Replace ignition switch (Mk1 Golf Cabriolet)

Replace ignition switch (Mk1 Golf Cabriolet)

This guide is intended for later model Mk1 Golf Cabriolets that have a splined adaptor sleeve pressed over the steering column, however it is a similar process for other Mk1 Golfs.

The ignition switch is an electrical component that sits behind the ignition barrel. When you turn the key in a car certain contacts line up in the ignition switch to turn on or off different electronic systems, eg the starter motor or accessories.

You can usually tell a damaged ignition switch when the accessories (lights, wipers, fan) fail to operate when the car is on.

Note you do not need to remove or drill out the ignition barrel to change the ignition switch.
  • Approx. time: 1 hr
  • Approx cost: $30 AUD

You'll need

  • A replacement ignition switch (Part ID: 111905865LR - note this is shared with many VW models and other German makes)
  • A 17mm socket and extender
  • A phillips head screwdriver
  • A flathead screwdriver
  • An allen key set
  • A gear puller, preferably a 3 claw one
  • A bearing separator (or failing that, vice grips)
  • Optional: trim removal tools

Step 1 - Disconnect the battery and remove the steering wheel

We're playing with electrics - disconnect the battery.

Remove the steering wheel by using a trim removal tool to pop out the rubber horn pad and plates. On my '93 Cabriolet this is only held in with plastic clips. This reveals the nut holding the steering wheel onto the steering column. Use the 17mm socket and extender to remove the nut. If you can, mark the position of the steering wheel on the shaft to make it easier to line up on reinstall. Pull the steering wheel off the splined shaft.

Unclipping the horn pad from Mk1 Golf Cabriolet

Step 2 - Remove the plastic steering column cowling

The plastic cowling is in 2 pieces and is clamped together with plastic clips and 2 phillips head screws accessed from underneath. Undo the screws and remove the plastic cowling carefully so as to not crack it.

Step 3 - Remove the indicator and wiper switches

Now remove the indicator and wiper switches. This is one unit. There are 3 electrical plugs at the back of the unit - undo these. The unit is attached to the ignition barrel housing with 3 flathead screws. Once these are remove simply slide the switches out over the steering column.

Note: one of the electric plug blades is held in by the screws and will become loose when you remove the switches.

Remove Mk1 Golf indicator and wiper switch assembly

Step 4 - Remove the adaptor sleeve

This is the most troublesome part of the process. On later model Mk1 Golfs like the 'Clipper' Cabriolet a splined adaptor sleeve of a larger diameter was pressed over the steering column to allow different steering wheels to be installed. Since this is pressed on it can be difficult to remove and is where our bearing separator and gear puller come into play. WD40 may also be useful.

Halfway down the sleeve you will find a small ridge. This is too shallow for most gear pullers to grip on to. To provide extra purchase we can clamp the bearing puller behind this ridge and use the puller to grip on to it (or just use the supplied puller if your bearing seperator came in a kit).

With everything in place, use the puller to slide the sleeve off the steering column. Remove the spring that sits behind the sleeve as well.

Mk1 Golf Cabriolet steering wheel adaptor sleeve Using a bearing separator to remove the steering column adaptor sleeve
If you do not have a bearing separator, I have heard of some people using vice grips instead (I tried this myself but was not successful).

Step 5 - Remove the ignition barrel housing

The cast aluminium ignition barrel housing is clamped to the steering column with an allen key bolt on the left side. Undo this.

Turn the keys to the 'On' position. Slide the ignition barrel housing forward over the steering column. There will be a final electrical plug to remove at the back of the ignition barrel itself.

Ignition barrel allen bolt location - Mk1 Golf  Slide off ignition barrel

Step 6 - Replace the ignition switch

The ignition switch is simply held in with 1 screw accessed from the inner side - the side that would normally be against the steering column - of the ignition barrel. Remove this and replace it with the new ignition switch, lining up the inner rotating slot with the position of the key.

VW Mk1 Golf ingition switch rear

Step 7 - Reinstall

Basically the reverse of above.

Return the ignition barrel, making sure to plug it back in, to the steering column and clamp it down again with the allen bolt.

Slide the spring and adaptor sleeve back on the column. Use the steering wheel nut to press the sleeve back down into place.

Reattach the indicator and wiper switch gear with the 3 flathead screws. Remember to plug everything back in.

Lastly replace the steering wheel. To get it straight, I leave the steering wheel loose and drive the car in a straight line down my driveway. When the car is tracking in a straight line I take the steering wheel off and reposition it so it is straight.

Reassemble the horn button and pad.

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