What Happens When Your Ignition Switch Goes Bad?

Written by andrea stein
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What Happens When Your Ignition Switch Goes Bad?
If an ignition switch goes bad, a car may fail to start. (luxury car - model toy car image by alma_sacra from Fotolia.com)

A car relies on several mechanical and electrical devices, including an ignition switch, to start properly. A faulty ignition switch, which can go bad for a number of reasons, can interfere with the car's operation.

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An ignition switch is located in the control system of a car with an internal combustion engine. The switch activates the electrical system of the car.


The ignition switch connects the car's starter to the battery, sending a surge of electricity to the starter when the key is turned. The ignition contains a lock cylinder and a switch. A key must be inserted into the cylinder and turned to a certain position to activate the switch. The ignition switch controls power to the engine as well as to accessories, such as the radio. The switch is controlled by inserting the key into the cylinder and moving it into a certain position.


If the ignition switch fails, the car's electrical wiring can experience problems, causing the car not to start. The spring-loaded start position within the cylinder lock can also fail, which can cause the starter not to engage properly. In this situation, the cylinder lock may need to be replaced.

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