How to Start Car with Bad Ignition Switch? (Signs & Tips)

Starting a car with a bad ignition switch is a serious question that leaves many car owners in confusion.  As you know, maintenance in vehicles and cars is highly recommended no matter how often you drive.

Therefore, if you have any bad component and keep up with the driving without replacing or addressing the issue it will only get worse. So it’s always important to replace the bad ignition switch timely before it damages your vehicle in any way.

However, in this article, I will tell you how to start a car with a bad ignition switch without having to brainstorm much. But first let’s break down the topic to understand better.

What is an ignition switch and how does it work?

The ignition switch is where you insert the car keys therefore it’s important to not to take it for granted. The ignition switch in the car takes care of the electric flow in the battery, starter and the ignition coil that make the spark for ignition.

So, the moment you turn on the car with the ignition key, the current flows from the battery via a wire that goes to the starter solenoid making it activate.

On the other hand, the ignition coil changes the electrical energy into heat and pressure which results in spark. When everything sync on perfect time, the combustion generates the power enough that moves your car

Signs of Bad Ignition Switch

  • Engine stalling or turning off:  The car won’t start if there is something wrong with the ignition switch. The car may crank but it will not start. The reason can be wear and tear in the ignition components. Sometimes the car will abruptly turn off while you drive.
  • They may not turn: Another sign is the key may not turn and you’ll have a hard time turning it smoothly, which is a sign of a bad ignition switch. They can even get jam inside the ignition switch.
  • Jam steering wheel: Jam steering wheel is a common sign of poor ignition switch. The reason is the ignition switch has a mechanical lock within the steering wheel for safety of the car when parked by locking steering.
  • Salient starter motor: When the car starts, there is some sound due to the starter remoter working. When there is no click sounds it is yet another sign of a bad ignition system. 
  • Dashboard lights flickering: When you see flickering dashboard light, it tells you a lot such as a bad ignition switch. Other issues can be problematic battery charge, oil change, etc.
  • Problem with accessories: If there is some problem with car accessories such as wipers, radio the reason can be interruption with the electric supply from the ignition. It’s ideal to check the ignition switch due to the indication of bad performance.

How to Start Car with Bad Ignition Switch

There are quite many ways to start the car with a bad ignition switch. Let’s find out one by one:

  • Carefully and slowly, try to turn the car key in the opposite direction, sometimes it works.
  • Try to put the car in neutral and then turn the key if your vehicle has a manual transmission.
  • Another way is to use the jumper cable. Just join one end of the cable to the positive terminal on your battery and then connect the other end to the positive terminal on someone else’s car battery (probably your friend’s).both batteries should be charged. It should work!
  • It’s odd but you can use the drill and screwdriver (it can damage the ignition system). Drill into the keyhole to insert the key into the ignition and use the screwdriver like you use a key and turn it inside the ignition system.
  • If you’re not satisfied with the aforementioned trick, use the hotwiring method. But you must priory know about hotwiring the car so that you don’t run or damage anything.
  • If that does work, it’s time to take your car to the mechanic by calling the tow truck service.

Hotwiring the Car- Here Is How You Can Do It

Before anting, learn that red wire= battery cables, brown wire= ignition cables, and yellow wire= starter cable. However, confirm it with your car user’s manual.

  • For hot wiring the car, detach the panels around the battery and unscrew the four bolts you see holding the penal down. Use a socket wrench and screwdriver.
  • Now you’ll have to cut and strip the battery, starter, and ignition wires and twist the ignition and battery cables.
  • Now you should hear the ignition sound in the car or the fuel pump starting. If not, check the wiring.
  • Now hold the starter + battery cable together for a few seconds till the car starts. After that remove the two cables from each other but make sure to keep the battery + and ignition cables twisted together.
  • Release/break the steering lock, if your car has it.


How long does the ignition switch last

The ignition switch in cars usually lasts about 5 to 7 years but it depends on many things, such as the durability, maintenance, and the model of your vehicles. It may last more than that or less than that if you treat your car with a car.

Is it possible that a bad ignition switch damages the car?

The poor current circulation and poor ignition in the switch impact the electrical system of your vehicles. 

Although the bad ignition switch does not damage the car it will certainly cause damage to the electrical system and that may promote several other related problems.  So, it’s better to fix it before it invites other issues in the car.


If your car has a bad ignition switch, consider taking your vehicle to a professional mechanic. Find Out the reason first and then replace it if it’s needed. 

Remember only indulge into the car mechanic on your own if you know about the car wiring, engine and other technical things. Otherwise, wrong wiring or bad connection can run out as expensive damage.

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