How to start car with bad ignition switch: A Step-by-Step Guide

how to start car with bad ignition switch

A faulty ignition switch can be a frustrating experience for any car owner. It can leave you stranded, unable to start your vehicle, and unsure of what to do next. However, fear not! In this blog post, we will provide a comprehensive guide on how to start car with bad ignition switch. 

How does the ignition switch work? 

The ignition switch is a key component in your car’s electrical system. When you insert the key and turn it, the ignition switch sends an electrical signal to the starter motor, which then engages and starts the engine. Additionally, the ignition switch also controls other electrical components, such as the fuel pump and power windows. 

Bad Ignition Switch Symptoms

1. Difficulty Starting the Engine

When the ignition switch is faulty, it can result in difficulty starting the engine. This can manifest as the engine cranking but not starting or no response when turning the key in the ignition. These signs indicate that there may be an issue with the ignition switch and prompt the need for troubleshooting and potential repairs. 

Another sign of a faulty ignition switch is intermittent starting issues, which means that sometimes the engine starts without any problems, while other times it may take multiple attempts to get it running. A bad ignition switch can also cause issues with other electrical components in the vehicle, such as problems with the headlights or dashboard lights flickering. 

2. Stalling or Shutting Off While Driving

When the ignition switch is faulty, it can cause a sudden loss of power to the engine, leading to stalling or shutting off while driving. This can be extremely dangerous, especially if it happens at high speeds or in heavy traffic. In some cases, the engine can restart immediately after stalling; in others, it may require some time before it can be started again. 

Possible dangers of stalling or shutting off while driving include losing control over the vehicle, especially at high speeds, which can lead to accidents or collisions. Furthermore, sudden engine shutdowns can also result in a loss of power steering and braking, making it difficult to maneuver the vehicle safely. 

3. Electrical Issues 

The ignition switch is a crucial component that connects to various electrical systems in the vehicle, such as the fuel pump, ignition system, and power accessories. When the ignition switch is turned on, it sends an electrical signal to these components, allowing them to function correctly. Any issues with the ignition switch can disrupt the flow of electricity and cause malfunctions in these systems, leading to potential breakdowns or failures while driving. 

4. Key Won’t Turn In Ignition 

If there is a problem with the ignition switch, such as worn-out or damaged components, it can prevent the key from turning or getting stuck in the ignition. Issues like a faulty ignition cylinder or a worn-out key can cause this.

If you notice any of these signs in your vehicle, it’s important to have your ignition switch inspected and repaired by a qualified mechanic. Ignoring these issues can lead to further damage and potentially leave you stranded on the road.

How to start car with bad ignition switch

1. Troubleshooting and Identifying the Problem

Before resorting to alternative methods to start your car, ensure that you accurately identify the problem.

  • Check the battery: Make sure the battery is fully charged and properly connected. A weak or dead battery can sometimes mimic the symptoms of a bad ignition switch. 
  • Inspect the key: If the key is worn or damaged, it may not make proper contact with the ignition switch. Consider trying a spare key or getting a new one if necessary. Additionally, ensure that the key is inserted fully into the ignition and turned to the correct position. 
  • Wiggle the steering wheel: If the steering wheel is locked, it can prevent the key from turning in the ignition. Try gently wiggling the steering wheel back and forth while turning the key to see if it releases the lock. If this doesn’t work, the ignition switch may have a mechanical issue.

2. Temporary Fixes and Workarounds for Starting Your Car

Here are some temporary fixes and workarounds that can help you get your car up and running again:

I. Tap the Ignition Switch Gently

Sometimes, the contacts inside the ignition switch can become stuck or worn out. Tapping the ignition switch gently with a small hammer or a similar object allows you to free up the contacts and get your car to start. However, remember that this is just a temporary solution, and you should still have your ignition switch inspected and repaired by a professional as soon as possible. 

II. Wiggle the Key

If your key is not turning smoothly in the ignition switch, try wiggling the key. Wiggling the key may help align the internal components of the ignition switch and allow for a smoother turning motion. However, it is important to note that this method should only be used as a temporary solution, not a long-term fix.

III. Lubricate the Key and Lock Cylinder

Apply a small amount of graphite lubricant to the key and insert it into the ignition switch. Turn the key back and forth a few times to distribute the lubricant and help smooth any roughness or sticking. This can improve the overall performance of the ignition switch and make it easier to start your car. 

