Keys and the Ignition Switch
An ignition switch is the place you put your key when you want to turn the car on. The switch was designed a certain way to operate and if it you put too much stress on it, it will break.
We’ve all heard about the General Motors Recall on some vehicles with faulty ignition switches. It is a design defect that will cause other problems to arise, can cause a major accident where the airbag DOES NOT deploy, and in some cases death.
To check your vehicle to see if you have a recall that needs to be taken care of go to the GM Ignition Recall Safety Information page or call the service department of your local GM (Chevy, Pontiac, Buick, Oldsmobile) dealer with your VIN (Vehicle Identification) number located on your insurance card or on the registration.
A good way to prevent a good ignition switch from going bad, is to have only a few (3 at the most) on the key ring that you have your ignition key on. If you put too much weight ( a lot of keys on the same key ring), eventually you will break the ignition switch. (It’s not designed to have all that weight put on it.)
With the era of air bags in the column, which is where most of the keys are inserted into the switch, you can’t just tear apart the steering column without deploying the airbag. No one needs to get hurt. Go to a designated GM dealer or garage that can replace it safely.
Some vehicles have the ignition switch in the dashboard. In these cases, you have to go to the garage to have it replaced. If it’s a recall, call first to the GM Dealer’s service department, ask them if the car has a recall, and give them the VIN number. Then make an appointment to have it fixed.
Recalls are in place for a reason! They are replacing a bad part with a much better one! Don’t ever ignore a recall!
If you’re a mechanic, and you’re familiar with the problem and resolution, and have the education and experience to fix it, that’s different. For inexperienced folks and people who know nothing about vehicles, you need to go to a place where it can be fixed.
If you break the ignition switch, you may not be able to shut the car off. Most people panic at this point… so take a deep breath and let it out slowly a few times. Are you good now?
Okay… this is what you will do…
- Look in your owner’s manual in the glove box or console.
- Find the index (it’s usually in the back of the book)
- Find fuses
- You are looking for a picture of the fuse box.
- Find the location of the fuse box
- Look to see which location is where the ignition is (abbreviated to IGN)
- look at the book and the way the fuse box is set up
- find the actual location on the fuse panel
- use a pair of pliers to pull the fuse (you might want to wait until your home to do this)
- Make sure you put on the EMERGENCY BRAKE! Usually the car will not be able to go into PARK if you break the switch. You don’t want the car to roll away if you pull the fuse.
- Call the Dealer or the garage and tell them that you had to pull the fuse to shut off the car. Have the car towed to the garage to have it fixed.
Be aware that on some of the newer cars – this may not work! You will still have to call someone for help.
Please be careful when it comes to your ignition switch. You need to be able to drive the car from point A to B without issues. This one will stop you dead in your tracks!
Did you find this article to be informative? Did it leave you with more questions? Feel free to post a comment or a question by going to the “leave a comment” link on the top left. Thanks!