Replace your 1970 Ignition Switch for under $20

If you are working on a Cougar you have probably learned that there are a great many parts that are Cougar specific. And those tend to be expensive and hard to find. The good news is that occasionally some one figures out how to modify a common part that can then be used on your Cougar. Bill Quinlisk (Cougar Bill) of Golden Colorado put the pieces together and created this great how to article to share with us all.

1970 Ignition Switches for under $20

1970 Cougar owners have always faced non-existent replacement parts for years. Unless you can find and afford NOS parts, this will always be a problem.

Well I’ve found a way to solve this ignition switch problem. The original switches are prone to failure due to construction and age issues.

Does your key turn hard and not return very well or not at all? Have issues getting the key in just the right place to get the starter to engage?

Here is the solution:

The first task was to find an exact replacement new switch.

Not available right? Well kind of.

Thanks to fellow Cougar nut Vic Yarberry, who told me about a switch.

This is the new switch available, but the plug end is wrong & the wires are too short.

So, here’s the plan.

  1. Purchase a new switch.

The price of used ones are over $100 and N.O.S. are well over $200+ so $15.95 is super cheap!

Here’s a picture of the new switch and the original longer 1970 ignition switch.

Original switch measures approx. 14 ¾” long. New switch measures approx. 9”
This is the other problem.

The connectors are very different. Original is on top.

So to fix this you will need:

2 Switches - Original one & new one
Wire cutters/stripper
Wire crimpers
Yellow butt connectors - (2)
Red butt connectors – (5)
Heat shrink tubing 6 small and 1 large

Cut your old switch off as close to the switch as possible.

Cut the wires off the new connector as close to the connector as possible.

Crimp on the connectors. You should stagger these connections a bit to minimize the overall size.

Be sure to put on the large protective cover over the wires before you start crimping!

Crimp and heat shrink. You could solder these connections if you want.

I connect the 2 large wires (Black & Yellow) first. They are the ones with the yellow crimp connectors.

The next 5 wires are close in matching but not exactly.

Color code:

Black to Black
Red w/ White stripe to Red w/ White stripe
Red w/ Blue stripe to Red w/ Blue stripe
Red to Red (faded pink)
Blue w/ White stripe to Blue (faded)

Here you can see the new switch with swapped original end (one on the bottom). It still has the red locking pin in place. Remove before installing.

Top switch is an original 1970 Cougar ignition switch.

Now you have a new switch for under $20!!!

How to remove the ignition switch from the steering column on a 1970 Cougar
Disconnect the battery.

If the collar is original and has not been removed you may still have the collar retainer.

WCCC states “tilt” but they were on non-tilt also. Most of these clips are long gone.
If you still have this, carefully slide the collar downward and spread open to remove it.
Put the key in the ignition on the column. Turn the key like you are going to start the engine.
Let the key spring back to the “run” position.

At the top end of the switch is the rod end. It has a small pin that can be removed with pliers.
Don’t crush it! Tap it thru and pry it out.

Remove the 7/16” nuts. Note the location of the switch. The switch slides in the slots.

This allows adjustment of the keys off and start positions.

Remove the old switch. You can now replace the switch with the new one described above.

One thing I would recommend is to stagger your splices about a half inch so they do not create a bulge in 92nd place that could give you headaches later down the road.

Neal, tested this on a loose column. I found enough room between the bracket, column & dash for the bulge. Did note to stagger them in the article anyway. :wink:

Just wondering… If you were skilled at soldering, could you just cut the harness off the old switch and then solder it on the new switch? Would the harness still be long enough?

Possibly. Looks like the wires were tinned & then crimped. The length was still a bit if an issue as I recall. They never gave it enough wire. So, maybe. The basis of the article was aimed at a driveway repair done by most any car owner. Saving a big chunk of $$

Heck I’m betting it’s the same for them Mustangs!

Of course it is but rarely vice versa :naughty:

Great article Bill! Not being critical about the soldering thing, just thinking it would maybe be possible to eliminate the bulge but them you noted that there was room so that isn’t a problem any way. This is definitely a HUGE help for '70 owners.

I like the ideas! This is why we have a great site & great people !
That was nother reason to help so, when I got finished & was able to slide the cover over, I thought I was done.
Then I had a thought just as Neal did. Too big to fit?
So I put it on a column

Hard to tell from this pic. It was below the 2 aluminum mounting pieces. Thus I figure it would not interfere w/installation.

Also notice the factory original tape used to keep the 2 wire harness(turn signal & Ignition switch) secure to the column.

Thanks for the help & ideas!

P.S.Just noticed I forgot to put heat shrink on the “need” list :whistle: … Can you put that in Bill?

Added heat shrink tubing to needs list.

Red to faded pink is Red with green stripe to faded pink

Bumping the article. Used it today. The Autozone switch is under $20. Had to order it at the store, same day delivery. The 1970 switch doesn’t seem to be available at all at this time. Thanks for documenting this so nicely

Nice! Just in case people want to look at other stores besides AutoZone, what is the application for the new switch?

Bumping an old thread. Great article. Just used this today. I bought my switch from Oriellys.
Interchange says It is the same ignition switch as a 1971-72 cougar, among a ton of other cars. Check the fitment tab on the site.

A couple places had it cheaper, but these guys had it the next day for with free shipping.