Question This is my first car and I'm already having issues with it. The person I bought it from said that if I didn't have the key lined up just right when I turned off the car, the battery would die. And sure enough, it did. Is there an issue with the lock cylinder in my car, or could it be the battery?? When I got the car jumped it worked just fine. So I'm not 100% sure.
Answer Hi Brittany,
Based upon what the prior owner told you, I suspect that the ignition switch might be in the "run" position though the engine is not running. That means that many electrical devices are being powered when you think that it is 'off'. A clue to that would be the illumination of any warning lights on the instrument cluster. It needs to be totally dark in the key 'off' position. The key should not come out of the key hole except in the Off position but that may be your problem. So be sure to move the key counter-clockwise to the "lock" position when you shut it off and check for the lights to not be 'on' at the instrument cluster. There would be one more position counter clockwise which is called the 'accessory' position but usually that is spring-loaded and you would notice if you did that because you can turn on the radio in that position. You don't want to leave the switch in that position either.
If you want to verify that the battery is not going to be drained then you would check the current flowing through the wire at the - post of the battery using a volt-ohm-amp meter. Simply remove the - post clamp and insert the amp meter between the clamp and the post. After a few minutes following shut off the reading on that meter should be less than 50 milliamps.
It you want to correct the ignition key/socket that would involve replacing either the ignition switch or the lock cylinder/housing which you could do yourself also from a junkyard vehicle but you would need to get a key for the lock unless it came with it.
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