Ignition Lock Cylinder
Your ignition lock cylinder is a safety feature designed to protect the vehicle from car thieves. It doesn’t allow for starting the engine until the right key is used. The ignition lock cylinder acts similar to your door lock, but instead of opening the door with the right key, it allows you to turn the ignition key to start the engine. It features a set of spring-loaded pins which block the lock cylinder until they are perfectly lined up with the right key inserted.
While some people mistakenly think that an ignition lock cylinder and an ignition switch are interchangeable devices, they are completely different parts that serve different purposes. The lock cylinder allows your key to slide into it, unblocking the turning mechanism, whereas, the switch supplies power to the vehicle when it is engaged. These two ignition components usually come separately.
A faulty lock cylinder can lead to a number of ignition related problems. Here are just to name a few of them:
You can’t turn the key
If one or more spring-loaded pins wear out or get damaged, you’ll not be able to insert the key or it will fail to turn.
You need to put a lot of force to turn the key
This is a sign of failing spring-loaded pins. You should replace the ignition lock cylinder as soon as possible to prevent its complete failure.
Anti-theft light comes on
On some vehicles, an ignition lock cylinder is a part of a built-in anti-theft system. If the lock cylinder fails, the anti-theft warning light should turn on.
Ignition lock cylinder replacement
- In some cases, ignition problems can be caused by a worn-out ignition key. If you have a new one, try it before replacing your ignition lock cylinder.
- If it’s difficult to turn the ignition key, you may try to clean or lubricate the mechanism with WD-40.
- Replacing a faulty ignition lock cylinder should be left to your mechanic. In many cases this involves deactivating the airbag, which must be done by a professional.