First things first, what is an ignition switch? It’s one of the most important electronic components found on many cars and trucks. It’s usually located on the steering column, just behind the ignition lock cylinder, which is where you put your key to crank your vehicle. The two work together to turn on and start the vehicle. We realize that many vehicles are switching to keyless ignitions, but there are still plenty of vehicles that crank by using a physical key. The ignition switch has several positions that power on different systems as the key is turned. Electrical accessories activate in the first position, power on the fuel and ignition systems on the second position, and the engine cranks on the third. As you can see, it controls almost all running aspects of your vehicle, so it’s critical for it to work properly. Since the ignition switch is used every time the vehicle is powered on and started, it will eventually wear out and begin to have issues. A faulty ignition switch can produce any of the following 5 symptoms that can alert you of a potential issue. Before we take a look at them, remember that your auto repair experts at Hoover Automotive in Hoover, AL are ready to help with any car issues, including ignition switch failure. Now let’s talk about what to look for–
1. Your car stalls while driving
One of the first signs is a vehicle that suddenly stalls while the engine is operating. We think you’d agree that this is probably the scariest sign too! If the ignition switch fails while the engine is still on, it may cut off power to the ignition and fuel systems, which will cause the engine to stall. Depending on the exact issue, the vehicle may or may not be able to be restarted a short while later. If you’re close to Hoover Automotive when your vehicle starts acting up, please come by so we can take a look and see if your ignition switch is the problem.
2. Car starts and then suddenly stalls
A similar symptom is a car that starts and then suddenly stalls. If the ignition switch fails at the “on” position, the one meant to power on the fuel and ignition systems, it may result in the vehicle starting, then immediately stalling. The ignition switch will momentarily provide 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 moved back to the “on” position. So essentially, you may be able to crank the car, but it may not stay that way once the key is in its resting position.
3. The engine doesn’t start
An engine that refuses to start can indicate several different issues, one of which is a sign of a bad ignition switch. The ignition switch sends power to the starter motor, engine controls, and ignition controls. These systems may not receive the power they need to start up if the ignition switch isn’t working properly. An engine not starting could be one of them. This may seem like a battery issue, but may not resolve after jumping off your vehicle, so that could be a heads up that it’s an ignition switch issue.
4. Issues powering on the accessories
Another symptom of a faulty ignition switch is trouble powering on the vehicle’s accessories. When the key is inserted and turned to the “acc” position, the ignition switch should power on the interior lights, dashboard lights, and other electrical components. If you’ve put your car key in and turned it on and the accessories don’t come on, it may be a sign of an issue with the ignition switch or lock cylinder. Similar symptoms can also be caused by fuse and wiring issues, so you’ll need your vehicle properly diagnosed at Hoover Automotive.
5. Issues turning or removing the key
If the ignition key gets stuck when turning on the car or removing the key, it may be a sign of a worn out ignition switch. It’s likely that the key isn’t connecting inside the switch properly. Be careful because a switch that’s going bad could cause the engine to continue running even after you’ve removed the key, which is obviously not good.
Ignition switches are one of the most frequently used switches on a vehicle, and like all electrical switches, can eventually wear out and require service. If you suspect your vehicle may be having an issue with the ignition switch, bring it to us at Hoover Automotive for trusted auto repair in Hoover, AL. We can accurately diagnose the issue, and if it turns out to be the ignition switch, we can replace it for you.