How To Start A Car With A Bad Ignition Switch? Full GUIDE

How To Start a Car With a Bad Ignition Switch – Are you familiar with the frustration of trying to start your car and it simply won’t cooperate? It’s a common issue that many drivers face, especially when dealing with a bad ignition switch. This particular problem is often seen in older cars with conventional keys, and it can be a major inconvenience.

But what if there was a way to start your car without having to fix the faulty switch?

In this blog post, we’ll show you how to start a car with a bad ignition switch using a simple and easy method that doesn’t require any repairs.

How To Start a Car With a Bad Ignition Switch

Keep reading to learn more about jump-starting your car with a bad ignition switch.

By learning how to recognize the signs of a bad ignition switch, you can address the issue promptly and avoid further complications.

Signs Of a Bad Ignition Switch

Dealing with a bad ignition switch in your car can be frustrating and inconvenient.

But how do you know if your ignition switch is the culprit? Look out for these common signs of a bad ignition switch:

Signs Of a Bad Ignition Switch

  1. THE VEHICLE CAN NOT START: If you turn the key in the ignition and the car cranks but won’t start, there may be an ignition problem. This could be due to wear and tear of internal ignition components.
  2. CAR KEY HARD TO TURN: Difficulty turning the key is another sign of a bad ignition switch. If the key gets stuck or is hard to turn, it could indicate major damage.
  3. VEHICLE STALLING OR TURNING OFF: If your car suddenly stalls or turns off during a drive, it may be due to a faulty ignition switch. This often happens when the key is in the ‘on’ position.
  4. NO SOUND OF THE STARTER MOTOR: When you turn the key in the ignition and there is no click sound, it could be a sign of a bad ignition system.
  5. STUCK STEERING WHEEL: A hard-to-turn steering wheel could indicate a problem with the ignition switch. Additionally, if your car starts and then dies, it could be due to faulty spark plugs caused by a bad ignition system.
  6. VEHICLE ACCESSORIES ISSUES: Disrupted electric supply from the ignition can cause issues with car accessories like the radio or wipers. While this could be caused by other factors, it’s best to have your vehicle checked.

How To Start Car With Bad Ignition Switch?

Having trouble starting your car due to a faulty ignition switch can be frustrating and inconvenient. However, there are several methods you can employ to get your vehicle running, even with a bad ignition switch.

We’ll discuss various techniques—from the drill and screwdriver method to hotwiring and using jumper cables—to help you start your car in such situations.

The Drill and Screwdriver Method

One way to bypass the ignition switch and start your car involves using the drill and screwdriver method. However, it’s essential to note that this technique can potentially cause damage to your car’s ignition system.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Drill into the keyhole: Insert the drill into the keyhole to a similar depth as a regular key entering the ignition. This action may damage the internal pins of the ignition system.
  • Use a screwdriver: After drilling, use a screwdriver in a manner akin to a key. Insert the screwdriver into the ignition and turn it to ignite the car.

While this method may work, it’s crucial to understand that it can lead to further damage to your vehicle’s ignition system, potentially resulting in additional expenses.

Hotwiring the Car

Another approach to starting a car with a faulty ignition switch involves hotwiring. This technique requires some familiarity with the process and should only be attempted on a vehicle you own or with the owner’s permission.

Steps to hotwire a car:

  • Gain access to the wiring: Identify the necessary wires under the dashboard.
  • Connect the wires: Carefully connect the appropriate wires to bypass the ignition switch and initiate the car’s ignition process.

Hotwiring can be effective, but it’s important to exercise caution and avoid attempting it on a vehicle without proper authorization.

Using Jumper Cables

Jumper cables offer another method to start a car with a bad ignition switch. This method involves a series of steps that can be followed to get your vehicle running:

  • Open the car hood: Locate the battery and ignition coil.
  • Connect the cables: Use jumper cables to link the positive terminal of the battery to the coil’s positive side.
  • Connect the starter solenoid: Attach it to the battery’s positive terminal.
  • Remove ignition wiring: Disconnect the ignition wiring from the solenoid.
  • Short the solenoid: Use a screwdriver to short the solenoid’s positive terminal to the point where the ignition switch connects.

These steps, when executed properly, can help start the car. However, it’s important to note that improper use of jumper cables can cause electrical damage, so proceed with caution.

How Do You Test an Ignition Switch?

An ignition switch plays a critical role in the proper functioning of a vehicle’s electrical system. When this component malfunctions, it can lead to a myriad of issues.

We’ll discuss methods to effectively test an ignition switch using tools like a multimeter or a test light.

How To Start a Car With a Bad Ignition Switch

Testing with a Multimeter

Step-by-Step Process:

  1. Preparation: Begin by positioning the switch to the OFF position.
  2. Multimeter Setup: Connect the positive probe of the multimeter to the switch’s power feed wire. Simultaneously, link the negative probe to any unpainted metal surface within the car.
  3. Key Positioning: Turn the key to the RUN position and set the multimeter to measure voltage.
  4. Reading Voltage: Take note of the voltage reading displayed on the multimeter. If the result indicates less than 90% of the battery voltage, it could signify a potential fault in the ignition switch.

