Imagine you’re driving a 1989 Ferrari 328 GTS through Utah’s Wasatch Mountain canyons near Park City with a group of other European exotics. As the group pulls off to the side of the highway to let the stragglers catch up, you hit your hazard lights button. When it’s time to depart once again, you reach down to turn them off… but they won’t turn off. The hazard lights button is “stuck” in the up position, which means you have to drive the rest of the way to lunch with the group with your hazard lights blinking… which means your turn signals are useless. At lunch, you yank the fuse to the hazard lights to stop the blinking (I love that the fuse layout is clearly marked on the rear of the fuse panel), but you make the 60 minute drive home after lunch using arm signals to change lanes. This is the exact scenario that happened to me a couple of weeks ago, and if it sounds familiar, you’ve got a broken hazard light switch on your Ferrari 328.
You have three choices:
- Pay $789 (I wish I was kidding) for replacement Ferrari part #61917100. On one parts supplier’s website, the parts description actually says “Yes, that’s the correct price. These things have become frightfully expensive as stocks dwindle.”
- Pay $50-ish on Amazon for BMW part #61311356193, the hazard switch on a 1971 BMW 2002, which is the identical part — except for the red plastic cover piece, which quickly screws off and can be swapped with your original one.
- Disassemble the original switch and spend 5 minutes fixing it yourself… for free.
Initially, I did step #2. I figured for just under $50, it was worth having a new switch in place. I ordered the part so that it would arrive at my Utah house (where I keep my 328) while I was there for two weeks… but when I got the Amazon notification yesterday that the part had arrived, but didn’t see it in my mailbox, I double-checked and realized that I’d accidentally sent the part to Seattle. I considered having another one shipped, and then returning the first one when I got back to Seattle, but I decided instead to at least take a peek inside the switch to see if I could figure out what was going on first.
Removing the Ferrari 328 Center Tunnel Console Panel
Here’s a look at the center tunnel console panel in the Ferrari 328. The hazard light switch is right in the middle:
I first used my trusty Benchmade Triage 915SBK pocket-knife to gently pry off the black plastic cover that surrounds the switch, which showed me that I’d actually need to access the switch from the underside.
The flat console panel in the center tunnel is held down by four screws — the first two are easy, and the last two are slightly more complicated, but still not difficult. Start by removing the two screws that secure the ash-tray in place, which in turn secure the front portion of the panel:
Using a pocket-knife or thin screwdriver, gently pry the middle of the front and rear edges of either the driver’s or passenger’s side temperature adjustment switch. I say “gently” because a replacement switch will cost you $962. The middle portion of the switch is the strongest, and also where metal tabs hold it into the console, so as long as you pry gently there’s little chance of breaking anything. Once the switch is out, reach down into the console and push out from underneath the two middle switches in the rear-most row of four: the antenna switch and the fog-lamp switch. Gently remove the switches from their wiring harnesses. In this photo, I’d removed both the driver and passenger side temperature switches while I was exploring, but you really only need to remove one:
Directly below those two center switches are the remaining two screws holding the console panel in place:
It helps to have a magnetic screwdriver, or a magnetic pick-up tool (like this one that I often use in gunsmithing), so that you don’t drop the screws and washers down into the tunnel.
Removing the Ferrari 328 Hazard Switch
Once those screws are removed, gently lift the console up and turn it to one side to reveal all the wiring under the console switches. I also unplugged both temperature switches to make things a little less crowded while working:
Remove the round plastic wiring harness from the underside of the hazard switch. Don’t worry about remembering which tab fits into which harness slot, it will only line up and connect one way. There’s a separate single harness that connects to the center tab of the switch, so gently pull that off, too.
Now unscrew the black plastic ring that secures the switch to the console (it should only be hand-tight). It should come off easily, as well as a slim silver washer with it.
Your hazard switch should now easily lift out of the top of the console:
If you ordered a replacement switch (and if you did, I hope you ordered the BMW one), simply unscrew the red plastic button cap with the triangle on it, swap it with the BMW one that has the word “HAZARD” printed on it, and put everything back together.
