How to Start a Car with a Bad Ignition Switch: A Step-by-Step Guide

How To Start A Car With A Bad Ignition Switch


Have you ever found yourself in a situation where your car won’t start due to a faulty ignition switch? It can be frustrating and inconvenient, especially when you’re in a hurry. But fear not! In this article, we will guide you through the process of starting a car with a bad ignition switch, helping you get back on the road quickly and safely. Whether you’re a novice or an experienced driver, our step-by-step instructions will ensure you have the knowledge to tackle this issue with confidence.

Understanding the Ignition Switch

What is an Ignition Switch?

Before we delve into the troubleshooting steps, let’s first understand the ignition switch and its purpose. The ignition switch is a vital component in your car’s electrical system that allows you to start the engine and control various accessories. It serves as the primary interface between the car’s battery and the starter motor.

Signs of a Faulty Ignition Switch

Identifying a faulty ignition switch is crucial to resolving the issue. Some common signs include difficulty turning the key, intermittent starting problems, or no response when turning the key. Additionally, you may notice unusual electrical malfunctions, such as problems with the headlights, power windows, or radio. These indicators strongly suggest a bad ignition switch and necessitate further action.

Reasons Behind a Bad Ignition Switch

Several factors can contribute to a faulty ignition switch. Over time, wear and tear, electrical malfunctions, or a buildup of dirt and debris can hinder its proper functioning. Additionally, attempted theft or accidental damage may also result in a malfunctioning ignition switch. Understanding the root cause can help you prevent similar issues in the future.

Necessary Precautions

Before attempting to start a car with a bad ignition switch, it’s essential to prioritize safety. Taking proper precautions minimizes the risk of accidents or further damage to your vehicle.

  1. Safety Measures: Park your car in a safe and well-lit area, away from traffic. Engage the parking brake and ensure the gear is set to neutral (or park in an automatic transmission). Additionally, always wear personal protective equipment, such as gloves and safety glasses, to safeguard yourself from potential hazards.

Step-by-Step Guide: Starting a Car with a Bad Ignition Switch

Now that you’ve taken the necessary precautions, let’s dive into the step-by-step process of starting a car with a bad ignition switch. We’ll explore two methods that can help you bypass the faulty switch and get your car running again.

Method 1: Bypassing the Ignition Switch using Jumper Cables

Step 1: Preparation

To start your car using this method, you will need a set of jumper cables. Ensure that the cables are in good condition and have no exposed wires or fraying. It’s also crucial to have access to a secondary vehicle with a functioning ignition switch to serve as the power source.

Step 2: Locating the Ignition Switch

Locate the ignition switch in your car. It is typically located on the steering column, dashboard, or the side of the steering wheel. Refer to your vehicle’s manual if you are unsure about its exact location.

Step 3: Bypassing the Ignition Switch

  1. Connect one end of the positive (red) jumper cable to the positive terminal of the secondary vehicle’s battery.
  2. Attach the other end of the positive jumper cable to the positive terminal of your car’s battery.
  3. Connect one end of the negative (black) jumper cable to the negative terminal of the secondary vehicle’s battery.
  4. Important: Instead of connecting the other end of the negative jumper cable to your car’s battery, connect it to a metal part of your car’s engine block or chassis. This step ensures proper grounding and prevents potential electrical damage.
  5. Once the cables are securely connected, start the secondary vehicle and let it run for a few minutes. This will allow the electrical charge to transfer to your car’s battery.
  6. Now, attempt to start your car by turning the key in the ignition. If successful, your car should start up, and you can remove the jumper cables in reverse order, ensuring proper safety precautions.

Method 2: Using a Screwdriver to Start the Car

Step 1: Preparation

For this method, you will need a flathead screwdriver. Ensure that the screwdriver is sturdy and fits securely into the ignition switch slot.

Step 2: Starting the Car

  1. Insert the flathead screwdriver into the ignition switch slot.
  2. Gently turn the screwdriver in the same direction as you would turn the key to start the car. This action mimics the function of the ignition switch.
  3. As you turn the screwdriver, listen for any signs of the engine starting. If successful, your car should start up.
  4. Once the car has started, carefully remove the screwdriver from the ignition switch slot.

Troubleshooting Tips for Unsuccessful Attempts

If your car doesn’t start after attempting either method, there are a few additional troubleshooting steps you can take:

  • Double-check all connections to ensure they are secure.
  • Inspect the battery terminals for corrosion or loose connections. Clean or tighten them if necessary.
  • Consider seeking professional help from a mechanic or locksmith if the issue persists.

Seeking Professional Help

While these methods can be effective, it’s important to note that they are temporary solutions. It is highly recommended to consult a professional mechanic or locksmith to diagnose and repair your faulty ignition switch. They possess the expertise and tools necessary to ensure a long-term and reliable fix for your car.

Preventive Measures and Maintenance

Prevention is always better than a cure. To avoid future ignition switch issues, follow these preventive measures:

  • Regularly inspect and clean your car’s ignition switch to remove dirt and debris.
  • Avoid placing excessive weight on your keychain, as it can strain the ignition switch.
  • Schedule periodic maintenance with a qualified mechanic to identify and address any potential issues before they escalate.


Starting a car with a bad ignition switch may seem daunting, but with the right knowledge and precautions, it can be done safely. We have provided you with a step-by-step guide to help you bypass a faulty ignition switch temporarily. Remember, seeking professional assistance is always recommended for a long-term solution. By taking preventive measures and maintaining your car’s ignition switch, you can minimize the chances of encountering this issue in the future. So, the next time you face a bad ignition switch, don’t panic; follow our guide, and you’ll be back on the road in no time.

Note: This article is intended for informational purposes only. Always prioritize safety and consult a professional when dealing with car-related issues.