Rick's Free Auto Repair Advice

Ignition switch replacement cost

Ignition switch replacement costs — cylinder versus switch

Mazda ignition switch

Mazda CX-7 Ignition Switch

An ignition switch replacement can require quite a bit of steering column disassembly, depending on the year, make, model of your vehicle. For example, to get to the actual ignition switch on a 2010 Mazda CX-7 SUV, you must first disassemble the upper portion of the steering column. That means removing the plastic shrouds and the lock cylinder before you can access the switch; they’re two separate components. The backside of the lock cylinder fits into a recess in the Ignition switch. When you rotate the lock cylinder, it turns the ignition switch.

So the ignition switch replacement cost for this particular vehicle is about 1.3-hrs labor and about $80 for the ignition switch. Figure around $225 to replace an ignition switch on this vehicle.

Ignition switch versus lock cylinder

Many times when a driver thinks they have a bad ignition switch, they actually have a sticking lock cylinder. There’s a big difference.

image of ignition switch and a lock cylinder
Bad lock cylinder symptoms

• Hard to insert key into lock (have to jiggle it to insert all the way)
• Hard to remove key from lock
• Hard to rotate: binds while turning, grinds while turning, won’t turn.

Before you replace a lock cylinder try lubricating it with dry Teflon lubricant spray or graphite. For more information on how to lubricate a lock cylinder, see this post.

Bad ignition switch symptoms

• Key doesn’t turn and you’ve eliminated the lock cylinder as the cause

• Electrical components aren’t powered. Engine cranks but won’t fire up. Engine won’t crank. The electrical contacts inside a lock cylinder can fail partially or completely. The switch my allow the engine to crank, but not switch power to the computers or other electrical accessories.

• Vehicle stalls while driving. This is what happened with the defective ignition switches in the late 1990’s and early 2000 model year GM vehicles. The ignition switches failed while driving, cutting off power to the engine and airbag systems. See this post for more information on the GM ignition switch debacle.

When to replace a lock cylinder

If you’ve continued to use a sticking lock cylinder, you can wear it out to the point where it no longer works. Then you’ll have to replace it. You have two options:

If you have a transponder key

Buy a new lock cylinder and pay an automotive locksmith to rekey the lock cylinder to use your existing key. That way, you won’t have to have your vehicle anti-theft system reprogrammed  to recognized a new key.

Replace the lock and key and have the anti-theft system reprogrammed

Sometimes this is the cheaper option. The downside is that you’ll have two keys for the vehicle; one for the new lock cylinder and another for the doors and trunk.

Ignition switch replacement cost if the lock is destroyed

If thieves have broken into your vehicle ignition switch assembly with wiring harness, lock cylinder and keysand damage the lock cylinder and the lock cylinder housing, chances are you’ll have to replace the engine ignition lock assembly. That will involve some drilling and complete disassembly of the upper portion of your steering column. The parts for this repair are much more than a simple ignition switch replacement or lock cylinder replacement.

We’ll use the Mazda prices for this. A replacement ignition switch assembly with a new lock cylinder, keys, and wiring harness runs about $500 without a smart key or $897 with a smart key. Labor costs run about $250, so the total repair can run between $750 and $1,147.

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Posted on by Rick Muscoplat


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