Signs of a Failing Ignition

Car key and ignition

Failing Ignition or Something Else?

Sometimes a bad ignition switch can be hard to identify. There are many different symptoms that can indicate that your ignition is failing. Some of those symptoms can also indicate other maintenance issues. Before we explore the most common symptoms tied to a failing ignition, lets first explore what your ignition switch is and what it does. With a little bit of understanding you can quickly identify the most common ignition issues and rule out the unrelated symptoms.

Your car’s ignition – Your cars ignition switch is similar to any electric switch, it interrupts the flow of electricity to and from one point to the next. In your car, the ignition switch operates the starter system for the engine and it controls the power source for a large part of the cars electronics.

Years ago all ignitions were similar, you put the key in and turned it. The turn sent power to the starter. You could also use the key to power other functions like the lights or the radio.

While modern cars still require an ignition, they look and operate a little differently. You will often find a transponder key system. The transponder key still requires you to put the key in and turn it to start, but it will also require the key to send the correct signal. If the proper signal isn’t received then the key will not turn. A keyless ignition system doesnt even require a key. Keyless ignition systems are growing in popularity. According to Edmunds, “by 2018, it was standard equipment on 62 percent of vehicles sold.” A keyless ignition system is defined as a passive RFID system. Your car sends out the code and the ignition chip receives it.

Knowing a little more about types of ignitions we can figure out the common signs that your ignition switch is failing.

For cars that require a key,  the ignition switch is usually located on the steering column (behind the ignition lock cylinder). Over time as you use it it wears down. Sign of it needing to be replaced can be:

Electrical Accessories and Lights that Work Intermittently – This is because the worn switch disrupts the supply of power.

The Key Doesn’t Come Out of the Ignition – When the ignition is worn out you will often be unable to remove the key or have difficulty removing the key.

The Car stalls While Driving –  Several things can cause your car to stall while idling but if you find your car stalls while driving, chance are your ignition is failing.

If your car or truck is showing signs of a failing ignition it is important to have it diagnosed by a professional. Ignition problems are not only a hassle but a safety issue. Depending on the type of failure with in the ignition system, the professional should be able to get it repaired or replaced.


EKeys4Cars is the foremost authority on car keys and ignitions. We can diagnose your ignition problems at our Andover MA or Saco Maine locations or one of our fully stocked vans can come to you.

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