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1965 Commander Headlight Switch getting HOT!

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  • Electrical: 1965 Commander Headlight Switch getting HOT!

    Hello All,

    I have a 1965 Studebaker Commander V8 4 door with automatic. I have noticed that when I have the headlights on, the headlight switch, at the terminals, gets so hot that I cannot touch them with my hand. I've also noticed that one of the terminals on the ignition switch gets hot. I did replace the ignition switch a couple years ago? The car has original wiring. The car is in great shape and has always been garage kept (Im the second owner and know its history). My concern is an electrical fire. Is this normal for these cars, since they run a lot of power through these switches? Also, where can I get a new headlight switch with the smooth white toggle switch? Thanks!

    God Bless,

  • #2
    High resistance connections are what is causing the headlight switch to get hot. That is caused by worn contacts in the switch or corroded connections between the switch and the push on terminals. The headlight switch on my girlfriends 63 Lark got hot enough to melt a couple of the push on connectors. I replaced the connectors with better parts and removed the switch to clean all of the contacts. When I get a chance I will install headlight relays to reduce the load on the headlight switch. Your ignition switch may be suffering from the same problems. All of the electrical connections in Studebakers are getting suspect as most of the cars are now 50 years old or older. Bud


    • #3
      Another thing to remember if certain contact points are high in resistance due to corrosion/age, the wiring might not be that far behind. Wiring can corrode inside the plastic cover as well. One you fix the obvious hot spots, its time to check out the resistance in the wiring itself. You can almost as easily have a fire somewhere in the wiring in a less obvious place. Better safe than sorry.


      • #4
        Tri installing a relay
        Dwayne Jacobson


        • #5
          I'm with Dwayne on this, put in a relay kit, and take the load off the wireing of the switch.
          Bez Auto Alchemy

          "Don't believe every internet quote" Abe Lincoln


          • #6
            But even with the relays, don't ignore the switch. If it's heating up that bad, it needs either disassembly and cleaning, or replacement.

            Clark in San Diego | '63 Standard (F2) "Barney" |


            • #7
              Halogen headlights draw much more amperage than the older non-halogen type, one reason all later cars use a relay.


              • #8
                I agree that you are getting a lot of resistance in your switch contacts and/or the wire connections and they should be cleaned or replaced. However, heat from resistance is a result of high current flow. ( Your toaster uses a lot of current to heat up). Adding a relay to the system removes the high current flow going through the switch. I found a nice NOS duel relay on ebay and installed it. My headlights are much brighter now and My switch, now only passing a small coil amperage will last forever!
                Last edited by brian6373; 05-18-2012, 09:48 PM.