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How to change the ignition barrel?

Imagine you are leaving for work, running a little late, and when you try to start your car, it fails. You try again, but you can’t even turn the key. When you check, you notice something wrong with the ignition. The solution? Change the ignition barrel and, most likely, arrive late.

But then, what causes ignition problems? And, most importantly, how can you avoid them?

In this article, we explain the importance of this part and how you can protect it in your everyday life. We also demonstrate how you can change the ignition barrel of your car.

Read also: How to protect the engine of your car

How to avoid damage to the ignition cylinder

The ignition barrel corresponds to the cylindrical drum and key assembly used to start and stop the car. Although many new cars no longer require a key, the traditional ignition cylinder is still used in many models.

Most cylinders have four positions. The first unlocks the steering wheel, the second turns on the vehicle’s accessories, the third operates the onboard computer and the fuel system, and, finally, the last one starts the engine.

If the cannon malfunctions, the connection is interrupted and the car will not start. So, beware of possible signs of failure to avoid changing the ignition barrel. Check four tips to preserve this part.

Several ignition barrels and keys of different car brands are stored on a metal shelf

Remove heavy articles from the keychain

Does your car key share your keychain with ten other keys, a decorative piece and a corkscrew? Ideally, your car key should have its key ring.

Excessive keys and decorative items add unnecessary weight to the key and more strain to your car’s ignition cylinder. In the long run, excess weight on the key could cause ignition problems.

For example, the key and barrels may gradually wear out every time you insert and remove the key from the ignition. In more severe cases, the car key may not be able to rotate out of the lock position or may even fall out of the ignition barrel.

Therefore the solution is to have a keychain with just the car key. If you fear losing them, attach them with a clip to your home keys. Thereby, whenever you use the car key, you can remove it from the rest of the keys and turn it back on when you leave your car.

Use the correct key

Yes, we know that this explanation sounds silly.

But some mistakes can happen. Sometimes in families or groups of friends, there are cars of identical brands and models whose keys are similar. If you do not have a key ring or tape that differentiates the cars, accidental changes of keys may occur.

These episodes can happen and are more common than you might imagine. But if your key is not working, don’t force it. If you have the wrong item, no matter how hard you try, it will not work in your car.
So, stop and think about other possibilities that might be preventing the key from turning before resorting to excessive force to fix the problem.

Read also: Engine Control Unit: What is, the features, and possible failures

Avoid using excessive force

How many times have we not come home from work upset and unloaded on the car key by turning it a little too hard?

Sometimes we try to turn the key in the ignition lock with too much enthusiasm. It seems harmless, but over time it can cause keys or the ignition to break.

Disengaging the ignition lock

Be aware of movements in the steering wheel after switching off the engine. Locking the steering wheel can catch and stop the ignition lock, which prevents starting the car. The same applies when you turn off the vehicle with the steering wheel turned.

Since the ignition lock is connected to the steering wheel lock, ensure the latter is disengaged by turning the steering wheel slowly from side to side. Do not use excessive force when turning the key to prevent the key from breaking and causing damage to your car’s ignition cannon.

An ignition and key gun in a warehouse

Read also: Alternator:what is and how it works

Instructions for changing the ignition barrel

Now that you know what it’s for and how to protect your car’s ignition, it’s time to understand how to change the ignition barrel.

In this case, we use as an example a Volvo XC60, whose ignition system is not by key; but through a card and button. For this repair, you only need a screwdriver.

To change the ignition barrel, follow these steps:

  1. Start by disconnecting the car battery. As you will be touching electrical wires, we recommend that you disconnect the battery 1 hour before starting this repair.
  2. Remove the protective plastic.
  3. Loosen the screws with the screwdriver.
  4. Insert the key or card and pull out the part.
  5. Loosen the electrical wires and remove them.
  6. Install the electric wires with the screwdriver.
  7. Insert the key or card into the ignition gun and push the part into the corresponding slots.
  8. Tighten the screws with the screwdriver.
  9. Insert the protective plastic cover.
  10. Connect the car battery and rotate the key to see if it’s working.

If you prefer, you can watch the step-by-step video tutorial below.

If in doubt, we recommend you visit a registered garage.

If you are looking for an ignition barrel for your car, you can find over 20,00 on our website for more than 60 brands.