1968 / 1969 Tilt Steering

April 1, 2018

The 1968 and 1969 Mustang tilt steering systems are very similar. They operate electrically, mechanically and with the use of vacuum supplied by the engine. Troubleshooting a non working system can be a challenging job.

Early 1968 Shelbys, built during the first three weeks of production, do not have the tilt steering option. After that time, it became a standard on all 1968 Shelbys. During 1969, Shelby allowed the customer to choose the tilt option.

Underdash components

The 1968 bracket is bare steel. The front half of the bracket is dipped in semi-gloss black paint, because it hangs down under the dashboard.

The 1969 bracket is not painted. The bracket was reconfigured to tuck up under the dash out of sight.

There are three components mounted under the dash. They are the relay, the solenoid and the vacuum motor.

The same relay is used for both years. It is part number C8ZZ-10B926-A.

The solenoid is C7ZZ-3D536-B during 1968 and switches to a C9ZZ-3D536-A in 1969.

This part is the tilt motor. The easiest way to tell the two years apart is the color. A black canister is the 1968 version. The white, 1969 version is shown here.

The steering box "rag joint" is shown here. It is unique to tilt cars.

The steering column allows the steering to "pop" away at a 45 degree angle when the door is opened. The tilt wheel is also adjustable in nine different vertical postions. These two features are always together and part of the unique column.

The column has a unique wiring harness as well. It has additional wires inside the column. When Ford consolidated parts in the 1970s, they found the Thunderbird, tilt steering, column harness would work. It is commonly called an "expaned application" part. This however leaves two unused wires where the column plugs into the main underdash harness.

The underdash components also have a unique wiring harness. This harness connects to the door switch and activates the tilt mechanism.

The tilt air canister is often confused with the air conditioning vacuum canister. The tilt vacuum storage canister is located under the battery, on the exterior side of the apron in both 1968 and 1969. Another way to identify the canister is by two equal sized nipples on the check valve located on the canister.

Testing individual components

You can test individual components of the underdash system.

The tilt steering system is fussy on a good day. In order for the system to work, you must have vacuum, electrical and mechanical components working together.

First, make sure you have vacuum coming from the tilt vacuum storage canister. There are two hoses in the engine bay. One supplies vacuum (engine suction) to the canister, the other supplies stored vacuum to the underdash components. You should have suction on the underdash hose from the engine bay. Usually, its best to have the car running when you check for vacuum.

If you don't have vacuum on the end of the hose under the dashboard, inspect the vacuum hoses and canister. It may be something as simple as having the hoses attached incorrectly. Another issue may be the vacuum hoses are not the correct size.

The underdash components are comprised of three parts .

These parts are the tilt solenoid, the vacuum motor and the relay. Remove the wiring and the mechanism to perform the testing.

The tilt solenoid is interchangeable with some other years. It can be tested by grounding the solenoid to bare metal. Next, touch a 12v wire (from positive battery) to the brass spade and release. You should hear one "click"

The relay can be tested in a similar fashion. Ground the relay and touch a 12v positive wire to the terminal marked "1". Release the wire. You should hear one "click". The relay is also interchangeable.

The vacuum motor is made from black plastic. White canisters are from 1969. Inside the canister is a small switch. If this switch is bad, the car will not start. This is a common place to bypass the tilt mechanism. By attaching a looping wire, the switch can be bypassed. Often times, previous owners, cut these wires for this reason. The switch must be closed to start the vehicle (plunger on canister pulled out). The switch can be tested.

If you are having trouble starting the car, it maybe as easy as adjusting the cable, so it properly closes the electrical switch inside the vacuum motor. You can try pulling the plunger out of the vacuum canister.