How To Start A Car With A Bad Ignition Switch? All You Need To Know

Entering your car and getting ready to move requires you to turn on the ignition and turn the key until you hear the starter sound. What if you tried this, but nothing happened?

If your engine won’t start, your first thought may be that it has a bad battery, humid spark plugs, no injector pulse, or the distributor cap needs to be cleaned, etc.

There are many reasons why a car won’t start. However, we’re going to talk about something that’s a little confusing and hard to diagnose. It has a bad ignition switch that prevents it from starting.

Bad ignition switch

There are many reasons that can make the car not start. But the reason we’re going to talk about is having a bad ignition switch that prevents the car from getting started.

Most car ignitions have three main components:

  • Key cylinder
  • Tumbler
  • Switchblade

The problem with this kind of ignition is that if they get dirty or defective it makes starting nearly impossible. If you were only able to turn your key half way, then you would most likely need a new ignition switch assembly. Other symptoms include your engine cranking but not firing up, as well as your dash lights coming on but they won’t ignite up. This happens because there no electrical connection is being made.

How to start a car with bad ignition switch?

The first thing you want to do is take out your key and turn it counterclockwise to release the locking mechanism of the switchblade. If it feels like you’re about to snap your key off, then it most likely isn’t a working ignition switch assembly. This can be caused by dirt buildup inside the ignition cylinder with make locks up and not allow you to turn the key all the way.

You might also need a new ignition if there are broken or missing teeth around top of tumbler that ground against ignition switch blade when turning the key clockwise into run position. When this happens, it will feel like something is stuck in between where your teeth and tumbler meet. You can also determine this if you turn your key and it immediately stops at a certain point. When this happens, you most likely have a missing or broken tooth on the tumbler.

How can we know about bad ignition?

When you turn the key in the ignition and it doesn’t do anything when you try to start your car, that’s a sign of a bad ignition switch. Since this is such an important part of the starting system, you don’t want to take chances with whether or not it is working correctly. It may seem like there would only be one reason for this problem happening, but actually there can be any number of things wrong with it.

Repairing ignition switch

The wiring in your vehicle goes through so many revolutions every day and over time all those vibrations and movements add up. The wiring becomes frayed from all that flexing and over time pulls away from where it has been secured at some point along its length. When this happens the switch will become less effective and may not pass the signal on to start the car or it will not be able to carry enough power from the battery.

If this is the case, your ignition switch can easily be repaired by someone who works with electrical systems for a living. In most cases, the wiring harness has been pushed back up against where it belongs and all that needs to happen is for it to be secured there again. Wiring problems are often easy fixes because they only require tightening some bolts or tape. If a wire has actually come loose from its socket, then you need a little more extensive repair work done on it before you will be able to get your vehicle running again properly.

Reason why this happen?

A lot of times when you have issues with your ignition switch, it is because it has been hit very hard at some point in its lifetime. This could have happened while someone was working under your hood or if you ever had an accident where anything above the steering column got damaged. If this happens, you need to have a professional look at what needs to be done in order for everything else to work properly again.

You might also find yourself having problems with these switches if you attempt to change them yourself. It is not a good idea to try and do this kind of job when you don’t know what you are doing because if something gets connected incorrectly, it can cause all kinds of electrical problems that will cost a lot more than just the price of the part to get fixed again.

When to replace the switch?

When your ignition switch wears out or does not carry enough power for your car to start up, then this is another sign that you need to go ahead and get one replaced. Because these parts are so important in getting your engine running consistently well, it is not advised that you put off having them checked out whenever something goes wrong with them. Ignition switches can be costly repairs to have done at a repair shop, but sometimes they can last quite awhile if you do everything you can to take care of them.

When looking at an old Ignition Switch you see all kinds of different colors inside it after being exposed to extreme heat from constant use. This is due to the copper core melting that makes up most of the inside of this part. We do not use Copper in our Ignition Switches on the newer vehicles because it does not hold up well with vibration and heat.

Use of screwdriver

To start your car with a bad switch requires you to have an electric screwdriver (that would cost near about 50USD) and a good knowledge of electrical circuits. If you are not sure that any of these two is present in your garage then probably take car to a mechanic for help who will charge you around 100USD for each hour spent on fixing this problem.

First hook up the negative cable on battery which will short out all the voltage at source end (because we are going apply power directly. Locate the wiring harness connector. Locating the specific connector may be somehow hard to do because there are a lot of cables and wires in this area. But most of the time it is located at the center of the steering column.

Interesting tips                          

  • Start car by attaching jumper wires between ignition relay and starter motor relay turn on key switch at run position this should start your car (if it does not, check your jumper wire connections).
  • Once car is started, wait at least 7 seconds then remove the jumper wires attached between ignition relay and starter motor relay.
  • This will shut down car by killing main power supply to all the circuits and computer present inside engine bay thus disconnecting all the other accessories hooked up to battery (head lamps should go off completely).
  • Remove metal key switch from ignition switch and attach positive lead of electric screwdriver with metal key switch for turning on/off magnetic coil which is responsible for making contact between two stator contacts.

Be careful while applying power because it can cause spark or fire hazard so avoid touching any metal part or sheet while applying power at the center console switch and also be careful with your clothes if they come in touch with screw driver. If done correct car should start without fail.


  • You must be aware of the fact that you are playing with high voltage (12V, but can get near to 30V or even 70V in case of old cars).
  • The car ignition switch shall be checked if it getting faulty, because different people have different type of experiences. Some mostly complain about engine not starting while some others report about engine not shutting down (or vice versa). This is actually caused by dirty stator contacts inside the switch which make the contact resistance very high. These contacts stator has to be cleaned by any means available to resolve your problem.

Frequently Asked Questions

What happened if we do not replace the bad ignition switch?

You vehicle will not start if you do not replace or repair your bad ignition switch.

How much it cost to repair the bad ignition switch?

The average cost to replace the switch is $50 to $100.

Related Articles

Back to top button