Ignition Switch Problems: Signs, Causes, What to Do


Starting the automobile is as simple as getting out of bed in the morning: enter the key into the ignition switch, spin it, and your car should start.

The method is simple, but turning the key is followed by a series of sophisticated stages that should eventually lead your automobile to start. If one of the procedures is skipped, the car will not start, which is generally due to a faulty ignition. Even if you can ultimately begin to your four-wheeled pal, problems with the ignition persist. On the road, you may have electrical issues and abrupt shutdowns.

What exactly is an ignition switch?

In your automobile, the ignition switch is also known as the starter switch or start switch. It regulates the power supply to your vehicle’s electric components. This switch is also linked to your car’s battery, sending an electric surge to the starting engine.

Many drivers assume that the ignition is where you insert the key to start the engine. The ignition lock cylinder is the location where the key is put. The ignition is right behind it.

Ignition systems are made up of several electrical components. They may scan anti-theft codes in your keys before engaging the electrical systems in your vehicle. This also applies to automobiles equipped with push-button ignition.

Positions of the Starter Switch

As seen below, the conventional ignition or start switch has four positions.

1. Lock

This is also known as the “off” or “first” position. When the switch is locked, car accessories such as the radio will not operate, and your key may be removed from the keyhole. The steering wheel, electrical circuits, and transmission gear have all been deactivated.

2. Accessory

The second position of the ignition switch allows you to operate accessories such as the dashboard lighting and radio. However, the automobile key could not be extracted from the lock cylinder.

3. On

Except for the starting motor, this third starter switch position will activate your automobile accessories and power the engine controls and circuits. The key will remain in the keyhole and cannot be withdrawn.

4. Start

The automobile key remains in the fourth position, but turning it all the way switches on the engine, which activates all of the controls.

Ignition Switch Failure Symptoms

Starter switch issues can range from flashing interior lights to a no-start scenario. However, a typical problem with the ignition is trouble turning the key when it is engaged in the switch. This is frequently an indicator that your ignition system is broken.

 Faulty Ignition Causes

Like all other elements of your automobile, the ignition system may ultimately develop problems due to constant use. As sourced from a professional locksmith in Lakewood, CO, the following are some of the most typical causes of a damaged ignition:

1. Worn Out Wafers

Wafers are the distinct collection of incisions present in each start switch, allowing it to recognize a specific automobile key. Long-term use might cause them to get blocked with dirt and filth. They only need to be cleaned, but if it doesn’t work, you may need to take the ignition to a competent car locksmith to repair individual wafers or system replacements.

2. Damaged Key

Over time, keys become worn and damaged. When this happens, you may experience ignition key issues since the system will no longer respond when you insert the key into the lock cylinder. The extra key can be used to ensure that the problem is not with the ignition system. If the copy works, you merely need to create an additional key.

3. Defective Manufacturing

It is not unusual for an ignition switch to fail. If you come across it, most automobile manufacturers will provide a free replacement if the vehicle is still under warranty. If not, you must conduct research before acquiring a vehicle. Check whether the ignition system is a typical problem with the car brand you’re interested in.

4. Stuck Ignition

It is possible that a car key will not turn after being inserted into the ignition, owing to a lack of lubrication. However, penetrating oil is not advised to lubricate the switch’s interior. This might result in more significant ignition switch issues, such as a short circuit of your vehicle’s electrical systems.

5. System Malfunction

Modern automobiles feature electronic security systems, but they are not perfect. Vehicle computer chips may fail to work, or their programming may be corrupted. In either case, a defective ignition switch that may need reprogrammed may be adequately handled by a competent vehicle locksmith.

6. Stuck Key

After shutting off the automobile, your key may become trapped in the start switch. In this situation, jiggle the steering wheel until it clicks and locks into place. The key should automatically be removed from the ignition. If this does not happen, the jammed car key has destroyed the ignition’s locking mechanism. To execute the repairs, an auto locksmith will be required.

 The Bottom Line

Many minor faults with the ignition system can arise over time, frequently due to the regular operation of your vehicle. While some may be readily remedied by merely jiggling the steering wheel or lubricating the ignition, others will necessitate the services of auto locksmiths.

As a result, you must have a replacement car key on hand in an emergency. Similarly, you should maintain the phone numbers of a reputable locksmith or a professional locksmith firm in case of an emergency, such as a damaged ignition.


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