How to Replace an Ignition Switch

Posted by on Nov 18, 2014 in Locksmith

ignition switchPeople decide to replace the ignition switch in their cars for a wide range of reasons. It may not be working properly anymore, or you may discover that there is some sort of issue with the key. Sometimes you simply want to change the key for the ignition, although that task may be difficult, as you will probably need some sort of microchip in most modern cars. No matter the reason, it is possible to replace the ignition switch in any car, and you can either have it done by a professional or attempt to do the job yourself.

Removing the Steering Wheel

Sometimes you will need to remove the steering wheel in order to replace the ignition switch, and in this case, the task will be very complicated and you should be familiar with both locks and auto mechanics. Otherwise, it is best left to a professional. If you choose to do the task yourself, however, you will want to follow these steps.

First you will have to take off the steering wheel, so park your car ensuring that the wheel and tires are both straight. Turn off the battery before firmly removing the horn pad. You will then disconnect the wire (which is behind your horn button). If your wheel has airbags, you need to wait at least a half-hour after disconnecting the battery to continue. You will then remove the recessed screws (2) within the column, slide off the assembly for the airbag, and unplug the airbag before disconnecting the horn. At this point, those with or without airbags will take the rubber cylinder off the adapter, take off the nut and washer, slide off the wheel, take the screws (3) from the stalk, unscrew then remove the plastic housing, remove the stalks, and take off the plastic collar. You can now take off the bolt on the left side and bottom of your dashboard and slide out your ignition switch assembly, unplugging the wires as you do. Remove the small screw to slide out the switch, put some grease on the new ignition switch, plug it in, slide it in, and put the steering wheel back.

Without Removing the Steering Wheel

The process of replacing your ignition switch will obviously be significantly easier if you don’t have to remove the steering wheel. Unfortunately, if you want to go this route, you will have to replace the lock cylinder within the ignition switch, and not the entire switch itself. This is fine in some cases, but others require the entire process mentioned above. To change the lock cylinder, you will need to disconnect the negative battery terminal. Then you can put the ignition key in the cylinder and turn it onto “accessory” before putting a straightened paper clip in the cylinder’s hold by the key slot’s base and keeping it there while turning your key toward off. You can now take the out the old lock cylinder before replacing it with the new one. Secure it by turning it back to “off.”

Hiring a Professional To Replace an Ignition Switch

Looking at the instructions, it becomes clear that your need to replace an ignition switch is an incredibly complicated task. Even if you are simply replacing its locking cylinder, there is a great deal of room for error. As such, it is a good idea to hire a professional locksmith who specializes in cars. While you may think you will save money by doing the replacement yourself, if you damage your car (which is likely when inexperienced), you will end up spending even more.


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