The Automobile Basics: Ignition Lock Cylinder
- The Ignition Lock Cylinder is the keyhole wherein your car keys go into to turn the ignition switch on. It contains the pattern that your key is molded from, allowing only you, the key holder, to turn it on.
- The common symptoms or problems given by a bad ignition lock cylinder are the following: (1) Ignition switch not turning, (2) Issues with turning the key, and (3) Car not starting.
- Finding the perfect fit is impeccable, utilize CarParts.com’s filters and find the one most readily available and perfect for your car to ensure a hassle-free repair.
Before the release and mass production of the keyless “Push to Start” vehicles that started just recently, keys were needed to be inserted into the ignition chamber and turned in order to start a car. These keys and ignition switches acted the same way padlocks do now. It exists in order to deter thieves and other unwanted personnel from entering and actually stealing your car. Car doors are the first line of defense your cars have against them; however, when these features get bypassed or compromised, the ignition lock cylinder serves as a second line of defense. You may lose your personal belongings, but the main purpose of such part is to prevent the loss of the car itself.
What is an Ignition Lock Cylinder?
When you look at your car and decide to start your engine, the muscle memory that was embedded into you is to grab your key, insert it into the keyhole resting behind your steering wheel, and turn it. That keyhole (and the small parts within it) is an important part of your ignition switch as it serves as the mechanism that prevents unwanted people from using your car. This component is the Ignition Lock Cylinder.
The Ignition Lock Cylinder is an assembly that consists of an ignition switch tumbler and an equivalent set of keys. It is a mechanical part that functions much like the components inside a lock. It contains wharves and ridges that match your key, making it possible for you to turn the ignition switch.
Common Ignition Lock Cylinder Problems
All locks experience wear and tear, some experience physical damage due to attempts to get into your car. If the latter did not happen to you any time recently, listed below are the common problems you may encounter due to wear and tear;
Ignition Switch not turning
If this happens, it’s either your keys have dulled down through use, or the other way around. Friction happens every time you insert and remove the key from the ignition switch. This causes the eventual dulling of both parts that come in contact with each other. If and when you realize that your key won’t turn despite using the right one, do not use force to turn it, as the key might break. Be mindful of this as it may leave you with both a broken ignition lock cylinder and key.
Issues with inserting the key
The possible explanations for your key not gliding smoothly into your ignition switch is that either your key is damaged, meaning it was bent unknowingly, or a hard object dulled and bent a ridge. Another culprit is a broken ignition lock cylinder, while the worst-case scenario is that a small part of your key chipped. To be safe, be sure to examine both your key and the lock and determine which one is problematic.
The ignition lock cylinder is attached to the electronic ignition switch, the part that reads the code in your key and “tells” the electronics in your car to start. These two work together to start and power the vehicle. Please note, though, that your car not starting might be caused by many other things. The best way to address a problem like this is to have your car checked by the nearest mechanic.
These problems often compound with each other, meaning there might be a chance that the ignition lock cylinder is not the only problematic part, and even that it isn’t the problem at all. It would be wise to run a full diagnostics on your car first before replacing certain parts one by one.
This is important especially if you find out that the key is the actual problem. If that would be the case, then a mechanic and an ignition lock cylinder replacement wouldn’t be the cheapest solution for you but rather a professional locksmith.
Choosing an ignition lock cylinder
Choosing the right ignition lock cylinder for your vehicle is very important because keeps it safe from theft. If the wrong ignition key is inserted into the cylinder, it's impossible to release the lock from the steering wheel. Also, the ignition lock cylinder has an electrical component which supplies power to your vehicle's windshield wipers, radio, power windows, and starter motor. Without it, you won't be able to start the engine.
Find the Right Fit
Looking for the right replacement ignition lock cylinder to fit your vehicle is important. When you find the right replacement part, make sure to check the assembly before purchasing it. It's best to check your vehicle's service manual to know the correct part type and number. A properly fitted and installed ignition lock cylinder provides a smooth start for the vehicle's engine.
Safety is the Key
Safety should be your top priority and with the right ignition key, the vehicle's engine should start without hitches. In the event of attempted theft, a good quality ignition lock cylinder can guarantee security and protection by locking the steering wheel. Make it a habit to check product reviews before choosing a brand. Always choose the manufacturer with the best reputation for quality and durability.
Die-cast vs Stainless Steel
Ignition lock cylinders are commonly made from die-cast steel for durability. Chrome or bezeled die-cast metal is also a material of choice but the most durable is stainless steel. Ignition lock cylinders made from stainless steel prove to be stronger and more durable. Pick a product made from the highest grade materials to ensure durability and proper function.
Depending on your vehicle's make, ignitions lock cylinders are good anti-theft deterrents as well as being integral to the vehicle's power supply system. Shop, ask, or read reviews before purchasing anything. If you decide to buy a replacement part, make sure that it's reliable, durable, and easy to install. It all boils down to getting an ignition lock cylinder that will keep you, and your vehicle, safe and sound.
How Much is an Ignition Lock Cylinder Replacement?
An Ignition Lock Cylinder costs about $6.50 to $595. This would depend on whether you would want an OEM or an OE Replacement, and whether you would like to purchase one that includes a key or not. Finding the right ignition lock cylinder matters, especially if compromise is not an option that you would like to consider. Luckily, CarParts.com offers a simple solution to the tedious task of finding the perfect Ignition Lock Cylinder for you and your car. Simply provide your car’s information (year, model, make) on the filters, and let the site do the work.
If you're looking for information about ignition lock cylinder replacement, you may read our article here.