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Bad Ignition Switch – Here’s What You Need To Know

Bad Ignition Switch

Ignition Switch Function

The ignition switch, also known as the starter switch or the start switch, is in control of the car – in all senses of the word. It controls your car’s main electrical systems, including the accessories, like the power windows, radio, headlights, interior cabin lights, and the air conditioning.

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In modern cars with internal combustion engines, the ignition switch provides the required power to the starter solenoid and the starter system’s other components, like the engine control unit and the ignition coil. If anyone of these parts is not working correctly, this can lead to a bad ignition switch. 


The starter solenoid works with the ignition switch to engage the starter motor of an internal combustion engine. The engine control unit controls various actuators on the internal combustion engine by reading data from various sensors, transmitting this data to the ignition switch to efficiently power the vehicle. 


If the engine control unit and the sensors do not function correctly, a bad ignition switch could need replacing. Keeping your ignition switch in a good and healthy condition can drastically affect numerous other components in your vehicle, like the fuel system, transmission, engine, and battery! Although you may not think that the ignition switch plays a vital role in the working of your vehicle, a bad ignition switch can lead to a whole host of other issues that can be expensive and extensive to repair or replace. 

Symptoms of a Bad Ignition Switch


However, since the ignition switch is frequently used – sometimes multiple times a day in your vehicle – it will eventually break down and succumb to excess wear and tear. Usually, a bad ignition switch will give the driver, and sometimes the passengers, warning signs as to the real problems going on in your vehicle. Keeping an eye and ear out for these warning signs and symptoms before they continue for too long can help keep your car healthy and running at a high-performing level for much longer than if you ignore these signs!


  • Stalling while driving


One of the most obvious signs of a bad ignition switch is the car stalls while driving. Your engine stalling is a severe issue that needs to be fixed as soon as possible to prevent any further damage and performance hindrances. There are certain instances where you can determine the reasons why your car stalls while driving to prevent the bad ignition switch from getting any worse.

Bad Battery

A bad battery is one of the most common reasons why your car will stall while driving. The car battery is the rechargeable battery that supplies the necessary electrical current to a motor vehicle, with the main purpose to feed the starter, which in turn powers and starts the engine to run your car. If the battery is dead, your car will not start, and you will have a bad ignition switch. 

Electrical Wiring

If you have realized that any of the previous reasons does not cause your car stalls while driving, it could be due to the bad electrical wiring. To find out if the cause is the bad wiring, make sure you check the car’s dial speed control system. Make sure that the wires are correctly connected, and they are not rusting. If the wires have caused your car to stall, this can be a clear symptom of a bad ignition switch. 


  • Issues Turning On Accessories


The next sign of a bad ignition switch is having trouble turning on your vehicle’s accessories, like power windows, radio, headlights, dashboard lights, blinkers, etc. When you put the key in the ignition lock cylinder and turn the key, the switch should do its job and power on the vehicle's accessories, like the interior lights. However, if the parts do not turn on after the eye has been inserted, this is a clear sign of an issue with the bad ignition switch and a potentially faulty ignition lock cylinder.


  • Key Doesn’t Turn


This is a very noticeable symptom of a bad ignition switch. The first thing you need to do to start your car besides sitting in the driver’s seat turns the ignition lock cylinder key. However, if the ignition switch has damage inside of it, it will sometimes prevent the key from moving at all – thereby preventing your car from turning on and your engine from revving,


This is something you shouldn't ignore, as it will get worse over time. The key will gradually not go in very smoothly, and eventually, this will lead to a completely bad ignition switch. 


  • Car Starts and Stalls


Another symptom that you have a bad ignition switch is that your car will suddenly start – but then just as suddenly turn off and stall. Suppose the ignition switch is not working while it is resting in the “on” position. In that case this can lead to the vehicle starting and stalling erratically. The “on” position is meant to turn on the fuel and ignition systems. Still, if this position is not holding the correct spot, the vehicle will not be able to run.


  • Car Won’t Start


The ignition coil can gain battery power to spark the spark plugs and ignite the fuel in the combustion chamber. If the spark plugs do not fire at the right time and light the mixture, the engine will misfire. If the ignition coil does not draw enough power, this can lead to the faulty and bad ignition switch that will cause your car not to start.


  • Inserting and Removing the Key


If you find that there are problems or issues when you insert and remove the key from your car’s ignition, then this is a clear sign of a bad ignition switch. If you find problems with inserting and removing the key, this is a clear sign of a massive problem with the ignition lock cylinder.


Since the key is repeatedly inserted into the ignition numerous times to start the engine, both the cylinder and the key will eventually break down after constant use. A worn down or broken cylinder can jam and push the key to be stuck when it is inserted, causing a problem with the starting of the vehicle and causing a bad ignition switch. 

Bad Ignition Switch Replacement


When looking at the average cost of the bad ignition switch replacement in your car, you can expect to pay between $125 and $175 for the average cost. The labor costs will average around $60, with the process often taking under an hour to perform successfully. The parts will range between $75 and $210, costing much more than the labor regardless of the type of car you own. 


  • Bad Ignition Switch Cost Comparison


When looking at the comparison of your bad ignition switch replacement costs, your mechanic will charge you between $109 and $275 for the entire process. If you would rather go with a chain auto body shop that can provide a standard service across various places, you can expect to pay between $117 and $289 at Midas. 


You can expect to pay around $110 and $194 at Midas at another similar shop, coming in much cheaper than Midas. NAPA will cost you between $129 and $304 for the total ignition switch replacement cost, being the most expensive option out of these three shops.


If you can do the work on your own or want to get the best deal for parts, Walmart will cost between $5and $214, with Amazon costing you between $45 and $203 to replace the bad ignition switch. 


  • Sample Bad Ignition Switch Replacement Costs


When looking at the sample bad ignition switch replacement costs, we have given you some of the most common car models on the market today, so you can have an idea of how much you are likely to spend.


The least expensive options include the Nissan Altima, Toyota Corolla, and the Toyota Camry. These three cars come out to between $110 and $152 total, ranging between $52 and $67 for the labor costs and $58 and $85 for parts for the bad ignition switch.


The middle of the road options includes the Honda Accord, Ford Fusion, Ford Focus, and the Ford F-Series. These four cars range between $129 and $275, with the parts ranging between $77 and $208 for the bad ignition switch’s total cost. 


The most expensive cars for the ignition switch replacement are the Honda cars – the Honda Civic and the Honda CR-V. These two vehicles cost between $131 and $182, with the total parts cost ranging between $79 and $115 for the bad ignition switch replacement. 


When looking at the ignition switch, it is crucial to know this mechanism’s function, the signs of a broken ignition switch, and how a bad ignition switch can harm your vehicle. As you can see, fixing a defective ignition switch will not only keep your car working at a higher performance level, but it will also prevent further damage to any internal parts of the fuel system, engine, electrical accessories, and the starter system, keeping your car running at a healthy level for a long period of time. 

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