Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls
  1. Home
  2. Articles
  3. What Does the Ignition Switch Warning Light Mean?

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 Since the key is no longer valid, it is likely that you will not be able to restart the engine once you have shut it off.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

How Long Does a Fuel Filler Neck Last?
Getting gas from the pump to your gas tank is the only way to keep a car going. The fuel filler neck is a metal tube that is welded to the...
How to Transfer a Car Title in Idaho
In order to prove ownership of a car, you must have the title. However, when a car is sold, given away or inherited, the title needs...
How to Get a Louisiana Driver's Permit
s licensing program. The first step in this program is to obtain...

Related questions

Q: Brake, traction, and service lights on

Hello. If this occurred right after a brake line was fixed then there may be low brake fluid in the vehicle or there may be a pressure switch failure. I would double check the brake fluid just to see if...

Q: Q: Need to start my car after sitting for a year.

The recommendations for putting the car back into service is to remove and replace the old fuel in the fuel tank. Replace the fuel filter. Charge and test the battery and replace if needed. Change the oil and filter after...

Q: I'm getting an "Oil Pump Pressure Is Low" warning light on my dash, followed by loud tapping sounds from the engine.

The oil pressure sensor only "reads" and reports pressure. The sensor itself cannot "affect" or "set" pump pressure. If the oil pressure warning light illuminates AND there is coincident unusual engine noise, that almost undoubtedly means that oil pressure really...