lights, etc.) The car started fine and no smoke, I drove the car directly home and started going over it. One by one I started turning on things, when I got to the lights I noticed the RPMs drop a little and the hot smell returning. After removing the steering column cover, I found a nice mess with the 6 wires going the turn signal/light switch. The orange and black wires had completely burned up, and had damaged the 4 remaining wires going to the switch and several others further back in the wiring harness.

The car runs fine as long as the lights are not used. Before I start repairing this mess, I would like to know a couple things.
1. Why did a fuse not blow? From what I can tell, there is a 10 Amp fuse in this circuit. I would think that more than 10 Amps where in the wires to completely burn off the insulation.
2. Could this be a possible recall case?
3. The causeÖ Iím thinking bad turn signal/light switch, but I have not pulled the switch yet to check.

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Old 01-09-2010, 07:26 PM   #2
OldNuc
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1998 SC2
Default Re: HEAVY smoke from steering column

The reason the fuse does not blow is you had a couple of fuses in parallel when it all stated to melt together. These are the 98-99 wiring diagrams, you will need them before you are done. This is only the head lights section of the switch.



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Old 01-11-2010, 12:20 PM   #3
Bookemdano
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Default Re: HEAVY smoke from steering column

Thank you for the information! Does anybody know if the turn signal/head light switch can be purchased from other than the Saturn dealer? They want $163.00 for this part!!

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Old 01-11-2010, 12:47 PM   #4
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Default Re: HEAVY smoke from steering column

Check RockAuto under electrical switches for your year and model. If they do not have it then check the price at Get Saturn Parts http://www.trademotion.com/splash/in...?siteid=214643

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Old 01-11-2010, 01:26 PM   #5
ttreibel
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2002 SL1
Default Re: HEAVY smoke from steering column

I paid less than 30 bucks for both the turn signal and light switch either from a wrecking yard or ebay not sure which. The switch was used but is still working fine 4 years later now. Often there is somebody parting out a Saturn on craigslist too, not a fun repair by any means.....disabling and removing airbag....pulling the steering wheel......good luck!

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Old 01-11-2010, 01:46 PM   #6
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1996 SW2
Default Re: HEAVY smoke from steering column

^^^^ Oh, it's not THAT daunting. Remove the fuse and WAIT 30 MINUTES to disarm the air bag. Buy or free-rent a puller for the wheel. The potential snag is those silly 5.5mm-head fasteners for the column covers, in those narrow recesses. You need either a dedicated nut driver, or a socket with the outer wall ground down to fit the recess. Same tool needed to remove the clockspring, IIRC.

But +1 on eBay, Craigslist, salvage yard. IIRC I paid $30, shipped, for one on eBay, and that was for a harder-to-find wagon-specific switch assembly.

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Old 01-11-2010, 01:49 PM   #7
RobertGary1
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2006 VUE 3.5L
Default Re: HEAVY smoke from steering column

I can't imagine any benefit to buying a new switch. Just purchase one from a wrecking yard either locally or you can often find them on eBay. Some parts make sense to buy new, others (such as this) do not.

-Robert


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Originally Posted by OldNuc View Post
Check RockAuto under electrical switches for your year and model. If they do not have it then check the price at Get Saturn Parts http://www.trademotion.com/splash/in...?siteid=214643

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Old 01-11-2010, 05:27 PM   #8
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1998 SC2
Default Re: HEAVY smoke from steering column

The wrecking yard approach works if you can go extract it yourself from a car that is in good shape. It is a fairly durable component so the J/Y approach is viable.

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Old 01-11-2010, 07:33 PM   #9
SLCraig
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2000 SW2
Default Re: HEAVY smoke from steering column

I had the headlight switch go back when I had my 2001 Neon... I have yet to hear of one of these ones going. The switch on the S series seems fairly solid overall. Bad luck!

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Old 01-11-2010, 07:41 PM   #10
OldNuc
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1998 SC2
Default Re: HEAVY smoke from steering column

The wiring in multifunction switches is a well known failure point. Its a matter of proper wire dress when assembling so it is not pinched. If they are assembled properly they last a very long time.

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