The first thing you do after entering a car and you want to drive is to turn on the ignition. If the car was in good condition when you last parked it, you expect it to behave to start the engine. If the contrary happens, you might think your battery is flat. However, the problem could be your ignition switch. Often, ignition problems are caused by worn-out spark plugs, faulty ignition coils, wiring issues, and water intrusion into the ignition system.
Let’s explore how an ignition switch works, signs of a bad ignition, and ways to start a car with a bad ignition switch.
How does an Ignition Switch Work?
An ignition switch is an integral part of a car because it controls electricity to flow to three critical parts, i.e., the battery, starter, and ignition coils.
Most old models use a key, and new models use a button for ignition. That is where the entire ignition process begins. Once the ignition switch is promoted by a push of a button or turning the key into “Accessory” or “ON” positions, it activates the electromotive force from the battery to the ignition coil, which produces an engine spark that is then directed to the spark plugs. As a result, the car starts and now runs.
What are the Signs of a Bad Ignition Switch?
Here are signs that suggest you’re dealing with a bad ignition switch in your car;
It’s hard to turn the key
If your car uses a key, you may notice that the key hardly turns smoothly if your ignition switch is faulty. Often, the key only wiggles in the keyhole or gets stuck.
The car won’t start
If you turn your keyhole to the “start” position or push the start button, the car won’t start; you might have a broken ignition switch. Your ignition switch is probably worn out or has faulty internal wiring.
Also, if you don’t hear a “clicking sound” from the starter when you attempt to start the car, it’s a sign of a bad ignition.
The steering wheel is stuck
A steering wheel can be stuck in two instances, i.e., if it’s locked or when the ignition switch is broken. The ignition switch is designed with a mechanical feature that locks the steering wheel while the car is parked. Therefore, if you insert the key and notice such an issue, the ignition switch could be the problem.
The car keeps stalling
There are several reasons why your car may stall while driving. Common ones include a faulty battery, a lack of fuel, a faulty timing belt or chain, and a bad ignition switch. A bad ignition switch may cause your car to stop abruptly while driving without warning.
Flickering of lights or other electrical items in the car
Flickering of lights doesn’t happen quite often. Nonetheless, it can happen when you have a faulty ignition switch. If you notice flickering on your dashboard lights while driving, check your alternator or ignition switch
Ways to Start a Car with a Bad Ignition Switch
In some cases, you can always start a car with a bad ignition switch. Below are ways to go about it;
Use jumper cables
You can use jumper cables to start your car when you have a faulty ignition switch. How do you do it anyway?
First, ensure you’ve jumper cable. You can use a portable jumpstarter or another car to jumpstart your vehicle. Then identify the ignition coils and battery. The other step will be to connect the battery’s positive terminal to the ignition coil’s positive side.
Also, you have to identify the starter solenoid and connect it to the battery’s positive terminal. Then unplug the ignition switch wiring connected to the solenoid. Your car should now start.
Drilling the ignition switch
Drilling your ignition switch entails using a drill and screwdriver to start the car. Here is how you go about it.
Start by finding the keyhole and then use the drill to drill the same keyhole. Drill a hole at the same length as the key. The aim is to interfere with the interior pins of the starter chamber.
Then place the screwdriver on the drilled keyhole and turn on the ignition. The car should now start.
Note: this technique may completely destroy your ignition switch beyond repair, and you might have to replace it.
Another way to start a car with a bad ignition switch is through hot wiring. This technique is most suitable for cars pre-2000 models because it’s easier to access their ignition system according to how they’re designed.
The first step entails locating the steering wheel column and removing the plastic cover securing all internal parts. You’ll easily access necessary internal parts, including the wiring harness connector.
Then find the wires for the battery (color code yellow and brown) and ignition system (color-coded red) on the harness connector. Now, strip down the red battery wires (about half an inch) away from the insulation before twisting them to each other. Next, connect the ignition wires to the already twisted battery wires.
You should see the dashboard turn on ad other electrical parts of the car started running.
The ignition switch is a vital component of any car. If you notice it’s hard to turn your key, the car doesn’t start, or the car keeps stalling, that might be an issue of a faulty ignition switch. However, the above three tips, i.e., hot wiring, drilling the ignition switch, and jump-starting, can quickly help you get around a lousy ignition and start the car.
More importantly, you should always consult a professional to fix the issue. Regular maintenance practices of the car’s electrical system will also significantly help you prevent such problems.