Starting a vehicle takes a collaborative effort between a number of small, yet important parts, with one of them being an ignition. When you put your key or fob into the ignition of your vehicle, an electrical process is activated that sends a signal to the fuel and engine system to turn on the vehicle. Without this signal, the other parts of the vehicle will not respond. Consequently, if you are experiencing an operational issue with your car, the ignition could be the culprit.
Key Won't Move
Problems with an ignition don't just generally happen out of the blue. Issues with this feature are typically the result of wear and tear and, as a result, slowly progress over time. One of the early warning signs of an issue is a key that won't turn. For instance, you put your key or fob in the ignition, but you can't turn it to actually power on the vehicle.
Particularly if you insert the key into the ignition forcibly, you can cause small indentations to form inside the ignition that prevents the key or fob from fitting correctly. If the key does not fit perfectly, the car will not start. Replacing the ignition will resolve the problem.
Failure to Start
One of the more definite red flags that signal an issue with your ignition, is when the vehicle won't start-up. As previously mentioned, the ignition must transmit the signal to the engine to crank and turnover. Therefore, the engine won't even crank if the ignition has failed.
You can use this factor to your advantage to help distinguish this issue from a low battery. When a battery is low, the engine will sometimes at least attempt to crank but not fully turn over. If you don't hear anything when you try to turn the car on, it's highly likely that the ignition is to blame.
Another red flag you should look out for is a vehicle that stalls while you are driving. An important thing to remember about the ignition is that it doesn't just send the signal to the engine at start-up. The engine relies on an ongoing transmission of the signal to keep it operational.
In the event the ignition fails while you're driving, the signal to the engine will also cease and cause the car to stall. If the ignition switch has not completely failed, you might be able to restart the vehicle in order to drive it to a repair shop. Otherwise, you will need to have the vehicle towed.
Problems with an ignition are not always easy to detect. Visit an auto repair professional who can look over your car and tell you more.