An ignition lock cylinder is a component that your key slides into on the steering column. Without it, you cannot start your car. Some newer models use a key fob to replace this mechanism altogether.
However, an ignition lock cylinder is still incredibly common across all makes and models of vehicles. Luckily, the cost to replace one of these units is on the low end of most automotive repairs.
The average cost to replace an ignition lock cylinder is $237 for parts and labor. This estimate is an average across all regions and vehicle types.
Labor ranges from $45 per hour on the low end to $90 per hour on the high end depending on the region. Parts are between $40 on the low end and $180 on the high end depending on the manufacturer.
Being able to start your car and having confidence that your keys will continue to work is pretty important. As this part begins to fail, there is an increased risk that you might break a key off in the ignition cylinder which complicates the repair and costs more money to fix.
- How does an ignition cylinder work and what does it do?
- Cost of Parts by Make and Model (based on OEM ignition lock cylinder only)
- How often do ignition lock cylinders need to be replaced?
- Cost of Replacement (Parts & Labor) with Make, Model, and Region
- Comparing Dealer Service Centers and Locksmiths for Repair Costs
- The Bottom Line on the Cost to Replace an Ignition Lock Cylinder
How does an ignition cylinder work and what does it do?
When the correct key is inserted into an ignition lock cylinder, tiny actuators are activated allowing the cylinder to rotate. This is what happens when you put your key in the car and start it.
A bad ignition lock cylinder may fail to turn or start the car with the correct key inserted. Or, in some cases, it may start but you would be able to remove the key without killing the engine.
At best, a bad ignition lock cylinder prevents you from starting your car. And at worst, it makes it easy for someone to steal your car without the keys.
In some cases, you may still be able to operate your car with a bad ignition lock cylinder, but there is no guarantee how many times it will start or if you will be able to shut it off once you do start it. This makes a repair a little more urgent.
Cost of Parts by Make and Model (based on OEM ignition lock cylinder only)
When shopping for car parts, it is important to pay close attention to what you are buying. Prices range from as little as $23 for low-end aftermarket parts to as much as $500 for OEM and high-end aftermarket kits that contain more parts than just the ignition cylinder.
|Ford F-Series Pickup Truck||$44.97|
|BMW 3 Series||$78.95|
The ignition lock cylinder is sold as an individual piece or as part of a complete assembly. Sometimes it is packaged with keys or other accessories which can increase the cost of parts.
In most cases the OEM parts are reasonably priced, leaving little need for sourcing aftermarket parts to make the repair.
How often do ignition lock cylinders need to be replaced?
There is no identified mileage at which this part is recommended for replacement. Most failures occur in higher mileage vehicles or are due to an original factory defect.
While an ignition lock cylinder failure is somewhat common, most vehicles will never need this part replaced. Some things you can do to prevent untimely failures is to keep your keychains light and your keys clean.
Pocket-lint and excessive weight tend to be the biggest culprits outside of high mileage. The cost to replace an ignition lock cylinder can vary, and complicated installations that involve airbags and anti-theft devices (both common in newer models) can add additional labor.
In a few cases, the cost to replace a bad ignition has exceeded $800, with most falling just below $200.
Cost of Replacement (Parts & Labor) with Make, Model, and Region
While most failures occur in higher mileage (older) vehicles, a defect is not unheard of. This part was a commonly reported failure in the 2002 Oldsmobile Alero well before these cars reached higher mileages.
Here’s a look at what you might pay depending on the year, make, or model.
|2013||Nissan Titan Pro-4X||New Jersey||$880|
|2001||Toyota Camry||South Carolina||$217|
One car owner attempted to replace a bad ignition cylinder on a 1998 Chevrolet S10 pickup with a $23 aftermarket part. Unknown to the owner at the time, the aftermarket part was a dud and cost him $1,350 in additional repairs.
The important takeaway from his story is that a low price on an aftermarket part that seems too good to be true probably is. It is better to invest in OEM or quality aftermarket parts.
Luckily the cost of parts for an ignition cylinder is relatively affordable for most makes and models.
Comparing Dealer Service Centers and Locksmiths for Repair Costs
A bad ignition cylinder affects the key and lock function of your vehicle and it is a repair that most locksmiths can make. You may be wondering if there is a cost-benefit to using a locksmith instead of a dealership service center.
One benefit to using a locksmith is accessibility. It is often easier to get help from a locksmith than it is from a service center that might be booked weeks out.
Locksmiths are also able to work on a variety of makes and models, while a dealership may be limited to one brand. And they are more willing to install aftermarket parts while dealerships prefer to stick with OEM parts.
And at the end of the day, many dealerships use a locksmith for help with the repair so you are paying that locksmith anyways with a decent markup for going through the dealership.
The labor costs vary slightly between locksmiths and dealerships, however, keep in mind that most locksmiths have a set service fee of $50 – $100 per call in addition to labor and parts.
Here is a breakdown of what you might expect to pay for labor between locksmiths and dealerships in different regions of the US.
|Eastern US (NY, NJ)||$275 - $500||$100 - $700|
|Midwestern US (IL)||$75 - $100||$149 - $181|
|Southern US (GA)||$85 - $175||$89 - $141|
|Southwest US (TX, AZ)||$80 - $125||$149 - $164|
|Western US (CO)||$50 - $100||$111 - $130|
|Pacific NW (WA, OR)||$97 - $215||$125 - $275|
|West Coast (CA)||$190 - $240||$100 - $700|
The Bottom Line on the Cost to Replace an Ignition Lock Cylinder
For most makes and models, the cost to replace a failing ignition lock cylinder is reasonable with an average price tag of $237.
The cost of labor in your local area (and by extension the cost of living), as well as whether you choose to work with a small shop, dealership, or locksmith will factor into the price that you pay.
In a few cases, the repair may be complicated based on the location of airbags and anti-theft devices that may interfere with routine replacement. In these cases, costs can sometimes exceed $800.