Angie’s Blog

Because I Can

Replacing the Ignition Switch – 1969 Mustang

I changed out my ignition switch because I had to wiggle the key to get the radio/brake/turn signals to work and I was also looking for the short that’s causing my dash gauges to not work.

Like I previously mentioned, when you change out your ignition switch you want to replace the plug that plugs into the back of the switch. The only one I found so far was a part of a complete dash re-wiring kit but it’s rumored that Ford was distributing new plugs at one point so I continue looking.

To begin replacing the ignition switch, you first want to disconnect the negative (black) lead on the battery. Since you’re dealing with a lot of potentially damaged wires underneath the dash, this will keep you from getting shocked and from crossing hot wires while you’re pulling things a part.

After the battery is disconnected, you begin your ignition switch removal by removing the ignition key housing. This is where you stick your key in to start the Mustang and sits “inside” the ignition switch. To remove the key housing, stick your ignition key in and turn it counterclockwise to “accessories.” While the key is turned to accessories, use a paper clip, small piece of wire, or a tiny screwdriver to stick into the small hole in the face plate above your key. Press firmly with the wire while turning your key even further counterclockwise. Your key should rotate until it’s nearly horizontal, at which point you pull the key out and the whole key housing will come out with it. Important note: Once you’ve removed the key and housing, do not rotate the key because you’ll have to press the release button again to return the key to that un-natural horizontal position to reinstall it. It took me a long time to reinstall everything because I didn’t realize the key had been rotated back into it’s natural range of motion.

At this point, Ford recommends that you use a fancy tool that they sell to remove the key bezel but you don’t need to. This key bezel is the next step for removing a 1969 Mustang ignition switch. As far as I can tell, this is nearly the only year that is removed this way, so listen closely. Take two flat screwdrivers and place the business ends opposite of each other in the little square holes surrounding the inside of the bezel and turn the entire thing counterclockwise to loosen it. Completely unscrew the bezel so that the bezel and chrome spacer are removed from the ignition switch. Do not loose the spacer, they are no longer available and can only be found in junk yards.

Once the bezel and spacer are removed, the ignition switch is only attached by a plug which you can remove by prying apart with a small screwdriver. There are small clips (2) holding the switch and plug together so carefully pry those apart first. That plug is what you want to replace if you find a new one. They are notorious for overheating and burning out wires so chances are it’s damaged in some way. My large yellow wire over heated; burned the insulation right off the wire and melted the connector and surrounding plastic so until I find a new plug, I blame it for most of my woes in this area.

To reinstall the ignition switch (assuming you didn’t find a plug yet), plug it into the old plug and position it back into the lower dash so that you can connect the spacer and bezel again. The spacer has small pegs on the backside of it to help with the correct positioning of the entire assembly. It’s a bit awkward to handle all three pieces at once so take your time to make sure the spacer, when tightened down by the bezel, sits tightly against the dash and the bezel isn’t cross-threaded and that the ignition switch isn’t rotated (stiff wires should be on the bottom and the square space should be on top). When properly reinstalled, there shouldn’t be any gaps or wiggling of the pieces.

Now you can reinstall the key housing. Assuming the key didn’t get rotated at all while it was out, installation will consist of lining the key housing’s externals with the ignition switch’s internals. Once lined up, push the key housing all the way into the ignition switch, take the key and turn it clockwise to “start” and then back to the vertical “off” position. The key housing should now be firmly placed within the ignition switch and shouldn’t wiggle or fall out when you remove the key. Go ahead and turn the key to “accessories” and give the key a gentle tug to make sure. If it does fall out, then take the key and the key housing and repeat turning it to “accessories” and placing the paper clip/wire into the small release hole. While pressing firmly with the wire, return the key to that un-natural horizontal position.

You can see on the back of the key housing how there is a small piece of rectangular plastic that is slightly smaller on one end then it is on the other. This fits into a rectangular slot in the ignition switch. When the key is horizontal, the pieces line up and fit together; when the key is in any other position before re-installation, the pieces won’t line up and the key housing won’t stay within the ignition switch.

Once you repositioned the key with the paper clip, try placing the key housing back within the ignition switch and move the key again from “accessories” to “start” and then back to “off.” It should be fairly obvious if it’s now properly seated but you can try giving it another gentle tug with the key in “accessories” to test it.

Now, reconnect the battery and see if it starts! (it should)

References Pictures:

Removing Key Housing

keyhousingthumb.jpg keyhousingremoved2thumb.jpg

Removing Bezel

bezelthumb.jpg bezel2thumb.jpg bezel3thumb.jpg

Ignition Switch Removal and Damage

ignitionswitch1thumb.jpg ignitionswitch2thumb.jpg switchdamagethumb.jpg

Ignition Plug

plugthumb.jpg plugdamagethumb.jpg

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8 Responses to “Replacing the Ignition Switch – 1969 Mustang”

  1. Gary

    Followed your instructions and it went off without a hitch, Thank You

  2. Tim

    Followed these instrctions for my 69 Merc Cougar. Worked like a charm – thanks!

  3. duane lyon

    After unsuccessfully searching Mustang Monthly magazine on the subject I tried Googling “Replace Ignition Switch for 69 Mustang” and stumbled into your web site. You saved the day!
    Your narrative and pictures are excellent……..whole job took took less than 10 minutes thanks to your excellent directions. Many thanks!

  4. Edgar

    Looks great but I have a problem I am in need of the ignition plug itself I have been looking. Can you help?


  5. Hi Edgar,

    The shop where I bought both the ignition plug and ignition switch is Mustang Project from Cedar Park, TX. Both are Motor Craft brand and come in new condition.

    I hope that helps.

  6. Jeff

    i am currently deployed but managed to buy a 1969 mercury cougar that runs and my wife lost the keys to it, i was hoping you could give me some advise as to how to replace either the ignition without the key or how to get an original key made?


  7. Hi Jeff,

    I ran into a similar problem when I lost my keys at the airport and had to call a locksmith to the airport’s long-term parking to create me another ignition key. Luckily, creating a new set of keys is very easy if you have the correct tools. I don’t know how much it cost to have the keys made as I had AAA protection at the time.

    My suggestion would be to call out a locksmith and have him create a new ignition key and trunk key. Unfortunately, I don’t think there is a way to remove the ignition switch without the key because the teeth of the key are made specifically for that switch and the teeth are needed to turn the switch to the appropriate position for removal.

    Best of luck. Please let me know if there is anything else I can help with.

  8. Jeff

    thanks Angie

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