Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

What Does the Ignition Switch Warning Light Mean?

What Does the Ignition Switch Warning Light Mean?

Modern cars have multiple security measures in place to ensure that the correct key is being used to start the engine. Car keys are electronically coded specifically to work only with certain engines that have learned this code. Even if someone was able to copy the key and turn the ignition, the engine still would not start.

Without the correct key, it is very difficult to start the engine of most modern cars these days. Most vehicles have an ignition switch warning light to let you know of any problems occurring with the ignition.

What the ignition switch warning light means

Depending on the vehicle, this warning light could mean a few things. It could indicate an issue with the ignition switch or show that there is a problem with the key being used. An issue with the ignition switch is usually mechanical and it would prevent the key from turning. This may be caused by worn out tumblers, a worn out key, or if dirt and debris lodged in the mechanism prevents movement. You can try cleaning out the keyhole, but you may need to replace the switch and potentially even replace the key to fix the problem.

If this light comes on while you are driving, chances are the key can longer be verified. This is typically a computer glitch, and while rare, it can still happen. Since the key is no longer valid, it is likely that you will not be able to restart the engine once you have shut it off. Take the car immediately to an auto shop or service center where you can have the car relearn the key’s security code.

Is it safe to drive with the ignition switch warning light on?

In either situation, you should have the car checked out. While it is possible to do the key learning procedure without any special equipment, it typically requires two known, valid keys which could be difficult to gather, if you’re out and about. Any mechanical issues will also require cleaning or replacement of the ignition switch.

If you are having any troubles with your ignition switch, our certified technicians can help you diagnose any issues you may be experiencing.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details
Icon-warranty_badge-02

Skip the repair shop, our top-rated mechanics come to you.

At your home or office

Choose from 600+ repair, maintenance & diagnostic services. Our top-rated mechanics bring all parts & tools to your location.

Fair & transparent pricing

See labor & parts costs upfront, so you can book with confidence.

12-month, 12,000-mile warranty

Our services are backed by a 12-month, 12,000-mile warranty for your peace of mind.

Get A Quote

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

More related articles

Rules of the Road For Iowa Drivers
Driving on the roads requires knowledge of the rules, many of which are based on common sense and courtesy. However, even though you know the rules in...
The Traveler’s Guide to Driving in Malaysia
CraigBurrows / Shutterstock.com Malaysia is a popular destination for many tourists today. The country has amazing sights and attractions that you will want to explore....
P2428 OBD-II Trouble Code: Exhaust Gas Temperature Too High Bank 1
P2428 code definition A P2428 trouble code signifies that the PCM has detected a problem in the exhaust gas temperature sensor circuit in bank 1, which subsequently contains the number one...


Related questions

Q: Emission light with smoke out the back of car

Hi there. It really depends on the color of the smoke. If it is black then it can be a dirty air filter or a leaking fuel injector. If the smoke is white then it may have a leaking head...

Q: Battery good, maybe starter.

Hi there, I am assuming the engine is not turning over when the start/stop button is being depressed. This would possibly indicate a problem in the CAS (Car Access System). In your BMW the key transmits a code to the...

Q: Door ajar light is on and the cab lights won't turn off while driving

Hi there. From the description you have provided, this is probably the result of a failed door ajar light switch. The door ajar switch is part of the door latch assembly. It may have to be replaced as an assembly....