Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Steering Column Actuator

Schedule Brake Pad Replacement
Service Area

$124.62 - $450.29

Price range for all vehicles
Average rating from 10,732 customers who received a Brake Pads Replacement.

Prior to the addition of electronic ignition controls on today's modern cars, the steering column actuator was the primary component that ensured your key stayed inside the ignition and didn't fall out. For people who own vehicles produced prior to 2007, this component can be troublesome; breaking when you least expect or can afford it to happen. There are a few symptoms that you can recognize that will give you some early signs that an issue with your steering column actuator is developing, so you can replace your steering column actuator before it causes serious problems.

How does the steering column actuator work?

It's important to understand what this part does so you can recognize the warning signs we'll document below. Every time you insert the key into an ignition switch, there are multiple mechanical levers (or tumblers) located inside the steering column that work together to engage the ignition switch. One of these parts is a metal rod and a link that triggers an electrical signal to your engine starter and keeps your key securely locked inside the ignition switch. This is the steering column actuator.

Noted below are a few of the warning signs and symptoms that may indicate that a problem with your steering column actuator exists.

1. Difficulty starting the car

When you turn the key on your ignition, it draws power from the battery and sends a signal to the starter to activate the process. However, if you turn your key and nothing happens, it's a solid indication that an issue with your steering column actuator exists. If you attempt to turn the key and it take a few times for the starter to activate, this is also a sign that the actuator is starting to wear out and needs to be replaced.

2. Key can be taken out of ignition switch anytime

As we indicated above, the steering actuator is a locking mechanism that keeps your key solid while it's inside your ignition switch. At no time should your key be able to move. If you are able to remove your key from the ignition while the key is engaged in the start or accessory position, this means that the steering column actuator is broken.

If this occurs, you need to refrain from operating your vehicle immediately and contact a local ASE Certified mechanic to replace the steering column actuator and inspect other steering column components to ensure nothing else is broken.

2. No resistance on the key

When you insert the key into your ignition and press the key forward, you should feel some resistance to the key; especially when you're in "start mode". If you're able to go directly to the "start mode" without feeling some sort of resistance; it's a good indicator that a problem with the steering column actuator exists.

If you notice this warning signs, make sure to contact a local ASE certified mechanic so you can have this looked at, diagnosed and repaired. If the steering column actuator breaks, your car will become unsafe to drive.

4. Overheating ignition switch

A bad ignition switch or broken steering column actuator will also generate heat due to overheating in the electrical current. If you notice that your key and ignition switch is warm to the touch, this is also a potentially dangerous situation that should be examined by a professional mechanic.

5. Pay attention to dashboard lights

Natural wear and tear will eventually cause your steering column actuator to break. When this occurs, it can happen without warning signs like we've listed above. However, since this item is hooked up to the electrical system on your dashboard, you'll know whether it's working if some dashboard lights turn on when you turn the ignition switch. On many older cars, the Brake Light, Oil Pressure Light or the Battery Light will turn on as soon as you turn the key. If you turn the ignition and these lights do not illuminate, it's a good sign that the switch is wearing out – or may be broken.

Anytime you recognize any of the above warning symptoms of a bad or failing steering column actuator, don't hesitate or delay; contact a local ASE certified mechanic to inspect and repair this issue before driving the vehicle.


Next Step

Schedule Brake Pad Replacement

The most popular service booked by readers of this article is Brake Pad Replacement. Yourmechanic’s technicians bring the dealership to you by performing this job at your home or office 7 days a week between 7AM-9PM. We currently cover over 10k cities and have 100k+ 5-star reviews... LEARN MORE

SEE PRICING & SCHEDULING

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Recent Brake Pad Replacement reviews

Excellent Rating


YourMechanic Brake Pad Replacement Service

Average Rating

4.9/5

Number of Reviews

10,732

Rating Summary
10,227
323
67
33
82
10,227
323
67
33
82

Rigoberto

9 years of experience
706 reviews
Rigoberto
9 years of experience
Chevrolet Equinox - Brake Pads Replacement (Rear) - Niles, Illinois
Rigo was great! He got there early, finished the job early, left everything clean. He changed my rear pads and rotors. The original quoted time was 90 minutes, he was done in about 60. He knows what he is doing and I am recommending him to all my friends and coworkers.
Mercedes-Benz C250 - Brake Pads Replacement (Front, Rear) - Chicago, Illinois
Rigo is a maverick hands down. Don’t take your car for work elsewhere. Especially great at Mercedes—this guy knows his profession! I will be using him for everything related to my car going forward.

Arturo

25 years of experience
35 reviews
Arturo
25 years of experience
Kia Forte - Brake Pads Replacement (Front) - San Diego, California
ARTURO is great! very professional , fast, replaced my front brake pads and oil an filter change. everything now works and works well. Brakes have much improved stopping power and engine is smooth and quiet.Arturo is also kind and thoughtful. "Your mechanic" is very fortunate to have Arturo Lopez represent your company. I enthusiastically recommend him and "Your mechanic> as a fine operation Best regards to the Team Peter Marto
Nissan Maxima - Brake Pads Replacement (Front, Rear) - San Diego, California
Arturo was prompt and completed my brake repair, including new rotors in a very efficient manner. I am very pleased with the quality of the work and the parts and will definitely look to have him service our other car in the near future.

Scott

32 years of experience
345 reviews
Scott
32 years of experience
Lexus IS250 - Brake Pads Replacement (Rear) - Denver, Colorado
Always on time, speedy, professional, and pleasant to interact with. The work is always consistent and we'll done. I can't reccomend Scott highly enough!

Michael

10 years of experience
15 reviews
Michael
10 years of experience
Nissan Sentra - Brake Pads Replacement (Front) - Conyers, Georgia
He was promptly on time and got the job done efficiently in a timely manner. I really appreciate the rapid respone on getting the job done! I would most definitely use this service again.

Need Help With Your Car?

Our certified mobile mechanics make house calls in over 2,000 U.S. cities. Fast, free online quotes for your car repair.

GET A QUOTE