BTW, if you see a Ferrari 328 with the word “HAZARD” on the switch, that means someone switched the switches… without switching the cap. As a judge, I’d deduct at least half a point for that at a Ferrari concours.
Repairing the Ferrari 328 Hazard Switch
The hardest part (for me) of this entire operation was this next bit: cracking open the outer body of the hazard switch. Examine the switch closely, and you’ll see a number of plastic tabs on the bottom portion that click into openings on the top portion. You’re going to bend and mar the plastic a bit, but you’ll never see it, so that’s OK. I ended up using a combination of a utility knife:
And a small flat-head screw-driver:
Just work around the outside of the housing until you “pop” the top and bottom apart. The switch is comprised of the top plastic housing, bottom housing with metal tabs, a center spring, and the button assembly:
Examine the bottom portion of the switch and you’ll find a silver tab with a small pin near the top:
Here’s an overhead shot, where you can see the pin near the top of the tab:
Partially re-assemble the switch with the spring and the button assembly to get an idea of the way the switch is designed. It’s rather elegant, actually. The pin slides through a channel, which catches and holds the button down. When pressed again, the pin travels through the channels and returns to its lowest point, which allows the button to pop “up.” Line it up and play with it a bit, and you’ll see what I mean:
What has likely happened to your switch is that this silver tab has been bent outwards, so that it doesn’t catch the channel properly.
This angle clearly shows that my switch’s tab was bent:
Use a pair of pliers to bend the tab inwards so that it engages the channel as much as possible without impinging the movement of the button. This will ensure that the button will “catch” in the off position once again. Here’s mine after being bent back into a straight position:
Re-Assembling the Ferrari 328 Hazard Switch
Once you’ve bent the silver tab back into place and tested to make sure the button can catch properly, it’s time to re-assemble the hazard switch. The first couple of times I tried to do this, the red plastic cap got caught on the top section of the switch housing, and made it difficult to push things back together. Temporarily unscrewing the red plastic portion made things much easier:
Insert the spring and button assembly into the bottom portion of the switch housing, then line up the top and bottom portions of the housing by finding the flat section on both potions — see the flat section in the above photo where the threaded area is missing. With the flat sections lined up, make sure all the tabs on bottom line up with a cutout section on top, the quickly snap the two sections back together. This may take a couple tries to get right.
Now test your switch to make sure the button stays down:
Also test the up position:
Re-Installing the Ferrari 328 Hazard Switch
Re-install the hazard switch by doing everything in the reverse order. First, however, I recommend temporarily plugging-in the inner (single) and outer wiring harnesses onto the bottom of the switch and testing your work… before you go through the hassle of buttoning everything back up. Hopefully, your test is successful and your hazard lights can be turned on and off without any issue. If not, crack open the switch again and check to make sure all the gold-colored tabs move freely, and that everything looks like it’s making contact at the right times. If you can’t get it working, go ahead and order the $50 BMW switch. It’s a bargain compared to the price you’ll pay to get a switch in a yellow box.
If your test is successful, unplug the wiring harnesses, re-attach the washer and plastic nut to the underside, secure everything back in place, plug in all the switches, insert the console panel, and tighten the four screws holding it in place.
Give the hazard switch one final test. You may have to adjust the height of the button by unscrewing the red cap a couple turns, so that it sits flush in the down/off position:
Congratulations! You just fixed an $800 part yourself. Of course, after this experience, you’ll probably be less inclined to use your hazards unless absolutely necessary (but please do use them when necessary). But even if your switch ever fails in the “on” position by the side of the road again, you might be able to use items from your on-board tool pouch along with your pocket-knife or Leatherman Wave (you do carry a knife and/or Leatherman, right?) to attempt this fix roadside.
I’m almost glad I shipped the replacement BMW hazard switch to the wrong house, so that I had a chance to learn and attempt this DIY fix. If this ever happens again in my Ferrari 328, I’ll probably use that BMW part and swap it out. But since I also have an F40 and 512TR — both of which use the same hazard switch — this seems like a handy repair procedure to have in ones mechanical bag o’ tricks. If not for your own car, but perhaps so you can help a fellow Ferrari Club member while on a club drive.
As always, I welcome your questions, comments, and feedback below!