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6 Symptoms of a Bad Ignition Switch (and Replacement Cost)

The ignition switch is a very important part of your vehicle because it powers literally every electronic device in your car.

Therefore, you can also understand that any problem with this small part can cause big problems with your car.

It is a very smart piece of technology that needs to be constantly improved and updated to keep your vehicle safe. But what happens when the ignition switch fails? Let’s find out!

The most common symptom of a bad ignition switch is a car that won’t start or an engine that stalls while driving. If you notice a flashing instrument cluster or your ignition stays on after you remove the key, that’s also a strong sign that it’s bad.

These are the most common things you may notice when you have a bad ignition switch. Here is a more detailed list of the most common symptoms of a bad ignition switch:

Symptoms of bad ignition switch

1. The car won’t start

angry driver

When you turn the key in the ignition, two steps should occur. The first step is that the ignition must be turned on. When you turn it a little more, the ignition should still be on, but the ignition switch should also send a signal to the starter motor to turn.

Inside the ignition switch, there is an electrical part that connects the electrical circuits when you turn the key. If this small part is worn, you may have problems, and if either of these two steps is missing, your car will not start at all.

This can cause the starter motor to crank the engine without turning it on or the starter motor to be completely dead.

2. Car stalls while driving

Car after the road

The same applies here, as mentioned above: if there is a bad connection at the ignition switch, it can cause the ignition to cut off when it shouldn’t.

This can cause your car to stop suddenly while driving and diagnose it; It’s easier by looking at your dashboard. If all the dashboard lights turn off with the car engine, there is a good chance that something is wrong with the ignition switch.

3. Flashing board or other accessories

Board lights

Another problem you may notice is that the dashboard lights or other electrical accessories inside your car flicker or turn on and off sporadically.

This means that the ignition switch connection plate is defective and may be due to corrosion or wear. In most cases, this is something that cannot be repaired and the ignition switch needs to be replaced. Fortunately, you can often replace the ignition switch instead of the entire ignition lock.

4. The ignition is constantly on

Instrument combination

If you were driving your car and went to turn it off, but to your surprise, the car was still running when you turned off the ignition and removed the key, this happens due to a bad ignition switch.

This is something that is not very common, but it can happen for sure. If the immobilizer is unlocked once, it does not need to recognize the key again until the car is restarted and therefore the car will run fine without the keys in the ignition.

5. The key does not turn the ignition

Dead instrument cluster

So maybe your key can fit and turn inside the barrel, but your ignition still won’t turn on. As long as the vehicle’s battery has enough charge, this would indicate a faulty ignition switch.

Some ignition switches will allow the electrical unit on the back of the key cylinder to be switched independently of the cylinder itself. However, it is more common for the ignition switch assembly to be sold as a complete unit.

6. The key does not turn

car starter

This is a common fault in wrenches with a more cylindrical blade shape. Over time, the notches and grooves become rounder and smoother. This prevents the wrench from being able to move the various pins inside the barrel to the correct positions.

If the pins are not in place, the key will not turn. Again, this is a fault that often worsens over time, so try replacing the key blade if you notice it becoming rounded as soon as possible.

The function of the power switch.

ignition switch

The ignition switch has two main components. There are mechanics and electronics.

The mechanical part of the ignition switch is the key cylinder (of course, this does not apply to a keyless start system). The key cylinder works just like any other key cylinder in a lock. A series of pins are pushed into place through the slots and notches of the key blade. Once the key has been inserted and all pins have been placed in place, the key is authorized to turn the ignition on.

Electrical parts contain electrical circuits that connect when you turn the key in the ignition switch. For example, when the ignition is on, you will connect two connectors which will then send power to the ignition relay, which turns on most of the vehicle’s components.

Ignition switch location

Ignition switch wires

Your ignition switch is usually located on the back of the ignition lock cylinder where you insert your car key.

To get to the ignition switch, you often have to remove all the covers around the steering wheel and disassemble the entire ignition lock cylinder.

On some car models, you can remove the ignition switch from the ignition cylinder, but sometimes it is an integrated part.

turn the ignition

Ignition Switch Replacement Cost

The average ignition switch replacement cost is between $120 and $250, depending on the car model and labor costs. An ignition switch costs between $20 and $50, while labor costs between $100 and $200.

If you have a slightly older model car, you will likely only be replacing the ignition switch and in that case you can expect a cost of $20 to $50 for the switch.

In some car models, you have to replace the entire ignition lock cylinder, which makes the procedure very expensive.

Unfortunately, since the part will usually only be available through the vehicle manufacturer and the coding must be done by a specialist, this type of repair will often cost over $1,000.


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