What comes to mind when you attempt to ignite your car, and it doesn't start?
No doubts you're either thinking of a bad battery, faulty spark plugs, no injector pulse, or a need to clean the distribution caps.
As apt as your diagnosis may seem, sometimes the problem is a faulty ignition system. Keep reading to find out how to diagnose, and bypass a lousy ignition system to start your car.
Can You Bypass the Ignition Switch Like in Movies?
Many of us can recall those action movies where the actor wrecked their cars. Then he breaks the window glass of another vehicle with their macho arms that never gets hurt and drags two or more wires from underneath the wheel. Voila, they started another person's car in no time without a car key.
If you attempt to do this in today's world, you might just be surprised. Contrary to your thoughts, what you saw in the movie wasn't a trick. It was actually doable, but this is only possible with older cars in the 1960's series. Modern cars would take longer (likely an hour if you know nothing about cars) just to open the dash itself.
You're welcome, by the way. I just saved you the embarrassment of asking your mechanic to pull wires from underneath your wheel with the hope of bypassing the ignition system.
Signs Of a Bad Ignition System
An ignition system does the job of kick-starting your car by an electric current supply across your car engine. So, how do you know when you have a faulty ignition system and not a bad battery or other causes? Your key is hard to turn. When you observe that your car key is stuck or becomes increasingly difficult to turn in the keyhole, you have a faulty ignition system.
Another way to diagnose a faulty ignition system is the absence of a starter motor sound. There's always a "clicking sound" from the starter motor whenever you attempt to kick start your car. When your ignition system is faulty, your key rotates appropriately, but you don't hear a sound from the starter motor.
A stalling vehicle is an indicator of a bad ignition system. This is when your car suddenly stops working without prior notice. While you're in transit, you'd observe that your cat engine automatically turns off without warning.
Also, when you observe that your steering wheel is stuck, you need to check the ignition system. One of the jobs of the ignition system is to lock your wheel when your car is parked. When you begin to have problems with the steering lock, a bad ignition system is a possible cause. To ascertain your diagnosis, check the ignition cylinder for maintenance.
How to Get Around a Bad Ignition Switch
There are two ways we recommend to start your car with a flawed ignition system. The first is hotwiring (works for vehicles produced before the mid-90s), and the second is a jumpstart.
How Do You Go About Hotwiring?
It's easier to access the ignition system of cars produced before the mid-'90s. This is why this method is recommended. All you have to do is to get beneath your wheel and locate the steering wheel column. Afterward, remove the plastic covering the internal parts of the car.
The moment you have removed the plastic covering, you'd see lots of wires. Find the wiring harness connector (usually located at the center of the steering column). There are several connectors beneath your wheel, and it's easy to mistake one for the other. If it helps, precheck images of what the harness connector looks like.
Next, find the wires for the battery and ignition system on the harness connector. Yellow and brown wires are related to ignition, and the red ones are for batteries. Strip down (about 1 inch) the red wires away from the insulation and twist them to each other.
Afterward, connect the ignition on/off wires to the already twisted battery wires. You'd observe that the lights on your dashboard are on, and electrical parts of your car would respond accordingly. To kick start your car, strip the starter wire by one inch and allow it to contact the already joined battery wires. Yippee, your engine is up and running.
How Do You Go About Jump Starting Your Car?
Use a portable jump starter or use another car to jumpstart your vehicle. Either with a portable jump starter or with a jumper cable connected to another car. It's pretty easy to jumpstart your vehicle. All you have to do is connect to identify the ignition coil and the battery.
Connect the positive terminal of the battery to the positive side of the ignition coil. Also, identify the starter solenoid and connect it to the positive terminal of the battery. Next, unplug the ignition switch wire from the solenoid and then short the solenoid's terminal to reach where the ignition switch connects. Can you hear your car rev?
The reason for connecting the ignition coil is to give power to the dashboard to kick start the car through the starter solenoid. Pretty easy to follow.
How to Test and Make Sure Your Ignition Switch Is Working
A bad ignition switch is not good for your vehicle. There are two ways to know that your ignition switch is bad, use a multimeter or a test light.
An ignition switch primarily supplies current to the ECU and ignition coil of your car. This means two wires stem out from your ignition switch.
When you are using a multimeter, put the ignition switch in an off position. Connect the positive probe of the multimeter to switch the power feed wire and the negative wire to any unpainted metal in your car. Next, attempt to kick start and watch out for the reading on the multimeter. Any reading less than 90% of the battery voltage means you have a faulty ignition system.
In the absence of a multimeter, you can use a 12V test light. Start by turning the key to the off position and disconnecting the module's cable connector and the starter motor solenoid's terminal. This ensures that your car doesn't start when you turn the key to the on position.
Now, turn the key to the start position. Connect the red wire to the test voltage and the ignition coil battery post. Turn the key to the start position and connect the ignition switch white wire. If your ignition switch is good, the lamplight will be turned on (otherwise, you have a bad ignition switch).
Well, that’s about it on getting around a faulty ignition switch. I should have also mentioned that you ought to get inside your car before you attempt any hotwiring. Otherwise, you would look, well, suspicious. Plus, it’s more comfortable that way!