What is the Ignition Switch?
The ignition switch, also known as the starter switch or the start switch, controls 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.
Ignition Switch Function
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. The ignition switch works with the other engine compoents to start the engine at the proper time, ensuring your car does not stall and can function at a high performance level.
Ignition Switch Mechanism
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 starter solenoid is not working to transmit data and energy, you will experience a faulty ignition switch.
Faulty Ignition Switch Signs
One of the most obvious signs of a faulty ignition switch is the car stalls while driving. Your engine stalling is a severe issue that needs fixing as soon as possible to prevent any further damage and performance hindrances. There are certain instances where you can determine why your car stalls while driving to prevent the faulty ignition switch.
Problems with the Car’s Accessories
Another sign of a faulty broken 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 key has inserts into the ignition, this is a clear sign of an issue with the faulty ignition switch and a potentially faulty ignition lock cylinder.
Key Won’t Turn in the Ignition
The key not turning is a very noticeable symptom of a faulty 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 faulty ignition switch shows damage inside, it will sometimes prevent the key from moving at all – thereby preventing your car from turning on and your engine from revving,
If the faulty ignition switch 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 faulty ignition switch. Ensure you bring your vehicle to a mechanic or qualified electrician to determine the root cause of the flickering dashboard lights.
Car Starts and Stalls
Another symptom that you have a faulty 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 ignition switch that will cause your car not to start.
Causes of Faulty Ignition Switch
If your key has worn down over time and the key cylinders have become damaged due to extensive wear and tear, this can slowly break down the key tumblers and cause the key to be unable to turn out of the lock position. In this case, you will have to get a new lockset with new keys and cylinders to ensure the faulty ignition switch does not prevent the car from starting.
Steering Wheel Binding
The ignition cylinder is connected to the steering wheel lock so that your car is safe against potential theft attempts. However, if you turn off the engine with the steering wheel turned to a certain angle or degree, the steering wheel can lock itself as an anti-theft mechanism that can backfire and lock YOU out instead. Fortunately for drives, this is an easy fix of just jostling the wheel back and forth to prevent the faulty ignition switch.
Ignition Switch Fault
Another cause of a faulty ignition switch is that there can be worn ignition switch contacts, temperature issues, or broken springs and coils that can cause the ignition switch to fail and prevent you from turning the key to start your car. If this happens while you are driving, poor contacts could shut the engine off while driving or cause it to stall, leading to a dangerous situation on the road.
Wrong Key and Wrong Car
This seems like an obvious problem that can cause a faulty ignition switch, but having the wrong key for your car can obviously cause your car not to start and cause further issues with the ignition system that can only get worse over time. Fortunately for car owners, this fix is quite easy, as you just need to get the right key for your specific car’s make and model.
Modern cars use immobilizers to turn on the engine or turn off the engine to stop it from running. The chip inside the immobilizer is in charge of transmitting code to the ones in the vehicle. However, if the code is not the right one to turn on the engine, it can cause a code that will prevent the engine from starting.
Problems with the immobilizer and other electrical issues, like faulty ignition cylinders, can cause a faulty ignition switch to prevent the car from turning on. To remedy this problem and fix the faulty ignition switch, you need to replace the battery on transponders or reprogram your keys.
Faulty Ignition Switch Replacement
When looking at the average cost of the faulty ignition switch replacement in your car, you can expect to pay between $125 and $175 on average. The labor costs will average around $60, with the process often taking under an hour to perform. The parts will range between $75 and $210, costing much more than the labor regardless of the type of car you own.
Faulty Ignition Switch Cost Comparison
When looking at the comparison of your faulty 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, 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 store, coming in much cheaper than Midas. NAPA will cost you between $129 and $304 for the total faulty 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 faulty ignition switch.
Sample Faulty Ignition Switch Replacement Costs
When looking at the sample faulty ignition switch replacement costs, we have given you some of the most common car models on the market so you have an idea of how much you will most likely 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 faulty ignition switch replacement.
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 faulty 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 faulty ignition switch replacement.
When looking at a faulty ignition switch, it is crucial to know the ignition switch function, the ignition switch’s mechanisms, the symptoms of a faulty ignition switch, and the average replacement cost of a faulty ignition switch. By noticing these symptoms of a damaged and worn down ignition switch, you can prevent the issue from getting any worse in your vehicle and harming other important internal components.