Turning the ignition and driving off towards the setting sun is the romantic notion of being a car owner. But let’s not wander in the clouds for a while and examine a situation every driver encounters at some point – the moment when you turn the ignition and nothing happens. Of course, entering panic mode is a natural reaction, but if you resist the temptation and somehow manage to keep your head on your shoulders, you’ll often find that the reason is far more trivial than you might think. In fact, it might be something from this list:
- Make sure that you have the right key
The first thing an IT tech support agent will tell you is to check whether your computer is plugged in if it doesn’t start. A similar principle applies to cars – always check that the key you’re trying to use is truly the right one (and that you’re sitting in the right vehicle to begin with). This is especially true if you live with a spouse or a roommate and your keys look similar. As trivial as it sounds, this should always be the first thought to cross your mind.
- Wiggle the steering wheel
There is a protection mechanism designed to protect the car against thieves – in other words, if the key is not inserted, a thief has no control over the steering wheel. Sometimes when you park the car and turn off the engine, you may subconsciously steer the car a little bit to the left or to the right, which locks the steering wheel. Therefore, the next step is to simply wiggle it a bit left and right to see if that fixes the problem.
- Check if the key is worn out
Sometimes, the engine may not start because of wear and tear. Here’s an interesting fact: every single time you use your car keys, you not only wear them out a little bit, but the ignition cylinders just as well. If this turns out to be the case, a locksmith will help you install a new lockset and repair the keys if needed.
- Replace the ignition switch
While this may be a job for a mechanic, if you don’t mind getting your hands dirty, you might want to go ahead and decide to replace the ignition switch if it’s worn out. The reason why this happens could lie in temperature problems, switch contacts, or broken springs. Getting it fixed is more important than many people imagine; driving with a damaged ignition switch is dangerous, because the engine may turn off all of a sudden.
- Replace the battery
When using multiple car keys or a damaged one, the system can get confused and get an incorrect key code, thus preventing the engine from starting. There might be an electrical failure in your car, so you should consider replacing the battery when all else fails. Again, unless you know the car’s electrical system inside and out, this is probably better left for a professional to fix.
As you can see, there are plenty of things you can do if the ignition won’t budge. While some are completely trivial, others require a bit of knowledge on your part or the assistance of a qualified professional. Whatever the case may be, try to keep calm if this happens and go down the list in chronological order until something clicks.