Replace Bronco Ignition Lever



Introduction: Replace Bronco Ignition Lever

About: I am a certified permaculture designer currently working as an environmental restoration specialist. I like to tinker with projects and hoard tools.

How to replace the ignition lock/tumbler actuator lever in a late 80's, early 90's fullsize Ford pickup or Bronco.

I am NOT a certified mechanic. I have been mostly self taught, the result being that I often have no clue what a tool or part's name is. After having ordered certain parts for various vehicles, I know that part names can change depending on manufacturer. It is handy to have the broken or malfunctioning piece when you walk into the parts store, though. As for tool names, being able to describe exactly what you are trying to do goes a long way.

I come close to calling parts in this instructable, "Thing-a-ma-bob," or "whatsit", but forced myself to use more logical, descriptive terms. You're welcome.

Always disconnect the battery. Just do it.

Step 1: Tools and Materials

Make sure you have everything listed, even if it means a trip to your local auto or hardware store. Being a pack rat comes in handy for the screws... You actually only need one screw but damned if I know what the size is.

Tools needed:
Deep sockets, assorted sizes
Socket wrench set
Screw driver
Steering wheel puller
Claw hammer
Snap ring pliers

Hardware needed:
Assorted, small, blunt screws
Replacement lever (pic #4)

Handy to have:
Telescoping magnet

Step 2: Removal of Steering Wheel

Locate and remove the two screws holding the cover onto the wheel. These will be on the backside of the cover.

Unplug the 2 electrical clips.

Using a socket (14), remove the large center bolt.

Attach steering wheel remover. For the most part these are all the same: thread arm all the way up center bolt, thread two side bolts on either side in the corresponding nut holes on the steering wheel. Using a socket (in my case, a 16), ratchet the center bolt until the wheel pops off.

Set aside.

Step 3: Turn Signal

Unscrew the turn signal lever. In every video I watched, this step was forgotten until after it needed to be out of the way.

I, too, forgot. But unlike a poorly edited video, I have benefit of arranging this in steps ?

Step 4: Wiring Harness Removal

Remove the two black bolts above the warning switch. One goes to the ground, the other seems to seat the ignition tumbler.

There are three philips screws barely visible in these pics. They, too, need to be removed.

Once all retaining hardware has been removed, carefully ease harness out, pulling gently on the bundle of wires to give yourself an inch or so of slack.

Do NOT, for the love of all that is greasy, yank on the bundle. This can damage/destroy its connections.

Step 5: Remove Ignition Switch

This will either be a gloriously frustrating step, or stupid easy.

There is a pin beneath the switch (in the picture, you will see it to the right of my thumb). This pin needs to be pushed in, while turning the key in the ignition all the way on (you disconnected the battery, right?)... while simultaneously pulling the switch away from the column.

The pin will push all the way in and the ignition switch should pop out. If it doesn't... jiggle it back and forth until it does.

It will pop out, trust me.

In the picture, the column cover is actaully removed from the column. This is a testament to how completely broken the switch actuator lever was. Yours might not just pop off like that until the ignition switch is removed.

Step 6: Remove Collar

This round part should easily slide over your wiring harness assembly. If you had to remove the ignition switch, it won't look like the picture. If the collar came off with the switch in, welcome to the club, remove your ignition switch now (see previous step).

Step 7: Remove Retaining Ring

This was a bear, a trip to AutoZone, and a busted knuckle for me.

Don't be like me, have your retaining ring pliers ready to go.

There is a retaining ring keeping the rest of the assembly from sliding forward on the column. Find the right tips/angle for your pliers and attach using the provided micro allen wrench. Gently spread the ring and slide off column.

Put somewhere safe.

Step 8: Missing Piece of the Puzzle

I was at a standstill for a few minutes trying to figure out how the heck to get the new part in. The few videos I found for this repair did not mention this step, and usually resulted in the person removing the ENTIRE column, from the knuckle behind the firewall forward. Another popular option for these back yard mechanics was to file or dremel off sections of their new ignition lock actuator lever.

Don't do that.

I went with option three and called dad. 45 years of experience working on cars, mostly Fords, always beats YouTube diy.

In picture one you will notice a silver, threaded hole. Picture three shows the same style hole on the opposite side.

Test fit some short, blunt screws until you find one that fits. Partially screw it in.

Take your claw hammer, sink the claw over the screw head, and gently pull on that screw. The silver bit will pop right out.

Place silver bit somewhere safe and repeat on other side.

Step 9: Wait, Does Yours Tilt?

My Bronco was born a poor, basic Bronco. Over the years previous owners have added awesome things like power locks, power windows, cruise control and A/C.

One thing that it does not have is tilt steering.

However, Ford, being as awesomely lazy as most other car company's, did build it with the mechanism, just no lever.

If yours came with tilt steering, you might wanna spend a minute marking which tooth your mechanism is currently on.

If your Bronco is budget, you can probably skip over counting teeth and just pry the mechanism up with a flat head screw driver so it can lift over the small bar on the bottom.

I only have two hands so this step was not photographed.


A fairly large spring will pop out once you have completed this step successfully. Just remember to put it back when reassembling, or else you will find yourself redoing a couple steps.

We will call it a learning experience. ?

Step 10: Remove Broken Part

The silver, cheap metal looking bit in the picture is the ignition lock actuator lever. When in perfect shape, it smoothly glides back at the turn of your key to turn your rig on. If broken, when you turn your key, nothing happens.

To remove it, take a tiny blunt object (like one of the retaining ring plier attachments) hold it over the pin, and very sweetly tap that pin out. This is where having a telescoping magnet comes in handy. I kept mine next to the pin at all times so it wouldn't fly out across the cab once free of the lever.

Gently convince the new part back in. Place pin back over hole and tap back in.

Go ahead, I'll wait.

Step 11: Almost Done

The hardest step in front of you is making sure the ignition switch catches on the bottom, inner tiny arm sticking out of the new part. Its a pain, and I didn't take pics due to the struggle I went through.

Basically, put everything back together by reversing the steps you took to get here.

When you get to the retaining ring part, find a short length of pipe that will slip over the column and extrude past the column. Gently tap the pipe until you have forced enough of the section back to put the ring back in its little depression.

Continue reversing the steps until your steering wheel is back on, you have reconnected the battery, and the key actually turns your rig on.

Cool, right?

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