The question itself is pretty basic but I'm not sure how to title it:

What happens when you get the key from position 0 (turned off) to the moment when the battery "kicks in" and the dashboard lights up (KL30 I think)? (On average cars, I don't have any specific model in mind)

In all the cars I've driven so far, I hear sound, so I was wondering if like pumps were getting activated before even starting the engine. It's more of a theoretical question than trying to fix a problem. Underlying questions are "what kind of problem would turning the key half-way/back to 0 multiple time without starting the engine cause?" for example.

Thank you!

1 Answer 1


This is answered for "average" cars as you say you don't have any specific one in mind...

If by "halfway" you mean position I then this is for accessories such as radio, possibly sat nav etc.

Position II is for ignition ie causing pumps, and warning lights to come on and also error checking on some cars. (there are some cars that will pre-energize the fuel pump on unlocking the car or opening the driver's door before you even put the key in, this is done for a rapid start on high-pressure fuel systems.)

Then there is the position III or the start position when you energize the starter.

Note, there were some older diesel vehicles that had the 3rd position to operate the heater plugs, then the starter function was position 4.

  • By halfway I meant Position II. Your answer provides is the kind of information I'm looking for, thank you. If nobody else answers with anything more detailled later, I'll mark this as solved with yours.
    – P1kachu
    Sep 9, 2018 at 20:31

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