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Probably 2 problems...keys fall out and won't start

I’m a rural mail carrier driving an '88 Mazda, manual transmission. Recently noticed that sometimes the car won’t start. Didn’t have it looked at yet, because it always starts for the mechanic. One of the times I tried to start it and it didn’t start on the first try. It did start on the second try and then the keys fell out onto my feet. I put them back in and kept delivering mail. Previous to that incident, I thought the keys were “loose” in the ignition.

So, I switched to a different keyring with only that key on it. Still have incidences of the car not starting. All the lights come on the dashboard when I try it but it doesn’t make any noise at all, not even the ding ding ding, you’re seatbelt’s not on.

I think maybe it might be the battery. It seems like that was it the last time when all the lights came on but it didn’t make any noise. However, I don’t think a low battery should make the keys fall out. That’s not normal, is it?

Opinions, please?

I am also an RCA. Small world. I think the ignition switch is the problem, because you hung a heavy set of keys from the ignition.
I start my car with a single key every day. Maybe you should replace the ignition and weed your keys.

Concur w/kiswiki this is probably a problem with the ignition switch. Agree with kiswiki to keep number of keys on key-ring low, as a heavy set of keys can damage ignition key-switch over time. The keys shouldn’t fall out, so you know you have some damage or wear either to the key or the key tumblers.

Still it is possible to have a worn key/switch and that not be the reason not to be able to start the car. The starting problem could easily lie elsewhere. When the engine doesn’t turn over in the “start” position, the cause could be the ignition switch, but it could also be the battery, the starter relay, the clutch or (neutral if auto xmission) interlock switch, the starter selenoid, or the starter motor itself. You have to go through a diagnostic procedure too complicated to explain here. The battery is the easiest to check so I would probably start there. Most Sears auto centers will check your battery for free.

Thanks for the reply kizwiki! Yeah, nothing an LLV for my route wouldn’t solve, but PO is too cheap to put one on a route this long.

I was thinking the ignition, too, but the mechanic wouldn’t commit when hubby asked him about it. We’re going to replace the battery tomorrow, and then I’ll keep using the single key and we’ll see if I have any more problems (i.e. get stranded in somebody’s driveway while delivering a parcel).

Just looked at the records and the battery’s about 2 and a half years old.

Thanks for the reply George. I’ve had an ignition switch replaced before but can’t remember if it was this car or the one before. It is certainly a surprise when the keys fall out onto your feet, but hey the car started so it was all good.

After I get the battery replaced, I’ll see if the problem continues. Then we’ll just have the mechanic start replacing stuff til his boat is paid off, I mean, the car is fixed.

ok, switched out the battery yesterday. Today I had 2 incidences of it not starting. Just checked the records and we replaced the ignition switch in June 2010. Any other suggestions?

Just wanted to let everyone know, it was indeed the clutch interlock switch. Replaced it and everything’s fine now. I got really good at kinda popping the clutch to make it start before we got it fixed. Thanks everyone