Headlight switch used to enable ignition now not working

Tiny
LEEANDZEE
  • MEMBER
  • 1993 CHEVROLET VAN
  • 108,000 MILES
The original owner of the van somehow wired the ignition switch to only turn the starter when the headlights switch is pulled on to parking lights or full headlights. It was supposed to work as a theft deterrent and has worked flawlessly for years. But a couple of days ago pulling on the switch failed to work, and now the van won't start. All of the indicator lights come on normally, battery is fine, headlights also come on as normal, fuses are all good, but the starter just sits there.

The reason I think the "security" thing has failed is because the ignition reacts exactly the same now whether the headlight switch is on or off. It seems like the power to the starter has been cut or something. Any suggestions on how the original owner might have wired the ignition this way, and more importantly- how to fix it? Thanks!
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Thursday, October 13th, 2011 AT 6:07 AM

9 Replies

Tiny
MERLIN2021
  • EXPERT
Look under the dash for an add on security system and look for an inline fuse. It will be a square box with two wires open the cover and check the fuse.
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Thursday, October 13th, 2011 AT 8:37 AM
Tiny
FIXITMR
  • MEMBER
Have you tested the starter itself?
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Thursday, October 13th, 2011 AT 1:21 PM
Tiny
MERLIN2021
  • EXPERT
Check the crank relay as well.
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Friday, October 14th, 2011 AT 8:36 AM
Tiny
LEEANDZEE
  • MEMBER
Thanks first of all for your help. I did see 2 black boxes under the dash both with fuses, but both fuses are still good. I haven't been able to test the starter itself yet because I honestly don't know how. But I will do some research on how to do that, and see if that's the problem. Thanks again, will post an update ASAP.
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Monday, October 17th, 2011 AT 3:21 AM
Tiny
LEEANDZEE
  • MEMBER
Ok I finally had the time to learn about and test the starter and solenoid. I removed both and did a bench test with jumper cables, and although they worked fine, I decided to buy a new one anyway and install it. New one in, same problem. I did however notice this time a very quiet "tick tock" when trying the ignition. I could only hear it with the door and hood open. Still there is no sound going to the solenoid or starter, and the lights do not dim at all.

I also tried to find any info on a crank relay, and as far as I can tell, the van doesn't have one. So my original hypothesis of this "headlight switch" thing stands. Any other suggestions anyone? Thanks!
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Thursday, October 27th, 2011 AT 11:03 PM
Tiny
MERLIN2021
  • EXPERT
Check the fuses under the hood and the crank relay. Also your battery is good right?
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Friday, October 28th, 2011 AT 8:42 AM
Tiny
FIXITMR
  • MEMBER
The starter tested ok but you decided to buy a new 1? I think you will have to try and trace the key start wire to determine where it is interrupted and maybe restore it to it's original path.
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Saturday, October 29th, 2011 AT 2:29 PM
Tiny
FIXITMR
  • MEMBER
Be more specific what model van you have. The g series has purple start wire from switch going right to starter solenoid. Red wire is power coming into switch.
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Saturday, October 29th, 2011 AT 3:21 PM
Tiny
LEEANDZEE
  • MEMBER
Hello all- once again I'm so thankful for all of your insight and suggestions. Since I'm such a novice, I decided to finally have someone come out and see the vehicle in person. Fixitmr is exactly right, the guy found the purple wire under the hood had been tied into a relay, and that relay had gone bad. He simply removed it and reconnected the purple wire and now the van starts without a problem! No more kill switch, but that's fine with me. And to answer your question, after I spent the time pulling out the old starter and bench testing it, I figured I might as well put in a newer one since I was already in the middle of it. I should clarify that I got a refurbished starter from OReilly's for $50, and it has a lifetime warranty. I suppose just one less thing to worry about. I learned so much about the van from the experience that I don't regret the time I put into it (although my wife might see things differently.) Once again- thanks for taking the time to post your suggestions and help- I really appreciate it. All the best, Lee.
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Sunday, October 30th, 2011 AT 4:44 AM

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