Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

Q: What do the different ignition switch positions do?

asked by on

What do the different ignition switch positions do?

A: Your car has several different ignition pos...

Your car has several different ignition positions. They each offer slightly different functionality. Understanding what each does is important for being able to use your vehicle correctly. Here’s what you should know:

  • Off: In this position, the engine is off, and so are your electronic accessories (unless the delay has not expired yet). You can still turn on lights (headlights, interior lights, etc.).

  • ACC: This is the accessory position. Turn the key to ACC if you want to listen to the radio, play a CD or use other accessories without cranking the engine. Be careful, though. They pull power straight from the battery.

  • On: In this position, all of the electronics should come on. This is also the position that the key will return to after cranking the engine.

  • Start: Turn the key to this position to crank the engine. Let go of the key when the engine is running and the key will return to the on position.


Don’t leave the key in the ignition with the engine off for very long. It can drain the battery.

Was this answer helpful?

Need advice from certified mechanic? Get help now!

Over 1000 mechanics are ready to answer your question.
The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Ask a Mechanic
(100% Free)

Have a car question? Get free advice from our top-rated mechanics.

Ask A Mechanic
Over 10,000 questions answered!

Get an instant quote for your car

Our certified mechanics come to you ・Backed by 12-month, 12,000-mile guarantee・Save up to 30%

Get a quote

What others are asking

Q: Car cranks, but doesn't start

Hello. A no start problem can be caused by a number of things. If it makes a noise like it wants to turn over, but doesn't, then the starter may be bad or it can be a failure in the...

Q: Car won't move out of Park

The shift interlock system on your Escape prevents the shifter from being moved out of Park, unless the ignition switch is on, and the brake pedal is depressed. The brake pedal position is detected by the brake switch, which is...

Q: What is the accessory delay?

Your car is designed to allow you to enjoy access to the audio system and other electronic accessories even after you’ve turned off the engine. The accessory delay is a feature that allows you to use your accessories, including the...

Related articles

What Causes Hoses to Leak?
While the largest part of your engine is mechanical, hydraulics plays a significant role. You’ll find fluids at work in a number of different areas. Your car's fluids include: Engine oil Transmission...
How Long Does a Heater Control Valve Last?
Keeping the right amount of coolant in a car is essential in keeping the engine at the right temperature. Failing to have the right amount of coolant or even bad elements...
P2103 OBD-II Trouble Code: Throttle Actuator Control Motor Circuit High
P2103 means there is a fault with the throttle actuator control motor circuit, likely due to a defective electrical component or part.