I told you I had a good story for today.
The Back Story
Chris and I got some money for Christmas and decided to replace our 17-year-old TV with a new flat panel. We drove the Blazer to Best Buy, picked out our TV, and while Chris was paying, I moved the car from the parking lot to the front entrance. Once parked, I turned on my hazard lights and waited for the Best Buy dudes to bring out the TV and load it up.
That was the plan. And those things did happen, but so did one more thing: When I pushed the hazard light button, it popped off and dove under my seat, leaving my hazard lights without a button and therefore impossible to turn off.
I am fuming because something. else. is. wrong. with. my. car. On the way home, Chris called the dealership and asked them what needed to be done to fix the problem and how much it would cost. What did they say? “The only fix is replacing the steering column. It costs $480.” I almost turn around to return the TV. I am threatening to sell my car on Craigslist and buy a scooter.
Irony: On the way to Best Buy, I told Chris that if we kept up the maintenance on the Blazer, I thought I could stand to drive it to 200,000 miles.
The Quick Fix
Duct tape. It’s always duct tape. We found the button under the driver’s seat, and Chris duct taped the button in place. Mind you, every time I park my car for longer than five minutes I have to take out the hazard light fuse. This works for about a week, and then it gets too cold for the duct tape to stick to the steering column, and I am the idiot driving around town with her hazard lights on.
I have this speech prepared for the police officer who could, at any time, pull me over: “Ma’am, do you realize your hazard lights are on?” “Yes, Officer, something seems to be wrong with my car. I’m just trying to make it home.” “What seems to be the problem?” “My hazard lights are broken.” I’m also paying for an imaginary ticket in my head.
The duct tape stops working and am still refusing to pay $480 for the repair. We call on our Facebook and Twitter friends to find a solution and offer to take them to dinner if they find a fix.
Enter Craig. The brother-in-law. He finds this discussion board post with the solution I’m about to share with you. It applies to all GM trucks, ’95 and up. You will need:
- Needle-nose pliers
- GM Hazard Switch Repair Kit, Part # 15174447
A note about getting this part: Go to your local Chevrolet dealership, bypass the service desk, and go straight to the parts department. As long as you have the part number, they shouldn’t give you any trouble. I had to order it, and it took two days to come in.
Here’s how to do it:
- Pull out the old switch with the needle-nose pliers. (You can see the hole in my steering column on the right.) This took quite a bit of finagling. First, it took me forever to get the pliers around the trim of the switch. Once loose, the hole in the column wasn’t lined up perfectly with the switch, and it took an extra set of hands to get it out. Meanwhile, I started catching the horn mechanism, so while I’m working to get it out, the horn is going off. It was pretty hilarious.
- Cover the new switch with the lube provided. And don’t eat it or use it with tobacco. The instructions said so.
- Insert the new switch into the old hole. Push down firmly. Your new switch should look like this:
Once finished, plug your fuse back in and start the car. Yea!
My car wouldn’t start. In my finagling, I had turned on my headlights with an elbow and because I had removed the hazard light fuse, which is also your buzzy noise fuse, I didn’t realize I had left my lights on. And I had been in and out of the car, back and forth to my office building over the course of a few hours to get the the switch out. (If you keep at it, this is a five minute job tops. Unless you’re me, and then multiply that time by 50.)
But the switch is fixed and I have non-blinking hazard lights and blinking turn signals again. All it cost me was an $18 switch and dinner with my brother-in-law.
200,000 miles: Here I come.
Comment from Scott on 04/10/2011
My 95 S-10 came with a ballpoint pen stuck in the hazard switch, standard. I recommend bic, it has worked for 70k miles and tomorrow it is being retired and framed in my living room.
Comment from Chris on 05/05/2011
Same issue with my Girlfriends 1996 Chevy Silverado. Damn thing just broke off…. I went through the normal “I’m a man, I can fix it” routine. I pulled the column apart, after a quick trip to Lowe’s to buy the correct driver. Once I got the steering column apart, 30 minutes later, I realized I couldn’t simply unplug/replace it. So I sat down, in denial, and looked on the web. Low and behold I came across this blog! My needle nose pliers were to thick to slip between the housing and the switch. So I ran a file along one of the sides of the pliers to make it thinner/pointier. Sure enough it pulled right out….. all while my horn was blasting!!! I too laughed. Anyways, I called a local parts store, Autozone, and they had it in stock. $14 later and we are back to driving without flashers! Thanks for the awesome post. I wonder how much money has been made by dealers/mechanics for this 10 minutes worth of work?!?!?!?