3 Common Ignition Switch Issues

The car's ignition switch is made up of two connected devices. The first device is a lock cylinder, or the tumbler assembly, where you insert your key, while the second connected device is the electronic switch, located just behind the cylinder. The division of the lock cylinder and the electronic switch isn't always similar in all vehicles; some cars have an ignition switch that has both devices in a single unit. The basic function of the ignition is to turn the engine on. Being the main device that triggers the engine's operation, this switch is a crucial link in the car's anatomy. For this reason, a problem with the switch should never be left unattended. Such ignition switch issues can be due to electrical connections and corroded contacts inside the switch. The issues can lead to problems with car accessories, such as non-functioning headlights and malfunctioning windshield wipers. In some cases, the car won't even start. Here are three common ignition switch problems.

1. Broken Connections

In certain vehicles, the switch assembly is divided into two. The tumbler is located on steering wheel column while the electrical switch is remotely connected via wires. In case of a break in these connections, the switch becomes dysfunctional. To solve this problem, simply find the electrical diagram showing the actual switch assembly and then examine the wires and the connecting parts for continuity. To get your switch back to work, replace the broken wires and fix the loose connections. You'll need to first open up your steering column to do this. For best results, refer to the instructions manual or call a professional to do this job.

2. Dirt Accumulation

Corroding and dirt accumulation is another common ignition switch problem. Accumulation of dust, dirt and detritus inside the cylinder can make the switch resistant to turning, and can exclude or trap your key. In most cases, this is followed by an increased effort when using the key. A cleanup of the cylinder, together with lubrication can help solve this problem. You can do this yourself, or you can call a professional to clean the cylinder for you.

3. Defective Key

Sometimes, the problem may not be with the ignition switch, but with your key. If your car key is worn out or defective, chances are high that its teeth aren't locking into tumbler pins, making the switch useless. Changes in weather and poor craftsmanship can be the reason behind the defective key. In this case, you just need to replace your key. Try using a spare key if you have one, or get a duplicate made. Apart from the worn out key, a damaged chip-coded' key can also cause problems. Such a key will send the wrong radio frequency code to the sensors inside the switch. Due to these wrong signals, the security mechanism that helps stop hot wiring can easily backfire, leading to switch problems. An issue with in-built sensors can also lead to ignition switch issues. To deal with such problems, call a professional car repair to handle this job for you.