he turned the key over to accessory


Senior Member
Then he hopped around to the driver’s door and stared in, fully expecting to see an empty ignition slot. But the keys were there, dangling from an imitation leather case with the initials A.C. on it. Bending in carefully, he turned the key over to accessory. Slowly, the gas gauge needle swung over to a little more than a quarter of a tank.
Source: The Stand by Stephen King
Context: Stu got inside a stalled Polymouth on the breakdown lane of the turnpike.

What does accessory refer to here? I understand accessory means a supplementary part or object, as of a car, appliance, etc (WRF).
But this standard sense does not seem to fit here.

Thank you.
  • The Newt

    Senior Member
    English - US
    "Accessory" is a setting on the ignition lock, in which the car isn't fully on but will supply power to the radio, headlights etc.


    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    Traditional car keys could be turned to several positions: Off, Run (when the engine operates normally), sometimes Start (when there is no separate starter button or pedal), and Accessory - where the car's electrical system operates normally, so one can listen to the radio, raise and lower electric windows, etc., but the engine does not operate. In this case, Stu turned the key to the Accessory position so the gas gauge would work and he could see how much fuel was in the car.

    Today's electronic car keys work differently. For one thing, they're not turned.

    Cross-posted. If I wrote less, it would take me less time.
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