6 Steps to Replace Your Car's Ignition System

Lead Image
  • 2-4 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 50-100
What You'll Need
New ignition switch
Wrenches of various sizes
Steering wheel puller

If your car fails to start then this could be due to problems with the ignition system. The ignition system is a vital component of your car and if it isn't functioning correctly then this will prevent your car from starting. If you have already inspected the starter motor and alternator then it could be due to the ignition switch. The ignition system is made up of the ignition switch and solenoid. If these are the cause of any problems with your car then you will need to find a way of fixing them. With the right tools you shouldn't have any problem fixing your car ignition system yourself.

Step 1 - Disconnect the Battery

You first need to open the cars bonnet and then locate the cars battery, if your car has a sound proofed cover then this might need to be removed first. Once you can see the battery you then need to disconnect the negative battery cable. Make sure that you start with the negative cable (black).

Now go back inside the car and unscrew the panels under the steering wheel. This will be slightly different in all cars but there are typically two different panels. This might be tricky to do at first as you need to unscrew and then carefully release the clips.

Step 2 - Remove the Steering Wheel

Take the centre cover off the steering wheel and then disconnect the horn. If your car has an airbag then this could be much more complicated. Before you actually remove the wheel you should make a mark on the spine and wheel so that you can line the wheel up properly again. Once the steering wheel bolts have been removed the steering wheel can then be removed by pulling it away from the car. If it is stuck tightly, then use the puller to remove it.

Step 3 - Remove the Switches

Remove the switches used to put your indicators on and control the wipers of your car. The techniques used to do this will vary depending on the car. Check the service manual for your car if necessary.

Step 4 - Locate the Ignition Switch

You should now be able to identify the starter switch, in which case unscrew it to gain access to it. Disconnect the wires and remove the ignition switch.

Step 5 - Remove the Cylinder

Since you will be using the same keys you will want to remove the cylinder from your old ignition switch. To do this put the key in and turn it to the locked mark. Use a screwdriver to press down the clip and then turn the key to "off" this should free the cylinder.

Step 6 - Finish the Job

Put the old cylinder into the new ignition switch and then reattach all the wires. All that's left to do is screw the ignition switch back into the housing and then attach all of the panels again. You might want to test the new ignition switch before you put everything back together though.

The ignition system is made up of several different components and any of these could be creating similar problems. It's a good idea to rule out certain causes so that you can get to the root of the real problem.