What is the Task of The Ignition Lock?
The car can be switched on and off using the ignition lock. This happens because the battery is only released when the ignition lock is activated and all systems are supplied with energy.
In the gasoline engine, this is primarily the ignition coil and in the diesel engine, it is the fuel pump. The starter, which engages in the ring gear of the clutch and compresses the fuel-air mixture in the cylinders via the rotation of the crankshaft, is also operated via the ignition lock.
The aerosol heats up and can be ignited or, in the case of the diesel itself, ignites. Finally, the immobilizer and the steering wheel lock are implemented via the ignition lock installation.
Which Problems Can Arise?
Ignition lock defects are usually of a mechanical nature. After all, it is a rotatable cylinder with grooves and tongues. In the course of time, insufficient lubrication can lead to the ignition lock jamming and ultimately no longer being able to be moved with the ignition key.
This often happens when there is play due to wear and tear and parts jam. Many drivers then try to use force to solve the problem. Either the ignition key in the ignition lock can be torn off or the housing of the downstream ignition switch can be damaged. In both cases, it is essential to change the ignition lock or the ignition starter switch.
Frost damage caused by penetrating water is less common but just as annoying. If the air humidity is high, the water in the ignition lock can condense, freeze overnight and block the ignition lock.
If you suspect this error, warm air will help at least to combat the symptoms. Those who use violence instead can also tear off the keys. After all, it is also necessary to change the ignition lock if the ignition key is lost and no replacement is available.
How do I Change the Ignition Lock?
The ignition lock is usually on the steering column. Depending on the vehicle, the airbag, the steering wheel, and the steering column switch may have to be removed in order to have enough space for the change. Start by disconnecting the battery.
The airbag can then be unscrewed by an expert. There are pullers for the steering wheel itself and the steering column switches are either also located on the steering spindle or are inserted into a holding housing. Any disruptive cladding must of course also be removed.
All in all, dismantling requires specialist knowledge and a steady hand, because the connector cables must not be damaged. If the ignition lock is exposed, you can see that it is inserted in a metal housing and cannot be easily pulled out.
There are two ways to get the steering lockout of the housing. If you can still turn the lock a little, then you first remove any sensor from the electronic immobilizer and turn the ignition lock to its removal position. It’s a matter of feeling because you can now push a thin wire into a small hole next to the ignition key and remove part of the lock.
The part that is still in the metal housing must now also be removed individually in fiddly detailed work. If, on the other hand, the ignition key in the ignition lock has broken off, you can only drill open the housing that holds it. This happens at a point where the holding spring of the lock sits.
With a screwdriver or an Allen key, you can press the spring down and pull the ignition lock forward. Of course, this work is only possible if you know the exact location for the drilling. Our recommendation is therefore to have the ignition lock changed in the workshop.
Can you Remove the Ignition Lock Yourself?
Unfortunately, removing the ignition lock is no job for the layperson, as there is a risk of damaging the airbag through incorrect handling. If this is triggered, the risk of injury is considerable. In addition, you have to be able to rely on the fact that the airbag will function properly in the event of an accident.
Only appropriately trained experts are therefore allowed to work on the airbag. But even without the need to dismantle the steering wheel, the replacement of the ignition lock should be left to the specialist workshop, because the steering wheel lock should not engage while driving. Changing the ignition/starter switch is usually a bit easier.
First, the battery is disconnected, then the steering column trim is removed and finally, the ignition switch connector is disconnected. The switch itself may still be held in place with a screw that must be removed before the switch can be pulled out and replaced. Hobby screwdrivers can also use a new ignition switch.