If your key chain is full of every bauble that you found at the local art fair, you could be damaging your car and not even knowing it. Your ignition switch is a delicate assembly of tumblers that your key fits into just right. When you have your key chain weighted down with a bunch of unneeded extras, you throw of that delicate balance and start harming the ignition switch causing it to fail and you to be stranded in a parking lot somewhere. Lighten up the load on your ignition switch by removing the excessive amount of key chains and unneeded items hanging from it.
As difficult as it may be to part with that rabbit’s foot, or the keepsake ornament from that ’05 trip to Cancun…or the two separate keys to your fifth cousin’s vacation house in Santa Fe (don’t forget the dead bolt!) – the time has come: Get an early start on your key chain cleaning and remove any non-essential items; better yet, attach your ignition key to a separate ring that is part of the main key chain, and detach the ignition-only key ring when preparing to drive.
Some background: Because the federal government mandates the design of ignition switches (in order to prevent auto theft), the switches on most cars are quite similar; they are also mass produced by companies seeking to keep production costs low. The result is the use of relatively cheap bits or component parts found in the ignition. These bits are somewhat fragile, and when you pit them against, say, a pair of two-inch solid bronze initials hanging on a key chain, well, it’s easy to predict who might win that battle.
Keep in mind that maintaining a reasonable size key chain is a safety issue as well as a cost issue. While a damaged ignition switch can mean a costly repair, a broken switch can also cause the engine to shut off in the middle of a drive. Aside from serving as a locking and theft prevention mechanism, your ignition operates as an electrical switch that allows you to start – and continue to operate – the engine. Damaged ignition bits can ‘go’ at any time, including the middle of a drive.
A sure way to tell if your ignition switch is damaged and showing signs of wear is when you turn your key does it stick, or do you have to wiggle it to get your car to start? Also, it may start to stick in the ignition switch and not be easily removed. If you have these symptoms, bring your car in to Express Auto to have your ignition switch inspected before you get stranded somewhere!