5 Ignition Switch Problems
Wrong Key and Wrong Car
If you unintentionally have the key to someone else's car door, this can mean that the key will not work in the ignition switch. However, if you do happen to get into the car with the improper key, there is little to no chance you will be able to turn the ignition because of the extra tumblers in the key. If you do happen to turn the ignition cylinder, this can lead to a broken ignition switch.
Steering Wheel Binding
The ignition cylinder is connected to the steering wheel lock so that it secures your vehicle. If you turn off the engine with the steering wheel turned in a certain position, this means your steering wheel can prevent you from turning the key in the ignition, leading to a broken ignition switch in your car.
Broken Key or Ignition Cylinder
As you know in your vehicle, the internal mechanical components can break down over time. The same goes for your keys and key cylinders, leading to a potential broken ignition switch. Heavy keychains can end up wearing the key and tumble more than just a singular key, while the key may fall out of the cylinder or be unable to turn the key out of the lock position.
Ignition Switch Fault
The ignition switch is connected to the ignition cylinder by a lever. Inside the switch, several contact points need to be turned on in order to start the car. Wrong ignition switch contacts, temperature issues, or broken springs can cause the ignition switch to fail over time, preventing you from starting your vehicle with the broken ignition switch.
Modern cars with immobilizers use transponder keys to use a specific code to enable or shut off the engine. If the code matches correctly, the engine will respond appropriately. However, if the key code is incorrect, it could prevent the engine from starting and cause a broken ignition switch or a faulty ignition cylinder.
Symptoms of a Broken 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 fraction, usage, and wear and tear. Usually, a broken ignition switch will give the driver noticeable and clear warning signs as to the real problems going on in your vehicle so that you can diagnose and fix the issue.
Car Starts and Suddenly Stalls
One of the main symptoms that you have a broken ignition switch is that your car will suddenly start and stall. You might assume the car is running fine since the car turns on, but the car will just as suddenly turn off. 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 the broken ignition switch is not holding, the vehicle will not be able to run.
The ignition switch will only provide power to the fuel pump and ignition system, letting the vehicle start. However, since it will flicker out of the “on” position, it will then cut all power to the system and cause the car to stall once more. This is a clear sign of a broken ignition switch in your vehicle.
Stalling while driving
One of the most obvious signs of a broken ignition switch is the car stalls while driving, causing performance issues and longevity concerns. Your engine stalling is a severe issue that needs to be fixed as soon as possible to prevent any further damage and performance hindrances in your vehicle. There are certain instances where you can determine the reasons why your car stalls while driving to prevent the broken ignition switch.
A bad battery is one of the most common reasons why your car engine stalls while driving. The car battery is the internal component that supplies the necessary electrical current to a motor vehicle, with the main purpose to feed the starter. The car’s starter powers and starts the engine to run your car efficiently and effectively. If the battery is dead, your car will not start, and you will have a broken ignition switch.
The second reason your car stalls while driving is that there is something wrong with your fuel pump. The first time you will notice a problem with a fuel pump is that the car can stall while driving and cause you to not restart the car. The fuel pump might show signs of why the car stalls while driving, like a slight buzzing noise while it is running.
If you have realized that any of the previous reasons does not cause the reason 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 connected properly, and they are not corroding. If the wires have caused your car to stall, this can be a clear symptom of a broken ignition switch.
Problems With Turning On Accessories
The third sign of a broken ignition switch is trouble turning on your vehicle’s accessories, like the power windows, radio, headlights, dashboard lights, blinkers, internal cabin lights, 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 broken ignition switch and a potentially faulty ignition lock cylinder.
Car Won’t Start
The ignition coil is in charge of gaining 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 faulty and broken ignition switches that will cause your car not to start and run at the correct level.
Try and diagnose this issue by listening to the variety of noises that your car is making. If your car is completely dead, there will be no noise. However, if you hear the car trying to turn over and potentially hear a clicking, then the cause of this broken ignition switch issue is most likely a dead battery.
Inserting and Removing the Key
If you find that there are problems when you insert and remove the key from your car’s ignition, then this is a clear sign of a broken ignition switch. Suppose you find problems with inserting and removing the key. In that case, this is a clear sign of a massive problem with the ignition lock cylinder and the ignition switch apparatus, showing that the car needs immediate attention.
Since the key is repeated and 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 broken ignition switch.
Erratic Dashboard Lights
With older vehicles, constant use and damage can lead to the broken ignition switch getting worse over time, leading to a faulty and defective ignition switch that can cause loud relay clicking. You can check the problem with the dashboard lights by doing a simple diagnostic test that shows your vehicle’s power and internal functioning.
If the ignition is the problem, the dashboard lights might go dark when you place your key in the second position. If the lights go out when the key is moved, there is a problem with the wiring or a broken ignition switch. Make sure you bring your vehicle to a mechanic or qualified electrician to determine the root cause of the flickering dashboard lights.
Key Won’t Turn
The key not turning is a very noticeable and common symptom of a broken ignition switch. The first thing you need to do in order to start your car properly is turning the key in the ignition lock cylinder – sounds easy, right? However, if the broken ignition switch has damage inside, it will sometimes prevent the key from moving at all – thereby preventing your car from turning on and your engine from revving.
You shouldn't ignore this, as it will worsen over time and cause further internal issues in your vehicle. The key will gradually not go in very smoothly, and eventually, this will lead to a completely broken ignition switch.
Noticing the most common ignition switch problems that can hurt your car can help you prevent these issues from ever occurring, ensuring your car runs healthily and at a high-performance level for a long period of time. Keep in mind the symptoms of a broken ignition switch so that you can alert your mechanic to any new problems happening in your car.