How to remove 1979 Corvette C3 headlight switch

Here’s my first contribution to the do-it-yourself guys who are not so familiar with their Corvettes yet and want to fix the typical things. I am now going to explain how to remove the push-pull type light switch that controls headlights and dims the dash lights. It’s a fairly easy job. My car doesn’t have the driver-side heat duct installed which goes above the feet so I don’t know how to remove it. I’ve read it’s quite simple to remove and if you can’t figure it out, try searching Corvette Forums.

Disconnect the battery!

1) Firstly you need to open the screws which attach the front gauge plate to the dashboard. They go around the lens and all of them need to be removed.

2) Now reach under the dash and find the large plug that goes into the instruments block. There are locker buttons on both ends of it, try to squeeze them and then pull the plug out. In case you can’t do it right now, wait until you have pulled the instruments out from the dash a bit. Might be easier to reach then.

3) You need to remove the speedometer cable. It goes into the middle of the speedometer and there is a knob that has to be pressed in while pulling it out. You need to do this with one hand and this is one of the most annoying things in this process. You will feel the moving tab above the cable and push it fully in. Now pull the cable out. You may have to rock it slightly but too much force is not necessary.

4) Go under the dash again and find the two big bolts which hold up the steering column. Remove those to lower the steering column a bit. Don’t worry, it will not fall when the bolts come off. It just drops down by an inch or so.

5) Now start pulling the instruments block out from the dash. It slides straight towards you, skidding a bit on the steering column. In case you haven’t disconnected the electrical plug yet, now is the right time to do it. You will probably find that the instruments will get a bit stuck at the steering column and you will have trouble getting it out from there. I managed it by pushing the steering column downwards with just gentle force so it lowered enough to get the instruments out.

6) You will be able to see the light switch through the dash hole. In order to get the switch off from the dash plate, you must pull out the knob to its fully open position. Now put your finger under the light switch inside the dash and try to find a small round button. It has to be pushed up (towards the roof of the car) and while holding it in, you can fully pull the light knob out and remove it.

7) You can now use a big flat screwdriver to open the bolt that can be seen from the front side of the dash and light switch area. The switch will come loose.

8) There is a huge white plug connected to the switch with a bunch of wires going into it. Gently disconnect it by applying nearly equal force to the opposite sides of the plug.

9) There are two vacuum pipes going to the right side of the switch. Pull those off. Make sure you mark them somehow in order to correctly connect them back later.

Congratulations! The switch is now removed. The easiest solution would be to replace it with a new one (priced around 50 US dollars). In my opinion this is the way to go and I’ll be doing it myself, too.

CORVETTE HAS ARRIVED!

Well, it’s not the best time of year to buy a sportscar in Estonia, but I did it! Just before the winter called in, I found the car I like and I closed the deal a couple of weeks ago. Winter is a good period to work on the car in the garage and prepare it for the upcoming driving season.

Although I had thoughts about importing the car from USA, I knew this would have been a risky business because I would have had to trust a lot of my money into a stranger’s hands without seeing what I get back for it. Pictures can be taken, indeed, but it’s still not the same as seeing by myself. There were three possibilities in Estonia to choose from – I wrote about them in a previous post. It was obvious that the black ’79 C3 sold by the private owner was the best way to go and one nice day a couple of weeks ago we made the deal. Hence the reason why I haven’t written here since then – I was just too busy with the car, either looking at it or driving it! I had the opportunity to enjoy it one full day before the snow came down and it was a cold, but beautiful sunny day with dry asphalt. That day alone was worth all the money! I just adored every second of driving the Vette.

Once I knew that the car was going to become mine, I had a really strange feeling inside. I was giving away a lot of money; the price of the car was just the beginning of the expenses; I was getting a classic car that needs a lot of care and good maintenance; I was going to get my dream car and the most beautiful car on Earth! :)) So, the Vette arrived in front of my house, driven by the previous owner for his last time and then I got the keys. I washed it, took a few test drives and in the evening I fitted it into the garage. It’s just the right size and there’s plenty of room to work around it, too. On that day I managed to capture a few photos of the car which I’m going to show you now:

Some details…

Year of production: 1979
Color: black
Interior: Oyster white
Engine: Chevy L-48 350 cid (5.7 litre) V8 in stock condition, producing roughly 200 hp
Carburetor: Rochester 4-barrel Q-Jet
Transmission: Warner 4-Speed Manual

Overall condition of the car is very good. The engine runs smooth and clean, no smoke from the exhaust. The paint is perfect from three steps away, minor scratches and problems can be found on closer look. The interior looks very good, the seats have brand new looking leather material on them. The carpet shows wear from the passenger floor and was a bit dirty on both side floors. I’ve cleaned it up by now and looks much better. The door panels are great, the grabbing handle on the driver side has a bit weak connection on one end though and it may come loose when pulling the door close. I have to fix it. Driving the Corvette, I didn’t notice anything that I could particularily complain about. The transmission feels nice, the clutch is heavy but I got used to it quickly, the steering is quite sharp and the brakes are better than I expected. Estonian roads are not in the best condition and when the asphalt has wheel track waves carved in by cars, the Vette tends to float on them and I need to correct with the wheel to keep it going straight. I guess that’s what I got to live with if I want to have 255’s around the alloys.

The previous owner who had the car in Estonia for 2 years put remarkable money into the car and some of the replaced items are: new radiator, KONI suspension, new steering damper, new roof sealings, chrome hubcaps. He recently changed all the oils and filters, as well. Together with the car he also gave me brand new Corvette America door seals, door hinge sticks and the cloth which needs to be installed under the carpet as a heat seal around the transmission.

Things wrong with the car at the time of purchase: speedo not working, dash illumination lights not working, license plate light not working, passenger floor carpet loose on the transmission side, problem with the floor and roof lights illuminating all the time, hence the bulbs taken out. There was also an issue with the cooling system – the big radiator hose jumped off the radiator a couple of times after an hour driving or so. I had it happen once. This particular problem takes a lot of time to write about in details so I will do it sometime soon. However, by now I have at least figured out that it’s not too serious and it might be as simple as installing a new radiator cap which I installed. I found that the engine didn’t release any coolant to the reservoir and therefore it simply got overpressurized. Some days ago I did the most important test: I measured the cooling system pressure with the special tool. The indication was absolutely okay and the needle was not jumping around at all, even when adding throttle, so a cylinder head or head gasket crack should be out of question as of now. Here’s a video I took:

I opened the cockpit panels around the “birdcage” to check for rust issues and I was happy to see that the condition is just fine, according to people from Corvette Forums. Some rust can be seen at times but it’s only on surface.

Now that the winter is here and the Corvette is garaged until Spring, I have time to fix its issues and keep you updated via this blog at the same time. I’ll do my best to share useful knowledge about performing different jobs on the Vette.

I have also opened a new page on my blog where I’m keeping live track of the jobs that must be done and what items I need to buy.