How to Replace the 1996 Ford Explorer Ignition Switch

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Whenever you turn the ignition key to start the engine, the ignition switch completes the path to the ignition system and the rest of the electrical circuits in your 1996 Ford Explorer. After so many on-off ignition cycles, the electrical contacts in the switch will eventually wear out, preventing the starter from operating or turning off.

Things You'll Need

  • Wrench
  • Ratchet
  • Socket
  • Allen wrench

Remove the Old Ignition Switch

  • Lift the hood and disconnect the negative (black) battery cable and then disconnect the positive (red) battery cable with a wrench. Wait for 2 minutes before beginning your repair job so the air bag system becomes disabled.

  • Turn the ignition key to the "Off" position and remove the key from the lock cylinder.

  • Unfasten the two mounting bolts at the bottom of the lower instrument panel cover with a ratchet and socket, and pull the clips out at the top of the panel and remove the panel.

  • Unfasten the five mounting bolts around the perimeter of the steel reinforcement panel below the lower instrument panel cover with a ratchet and socket, and remove the reinforcement panel.

  • Unplug the ignition switch electrical connector and unscrew the two mounting bolts located on each side of the switch with an Allen wrench. As you remove the mounting screws, hold the switch in position and examine how the actuator rod is engaged into the switch and then remove the switch.

  • Compare the new ignition switch with the old one and make sure the slider (which the rod actuates) in the new switch is in the same "Off" position as the old one.

Install the New Ignition Switch

  • Engage the actuator rod into the new ignition switch, align the new switch mounting holes with the holes on the mounting base and install the two mounting bolts finger tight. Tighten the mounting bolts with the Allen wrench.

  • Plug in the switch electrical connector.

  • Replace the steel reinforcement panel and tighten the five mounting bolts with the ratchet and socket.

  • Reinstall the lower instrument panel cover and tighten the two mounting bolts. Carefully push the two clips into position to secure the upper edge of the panel cover.

  • Reinstall the positive (red) battery cable first and then reinstall the negative (black) battery cable with the wrench and close the hood. Operate the switch and make sure it works in the "Lock," "Start" and "Accessory" positions.

References

  • "Ford Explorer, Mazda Navajo, Mercury Mountaineer and Explorer Sport/Sport Trac (Haynes Repair Manual)"; Jay Storer and John H. Haynes; 2005
  • "Modern Automotive Technology"; James E. Duffy; 2003
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