Combo Switch Fix

Recently something weird started happening. Once in a a while when I would use my turn signal my head lights would blink and I would hear the click of a solenoid comming somewhere behind my glove box. I did a little research and found out that this is a somewhat common issue. The combination switch (the switch that operates the turn signals and hi/low beams) isnt making a good electrical connection. Some people said to clean the contacts and others said to bend the little tabs to put more pressure on the contacts. Mine was rather dirty so I cleaned it.

*Do this at your own risk! I am not responsible for anything you damage*

DISCONNECT YOUR BATTERY FIRST!

First thing is first. You need to get into the steering column. Start off with the phillips head screw in the middle of the plastic on the bottom of the steering column. This allows you to pull the bottom piece off, its also held on by little plastic clips.

After the bottom piece is off you can access the two screws holding the top piece on.

The switch comes out after removing two screws and the wiring harness.

Now we take apart the switch. The clear plastic piece unclips.

Take out the two screws at the top along with the little wiring harness. I found it best to use a small screw driver to pry up the black plastic strip that keeps the plug from coming out. Careful that you dont break it.

&

The white plastic section comes up and you revile the contacts. You can see the three round ones that are surrounded by black stuff. Originally when I opened up the switch there was lots more black grease. These pictures were taken after I removed most of the blackened grease. I did not replace the grease I removed as I didnt know what to use.

Reverse the instructions and you should be able to use your turn signals without your head lights flickering (or turning off for those with HID’s). Mine has been working perfectly for the past two weeks. Your mileage may vary but if cleaning the switch didnt fix your problem its time to order a new switch.

6-13-13
Still no problems!

26 Responses to Combo Switch Fix

  1. Pingback: Headlights flickering when using turn signals - ClubWRX Forum - Subaru Impreza WRX and STi Community and Forums

  2. I really appreciate this post, i searched for a long time, long time, not to mention searching all around my car for hours trying to figure out the problem. While your fix actually wasn’t the same as mine (my dirty connection was in the lever stalk itself somewhat hard to take apart, no how-to’s online) it definitely put me in the right direction. Great car and website btw, keep it up. It’s nice to see people who mod their cars right, and keep it from looking like a hotwheels car. I myself have only done a few modifications to my 03 WRX as of yet, first one i had, an 02 got in an accident, kinda put me back a few steps. Currently I’m working on putting an intercooler water spray system in, got the factory switch from an STi and everything. Also as far as unusual mods are concerned any phrase I choose, right now it says the word “Braking”. Anyways, keep up the good work.

  3. Thanks Alot for posting this up here I was about to order a new combi switch! Thanks to you I don’t have to. You saved me $120 and for that I say THANKS and keep up the good work!

  4. Facebook User says:

    No problem. :)

  5. You make it sound so easy I might just try it! One thing, another site mentioned disconnecting the battery, steering wheel and a bunch of air bag concerns. It’s better to be safe than sorry, but did any of these come to play when you cleaned your switch? Regardless… great writeup, fan of the site!

  6. Thanks for the compliment. :)

    Disconnecting the battery would be a good idea. I will add that in, thanks for catching that.

  7. Pingback: Headlights flickering when using turn signals - ClubWRX Forum - Subaru Impreza WRX and STi Community and Forums

  8. Thanks for the guide, going to give it a shot this weekend! Started to experience the identical problem you describe with flickering headlight relay (and headlights) when using the turn signal.

    Much appreciated!

    • No problem. My issue has returned and gotten worse, the short is causing one of the fuses in the engine bay to blow. I’m just going to go ahead and buy a new stalk, I guess 131k miles out of it is good enough. :)

  9. Definitely enjoy you sharing this article. Really Cool.

  10. Thanks for sharing this. I was looking exactly for this. worth to try it. I’ll report my findings. Cheers, -dc-

  11. I removed the switch and stalk from my car. i found the case housing the switch was very greasy and needless to say some of it was black due to use. I cleaned it and put it back and it was still useless.

    Then i found there is a cap on the stalk. It’s hard to find if it has been worn out. Anyhow, after i disassembled the head of the stalk i noticed there is another mechanical switch on the stalk that switches from low beam to the high beam. That switch was also greasy and dirty. I removed all grease and cleaned the contact paths with isopropyl alcohol. I put it back together and voila!. All good working now.

    Just a word of caution. I am not sure if the grease is meant to keep the water away from the mechanical parts. Just be aware in case you drive your car in an area with high humidity. Good luck!

  12. Dcarmona, your right about removing the grease. This isnt a permanent solution by any means. Replacing the grease would be best. However I dont know what it is.

  13. I recently had the same problem described here. I tried the fix, but it didn’t work for me. After reinstalling, I played a little more with the switch and concluded that there wasn’t really a problem with the blinker so much as light switch alone. I was able to get the headlights to flick off and on just by touching the rotary switch (not actually turning it).

    Intrigued by Dcarmona’s post about the cap on the end of the stalk, I removed it by prying with a tiny flathead screwdriver, then spent the next hour and half trying to figure out how to remove the plastic rotating part for the headlights (while trying not to break it). If you look into the stalk with the cap removed, you’ll see two quarter-circle slots on opposite sides of the plastic rotating part. Inserting a small flathead screwdriver into each slot will allow you to pull the plastic barrel out. Make sure to keep the blade nearer to the outside of the barrel (ie. away from the center) as there are other small pieces of plastic inside of the slots. Once that is off, there is only a small white cap holding the switch together which is easily removed by gently prying back the two white tabs holding it on. Be careful not to lose the 2 little ball-bearings that are attached to the underside of the white cap. Inside, this light switch was more gunked up than the rest of the assembly. I had what appeared to be slivers of plastic that were interfering with the copper connection points. I cleaned up the contacts, removed the grit, reassembled, and it worked like a dream. FYI, if I had any on-hand, I would have used dielectric grease. Maybe I’ll get around to it some other time.

  14. Hello! I have the same problem with my ’99 Impreza, but I have had the switch replaced 3 times with brand new switches. The headlights still blink out when I turn off the turn signal or when it shuts off automatically after turning.

    The mechanic tells me he checked all the leads and connections, but he admits electronics are not his specialty.

    Any idea what might be causing this problem to persist even after replacing the switch? It’s very disconcerting to have the headlights go dark when changing lanes on the Interstate!

  15. No idea my man. I never had to go further than the switch itself.

  16. Pingback: Parking Lights/Sidemarkers Randomly Dont' Work - Toronto Subaru Club

  17. Just wanted to give a big thank you to Tom for explaining how to take apart the rotary switch – it took me 1 hour of mucking about before I turned to the web.

    I had the same issue where the headlights would flicker every time I turned on the indicator (very embarrassing!). I pulled apart the rotary switch, cleaned it up, re-adjusted the contacts and put it back together. Now its perfect – thanks again to Tom and everyone else for providing this great info!

  18. I just bought a used 02 sedan, same issue here just discovered on my first night drive. Thanks for pointing me in the right direction . I will try your solution before spending the cash for a new stalk. Thanks!

  19. Not a problem!

  20. Great website….have a 2002 Impreza WRX, Brake lights work, blinkers work, head lights work, checked all fuses no power to the tail light fuse located under steering column. Is it possible the is can be at the headlight switch?

    • Hi Robert,
      I would say that its possible since the headlight switch is responsible for turning the tail lights on. I would also check the switch on top of the steering column when that is switched I believe that turns the tail lights off (along with other light related things).

  21. i did this and now my rear running lights won’t turn off? (even when the key is out!) any thoughts?

  22. figured it out. I hit the switch on the steering column when I reassembled everything. this was a great write up!

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