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88 ranger, multiple issues


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In order to get the full scope of the problem/problems with my 88 ranger I think I need to start off talking about a different less immediate problem. a few months back I started having a problem with my windshield wipers, radio, and gas gauge simultaneously not working. It happened to me in a sudden rain storm and I had to pull over, didn't know what the issue was so I checked some fuses, that was not the problem. I didn't figure it out right away but noticed that sometimes when I started my truck those 3 functions I mentioned would work and sometimes they wouldn't so for a long time i just made sure to start my truck as many times as needed for them to come on and they would stay on. It wasn't til recently that my truck started having more severe issues sometimes turning off while i was driving it, it never had a problem starting though. Then I realized one day after my tuck would not stay on for more than a couple seconds after starting that it was simply just the position of the key, if I held the key in a certain position my truck would stay on and if in the perfect position my truck would stay on plus the windshield wipers,gas gauge and radio all worked too. During all this I have had intermittent issues with the headlights, I.E flickering,not coming on at all. Now that I got all that out of the way I can talk about what exactly is going on now and what I have tried that has not worked. For the truck dying/key problem I bought a new lock cylinder and replaced it, that was not the problem. So for the past couple weeks a shoelace tied tight to my headlight knob holding the key in a forward position keeps my truck on, take the shoelace off it dies immediately. I have replaced both headlights and the headlight switch and this has not fixed the headlight issue. I think it is worth noting that I noticed one day that punching my steering wheel turns off my truck, and on a few occasions giving the steering column a few hard bumps gets the headlights working, but not nearly reliable enough for me to drive and it is my only vehicle and need it to get me to work. So both issues seem tied to something in the steering column, but I have little to no experience working on vehicles. If anybody can help with any of these issues I would greatly appreciate it.
 
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lil_Blue_Ford

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Sounds like either a grounding issue or an issue with the ignition switch itself. The part you put your key into is just a lock cylinder, it drives a pushrod that activates the ignition switch which is attached to the steering column. Either the switch is bad, or it's out of adjustment. But you could also have a ground issue somewhere. Ground wires can look ok, but in reality be corroded inside the casing. I ran into that problem on two of my trucks, replacing the main ground wires coming off the battery helped resolve some odd issues.
 
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Thank you for the reply, i thought if it were the ignition switch it wouldnt start at all or start maybe sometimes and not all the time? It starts 100 % of the time, it just wont stay on if I let go of the key. And the headlights seem to stay on once i get them on with an occasional flicker, but they almost never come on anymore, i tried for like half an hour after replacing the headlights and headlight switch and finally after hitting the steering column several times in different spots they finally came on and stayed on, but then after leaving my car off for about half an hour they wont come on again.
 

lil_Blue_Ford

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If the switch is out of alignment for some reason, you can have issues, it's attached with two bolts and can be slid up or down on the column to make sure that it goes into each position. In theory, once it's adjusted it should be fine for the life of the vehicle, but there's always the possibility that the switch is bad.

Of course, that shouldn't have any effect on the headlights. That sounds like a wiring issue somewhere. Damaged wire somewhere, bad relay, etc. I'd start by replacing the relay under the hood for the headlights and opening up the dash/steering column and examining the wiring. While you're in there, see about replacing the ignition switch.
 
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Yep, the ignition switch was loose. I zip tied it and everything is working fine, for now even the lights. I'm hoping this was somehow related but if they go out again I will look for bad wires etc. Thank you for the response
 


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