How To Start A Car With A Bad Ignition Switch

A bad ignition switch is one of the reasons why a car won’t start. Though not as popular as a faulty engine, battery problems, or a troubled alternator, it still can give you a headache. The car key may seem stuck, won’t turn or it turns but no starter sound from the vehicle. These will build nothing but frustration.

How then do you start your vehicle when the ignition switch goes bad? How would you know your vehicle ignition switch is going bad? What are the probable ways of fixing them? Hence, we will consider a bad ignition switch, its signs, and how you can start your vehicle without the ignition switch.

About The Car Ignition Switch

The ignition switch is the keyhole inside your vehicle. Turning it on activates the electrical network in your vehicle. This lets the electricity required for the proper working of the vehicle flow through. Turning on the ignition switch also allows the car engine to power up.

Signs Of Failing Ignition Switch

Here are a few signs your vehicle will give if your car ignition switch is going bad or has gone bad.

a. Difficulty in turning your car key in the ignition switch:

An early sign of a failing ignition switch is difficulty in turning your car key when you start your vehicle. Usually, it feels like the key is stuck in the ignition switch and won’t turn. When this occurs it is a sign that your vehicle ignition switch is beginning to develop a fault that you must fix.

b. Failure of the vehicle to start:

Another sign that your vehicle ignition switch is going bad is the failure of your vehicle to start. Though this sign is not exclusive to a bad ignition switch alone, it is still considered one of its signs. This is because when there is a problem with the inner workings of a car ignition switch the car won’t start. Sometimes, the bad ignition switch may allow the vehicle to start for a while before suddenly stopping without warning. 

c. When there is no sound following a turned-on key:

If your vehicle gives no sound at all when you turn on the car key, your vehicle likely has a bad ignition switch.

How To Start A Vehicle With A Bad Ignition Switch

Before you conclude your ignition switch is bad first be sure you have the right car key for the right vehicle. This is because placing a wrong key in your ignition switch will also prevent your vehicle from starting. Having confirmed your key is the right and figuring your ignition switch is bad, here is how to start your vehicle. 

Method 1: 

Rewiring; this method works best with old model vehicles. Here are the steps to it.

a. Open your vehicle and find the steering wheel station. 

b. Expose the interior part of the steering wheel column by removing its external covering.

c. You would see several wires and connectors, find the wiring harness connector. It is usually centrally located at the steering.

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d. Find the connectors for the ignition, battery, and starter. The red connector represents the battery while the yellow and brown usually represent ignition. Pick up the red wires, strip them one inch away from insulation, and twist together the naked ends.

e. Connect the battery and the ignition wire to turn on the electrical parts of the vehicle. Then expose the starter wire by half an inch and allow it to touch the twisted naked battery wire. This will start your vehicle and power its engine.

Method 2: 

The use of a screwdriver and a drill. This is a technical method and it carries the risk of totally damaging the ignition switch if not properly done.

a. Measure the length of your car key. Then find the keyhole and drill into it, covering the same distance as your key length. The drilling will lose the inner pins of the ignition switch.

b. Next, place the screwdriver inside the keyhole and turn the ignition. This should start your vehicle as the screwdriver now serves as the key.

Method 3: 

The use of jumper cables

a. Open your car bonnet and find the car battery and the ignition coil. Link the positive end of the battery and the ignition coil with a jumper cable. This action sends electric currents to the dashboard.

b. Find the solenoid and link it to the positive end of the battery. Next, you should disconnect the solenoid and the ignition wire. Then activate the solenoid by shortening its positive end to the point where it is connected with the ignition switch. This should start your vehicle.

How To Test For A Faulty Ignition Switch

There are two ways to do this. You can test with a multimeter, you also test with a test light. Either before testing, you will have to disconnect the ignition switch first.

If you want to test with a multimeter, continue by having the ignition switch on OFF. Then you have the positive and the negative probe of the multimeter properly connected. The positive probe to the feed wire of the switch and the negative to a plain metal in the vehicle.

Next, have your key on RUN and measure the voltage with the multimeter. If the measured voltage is below 90% of the car battery voltage when the ignition switch is likely bad.

If you want to test with a test light, again have the ignition switch on OFF. Next, disconnect the module cable wire and the solenoid Send. Then have the ignition switch on RUN.

Next, connect the battery wire and the ignition coil wire to the test light. Then start the key. This action should power the light. The absence of light means the ignition switch is going bad.

What Are The Common Reasons Why A Car Won’t Start

There are several reasons why a car will fail to start. However, here are the top five.

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a. A Dead Car Battery: 

One popular reason a car why a car won’t start is if its battery is completely drained. A dead battery can be linked to many reasons. There may be a problem with the alternator, a connection problem Water may also ruin some components of the battery. It may also be due to excessive usage of electricity draining car accessories Also when a battery exceeds the shelf life it flattens out.

You can jump-start your vehicle to know if it is not starting because of a dead battery. If a dead battery is confirmed to be the cause, consider buying a new battery.

b. A Faulty Ignition Switch: 

A faulty ignition switch is another reason your car won’t start. An ignition switch may go bad due to broken springs, contact problems, or unfavorable temperature. Whatever the reason is, if the ignition switch goes bad there is a high tendency your car will not start.

Test with a multimeter or test light to confirm if the ignition switch has a problem. If confirmed to be, consider replacing the ignition switch.

c. Problem With The Starter: 

A problem with the car starter also presents as one of the reasons a car won’t start. The starter is what gives the car engine the required force to start. Hence, if it goes faulty it invariably means it will be difficult to start the car or it won’t start at all. A clicking sound from the car when you turn the ignition switch is one way to know you have a bad starter.

d. Clogging Of The Fuel Filter: 

The car engine won’t be getting the needed amount of fuel if the fuel filter is clogged. This in turn can cause a vehicle not to start. It is advised that for every fifteen thousand miles the fuel filter should be changed.

e. Lack Of Fuel In The Fuel Tank: 

The wheels of a vehicle ride on gasoline. If there is not enough fuel in the fuel tank, your car will not be started. Hence, ensure to always check your fuel level and refill before it is empty.

What Is The Cost Of Fixing A Bad Ignition Switch

The cost of fixing a bad ignition switch depends on the state of the cylinder, the lock as well as the vehicle model. The cost of the ignition switch itself is about 60 to 100 dollars. It costs more if it has added accessories to it like a security lock. Prices may be about 300 dollars. The cost of labor may be between 70 to 200 dollars. 


A faulty ignition switch can stop your car from starting. Although, you can still have your car moving with a bad ignition switch. You may apply any of the methods above if you are suddenly stuck and professional help is far off. However, ensure to test first to confirm if the problem is a faulty ignition switch.