How to Test an Ignition Switch

by Alibaster Smith
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Your ignition switch provides an electrical signal to the starter motor allowing you to start your vehicle's engine. The ignition switch on some vehicles is part of an integrated anti-theft system. When you replace the ignition switch, you will need to have your ignition key reprogrammed. This is normally only available through your vehicle's dealership. Before replacing anything, however, you can do a simple test of your ignition switch to assess the situation.

Step 1

Open the fuse panel under the steering wheel and pull the fuse for the starter signal using the fuse pullers in the panel.

Step 2

Check the metal strip in the fuse to make sure that the strip is not burned or damaged. If it is damaged, replace the fuse with a working component of the same amperage.

Step 3

Open the hood and turn the dial on the voltmeter to "Volts." Touch the red lead on the voltmeter to the positive terminal on the battery. Touch the black lead on the voltmeter to the frame of the vehicle. The voltage readout on the voltmeter should read 12.6 volts. If it reads less than 12 volts, your battery is dead, and you need to replace it.

Step 4

Put the ignition key into the ignition switch and crank the engine. If the engine cranks, then your ignition switch is obviously working fine. If the engine does not crank, and you hear a "click" when you first turn the key to the "III" position, then your ignition switch is not the problem. If your engine does not crank, and you do not hear a "click" when you turn your key to the "III" position, then your ignition switch is broken, and you need to have it replaced.

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