Anatomy of an Ignition Switch

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Published: 06th July 2010
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Many article on the internet talk about how to troubleshoot car-starting problems, and give you detailed steps and walkthroughs to follow. In this article I assume that you have already gone through this process and successfully pin pointed the problem to the ignition switch. I here give you the steps you need to follow in order to replace that ignition cylinder from your old ignition switch to a brand new one. Let me first tell you a little about the difference between ignition switches and the ignition cylinders. The ignition switch is one of the two components of the ignition switch assembly. The ignition switch is the visible part where you insert you car keys to start the engine. The other component in the ignition switch is an electric switch right behind the ignition cylinder. This switch is the gate between the battery and the starter motor that allows current to flow and start cause the starter relay to crank and tart the engine. Of course any of those parts could be cause your problem, but here I assume that you need to move your working ignition cylinder from the old malfunctioning ignition switch to a new one. You might want to do this if you don't want to cut brand new keys and use your old keys with the new ignition switch.

Right, let's get to it. You will need to disconnect the battery, remove the steering wheel, take out the switch, extract the ignition cylinder, insert it in the new switch and put everything back together. Easy, isn't it? Yes, it is. Here are the details.

First you disconnect the negative terminal of the battery. Having your battery disconnected, you need to uncover the steering column behind your steering wheel. Depending on your car model, the cover could be screwed of clipped. Go get that manual you never opened, and find out how to unscrew or un-clip those covers. Uncover both the top and bottom panels.

After that, left the center cover of the wheel and un-wire the horn and everything else! Make sure to take notes where every wire goes. Remove the retaining nut and the washer, and pull the wheel back.

Now comes the interesting part. This is a little tricky. The cylinder is ready for extraction. After taking out the ignition assembly, you need to insert your keys into the cylinder and turn it to locked position, depress the pin, turn the key into OFF position, return it to locked position, and pull the cylinder out of the assembly. Yes I know, it is a little hard, but you will get it after a few tries.

Now put your ignition cylinder into the new ignition switch and re assemble everything back. Of course there is a much easier and guaranteed method of repairing your ignition switch. Have a look at for more on that.

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