How to Change the Ignition Switch in a 1987 Ford Ranger

by Oscar Sanchez
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holding car key image by Photosani from

The ignition switch is a small but essential component on your 1987 Ford Ranger. It allows you to start the vehicle using your key. Once inserted into the ignition cylinder, the key can be turned to five positions: Lock, Off, Run, Start and Accessory. When you turn the key to the "Start" position, power is sent to the starter to turn the engine and start the vehicle. If your ignition switch jams or fails to work correctly, it may need to be replaced. You can accomplish this straightforward task with a few basic tools.

Step 1

Turn the key to the "Lock" position, if it isn't already. Disconnect the battery cables from the battery using a wrench. Remove the key from the ignition and put it in a safe place.

Step 2

Place one hand on the top and one hand on the bottom of the upper extension steering wheel shroud and squeeze to remove it from the retaining plate. If your Ford Ranger does not have tilt steering, this step is not required.

Step 3

Remove the two screws securing the two trim shrouds and then remove the shrouds from the steering column. Unplug the wiring from the ignition switch by removing the connector that is plugged into the switch.

Step 4

Remove the switch from the lock-cylinder housing by drilling out the break-off bolts with a 1/8-inch drill bit. Once the bolts are drilled, use a bolt extractor tool to pull out the bolts. Remove the ignition switch from the actuator pin and pull the ignition switch from the vehicle.

Step 5

Insert your car key into the replacement ignition switch and turn it to the "Run" position. Place the new ignition switch on the actuator pin and make sure the holes on the switch base are lined up with the holes on the cylinder housing. You may have to adjust the cylinder slightly to align it with the U-shaped slot on the actuator.

Step 6

Screw in the new break-off bolts until the bolt heads break off. The bolt heads will break off at about 3 to 4 foot-pounds of torque. Plug the electrical wiring into the new ignition switch.

Step 7

Reconnect the battery cables and turn the key in the ignition switch to test it for proper operation. If the ignition works properly and your Ford Ranger starts, turn off the engine and reinstall the shrouds onto the steering column by screwing in the two screws that you removed earlier. Snap the upper-extension shroud onto the steering column.

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