Car starting by itself with ignition on the off position

Hello all,

I have had this 2003 XTerra for just over a year with no issues. Today over the course of the day the car started itself without keys in it several times. Some of the time it stayed on a ran for a few minutes before turning off again. Other times while I was inspecting it it turned over a few times and went back to quiet.

It does not have a remote starter and never has. I am very unfamiliar with ignition switches or what electrical problem could be going on.

For now I have resorted to unplugging the negative out of the battery until I can resolve this.

Thank you for your time and any help is greatly appreciated.

Your car is possessed! Serously, find a shop that can fix electrical problems.

Faulty ignition switch or short circuit in the wiring harness are likely possibilities. You can either take a flyer on a new ignition switch, or take it to a good shop and ask them to do a proper diagnosis. As long as this occurs while they are testing the car, shouldn’t be too much trouble to determine the cause. If it turns out to be the ignition switch, try to decrease the weight of everything on the key chain going forward. Remove as much as you can in other words, as that weight swinging around as you go around corners and over bumps eventually damages the switch. That will make your new ignition switch last longer.

I expect you already know that this presents a potential serious safety issue. Until resolved, be sure to park your vehicle outside and away from buildings and other vehicles anytime the battery is connected. I had a friend some years ago with an undiagnosed faulty starter motor who’s car caught on fire b/c of it, and burned up both their car and the two cars parked adjacent on the street.

I, too, suspect the ignition switch. I had a similar problem with my 1965 Rambler. I would be driving down the street and the starter would engage. A new ignition switch solved the problem.
I never did like combining the starter switch with the ignition switch. My 1948 Dodge had a separate dashboard button to activate the starter. My 1947 Pontiac had a floor pedal that activated the starter. Chrysler corporation started combining the starter switch with the ignition switch across the board in its 1949 models. The other manufacturerd soon followed suit.

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Thank you for your reply. The weight on the key chain was like a light bulb in my head. I happen to carry a carabiner wit h loads of work keys in it. I should change that obviously.
Now I would rather do this myself as my economic situation is not ideal.
I looked at it briefly and the wiring chart for changing an ignition seems complicated enough to lead to mistakes from a rookie. What would you think about replacing the steering column? would it not be as easy as connecting harnesses as supposed to individual wires?
Any thoughts are greatly appreciated.

Do you realize there is an airbag in the steering wheel ? You really don’t want that exploding in your face . Have this repaired by a professional , somethings are just not do it yourself .