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An ignition switch is a part of your car that you use all the time, but probably take for granted a fair bit. You might not even think about it. But you use it all the time.
Unless you have a newer car with the push button to start, in which case move along, there’s nothing for you to see here.
The ignition switch is, as you probably guessed, an electrical switch. Whenever you turn the key to start your car, you rotate a cylindrical component, called a lock cylinder, which, in turn, acts on the ignition switch There. That’s it!
Okay, let’s expand on that. The ignition switch has four positions. There’s the lock/off position, which is when everything is turned off. When you turn off your car and take out the key, you put the car in the lock/off position. Then there’s the accessory, position, which allows all the accessories (like the stereo) to work. The next position is the run position, which provides power to the engine controls, but doesn’t actually get the engine running. And finally, there’s the start position, which tells the starter motor to kick things into action, and gets the motor moving running so your car can drive.
As you turn the key, the ignition switch turns on and off all these components, allowing your car to function in the way you always take for granted. Which is great.
The ignition switch is durable, and it’s unlikely that you’ll have to replace it. But all good things come to an end, and sometimes that good thing is the health and life of your car’s ignition switch. And then you’ll need a replacement.
Ultimately, the ignition switch is what tells your car’s engine to start up or turn off. If the switch is broken, it won’t be able to do those things. Imagine if your light switch is broken. If your lights are on when the switch breaks, you’ll have no way of turning them off. But if your lights are off when the switch breaks, you can’t turn them on. The same can happen with your ignition switch, and your car’s motor. The switch can get stuff turned off, keeping the car from turning on, no matter how much you turn the key. Or the switch can be stuck on, and when you turn the key counter-clockwise and remove it, the engine stays running. Both of these things are bad. You can decide which is worse.
Sometimes the ignition switch can get stuck. When this happens, the switch itself is working fine, it’s just the connection for the key that is failing. You might have a hard time getting your key into the ignition switch, and it could be really difficult to pull the key out. It also might be hard to turn the key one way or the other. All of this makes it a little hard to use your car effectively.
Yes, this one is exactly as fun as it sounds. Which is to say, not fun at all. If your ignition switch is failing, it’s common for the engine to randomly die. The switch will turn off while you’re driving, the car will stall, and you’ll be left with a car that isn’t running anymore. This is perhaps the most common symptom of a failing ignition switch.
If the ignition switch is malfunctioning, it will begin to take some of the electrical power away from your car. And that means your accessories will start to have some issues. They’ll probably keep working, you’ll just witness occasional or temporary loss of power to them. The lights will dim, the music may pause, and the signals and signs on your dashboard might flicker. It’s a little eerie! But probably just a sign of a struggling ignition switch.Get a Quote 1-Year | 12,000-Mile Warranty
Did you read that one symptom, about the car not turning on, or not turning off? Did either of those scenarios sound fun to you? I’m guessing not. If your ignition switch is failing, then you’ll want to get it replaced immediately…if you actually plan on driving your car.
1-Year | 12,000-Mile Warranty