There are over 270 million vehicles registered across the United States. These play a vital role in our everyday lives – in fact, on average, Americans spend over 17,000 minutes driving every year. Our cars can get us to work, deliver our groceries, or take us on the trip of a lifetime!
Because of this, when something goes wrong with your car, it can have a huge impact on your life. This is even worse if you do not see it coming and end up stranded by the roadside.
Fortunately, there are often signs that something is going wrong with your car before disaster hits. Not familiar with the signs that your vehicle needs car ignition repair or replacement? Then you are in the right place!
Read on to find out everything you need to know your car’s ignition and how to spot if it needs replacing.
Why Might You Need a Car Ignition Repair?
Before you start to get caught up on how to replace a car ignition or how this works, let’s take a look at why something might go wrong with your ignition.
One of the leading causes of damage is natural wear and tear. Most ignitions see a lot of action over time and this naturally wears them down. Nevertheless, accidents do happen.
If your ignition slot or car keys become damaged and misshapen then they will stop working properly. In this case, you will need advice from an expert as to whether or not you need to replace the ignition or if you can get away with rekeying the car instead.
In some cases, it may be abundantly clear why your ignition is not working. However, some problems are harder to diagnose.
Whatever the reason for your ignition problem, there are some surefire signs that something is wrong. Let’s take a look at these.
1. Difficulty Turning the Key
The ignition switch in your car works by sending low voltage electricity from your battery into the ignition coil. However, if you cannot turn the key in the ignition then you will not be able to trigger this and your engine will not start.
Over time, the inside of your ignition can start to wear down from use. This means that your key does not align properly inside of it. As a result, turning the key in the switch can become difficult.
You can check to see if there are any other reasons why your key is not turning using the steering wheel. Try turning the wheel in each direction until it locks into place. This will ensure that your ignition lock is not already engaged.
If the inside of your ignition has worn away, then you will need a complete car ignition replacement. Make sure that you do not wait around to get this problem fixed. If the problem gets worse you will struggle to start your car at all and will not be able to get it to the garage.
2. Your Engine Keeps Stalling
Because your ignition is linked to your engine, when something goes wrong with it this can have a knock-on effect.
Your ignition may spontaneously cut off the energy supply to the engine meaning that you stall. Obviously, this is something that can happen to most drivers but if your ignition is playing up you will notice it happens more often.
This can happen whether you are driving down the highway or if you are idling along. If this happens on the highway, it could be very dangerous so make sure you get the problem seen to as soon as possible.
3. Problems With the Warning Lights on the Dash
Most cars nowadays have warning lights on the dash to give drivers an indication if anything is wrong. They often tell you about the oil, brakes, and temperature of your car. Your ignition controls whether or not these show up properly.
These lights will usually come on when you put your key in the ‘start’ position in the ignition. They should then stay on while the car is running. If you find that your lights flicker or turn off while you are driving then this could mean you have a problem with your ignition.
This is a good way to check if other signs can be linked back to your ignition. For example, if your car does stall then taking a look at the dash lights is a good way to look for more signs that you need to replace a car ignition.
4. Your Car Will Not Start
If the problems with your car’s ignition continue to get worse over time you will eventually find that you cannot start the car at all. This is a very clear sign that something is wrong.
This may be because the inside of the ignition has worn down so that your key cannot turn it into the start position. This will often happen with time because your ignition gets a lot of use on a regular basis. However, your ignition should last for well over 100,000 miles before it needs replacing due to wear and tear.
However, your ignition may still turn between positions without igniting the engine. This could indicate that something else has gone wrong with the ignition. In that case, replacing the mechanism could fix all of your problems!
5. The Starter Motor Does Not Make a Sound
It is sometimes difficult to tell the difference between ignition problems in your car and problems with the starter motor. If the starter motor does not actuate this could also mean that your car will not start.
Fortunately, there is a handy way to identify the source of your problem. Simply turn the key in the ignition and listen out for the sound of the motor actuating.
