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Mike S.
Mike S., ASE Certified Technician
Category: Ford
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Experience:  ASE Certified Master Technician
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mustang: I have a 96 Mustang and cannot turn off the car with

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I have a 96 Mustang and cannot turn off the car with the key. I have to pop the clutch & disconnect the battery when parked. The ignition switch is good having been inspected by a licensed locksmith but I still cannot turn off the car...what next?

Did the locksmith inspect the ignition switch or the ignition key and lock cylinder? Or both?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

He removed the lock cylinder and checked it along with the key and ran a check on the computer recognition of the pair... both checked out Ok as being recognized by the on-board computer.


As far as a "switch" he did not check.


Another thing I noticed is the remote car lock has no effect on locking the car or unlocking the car when the car battery is hooked up.

I must assume that the switch is bad or shorted then. What engine is in this so I can look up the wiring diagram?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

V-8 4.6 Standard

GT or Cobra?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.


Does the engine truly keep running or is it running on like when a carbed engine would diesel?

If it's truly running like if you could continue to run around the block and even rev it up, try removing the Fuse 18 a 20a in the I/P fuse panel after turning the key off and let me know if the engine shuts off then. That fuse powers the ignition coils.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

It truly keeps running... The first time it happened I pulled the fuse to the fuel pump and it shut down but I'll give your suggestion a shot. Give me a minute or two....

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I assume you meant to pull fuse 18 in the interior fuse panel...Just finished doing so and the car shut off immediately.

That fuse also powers the fuel pump relay and the fuel injectors.

Ok, now since it shut off, you will have to check why that fuse is hot. It isn't supposed to be, only with the key on start and run. It's a red/light green wire coming from the fuse and before that from the ignition switch to that fuse 18 the wire is tan/white. The very same tan/white wire that feeds the #15 fuse in the same I/P box. So see if both of those fuses are hot. If so the problem may be the ignition switch if not the wire may be shorted to a hot wire.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

To clarify, I'm to pull fuse 15 now to see if it shuts off again?

No just see if it's still hot when the key is off.

Yes, pulling the fuel pump fuse will cause it to stall, so will pulling either the fuel injector fuse, the fuel pump relay or the ignition cowl's fuse. But in order for it to stay running it needs them all still on. Which fuse # XXXXX the fuel pump fuse you pulled because I don't believe that should be on with the key off, unless of course the relay is keeping it on, because it is still getting a crank sensor signal.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

The fuel pump fuse is in the engine compartment fuse box, High Current Fuse Panel - 20A.


You just mentioned "with the key off" and that is the primary problem. When I turn the key to the 'off position' nothing happens and the car continues to run.

No, shut off the engine. Pull either of those 2 fuses to kill the engine. Then with the key off and engine off find out why those fuses 18 and 15 still have voltage with the key off, so first of all confirm that they both do still have voltage with the key off because they are not supposed to. If they didn't you would have no problem shutting off the engine but because the 18 still remains hot with key off the engine continues to run. I only wanted to test 15 with the key off cause the same wire feeds both 18 and 15 fuses.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Ok, what should my multi-meter be set to when I touch the contacts? I'm no expert with auto electricity...

If you have a 15 dc volts, that will do. Or anything over 12 volts dc.
You could just use a 12 volt test light if you got one.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Ok, I have juice 12+ volts at the fuse.


As a side note there is no "click" when I turn the key to the off position. Could it be something mechanical just inside of the ignition Cylinder?

It could be but it is making the ignition switch engage the starter.

Which fuse has 12+ volts? You were supposed to be checking 2 of them, 18 and 15 with engine off and key off.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

DANG! Sorry, only did 18 will do 15 now.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Both have power... 12.8 volts

Ok, then they are not supposed to. So now, you are going to have to determine if it's at the switch, before or after the switch. So, the first place to test with either the test light or voltmeter will be at the tan/white wire leaving the ignition switch, with engine off and key off.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Where exactly is the switch? do I have to dissemble the steering column cover?

I assume this has a floor shifter.

For a diagram of the steering column and ignition switch, click

For instructions, click here.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Found the tan\white wire... poked it with the hot and grounded to a screw and it's hot.

OK, either see if you can try adjusting that switch or taking it off and test it again to eliminate the key cylinder making it hot.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

What do you mean "Adjusting the switch?"

Never mind. Just remove it and find out if that tan/white wire is still hot, so once you get it off, if you have to remove the wiring in order to get it off just hook it back up, so you can eliminate the key as the problem. Also, make sure nothing is touching the tan/white wires pin or connection, such as the one next to it, especially if it's hot.

Once you get it off you should see how it works, so then move the switch through off and start, run etc and test the tan/white wire. You might wan to go ahead and remove fuse 18 so it won't start so you can test that switch. The starter may crank though, just ignore it. But mostly when it's back on off, that tan/white wire's pin should not be hot.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Pulled the ignition cylinder and the tan\white wire remained hot. Reinserted the cylinder and no change.


The assembly where all of the wires land, I assume to be the switch, looks clean and in order, no smoked areas from a short etc.


I am almost certain it is a mechanical failure as there is absolutely no resistance when I turn the key to the off position; there is no click, no pushing in to release it from the on position, just nothing.

