How to Troubleshoot the Ignition Switch on Vehicles

by Contributing WriterUpdated June 12, 2017

Like most Vehicles around the world, Vehicles are equipped with simple ignition cylinders that are used with your ignition key. While these cylinders are often used simply to turn the Vehicles on, they can fail to work Vehicles a number of reasons. If your key is sticking in the cylinder, or if the cylinder refuses to turn with your key, you can troubleshoot the switch with a number of simple methods.

Under The Hood:

 How to Troubleshoot the Ignition Switch on a Dodge

Make sure your vehicle is in Park before you do anything else. If your car is not in "Park," you may be unable to remove or turn the key. You can also make sure that your wheels are not stuck in an awkward position by tugging the steering wheel hard in both directions to straighten out the tires.

Spray your key and cylinder with a lubricant to attempt to remove or turn the key with less friction on the system.

Wait 10 minutes before turning the key if it will not turn. It may refuse to start because of static from your clothes, and you can try again in a few minutes.

Pop off the dashboard panels around the ignition cylinder using a flat blade such as a knife or screwdriver. Remove any impediments that are preventing the key from turning or preventing you from inserting the key all the way.

 How to Troubleshoot the Ignition Switch on a Mercury Sable

Open the fuse panel cover under the steering wheel and locate the fuse for the ignition and starter. Use the fuse diagram on the underside of the fuse cover if you are having trouble locating the exact location of the ignition/starter fuse.

Pull the fuse out of the fuse box using the fuse pullers in the fuse panel.

Check the fuse. The metal strip inside the fuse should not be burned or damaged in any way. If it is broken, burned or damaged, replace the fuse with another fuse of the same amperage.

Put the ignition key into the ignition and turn the key to the "II" position. Crank the engine. You should hear a "click" when you first turn the ignition. If you do not, then the ignition switch has failed. If you hear a click but do not hear the engine cranking, then the problem may be with the starter and not the ignition switch.

 How to Troubleshoot the Ignition Switch of a Nissan

Look under the steering column to locate the fuse panel and open it up.

Take the fuse for the ignition starter out with the help of the diagram on the fuse panel cover using the fuse puller.

Look to see whether or not the metal strip is injured. If it is damaged, use another fuse with the same amperage to replace it.

Lift up the car hood in order to set the dial to "volts" on the voltmeter.

Contact the power terminal on the battery with the red lead located on the voltmeter. Follow by touching the negative terminal on the battery with the black lead on the voltmeter.

Look at the display on the voltmeter. It should read 12.4 volts from the battery. If the display does not show this reading, the battery has no power. If the battery is fully charged, the next problem to check will be the ignition.

Check the ignition by placing the key inside and turning it to the "III" position. You should hear it click if the battery is properly charged and the ignition is working. If you don't hear a click, then it's safe to say that the ignition switch is not working.

Items you will need

  • Voltmeter

  • Ignition key

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