The ignition switch system is one of the most critical parts that ensure a smooth operation of the vehicle. The ignition switch is normally located in the column of the steering wheel and is used to trigger (or crank) the engine cycle that is designed to drive the vehicle in the forward or reverse direction. However, just like any other component, there are several ignition switch issues that may hinder the smooth operation of the vehicle. While some of these issues may be fixed by a novice, there are others that will need to be attended by a professional car locksmith.
Here are some of the issues associated with the ignition switches:
Ignition Switch Fails To Turn When The Key Has Been Inserted
In some instances the ignition switch may fail to turn even after inserting the key. If this happens try jiggling the steering wheel back and forth. The steering wheel may be binding because one of the front wheels is turned at an angle against a curb. This ends up putting a load on the steering linkage that may be sufficient to bind the ignition switch and the column lock.
If the problem is a binding switch (hard to turn in either direction), using a non-conductive lubricant such as aerosol electronics cleaner or dielectric silicon grease may save your day. CAUTION: Avoid using penetrating oil as it might short the electrical contacts within the switch.
Key Is Broken Off Inside the Ignition Switch
If this is the issue, it is recommended to find a lock smith to have him remove the key. Once removed you may use a spare key (if you have one). Otherwise, you can have a new one made from the old, broken key. However, this may or may not be depending on the damage. If you do not have a spare key and a new one cannot be made from the broken one, the only option is to buy a new lock cylinder and keys.
If your car has a smart key, you’ll need to have a new key programmed for your car. This will require you to tow the car to an authorized repair shop so they can program the computer to recognize the new key.
Another common reason ignition switches fail is defective parts right from the start. Most car manufacturers will warranty the component if the vehicle is still under warranty. Otherwise, any experienced and licensed automotive locksmith can fix the problem. Watch out for common vehicles with factory-related ignition switch issues when buying a car.
Jammed Up or Worn Out Wafers
Every ignition switch has a set of wafers that are unique to the cuts on the key. After some time these parts wear out, become packed with grime and dirt causing the ignition switch to malfunction. It is possible to have the switch repaired without the need for a replacement; just simple cleaning or individual wafer replacement.
Wrong or Worn Out Key
Just like the rest of your vehicle, keys are prone to wear and tear. As they lose material, keys become less effective and finally stop working. In this case you will need to use a spare key (if you have any) to see if it will solve the issue. If it works, the problem is a bad key and not the ignition switch. If you do not have a spare key, a professional car locksmith can make another one for you using a key code from the owner’s manual. This will ensure that the key is correctly cut and functional. Otherwise, you’ll need to replace the switch along with a new set of keys.
Transponder Key Fails To Communicate with PCM
The key security or malfunction light indicator means the computer chip has either is no longer functional or it has lost its program. This kind of ignition problem has two options; to reprogram the existing key (if possible), or reproduce the existing cuts and program a totally new key. Any experienced automotive locksmith can without doubt help with this kind of service.
Key Fails to Come Out of the Switch When Engine is Turned Off
This may be caused by binding in the steering lock column. If this is the case, try joggling the steering wheel back and forth until you feel “click” into a locked position. The key can now be removed from the ignition switch. If the key still fails to come out, the issue could be a damaged column locking mechanism.