IV. Use an Electrical Cleaner on the Switch Contacts

If you’re still experiencing issues with your ignition switch, another option is to use an electrical cleaner on the switch contacts. This can help remove any built-up dirt or corrosion affecting the switch’s performance. Spray the cleaner onto a clean cloth and gently wipe the contacts, careful not to apply too much pressure. Allow the cleaner to dry completely before attempting to start your car again. 

Remember, these temporary fixes and workarounds are intended to temporarily get you back on the road. It’s essential to address the underlying issue as soon as possible by consulting a professional mechanic or visiting a service center.

3. Alternative Methods to Start Your Car With Bad Ignition Switch

Having a bad ignition switch can be frustrating, especially when you’re unable to start your car. However, there are alternative methods you can explore to get your vehicle up and running.

I. Bypass the ignition switch

One option is to use a screwdriver or a similar tool to manually turn the ignition switch. However, this should only be done as a last resort and with caution, as it may cause damage to the switch or other components. 

First, use the screwdriver to loosen the black plastic cover atop your steering column. Only two screws are holding it in, so removing it shouldn’t be too much trouble.

There should be three little holes; the key fits into the central hole, while the two outer ones are for the screws that secure the switch. Insert the screwdriver and turn it clockwise; your vehicle will turn on.

It is highly recommended to check the legality of this procedure, as bypassing the ignition switch could be illegal in certain countries. Only use this method if it is legal in your state.

II. Hotwiring Your Car

Hotwiring involves bypassing the ignition system and directly connecting the necessary wires to start the engine. This process usually requires knowledge of the car’s wiring diagram and access to the ignition switch. 

To hotwire a car, first locate the ignition switch wires (ignition and starter wires), typically found underneath the steering column. Next, strip the insulation from the wires and connect the appropriate ones to create a circuit. Finally, twist the wires together and use a Key, screwdriver, or other tool to turn the ignition switch and start the engine.

It is crucial to emphasize that attempting to hotwire a car without proper knowledge and consent is illegal and can result in severe consequences. 

III. Using Remote Starter Switch

A remote starter switch can be convenient for starting your car without using the ignition switch. This device lets you remotely activate the starter motor, initiating the engine start-up sequence. In cases where the ignition switch is malfunctioning or for diagnostic purposes, mechanics frequently use remote starter buttons.

To use a remote starter switch when the ignition switch is faulty, first locate the starter solenoid or relay under your vehicle’s hood. Connect one end of the remote starter switch to the terminal on the solenoid or relay labeled “S” for start. Then, connect the other end of the remote starter switch to a good ground source, such as a metal part of the engine block. Once connected, press and hold the button on the remote starter switch to activate the starter motor and start the engine. This bypasses the faulty ignition switch and allows you to start the vehicle without using the key.

IV. Using Jump-Starting Method

Unlike traditional jump-starting methods used when your car battery is dead, this method is different because your car battery is in good condition. However, the issue lies with a faulty ignition switch.

To Jump-start the vehicle in case of a faulty ignition switch, follow these steps:

  • Open the bonnet of your vehicle to locate the ignition coil and the battery.
  • Using a jumper cable, connect the battery’s positive side to the ignition coil’s positive side. This connection will provide the necessary power to the dashboard.
  • Connect the starter solenoid to the positive terminal of the battery.
  • Disconnect the ignition switch from the solenoid.
  • Use a wire or screwdriver to short the solenoid’s positive terminal to the post from where you removed the ignition switch, and your car shall start now.

The Bottom Line

Replacing the ignition switch is crucial for your vehicle’s overall safety and performance. Ignoring a faulty ignition switch can lead to unexpected breakdowns and potential accidents on the road. Additionally, addressing this issue promptly can prevent any possible damage to other components of your car’s electrical system, saving you from costly repairs in the future. 

It is crucial to seek professional help when dealing with complex electrical components like the ignition switch. They have the necessary experience and equipment to handle the task effectively, minimizing the risk of causing additional damage. This approach will save you time and effort and provide peace of mind, knowing that the job is done correctly. 

It is important to keep in mind that relying on alternative methods to start your vehicle should only be a last resort. Additionally, it is crucial to familiarize yourself with the specific laws and regulations regarding alternative methods to start cars in your state to ensure you follow all legal requirements. 

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