The car ignition switch is one of the most vital electronic parts commonly found on many road-going vehicle and trucks. It is usually found on the steering column, just behind the ignition lock cylinder. The two function together to turn on and start the car. The ignition switch has several positions that power on different systems as the key is turned. Most ignition switches will activate the electrical accessories in the first position, power on the fuel and ignition systems on the second position, and then crank the engine on the third.
The ignition switch is used each time the vehicle is powered on and started. It will eventually wear out and start to have issues. Often, a faulty ignition switch will produce any of the following 5 signs that can alert the driver of a potential issue.
- Vehicle stalls during driving
One of the first signs of an issue with the ignition switch is a car that suddenly stalls while the engine is running. If the ignition switch fails while the engine is operating it may cut off power to the ignition and fuel systems, which will make the engine to stall. Depending on the exact issue, the car may or may not be able to be restarted a short while later.
- The engine does not start at all
An engine that refuses to start can be another symptom of a bad ignition switch. The ignition switch sends power to the the starter motor, engine controls, and ignition controls. These systems may not get the power they need to start up if the ignition switch isn’t functioning properly. An engine not starting could be one of them.
- Vehicle starts and then suddenly stalls
Another sign of an issue with the vehicle’s ignition switch is a vehicle that starts and then suddenly stalls. If the ignition switch fails at the “on” position, the position meant to power on the fuel and ignition systems, it may result in the car
starting, and then immediately stalling. The ignition switch will momentarily offer power to the fuel pump and ignition system when it is in the cranking position, which may allow the vehicle to start. However, if it has failed in the “on” position, it will cut off power to the fuel and ignition systems as soon as the key is withdrawn from the cranking position to the “on” position.
- Problems powering on the accessories
Another sign of a faulty ignition switch is trouble powering on the car’s accessories. When the key is inserted and turned to the “acc” position the ignition switch should power on the car accessories such as the interior lights, dashboard lights, and center console. When the key is inserted and turned and the accessories do not power on, it may be a sign of an issue with the ignition switch or lock cylinder. Similar signs can also be caused by fuse and wiring issues, so having the car properly diagnosed is highly recommended.
- Problems turning or removing the key
If the ignition key gets stuck when turning on the vehicle or removing the key, it may be a sign of a worn out ignition switch. The key isn’t connecting inside the switch correctly. Additionally, a switch going bad may cause the engine to continue running even after you’ve removed the key.
Ignition switches are one of the most frequently used switches on a car, and like all electrical switches, can eventually wear out and require service. If you feel your vehicle may be having a problem with the ignition switch, have the car inspected by a professional technician to know if it should be replaced.