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 Since the key is no longer valid, it is likely that you will not be able to restart the engine once you have shut it off.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

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.


More related articles

P0222 OBD-II Trouble Code: Throttle/Pedal Position Switch/Sensor B Circuit Low Input
P0222 code definition Throttle/Pedal Position Switch/Sensor B Circuit Low Input What the P0222...
Insurance Requirements for Car Registration in Kentucky
The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet requires that all drivers in Kentucky carry liability automotive insurance, or “financial responsibility” in order to operate a vehicle legally and maintain vehicle...
Veteran and Military Driver Laws and Benefits in Idaho
The state of Idaho offers a number of benefits and perks for those Americans who have either served in an Armed Forces branch in the...

Related questions

Q: What does the Seat Belt Reminder warning light mean?

The Seat Belt Reminder warning light is located on the instrument panel. When either the driver or the front passenger is not wearing their seat belt, the Seat Belt Reminder warning light will illuminate. Once the vehicle starts moving, the...

Q: Gas not going through new filter

If you have recently installed a new fuel filter, ensure that the filter was installed correctly. Fuel filters are only designed for the fuel to flow in one direction. If the fuel filter was installed backwards, this will prevent the...

Q: My aura shakes when it starts saying "service traction" what is it?

Hello, thank you for writing in. At this point there are a lot of possible causes for your vehicle's symptoms. To gather more information, we need to start with having the vehicle scanned for diagnostic troubleshooting codes. This can be...