This method provides an accurate measurement of voltage flow through the switch, offering insights into its operational status.

Testing with a Test Light

Step-by-Step Process:

If a multimeter isn’t available, utilizing a 12 V test light presents an alternative method for testing the ignition switch:

  1. Initial Steps: Start by turning the key to the OFF position.
  2. Cable Disconnection: Disconnect the cable connector from the module and subsequently detach the starter motor solenoid’s S terminal to prevent engine cranking.
  3. Test Light Setup: Turn the key to the RUN position. Connect the red wire to the test light’s voltage source and repeat the process at the ignition coil’s battery post. Then, while positioning the key to the start position, connect the ignition switch white wire.
  4. Observation: If the ignition switch is functioning correctly, the test light should illuminate. However, if the light fails to turn on, it indicates a faulty switch.

Regularly testing your vehicle’s ignition switch using either a multimeter or a test light helps ensure its proper functionality. A malfunctioning ignition switch can lead to various electrical issues, affecting the overall performance of your car.

Diagnosing and resolving ignition switch problems promptly can prevent further complications and contribute to the overall reliability and safety of your vehicle on the road.

How To Fix a Bad Ignition Switch?

Are you dealing with a bad ignition switch in your car? One common problem related to the ignition switch is the steering wheel safety lockout, which prevents the steering wheel from turning when the key is in the OFF position.

This can be frustrating, especially when you need to turn the engine wheel and your engine is off.

To release the steering wheel lock, you’ll need to turn the steering wheel and turn the ignition key at the same time.

Another issue that can arise is if dirt and debris get inside the ignition switch, causing the key to become stuck and not turn. In this case, the lock gets jammed and cannot release the steering wheel.

To fix this, you can try using a rust remover product and applying it through the keyhole with a pressure nozzle.

If these methods don’t work, you can try gently tapping the key with a light hammer. However, be careful not to break the key in the switch.

How To Fix a Bad Ignition Switch

Steps for replacing the ignition lock cylinder:

  1. Professional Assistance: Seek the help of a qualified automotive technician or locksmith experienced in ignition switch replacement.
  2. Procure the Correct Parts: Acquire a new ignition lock cylinder compatible with your vehicle’s make and model.
  3. Installation Process: The technician will disassemble the existing switch, remove the faulty cylinder, and install the new one correctly.
  4. Testing and Verification: Ensure the newly installed ignition lock cylinder functions smoothly and resolves the previous issues.

Can a car still start with a bad ignition switch?

A bad ignition switch won’t be able to supply power to the starter motor, ignition system, and other engine controls, preventing the engine from starting.

Keep in mind, however, that engine issues may also be caused by other electrical and mechanical problems, such as a dead battery or a faulty starter solenoid.

How do you bypass a bad ignition switch?

To bypass a bad ignition switch, connect the positive terminal of the battery to the positive side of the ignition coil. Also, identify the starter solenoid and connect it to the positive terminal of the battery.

Next, unplug the ignition switch wire from the solenoid and then short the solenoid’s terminal to reach where the ignition switch connects.

Can a car start without an ignition switch?

It is possible to start a car without an ignition switch, but it would require bypassing the security measures in place. Please note that this method involves connecting the ignition wire to a hot wire (positive) like one that goes to the headlights or cigarette lighter.

However, attempting this bypass is not recommended due to security concerns and potential damage to the vehicle’s electrical system.

How do I know if it’s my starter or ignition switch?

If the starter motor fails to make any noise when you turn the ignition key fully to activate your car, there’s a chance that there’s something wrong with the vehicle’s ignition switch.

The lack of any noise when attempting to start the engine can indicate an issue with the ignition switch rather than the starter.

How easy is it to fix an ignition switch?

Replacing an ignition switch yourself is possible but not an easy task. It involves removing the steering wheel and working close to the airbag, which can pose safety risks.

If you’re not confident or comfortable with this procedure, it’s advisable to seek the help of a professional mechanic.

what happens when the ignition switch goes out?

A faulty ignition switch can cause problems when starting the engine, keeping it running, or engaging other systems when the key is turned. Issues with turning the key itself might also arise.

Most often, wear and tear due to thousands of key cycles and heavy keychains is the primary cause of ignition switch failure.


In the realm of car ownership, regular maintenance is paramount to ensure optimal functionality. However, despite meticulous upkeep, unforeseen issues can arise—especially with older models featuring conventional keys.

A prevalent challenge encountered in such cases is a bad ignition switch, causing frustration when the car fails to start, particularly during time-sensitive situations.

Exploring ways to start a car with a bad ignition switch and understanding the potential causes of this malfunction can be invaluable.

When attempting to start your car and encountering failure, various thoughts might cross your mind—from concerns about a faulty battery, problematic spark plugs, or issues with injector pulse to the necessity of cleaning distribution caps.

While these diagnoses are reasonable, sometimes the underlying issue lies within a faulty ignition system.

The key lies in understanding how to diagnose and bypass a problematic ignition system to initiate your car.

Learning how to start a car with a bad ignition switch can be a game-changer in critical moments, offering a temporary solution until professional assistance is sought or necessary repairs are made.

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