Replacing an ignition lock cylinder is an important maintenance task that provides enhanced security for your vehicle. When it’s time for a new ignition cylinder, understanding the factors that influence the replacement cost will help you plan and budget.
The ignition lock cylinder is a crucial part of your car’s ignition system. It contains the tumblers that must align with your key for the ignition to activate. But over time, normal wear and tear can cause the tumblers to fail or the cylinder can break. Replacing the cylinder ensures you can start your car and prevents costly ignition issues.
How Much Does Ignition Lock Cylinder Replacement Cost?
On average, the cost to replace an ignition lock cylinder falls between $125-$350 depending on the car’s make and model. Labor costs account for a significant portion of the total bill. Parts themselves range from $50-$250. At independent repair shops or dealerships, expect to pay $100-$150 per hour in labor charges.
In the table below you will find the average costs of replacing an ignition lock cylinder for different car models.
|Cost including labor
The online catalog on Parts Geek includes ignition cylinders ranging in price from $14 to $169, depending on the make, model, and year of the automobile.
CarParts.com notes that the average cost of an ignition lock cylinder can range from $10 to $420, and the average estimated labor cost for replacement is around $70. The website also offers a wide variety of parts and accessories for purchase.
According to Revolar.com, the average cost to replace an ignition lock cylinder, including supplies and labor, ranges from $100 to $550 or more. The cost of work to replace an ignition lock cylinder is generally between $75 and $150 but may vary based on the specific circumstances and the type of vehicle.
Wrench.com writes that the overall costs for ignition lock cylinder replacement for standard lock systems can range from about $300 to $450 or more. Electronic key systems are likely to cost more.
The table below gives you the price range of ignition cylinder replacement from different suppliers:
|Supplier or dealership
What Impacts the Cost to Replace Your Ignition Lock Cylinder?
Several key factors determine the final price you’ll pay:
- Vehicle Make and Model – Luxury cars or models with complex ignition systems have higher cylinder replacement costs. Parts and labor take more time.
- Lock Cylinder Type – Basic cylinders are cheaper, while those with integrated antitheft features cost more.
- Location of Cylinder – Accessing and removing cylinders like those behind the steering wheel requires more labor time.
- Shop Hourly Rates – Dealerships and specialty shops charge higher hourly rates, increasing total labor fees.
- Cost of Parts – OEM parts can be pricier than quality aftermarket cylinders from parts stores.
- Extra Repairs – If other ignition components need replacement, costs add up.
- Your Location – Prices fluctuate based on the general cost of living and competition where you live.
How Does the Ignition Lock Cylinder Work in Your Car?
Before we dive into replacement costs, let’s overview what the ignition lock cylinder does:
- It contains a set of spring-loaded tumblers that must align with cuts in your key when inserted. This allows the ignition switch to activate.
- When you turn the key, it rotates the cylinder. This enables the switch to send power to the starter and ignition system.
- The cylinder provides physical security by requiring the correct key to start the vehicle.
- It helps prevent hotwiring and theft when functioning properly.
So in short, the lock cylinder is the crucial mechanical gatekeeper between your key and actually starting the engine.
Signs You May Need a Replacement Ignition Cylinder
Watch for these common signs of ignition cylinder failure:
- Keys Getting Stuck – This is the #1 red flag. If your key sticks in the ignition, the internal tumblers are likely damaged.
- Difficulty Turning the Key – Excess friction indicates internal issues in the cylinder that need repair.
- Ignition Fails to Activate – Faulty cylinders won’t allow the ignition switch to engage.
- Keys Breaking Off – Severe cylinder damage can cause keys to snap and get stuck inside.
- Missing Keys – Lost keys mean the cylinder must be replaced to match new keys.
Don’t delay cylinder replacement when these symptoms appear. Doing so can leave you stranded.
Should You DIY or Hire a Professional for Cylinder Replacement?
Is cylinder replacement a DIY job? Technically, you can tackle it yourself if you have automotive experience. But there are good reasons to have a professional mechanic or locksmith perform the repair:
- They have the expertise to properly install the new cylinder and ensure everything is aligned and operating smoothly.
- If you have to modify the steering column to access the cylinder, they have the tools and skills to do this safely.
- They can program electronically coded cylinders like those in many modern vehicles.
- You benefit from a warranty on parts and labor when it’s done professionally.
In the end, paying $125-$250 for a shop to replace your cylinder is worthwhile to avoid problems down the road.
Choosing a Reputable Mechanic or Locksmith
Not all repair shops are equal when it comes to ignition cylinder service. Here’s how to pick a good one:
- Check reviews and verify they have positive feedback for cylinder replacement specifically.
- Look for ASE certification to ensure qualified technicians.
- Inquire about part warranties to protect against premature failure.
- Request an estimate to compare fair market pricing.
- Choose an established local business instead of a fly-by-night operation.
Don’t be afraid to call around and ask questions before choosing where to have your cylinder work performed.
Maintaining Your Ignition Lock Cylinder
You can help avoid untimely cylinder repairs by:
- Using your key gently and not forcing it when stuck.
- Keeping your ignition area clean and dry to prevent grime buildup.
- Applying lubricant like graphite spray if the key becomes sticky.
- Fixing worn keys that damage the tumblers over time.
- Replacing the cylinder at the first signs of trouble before extensive damage occurs.
Proper car repair and maintenance, when needed, will keep your ignition cylinder working smoothly for years to come.
Part Quality and Warranties Are Important
When you do replace your cylinder, don’t cheap out on parts. Pay the extra cost for OEM or high-quality aftermarket cylinders that meet strict specifications. Otherwise, you may end up with:
- Premature wear and malfunctions requiring frequent repairs.
- Failed antitheft mechanisms that leave your car vulnerable.
- Parts that don’t properly fit or align with other components.
Most cylinder manufacturers provide at least a 1-year warranty. But longer warranties of 2 years or more give you better protection.
Ultimately, investing in a quality cylinder the first time saves you money over cheap cylinders prone to failure. The security of your vehicle also depends on it.
While the cost to replace an ignition lock cylinder ranges from $125-$350 on average, the security and reliability benefits make the investment worthwhile. By understanding what impacts the price, choosing reputable mechanics, and maintaining your cylinder proactively, you can avoid unexpectedly high replacement costs down the road.
FAQs about Ignition Lock Cylinder Replacement
Can a locksmith change a lock cylinder?
Yes, a professional locksmith has the specialized skills and tools to properly replace an ignition lock cylinder. Locksmiths routinely perform ignition cylinder replacement, key cutting/replacement, lockout service, and other lock-related automotive services.
How do I know if I need a new ignition lock cylinder?
Signs you may need a new cylinder include keys getting stuck in the ignition, difficulty turning the key, the ignition not activating, broken key extraction, and lost auto ignition keys.
Any of these issues indicate internal damage or wear that requires you to replace the ignition lock cylinder.
How much does it cost to replace a door lock cylinder?
On average, replacing a door lock cylinder costs $125-$200 in parts and labor. The cylinder itself ranges from $25-$100 while labor adds $100-$150. Factors like vehicle make, shop rates and lock type impact the total price.