97 ranger ignition switch problem

I went to start my 97 ranger this morning and when I turned the key I got the standard indicator lights. Then when I tried to start it there was nothing no click no crank just quiet. When I turn the key back the dash indicator lights stayed on even after the key was in the off position and removed from the switch. I tried it a few more times and the same thing happened. I had to disconnect the battery so the indicator lights, radio, etc. would not drain the battery.
What do I need to repair this.


A new ignition switch.


I’d guess the ignition switch was the problem too. But before replacing the switch I’d want to at least do some confirming diagnosis with a DVM. For example, the dash lights on even when the key is “off” symptom could occur if a relay was sticking. That might not explain the no-crank though.

I would also check that the rod that goes from the ignition lock cylinder and the switch hasn’t broken. IIRC some fords had this problem years ago.

I pulled the ignition switch out and it looks ok to me. I looked up under the steering column and can see the actuator rod. I can slide it back towards the key cylinder, I turn the key and the rod moves forward. The key cylinder and actuator rod does not spring back to the run position on its own.
What make the actuator rod and key cylinder move back to the run position?

A spring. See if it is in the switch.

The ignition switch.


I just installed an ignition switch and no change. I’m thinking the problem may be in the steering column.

With the ignition switch disconnected, do the dash lights still stay on?


Does your Ranger have a security system to prevent theft of the vehicle? On some of those there is a relay involved, and it might be sticking. If you have a list of relays (check the owner’s manual, etc), see if there is one named “start security” or something like that.

I’m presuming you’ve already verified the basic problems that cause electrical problem, battery has been fully charged load tested, battery connections have been cleaned and tightened, visual check for the major grounding points, etc.

It’s a basic no frills truck 4cyl, manual, rubber floor mat etc.battery 2 months old.

Maybe these will help.

Even with a non tilt wheel, that column has a two piece acuator rod inside, the same as its tilt brother. often one of those plastic pieces breaks.

The spring back is in the switch and outer looks can be deceiving as you can not see the elecrical contacts inside.

If removing the STARTER INTERURT RELAY stops the trouble then I would check whatever controls that relay, the drawing does’t show that part of the circuit. I suppose the relay contacts could be just sticking after the relay is turned on but I wouldn’t normally suspect that is the case.

I’m sure it is the ignition switch actuator because I unbolted the ignition switch from the column with the wires still attached and was able to start it by using the ignition switch and drive it with the key cylinder in the off and locked position (no key in cylinder). I was able to steer with no problem.
Now my question is how easy/hard is it to replace the ignition actuator rod?

And with the actuator temporarily isolated from the switch (as you describe above), the problem with the warning lights staying on with the key is “off” goes away too? It does sound like you’ve figured out the source of the problem and you are the cusp of a victory!

I don’t know what all is involved to repair the actuator rod. You may only have to remove the lock cylinder housing, or you may have remove the entire steering column. Even the worse case, replacing the entire steering column, it’s hard to believe that would take an experienced mechanic more than 2-3 hours.

I presume you are already aware there may be an air bag in that area. If your Ranger sports an air bag system, suggest to fully investigate what’s involved with dealing with the air bag system before trying any DIY work in that area. Might make more sense to have this done by a pro if air bags are involved.