That is why I wanted you to separate the switch from the key and cylinder.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Ok, what do I look for now?

See the #3E723 Actuator Assy in the diagram? You have to remove the switch from that. Then if the tan/white wire goes dead, the problem is with that actuator or key cylinder or something else mechanical. If the tan/white wire remains hot when disconnected from that actuator, then the switch is stuck.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Going to check it out...

Ok, if when you come back and I am not here, I may have gone to bed so I'll read whatever tomorrow. You should have enough though to finish.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Where are you located and good night

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

While you were sleeping I pulled the switch and the 'pin' protruding from the top and into the 'actuator 3E-723' moved freely forward and back. It made the alarm come alive and the dash lights just as it should.


It appears the actuator does not go all the way back toward the driver. It moves freely between the second (On) and third position (Start) but doesn't appear to move to the Off position.


I am on the West Coast and will not be available until 12 noon PST tomorrow. I will only have about three hours to attend to this so depending on your location and availability I'll look for a message sometime then.



I live in Western PA.

Ok, but with the switch disconnected from that actuator and the column or hanging from the column does the tan/white wire finally go dead with the switch in the off position. I would assume the switch is spring loaded to the off position, but I cannot be sure of that. I am sure you can figure out which position is off and how to move the switch to off.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Yes, the tan/white wire goes dead when I pull the switch back to the off position. No there is no spring action associated with the switch as far as I can tell.


The switch appears to be fine as I move it from Off to On to Start all of the functions perform as they should with dash lights, alarm and all.


BTW we may have to continue this tomorrow. Today being Sunday I am off with the family.


Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Now that I have an idea of where the problem lies, do I replace the actuator and associated parts? Or I'm assuming you can tell me how to do it or shoot me an instruction page...

While I look it up, let me ask you this. Does the key and lock cylinder spring back when it is turned off. I know you can actually turn it off but can you feel any spring pressure forcing the actuator back?

Has any work been done near that prior to this problem?

For the instructions on the ignition Switch Lock Cylinder, click here.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I'm past this stage the "switch cylinder lock" has been out for a couple of days. How do I replace the mechanism that goes from the switch cylinder lock to the actuator?

I don't know if there are instructions for that. I don't even know what it would be called. I thought it was just the actuator between the ignition lock cylinder and the ignition switch.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

So, based on your knowledge, I've reached an impasse? Or perhaps I have to replace a huge part of the steering column?

I was thinking, the entire steering column. What exactly was it that that locksmith did? Was this the reason you had him look at it? Was it like this before he looked at it? Did he take anything apart?

Can you perhaps take some pictures and let me try to figure out what is going on?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

The locksmith only looked at the lock, key and cylinder. You and I found the switch to be in good working order when upon your suggestion I found the hot tan/white wire.

Then when I dropped the switch and moved the switch forward and back, by deduction I came to realize the problem is not in the switch or the cylinder but has to reside between the cylinder and the actuator that controls the switch lever.

Perhaps we can just use this diagram,

Do you see #3F723? It's called the Steering actuator housing.

Does that ignition switch bolt to that and does the actuator connect there?

Refer to this, steering column disassembly, click here.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

For lack of a better word, "CRAP" the part I have to replace seems to be on step 8. Can you shoot me the instructions on pulling the steering wheel?

Ok, click here.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Sorry, but this isn't how to pull the steering wheel...and when this part is all said and done will you advise me on fixing my speedometer?


I changed the sending unit that connects to the transmission so the problem lies between there and the instrument cluster.

Sorry, I fell asleep. Click here. I'll look into it as long as you accept these answers first.
Mike S. and other Ford Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Well, this seems to be what I need. Thanks for your help

You are welcome and thank you! So what is going on with your speedometer and did you retrieve any codes referring to it?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

It' been a while since it went out. I was driving back from San Diego when the speedometer needle started to bounce around to the point where I was moving around 75-80 mph and the meter was reading 0. Also the odometer wasn't counting the miles as I traveled another 50 miles. From that time it's been the same even after I changed the sending unit hooked up to the transmission.


No I have no codes...

Let me look up that. I do know that has a cable at any spot, the bouncing is usually due to a kink in the cable or too much of a bend. The fact that it actually was bouncing then all of a sudden stopped working sounds like the cable broke. If it's just a speed sensor, buffer, etc setup, then ignore the part about the cable. Some though have both a sensor and a cable. I'll be right back.

The speedometer and odometer receive a voltage signal from the vehicle speed sensor. The VSS is a small permanent magnet generator that is driven by the speedometer drive gear inside the transmission.

Without a scan tool or breakout box, go through this diagnostic chart and at least do some of the tests that check for resistance using an ohmmeter, click here.

I believe this one was directed from that one, click here.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

You know, I'm going to have to wait till I get the steering put back together. I am unable to diagnose anything now but I have bookmarked your page and will get back to you.



Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Yes, I gave you a rating. I saw the payment on my credit card statement. Is my problem fixed? No... I'm still having issues.

Which problem are you talking about speedometer or ignition not shutting off?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Ignition, I'm not going to worry about any other work until I get this fixed...



So where did we leave off?

What is your zipcode?

Auto trans or manual trans?

I assume this is a floor shift.

Here are 4 of them for about $140-$180,

Or you can search the salvage yards,