When to replace your ignition switch


An ignition switch is found on the steering unit behind the ignition lock cylinder, where you insert your car key to turn on your car. Although modern vehicles have keyless ignitions, many cars still crank using a physical key. When you shift the key, the ignition switch has several elements that power several systems; therefore, it controls most aspects of the car.

Since you use the ignition switch every time you start and power the car, it wears out over time and may need replacement at some point. A faulty ignition switch will likely show the following symptoms, indicating it’s time for a replacement.

The ignition key doesn’t turn.

An obvious sign that your car needs an ignition switch replacement is when the car won’t turn on. The reason is that the switch has a lot of wear and damage inside it that prevents the key from aligning correctly with the keyhole. It may be a problem that has progressed over time.

Many drivers notice that the key used to go in smoothly but gradually gets worse until the key cannot go in or goes in and fails to turn. When trying this, ensure the ignition lock is not engaged by turning the steering wheel as you turn the key.

The car won’t start

Another sign of a failing ignition switch is a car that won’t start. Typically the ignition coil uses battery power to fire up the spark plugs, and the car won’t start if there is an issue with this process. There may be other reasons your car doesn’t start, such as a dead battery, but you should also inspect the ignition key. Note that a bad ignition switch can also drain the battery. Take your time to listen to the sound the cat produces. If the key doesn’t turn over, you are dealing with a bad ignition switch.

The car starts and abruptly stops.

When the ignition switch fails at the ‘on’ position, which powers the ignition system, your car may start and abruptly stall. What happens is that the ignition switch gives power to the fuel pump and ignition system, allowing the vehicle to start. However, it cuts off the power when you move the key to the ‘on’ position, which causes the car to stall. In other words, you can crank the car, but it doesn’t remain that way when the key is back in its resting position.

Problems powering the accessories

When you put in the key and turn it to the acc position, the car’s accessories, including the dashboard lights, radio, and other electrical components, should power on. But if you have turned the key and the accessories do not turn on, there is a problem with the ignition switch, and you may need to replace it.

Flickering dashboard lights

If the ignition switch is faulty, you will often experience flickering dashboard lights when driving. If the lights disappear when you move the key back to the second position, you might have a wiring problem with the ignition switch. This is a repair you should leave to the professionals.

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