how to start a car with a bad ignition switch

How to Start a Car with a Bad Ignition Switch?

Having a bad ignition switch can be frustrating and prevent you from starting your car. The ignition switch is responsible for controlling the battery, starter, and ignition coil of your vehicle. When it becomes faulty, it can lead to various problems in starting the engine. In this article, we will explore the symptoms of a bad ignition switch and provide temporary solutions to start a car with a faulty switch.

Understanding a Bad Ignition Switch

Before diving into the solutions, it’s important to understand what a bad ignition switch entails. The ignition switch is prone to damage due to factors such as water interference and loose wire connections. When the switch fails, it hampers the flow of electricity to the engine controls, starter motor, and ignition controls, resulting in starting issues.

Symptoms of a Bad Ignition Switch

  • Car not starting: The most common symptom of a bad ignition switch is the inability to start the car. No matter how many times you turn the key, the engine fails to respond.
  • Difficulty turning the key: If you experience difficulty in turning the key or it gets stuck, it indicates a faulty ignition switch.
  • Car starting and then stalling: If your car starts but suddenly stalls while driving, it could be due to a bad ignition switch. Check for simultaneous flickering lights on the dashboard when this happens.
  • Flickering lights and blinking dashboard: Pay attention to any flickering lights or malfunctioning dashboard accessories. These can be indicative of a faulty ignition switch.
  • Ignition staying turned on: If you can turn off the ignition key, but the car continues to run, it suggests an issue with the ignition switch.
  • Silent starter motor: When the starter motor remains silent and you don’t hear any clicking sound upon turning the key, it’s likely due to a faulty ignition switch.

Temporary Solutions for Starting a Car with a Bad Ignition Switch

Although a bad ignition switch requires replacement, there are temporary solutions to start your car in case of emergencies.

Using jumper cables: If you have access to another car, jumper cables can be used to bypass the faulty ignition switch. Connect the positive (+) cable of one battery to the positive (+) terminal of the other battery, and connect the negative (-) cable of one battery to the negative (-) terminal of the other battery. Try starting the car, and it should start running.

Using a drill and screwdriver: Another temporary solution involves using a drill and screwdriver. Remove the panel on the steering column to expose the ignition cylinder. Insert the screwdriver into the cylinder and turn it until it clicks. Then, place the drill over the screwdriver handle (set to low power) and turn on the drill. This will internally destroy the pins, allowing you to put the screwdriver inside the keyhole and turn the ignition to start the car.

Hotwiring the car: Hotwiring a car is a last resort option and should only be considered if it’s legal in your jurisdiction. Locate the two wire bundles going into the ignition switch and strip and twist the ends together. This will bypass the ignition switch, allowing you to start the car.

Additional Tips for Starting a Car with a Bad Ignition Switch

In addition to the temporary solutions mentioned above, here are a few extra tips:

  • Try turning the key in the opposite direction as a troubleshooting step.
  • Use the manual transmission in neutral, which can help start the car.
  • Watch tutorials or seek professional assistance to diagnose a no-start condition effectively.

Ignition Switch Replacement Cost

While temporary solutions can get you by, it’s important to consider replacing the faulty ignition switch. The cost of ignition switch replacement depends on factors such as the car model and the repair center. It can range from $60 to $480, taking into account the complexity of the job and the required labor.

Tips to Prevent Ignition Switch Problems

To prevent ignition switch problems in the future, consider the following tips:

  • Regularly check your car and get it inspected by professionals.
  • Keep the wires clear of corrosion and address water interference promptly.
  • Pay attention to any connection complications and replace weak connections promptly.


Dealing with a bad ignition switch can be frustrating, but temporary solutions can help you start your car in emergencies. Jumper cables, a drill, and screwdriver, or hotwiring techniques can provide a temporary workaround. However, it’s crucial to replace the faulty ignition switch as soon as possible. Regular maintenance and addressing connection issues can help prevent ignition switch problems in the future.


Yes, it is possible to replace the ignition switch yourself, but it can be a complex task that requires knowledge of car wiring and steering column disassembly. It’s recommended to seek professional assistance if you’re not experienced in such repairs.

The ignition switch is responsible for controlling the electrical power flow to the vehicle’s components, while the ignition lock cylinder is the part where the key is inserted to turn on the engine.

Yes, a faulty ignition switch can cause battery drain if it fails to cut off power to certain components when the key is turned off. This can lead to a continuously draining battery even when the car is not in use.

Temporary solutions should only be used in emergency situations. It’s recommended to replace the faulty ignition switch as soon as possible to ensure the proper functioning of your car’s electrical system.

If you’re experiencing frequent starting issues due to a bad ignition switch, it’s best to consult a professional mechanic. They can diagnose the problem accurately and recommend the appropriate solution.

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