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I have a 1961 Chevy Apache. It has the 4 headlight system.

The dash lights wouldn't work right unless I wiggled the switch.

I installed all new headlights, new bulbs in the dash, and a new headlight switch.

Now, the dash lights won't come on and one of the low beams won't come on unless the highs are on.

What could be the issue?

  • Was there just a single connector on the back of the new switch? – HandyHowie Mar 10 '16 at 9:14
  • I didn't count them but i believe the plug is five prong – jefduv Mar 10 '16 at 11:17
  • So you couldn't have got wires mixed up? – HandyHowie Mar 10 '16 at 11:36
  • No it only snaps in one way. guess i'm gonna try the old switch and if it doesn't work that'll rule the switch out and the I guess I'll concentrate on the plug. the low beam worked for a few days after installing it but now it only comes with the brights. the other works as it should. – jefduv Mar 10 '16 at 11:42
  • Sounds like a bad wire or blown fuse somewhere. Need to get a schematic and a multimeter, test light, or continuity tester and follow your way down the line. Don't forget your grounds. Make sure all your connections are CLEAN and TIGHT. – rpmerf Mar 10 '16 at 13:26
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Since you cleaned your own contacts to the lights and got them to work, I won't answer that part of the question. That leaves the dash lights and why they won't work.

The 61 Apache has a switch which looks something like this:

enter image description here

You'll notice on the front of it there's a spring looking kinda thing which encircles the it somewhat. That's a rheostat which, when you rotate the light switch knob, allows you to adjust the brightness of the dash lights. What I believe may have happened to you is this part is dead, not allowing power to flow through to the dash lights. The only cure to fix this is to purchase a new switch. The one pictured is for a '61 C10 truck, which should be (IIRC) the same as the one for your Apache. At the time of this post, the cost from Rockauto.com is ~$55.

Replacement of this part is really simple. The first thing you need to know, there's a button on the bottom of this part (as pictured), which when you press it allows you to pull the knob all the way out. On the dash, you'll find a circular piece the knob sticks through. There should be a couple of slots on it. Spin this counterclockwise to loosen, then remove. (You can see the threaded portion in the very left portion in the metal on the very left side of the image.) This will release the switch from the back side of the dash. Unplug the connector from the top of the switch. Reverse the order putting it back in, though all you have to do is stab the knob back through without pressing the button. You'll see what I mean when you pull it apart.

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