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Rover Vitesse, Headlight Switch Rebuild

In the quest to get the Vitesse ready for its Warrant inspection next week, I had to remedy something else I noticed wasn’t working well.

When I first got the car, the first thing (other than not starting) that I noticed didn’t work was the headlight switch. Park light setting worked, but no lights on the headlight setting, so I was moving a car full of stuff, that I couldn’t risk stalling, down the road with no lights.

I found if you wiggle and jiggle the switch you could get the headlights to work, but that’s not really good enough to pass a WOF inspection, so I had to fix it. Not to mention it’s also a pain not being able to rely on the headlights to work.

I have spare switches (and they are even still available new thanks to being used on the MGB), but what fun is swapping parts when you can recondition them and keep them going for the future?

To remove the switch, first remove the lower shroud on the steering column. There is one Phillips screw in the underside then it carefully wiggles free. The top doesn’t need to be unscrewed or removed. Turns out mine must have had a run-in with a rather angry steering wheel boss kit (not the current one, but I noticed the car came with a spare, now I know why) in the past as it’s missing a nice arc of plastic

The switch is now accessible, and should just pop out if you’re careful. There are two metal spring clips. If they don’t just pop out you may need to use a small flat blade to push them inwards.

It turns out there must be two different types of switch. The one on the car has the little bulb picture the opposite way around to the spare I have, as well as the little picture being recessed into the plastic, not just screen printed on it. Another reason to rebuild the original one.

Disassembly is fairly simple. I used a flat blade to pop the sides apart. There are clips along the whole length but a gap in the middle for the screwdriver.

It’s a VERY simple switch, with not much to go wrong.

My switch was packed with old, hard grease that was covering all the contacts including the sliding contact

There was a lot of wear on the sliding contact also, so I cleaned it up and gave it a quick sand down. I also cleaned and sanded the contacts in the switch base.

Reassembly is the reverse, just make sure everything lines up nicely and make sure you have the base the correct way up in regards to the top half. I smothered the contacts and any moving parts in dielectric grease just to keep it fresh, and flipped the sliding contact around so it would wear the other side instead. Some water on a rag got any human filth off the switch without wearing out the white paint further.

Before refitting I connected the switch up and made sure everything worked as it should. Sure enough the headlights came on every single time.

And that is how you rebuild a Lucas headlight switch.

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