Ignition Cylinder + Steering Locked


Man, I just love it when problems compound themselves.

It’s pretty damn cold outside and the lows will be in the teens the next few days. I don’t have antifreeze in the car, as this is atypical weather for Raleigh and it’s generally not cold enough to worry too much about. Nonetheless, I figured it might be a good idea to run the car up to temp and get some residual heat in it, along with other measures I’m taking to keep it warm.

So I go to turn the key…

And the ignition key won’t turn. It started just fine not long ago, so must’ve been something I did recently. Well, I wanted to lower the steering column, so used the air gun on the safety bolts on the steering column to get them loose. That must’ve jiggled something loose in the cylinder, or else broke it in some unknown way. Great.

Also, the steering lock is engaged. Now, I can’t remember if the previous owner disabled the steering lock or not. It’s a new car to me, and I hadn’t gotten to that yet. I can’t get the quick disconnect adapter off, presumably because I can’t move the key to position 1 in order to unlock it.

So now I’m stuck. Nevermind about the temperature, I have no way of starting or steering the car at this point.

I’m thinking if I can manage to disable the steering lock, I can just bypass the ignition lock and put a push-to-start circuit in place, assuming I can’t ever get the lock to turn. But I gotta get the wheel (adapter) off before I can get to the steering lock bits. What would happen if I tried a gear puller to get it off? I assume I have to wind up breaking something.

Any thoughts or ideas on how to proceed as non-destructively as possible?




Phew… crisis averted.

I finally got the cylinder to turn thanks to some vigorous persuasion. Seems like it will turn if you simultaneously slam the key into the cylinder while turning. Frustration to the rescue.

Once the key turned, the steering lock deactivated and the quick disconnect hub adapter came right off. I can clearly see now that the steering lock hasn’t been touched, so I’ll have to deal with that. That should have been apparent when the wheel didn’t come off, but I’d read about somebody’s experience where it was only partially removed and the remaining piece wound up gumming up the works later.

Good news is I can start the car and I have access to remove the steering impediment. It occurred to me afterwards that I probably could have just popped the electrical switch part of the ignition off the lock cylinder and started the car that way. Live and learn.

Now to decide what to do about the lock cylinder. I can get it to work but I don’t trust it.


My key has been hard to turn lately too. Takes 50x to get it to turn. The cause isn’t the key cylinder, in my case. If you take the shrouding off the steering wheel, you’ll see a plastic electrical connector that connects to the back of the key cylinder. If the electrical connector comes “a little” free of the cylinder. our symptom occurs.


Perhaps you inadvertently “bump keyed” the lock? Pretty interesting stuff, I’ve tried it on my house lock and it works disturbingly well.

Bump Key Video


[quote=“ecrawshaw” post=79945]Perhaps you inadvertently “bump keyed” the lock? Pretty interesting stuff, I’ve tried it on my house lock and it works disturbingly well.


Yeah, that could very well be. It was working just great until yesterday, so I figure I jiggled something just enough out of place and a little bumping action helped. I can pretty repeatedly turn it now by bumping it while turning.


I may have overestimated my ability to repeatedly turn the key. Now it’s only if I get lucky. BUT… I discovered that if I never pull the key out, I can turn it on and off all day long. It’s once I pull the key out that it does whatever it does to go all janky. So lesson learned, never pull the key out.


Mine behaves the same.


Mine stopped working last year so I switched to a push button.


I’ve replaced the cylinder before. All you need is the key and a small allen key. I doubt it would help you to pull the old cylinder out without installing a new one, but it would you could easily do it.

Now that I think about that video it could be that the bumps on the key are worn down to much. You could just try a new key.


Theory has merit, but it works the same with every key I have. I considered getting a cylinder rebuild kit, assuming the pins might be worn. I’ve read the instructions, but I can’t for the life of me get the cylinder to release. At this point, my plan is to just keep the key in at all times. If and when that proves to no longer be viable, I’ll just rig up an ignition switch and start button/switch.