86 GM, reverse switch on column? Need wire info - Hot Rod Forum : Hotrodders Bulletin Board
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Old 11-15-2008, 01:54 PM
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86 GM, reverse switch on column? Need wire info

On the lower part of my steering column (near the pedals), on the top of the column, is a white plastic switch thats semi round in shape. It has 2 connectors on it with 2 wires each. 1 connector is smaller than the other. Mine is a 4 connector, not a 5 as pictured below

Im pretty sure this is the REVERSE light switch and NEUTRAL SAFETY but which connector is which and which is supposed to be closed or open when in neutral? This is an 86 Monte Carlo. One connector has 2 solid color wires and the other is stripped but I cant remember the colors off hand.

The 2 connections on the LEFT of the photo are a smaller connector. I have to assume that 1 is CLOSED in park or neutral so the car starts?


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Last edited by bubbahotep; 11-15-2008 at 02:00 PM.
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Old 11-15-2008, 03:38 PM
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-- The purple wire goes to the starter solenoid, and it activates the starter.
-- The purple with white stripe wire goes to the ignition switch.
In neutral or park these wires should be connected through the neutral safety switch.

The other two wires are probably light green (to backup-lights) and dark green (to fuse box). They should be connected when the transmission is in reverse.

Bruce
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Old 11-15-2008, 04:56 PM
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Thanks. But are you telling me that the #12 sized wire I have on the starter (which is the stock sized wire) gets smaller and goes to that dinky little column switch? Theres no relay in between?

And if I actually use my B&M shifter neutral switch: the switch BM gives you are micro switches which have an uber low amp rating. So from my ignition switch, through the crappy little micro switch, to the starter???
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Old 11-15-2008, 06:18 PM
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On a stock GM starter of this vintage, the relay/solenoid is mounted on top of the starter. The small wire that activates the relay will be a 12 gauge wire.

Bruce
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Old 11-15-2008, 07:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 75gmck25
On a stock GM starter of this vintage, the relay/solenoid is mounted on top of the starter. The small wire that activates the relay will be a 12 gauge wire.

Bruce
Right. But my question (which I found the answer to. Read below) was how could that FAT wire go back into the steering column and to a smaller wire which couldnt handle the current. (fat wire = high current, thin wire = lower current)

My Haynes manual says that the switch went to the computer only and shows the starter going direct to the ignition key. The other connector is the reverse lights. The manual says its a "gear selector" switch. I'll see what happens in the morning when I try to start the car. As it stands now I have no switch and no wires connected. Prior to removing the switch I always had it stuck in "park" and would look down at the shifter itself which has the gear markings (the monte has the gears on the dash above the column normally).

EDIT: Here are pages from the Haynes manual.
Page 1 at the top left shows the reverse switch and wire color
Page 2 at the RIGHT shows that the starter and ignition are directly connected without switches? This I cant believe
Page 3 at the bottom left shows a "gear selector switch" which I think refers to the neutral lock switch.


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Old 11-16-2008, 11:02 AM
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an update and end of post: The fatter connector is the reverse lights and the other connector does nothing at all without the ECM (computer)
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Old 11-16-2008, 12:16 PM
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I learn something new every day. I didn't think the '86 vintage computer already had that level of control over simple things like the starter circuit. All the wiring diagrams I have are pre-computer, and GM kept everything nearly the same for several years.

Bruce
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Old 11-16-2008, 02:25 PM
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yeah, these cars are weird. The part name itself seemed to imply that you were correct (a neutral safety)

This car uses a linkage from the tranny to the steering column (a 1/2" thick bar) which moves the gear indicator on the dash and also rotates a mechanical locking mechanism in the column which prevents the ignition key from being turned if not in park. I just wasnt sure if they also had an electrical lockout and since I tossed the ecm about 18 years ago I cant remember much of what I did. Its taken me this long to clean out the old wiring and correctly wire my reverse lights
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Old 11-16-2008, 02:28 PM
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That's not the way I read that wiring diagram, nor understand how the system works.

If you look at the LH side of page 2, You will note a Yellow (YEL) wire coming from the Ignition switch in the "Start" position.

It joins up with the NSS (Neutral safety switch -- A/T reference) and comes out the other side as a PPL (purple) wire ... which should lead to the "S" terminal on the starter solenoid.

[Edit: added picture of solenoid, showing "S" terminal.]



This purple wire (16 ga?) doesn't have to carry a lot of current, because all it does is energize the electromagnetic windings in the solenoid. The solenoid switch has a 1-1/2" (?) disc inside which contacts two very large (5/16"?) posts internally, which connects the starter motor to the positive battery post through that 4 ga (sometimes even 1 ga) battery cable.

Have another look, and tell me if you agree or not.

Last edited by 66GMC; 11-16-2008 at 02:36 PM. Reason: Added picture of solenoid
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Old 11-16-2008, 03:14 PM
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I assumed a 305 engine, and just checked another set of wiring diagrams on autozone's site.

It had a fairly generic "1986 Midsize Passenger" label, and it's a little vague.

Figure 45 (Page 1)
shows only the wiring coming into, but not out of the NSS?
No mention there of a purple wire.

It also shows a purple wire coming out of the ignition switch that says "To Starter"


Figure 46 (Page 2)
also shows a "PPL" (purple) wire from the solenoid that says "To Ignition Switch" ... but I think the means "eventually" ... via the NSS?

Now I'm not so sure ...
I guess you'll have to look at your NSS, and see if there are any purple wires present.
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Old 11-16-2008, 11:15 PM
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OK, it pays to check the Chassis Service Manual. Starting in 1986, the neutral start function is a MECHANICAL system. There is no electrical NSS. Instead, the rod that runs from the ignition lock cylinder to the actual ignition switch at the base of the steering column passes through a slot in the shift bowl on the column. The rod will only move to the START position if the shift bowl is in the Park or Neutral position. The shape of the slot blocks the rod with the shifter in any other position.

The former Neutral Safety Switch at the base of the column is actually the backup light switch and the gear position sensor input to the computer. There is no connection from this switch to the starter circuit. Also, the computer DOES NOT control the starter circuit, but it does use the old NSS terminals to determine if the car is in Park/Neutral or in gear. This signal is used by the computer to control the TBI or the electronic Qjet, depending on the induction system used on that model.

I wouldn't have believed this if I hadn't read it for myself in the CSM. Wow!
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