Ignition Key Hot When Removed – Should I Do Anything About It?

Did you notice your ignition key was warm when you removed it? Well, if it is your first time experiencing this, it can be scary. But don't be alarmed; it is a pretty typical situation with most vehicles. To give you a detailed answer to why your ignition key is hot, we researched this topic to provide an in-depth answer. 

Most of the time, ignition keys can get warm. You should not be overly worried if you remove the ignition key, and it's slightly warm. Chances are, you shouldn't need any repairs. However, if the ignition key is very hot, you should consult your mechanic. It's always advised you speak to a mechanic to diagnose the issue and make the necessary repair(s). 

We will tell you why the ignition key is hot when removed and whether you should do anything about it. We will go beyond the surface and tell you if there could be a potential problem with your ignition. 

A key inserted into the keyhole of a car, Ignition Key Hot When Removed - Should I Do Anything About It?

What Causes A Hot Ignition Key?

There are many intricate components in an ignition system and several moving parts when you insert your key and turn the key to start your car. Putting in the key and everything working is, to many drivers, like second nature. But once you run into ignition problems, you will wonder what is wrong with your vehicle. So, when the key feels hot, you want to know what the problem could be. Here, we explore some of the potential culprits for why your ignition key gets hot.

putting key into keyhole ignition engine, Ignition-Key-Hot-When-Removed---Should-I-Do-Anything-About-It

The Key Interlock Solenoid 

When your vehicle is on the move, the solenoid energizes to prevent you from accidentally taking the key out while driving. Naturally, the solenoid heats up, and the heat energy is transferred into the key's metal shaft. When you pull out the key after your drive, it will feel hot. This is typical for Honda cars as well as other brands.

Faulty Ignition Switch 

The ignition switch is linked to the ignition cylinder via a lever or a shaft. When the ignition key is inserted, the switch has to make several contacts before your vehicle starts to move. 

There is always the probability of making the wrong contacts. Your car may move, but those wrong contacts will end up generating heat due to a high-resistance connection, which is then transferred to the key's metal shaft. In worst-case scenarios, your vehicle can shut down in the middle of the road. 

A solution is to check and ensure that all the electrical systems are in perfect, functional shape. If they aren't, it is time to replace the ignition switch before any significant problems happen. 

Poor Grounding

It could be poor grounding making your key warm, even after a short drive. It is not recommended that you check the electrical grounding system yourself; instead, leave it to a professional automotive electrician. The electrician will trace, check, and ensure that all the grounds are in place and in proper condition. If they are not, the high-resistance causes the heat buildup with some of the heat being transferred to your key. 

What Are The Symptoms Of A Bad Ignition Key?

key inserted into lock ignition car

It may never occur to you that multiple interlinked processes occur when you turn the ignition key. It all starts with the key, and if it is faulty, you may be unable to start your car. Therefore, it is paramount to know the bad ignition key symptoms before running late for that important business meeting. However, you should know that these signs may indicate other problems and not necessarily the key. 

The Key Won't Turn

The right key for your vehicle should turn at all times. But what if this one time it won't turn? First, turn the steering wheel in a back and forth motion to ensure the ignition lock is not engaged. If the key doesn't turn, it could be extreme wear and tear, preventing it from adequately aligning within the keyhole. Don't try to turn the key forcefully. This could do more harm than good. 

Key Turning But All Silent

If the key turns, but nothing happens, it is likely not your ignition key and possibly a dead battery. Speak to your mechanic if you are still experiencing problems with nothing happening when you turn the key. 

What Are The Symptoms Of A Bad Ignition Switch?

closeup inside vehicle hand holding key

These five symptoms are the most common signs that you need to replace the ignition switch. If any of these problems happen simultaneously, you should consult your mechanic immediately.

1. Car Not Starting at All

When the ignition key goes in and turns, your vehicle should automatically trigger the ignition process. But when you get silence, something is going wrong in the ignition system. It could be a variety of problems, some not being directly related to the ignition switch. Other components, such as the battery, could be the problem. Starting with the ignition switch, consult a mechanic to help troubleshoot the issue. 

2. Car Stalling

A car stalling at a stoplight or while you are driving can be a scary experience. If you can't get your car back into gear to move forward, this could result from a faulty ignition switch or other significant components of your vehicle. It's recommended you don't continue driving the car after it stalls regularly and call for help.

3. Flickering Dashboard Lights

Wear and tear in older vehicles will cause frequent failures of the ignition switch. An obvious sign of an ignition that has seen better days is the absence of the primary relay's clicking. To be thoroughly sure, have a look at the dashboard lights. 

Insert the key and turn it into the key's second position. This is the position that triggers the electrical components but doesn't trigger the car starter. If it is a switch problem, the dashboard will be entirely dark. Confirm this by turning the key to the first position. You should see a warning light aglow on the dash display.

4. Silent Motor Starter

If you are torn between diagnosing it as a switch or starter motor problem, listen for an actuating sound. If it is all silent, there is a high probability you are dealing with an ignition switch problem. Even at its worst, a car's starter motor will always make a distinguishable clicking sound. 

5. Not Enough Power for the Accessories

Naturally, if the car won't start, the accessories will not power on as well. When accessories such as the air conditioner and radio fail to start, troubleshoot the issue by starting at the ignition switch and moving on to other electrical components.  

What Are The Symptoms Of A Bad Starter?

worried man holding his head by

Starter problems can cause your car not to start or take a while to finally get started. These are signs of a bad or starter about to go bad if you continue using it. 

Engine Not Cranking

When you try cranking the engine, it freewheels and is typically accompanied by a high-pitched whining noise. The starter fails to engage the flywheel completely, and in the worst-case scenario, you have to replace the starter. 

Smoking Vehicle

It is never good news when smoke comes out of your vehicle. When the starter is powered continuously, it will accumulate a lot of heat. Two things lead to this problem; the starter has been running for far too long, trying to start the vehicle without rest or an electrical connection problem. When the smoke with a burning smell appears from under the car, you are likely experiencing a severe starter problem. 

Grinding Noises

The starter will wear out and gradually fail to engage. A grinding noise that gets louder with time starts to reoccur. Please do not ignore this problem as it will end up damaging the flywheel. Consult your mechanic.

Engine Won't Start with Dashboard Lights

If the dashboard lights are on, but the engine won't power, there are chances of a bad starter or ignition switch. It would be wise to start your vehicle's diagnosis at the starter and then move on to other potential components once you have ruled out the starter for the problem. 


putting key into keyhole ignition engine

In most cases, a warm ignition key is an everyday occurrence, and you do not need to do anything. The only time you should take action is when there is an underlying problem with your ignition system, or the key is very hot. If you are having difficulties starting your car or often getting random stops, there is a problem that should be addressed immediately

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