F150 Headlight Switch Removal

by Richard Rowe

Removing the headlight switch from an F-150, or any other Ford truck, is certainly a "brains over brawn" situation. If you've ever spent an hour cursing and bashing on a Ford headlight switch like that monkey from "2001: A Space Odyssey," then you're really going to kick yourself when you find out how easy it is.

Removing the Trim

One of the more difficult things about removing a headlight switch or any other part of the instrument panel is simply figuring out where to start. Disconnect the battery, then pull the headlight switch to the "full on" position (you'll see why in a moment). Begin the trim removal by placing the gearshift lever in park, and remove the screws holding the steering column trim pieces to the column. On pre-1997 models, the trim will be retained with six flat-head screws; later models use plastic clips. Since the primary reason for this step is to expose the lower trim panel screws, there's no need to remove the upper trip piece entirely. Procedures vary by model year, but the simplest thing to do is to identify the screw holes that secure every piece of headlight-switch trim in place and remove them one at a time. An experienced mechanic should be completely through the trim removal portion in less than three minutes.

The Magic Button

This is where most people make mistakes. Older (pre-1997) trucks will utilize surface-mount switch-to-dashboard screws that will become self-evident once the trim has been removed. There are two types of Magic Button, depending on your specific truck. The first type is a spring-loaded button protruding from the bottom of the headlight assembly that, when pushed, releases the switch knob and allows the entire switch assembly to slide out from the back.

Twist Lock Switches

If the button isn't immediately visible from the bottom of the switch, then you have the twist-lock type. Instead of a protruding button, you should see a small hole in the bottom of the switch; the button is inside of this hole. The procedure is as follows: Press and hold the button with a small screwdriver, turn the headlights off and then rotate the knob back to the "on" position. The lock should be released, and the headlight switch will fall free from the back. This isn't likely to go smoothly for first-timers, so expect to make multiple attempts. If all goes well, you should have the switch dangling from its wiring harness in 30 seconds or less. After the switch is out, treat yourself to a cookie and a glass of milk, knowing that you just saved about $130 in labor with five minutes of work.

About the Author

Richard Rowe has been writing professionally since 2007, specializing in automotive topics. He has worked as a tractor-trailer driver and mechanic, a rigger at a fire engine factory and as a race-car driver and builder. Rowe studied engineering, philosophy and American literature at Central Florida Community College.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera détail tableau de bord image by Jerome Dancette from Fotolia.com