Key Won’t Turn in Ignition: (What You Should Do)

You are on your way to work and your car isn’t starting. The key turns in the ignition, but nothing happens. What do you do? Car issues are one of the most frustrating things to happen when you’re running short on time and need to be out the door. This article will show you what to do when your car won’t start and what may cause the issue.

Car Ignition Switch Overview

Your car ignition switch uses the car battery to create a circuit to start your engine. Your key lets you turn the switch on and off. If the ignition won’t turn or click when you try to start it, that’s usually because of a problem with the ignition switch.

7 Causes of a Jammed Ignition Switch

There are a few common issues to consider that may cause your ignition switch to jam up. Luckily, many of them are quick fixes that do not require a trip to the mechanic. Among them are:

1) Gear Set in the Wrong Position

One of the most common causes of a jammed ignition switch is that your car may have a gear set in the wrong position. When the car is not in park and the brake isn’t engaged, your car will lock up the ignition for your safety.

Solution: You can usually fix this by putting the gear in park and trying again.

2) Locked Steering Wheel

If your steering wheel is locked, it can also cause the ignition switch to jam. Steering wheels lock when the key is removed but sometimes fail to unlock when you try to start your car back up.

Solution: To unlock it, you’ll usually have to quickly move your steering wheel back and forth while trying to turn the key. It may take a few tries but this typically solves the problem.

3) Faulty Car Battery

If your car battery is dead or not working, it can keep the circuit closed and prevent your engine from starting. Battery malfunction can happen if you have left your lights on overnight. If your lights and anything related to your battery does not light up when you try to start the car, it is likely the battery.

Solution: In most of these cases you’ll need to charge or replace your battery before you can start your car.

4) Corrosion and Dirt

If your key won’t turn in the ignition, it may be because of corrosion and dirt that have built up inside the switch. Over time, these can cause the electrical contacts inside the switch to wear down and stop working properly.

Solution: To fix this, you’ll need to clean the switch using a small brush and some electrical contact cleaner

5) Car Ignition Switch Jammed with a Foreign Object

You may have dropped something inside the key slot of your car ignition without realizing it which will cause it to be jammed with a foreign object.

Solution: If this is the case, you’ll need to remove whatever is blocking the switch for your engine to start.

6) Faulty Electrical Wiring

In some cases, a faulty electrical wiring connection can prevent the switch from turning on or off. This may be due to a problem with the connector at the back of the switch or with one of the wires leading to it.

7) Damage to the Steering Column

If your ignition switch has jammed up, it may be because of damage to the steering column cover. This can occur if you hit a pothole or another obstacle while driving, which can cause the switch to move out of position.

What if Every Fix Here Does not Work?

If you’ve tried all of the fixes mentioned in this article and your ignition switch is still not working, there’s likely something wrong with the switch itself. In this case, you’ll need to replace the switch to get your car started again. In this case, you’ll likely need to take your car to a mechanic to have it fixed.

When Should You Replace the Car’s Ignition Switch?

If your car fails to turn on properly after months of working fine, something is likely wrong with the ignition switch. You can tell if this is the case by trying to start up your car again and looking for some of these signs. You may need to replace your factory ignition switch if:

  • Your key turns but your engine won’t turn on
  • The steering wheel is locked and will not unlock
  • You can hear a clicking noise coming from under the dashboard when you try to start the car
  • The check engine light is on
  • Your power windows, radio, and other parts still work even though your engine isn’t working.

If you’re experiencing any of these problems, your ignition switch likely needs to be replaced. The next thing to do in this case is to bring your car to a mechanic to have it assessed. A mechanic will let you know if it’s time to replace your ignition switch or if something else may be happening.

Getting a New Ignition Switch

Cost of a New Ignition Switch

The cost can vary depending on the make and model of your car. Generally, a new ignition switch will likely cost between $100 and $300. You may find cheaper options, but this is the average price range that you can expect. Additionally, since your car isn’t starting you may need to pay for a tow company to transport your vehicle to the nearest service station.

How Much Time Will it Take?

Replacing your ignition switch is a relatively quick process. It will usually take a mechanic between 1 and 3 hours to replace the switch, depending on the type of car you have and if they have the correct parts in stock. The wait time will also depend on how busy the shop is when you bring it in.

Replacing your car’s ignition switch may seem like a daunting task, but with the right tools and some help from a professional, you can have your car up and running in no time.

If you need a qualified mechanic, please contact us. We will offer our expertise and experience to check out the problem with your car’s engine or give it a tune-up so that it is running smoothly again. You can also call on us for any other automotive needs including inspections, oil changes, tire rotations, battery replacements, and more!

Author: DJ

Dave Junior is a hands-on automotive technician with experience in performing service, diagnostics, and repairs on domestic and imported vehicles. He enjoys writing and sharing his knowledge far and wide.

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