The ignition switch is one of the most important, yet overlooked, parts of a vehicle.
An ignition switch is engaged by the vehicle’s key which, when turned, provides varying amounts of power to the vehicle. Most cars will power electrical accessories (like the radio and a power cord in the cigarette lighter) at the first position of a key turn. The fuel, ignition, and ventilation systems are powered by the second position, and the engine starts with a full key-turn.
Like other parts of a vehicle, the ignition switch can wear out over time. A variety of issues will occur if the ignition switch is going bad.
Engine and Power Cuts off While Driving
If your car stalls out of nowhere, a faulty ignition switch may be the culprit. This can be a scary situation because you will likely lose steering power and, in some cases, the engine will not restart immediately.
Engine Doesn’t Start at All
If the ignition switch isn’t sending the electrical signal to the motor to start up when the key is turned, the car won’t start. As you probably know, a car not starting could be due to a number of issues (dead battery, bad alternator, etc.), so make sure your mechanic includes a check of the ignition switch while they are trying to diagnose the problem.
Car Starts, Then Quickly Stalls
The ignition switch might be able to briefly provide power to the engine while being cranked, but it may not be able to sustain it once the key is released.
Issues with the Key
If the key gets stuck while trying to start the car or removing it, the ignition switch could be wearing out. There have also been cases where a driver can remove a key and the engine will continue to run. These are both cases of a worn out ignition switch.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Commission also recommends drivers not to have any additional items on the key ring beside the ignition key.
What About the GM Ignition Switch Recall/Lawsuit?
If you remember, General Motors had a significant issue with ignition switches in the early to mid-2000s. Faulty ignition switches on a number of makes and models (specifically 2003-2007 Chevrolet Cobalts and Saturn Ions) caused cars to stall on the road. Many of these cases led to a crash, and due to the power supply of the vehicle being cut, the airbags did not deploy. Over 100 people were killed and nearly 300 injured. By 2014, more than 2.7 million vehicles were recalled.
These faulty ignition switches cost General Motors around $120 million worth of settlement claims in dozens of states. GM was liable because, as the Michigan Attorney General’s Office said, the company knew of the potential airbag issue as early as 2004 but decided it wasn’t enough of a safety concern and delayed making recalls. Fifteen employees, including eight executives, lost their jobs.
What Should You Do If You Have a Faulty Ignition Switch?
The first thing you need to do is find out if your vehicle was included among the millions that were recalled. If it hasn’t been recalled, consult with your dealer or mechanic for repairs. However, cases against manufacturers need professional representation.
If you’ve had an encounter with a faulty ignition switch, contact Stewart & Stewart, your Indiana Defective Product Attorney. We want to help our clients get the compensation they deserve while holding those responsible accountable. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you – call 1-800-33-33-LAW or visit our website for more information.