If your starter motor does not make any sound at all then your problem is most likely an ignition one. Even if your starter motor is not working properly, it will still make a noise when the ignition sends it energy from the battery. No sound means that this first vital step has not taken place.
6. The Status Switch Does Not Light Up
Most ignition switches have three positions: ‘off’, ‘on’, and ‘start’.
Turning your key into the ‘on’ position should trigger a start-up light on your dash. If this does not come on when you turn your key then your ignition may not be working properly.
Before you go to see a mechanic, make sure there are no problems with the light bulbs behind the dash. If there are not then your problem is almost certainly an ignition one.
7. Your Ignition Switch is Overheating
Even if your ignition switch is not turning properly or starting your engine, this does not mean nothing is happening. In fact, your ignition will often work extra hard to compensate for a problem. As a result, you may find that the switch heats up as you try repeatedly to get the ignition to work.
This can happen because your ignition switch connects to several high-resistance wires. When you use your ignition a lot the connecting terminals can overheat. If these get too hot then this will eventually melt the insulating base in your ignition switch.
If your insulating base melts then your car will stop, often with a violent jerk. Once this has happened, you will not be able to restart your car’s engine no matter how hard you try. You will need emergency assistance and a total ignition replacement.
8. You Cannot Get Your Key Into the Switch
If something becomes jammed in your ignition switch, then you will not be able to get your key into it. Unfortunately, it is often difficult to see what is stuck in the key slot.
You can try to fish around inside the slot using a bobby pin or paper clip. If you have someone on hand to help you out, ask them to hold a torch so that you can see what you are doing better.
However, be careful as you may do more damage than good. The last thing you want is to push the object further in or get the pin itself stuck! If you car is still within warranty, causing damage to the mechanism yourself could make this warranty invalid and cost you dearly.
A lock specialist will be able to help you get it out without causing more damage. If something is securely lodged inside or has damaged the ignition you may need to replace the whole switch.
9. Your Key is Stuck in It
Getting your key stuck in your ignition is a more common problem than you might think. As you can imagine, this can create some serious problems for your ignition.
When this happens it may stop the ignition from working properly. Even if the ignition continues working, not being able to get the key out will become a problem when you want to park up.
You should always make sure that you get the key out before leaving your vehicle unattended. There are over 700,000 car thefts every year in the United States. A car with the key in it will be too much temptation for any thief to resist!
You may be able to get the key out yourself with the help of some lubricating oil and a pair of tweezers. This is always worth a try before you head to a locksmith and could save you a lot of money. Just be careful about what you are doing.
Jiggling your key in the lock or forcing the tweezers into the ignition switch could cause further damage. In that case, you are better off paying a locksmith to help you get the key out without difficulty or harm to the switch. This is a much better option than having to pay for a new switch entirely.
Getting Help With Your Ignition Problems
When it comes to how to repair car ignition, there are several options.
If you are looking to save some money, you may want to take a look at doing the repair yourself. Some repairs are easier to do at home than others. For example, removing a foreign object from your ignition switch is easier than replacing the insulating base.
If you have the replace the whole ignition, you may need to also replace your keys. This is a simple job if you have standard keys. However, most car keys nowadays are electronic and require programming.
In order to reprogram your keys, you will need a more detailed working knowledge of how to do this. In that case, it might be a good idea to get an expert on your job.
Bringing in an experienced ignition expert means that your ignition will be back in working order in no time. They will carry out their work without causing any further damage to your ignition and often provide guarantees for their work. This means you have someone to get to if anything else goes wrong with your car.
One of the other benefits of going to an expert is that they will be able to identify what is wrong with your ignition before they carry out any work. The last thing you want is to spend ages of time and money on replacing your ignition when you could have saved money on a minor repair.
Get Help with Your Car Ignition Repair Today!
When it comes to car ignition repair, do not wait around if you are experiencing any of the signs we have mentioned in this article. Ignoring them could mean that you cannot start your car and have to pay for emergency help.
For more information on getting your car ignition repair and replacement, get in touch today. We’re here to help!