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Old 09-04-2011, 08:49 PM   #1
cns01120
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Default Key is stuck in ignition with car on, can't find plunger! Help!

I drove my car, parked at a store, and went in. Five minutes later I came out and used the panic button to get someone's attention who was in the car for them to come over. When I got back in, I started the car and drove to another store about five minutes away. In the parking lot of the second store I couldn't turn the key to turn the car off. I drove home and the key still would not turn off. It will turn the other way. We tried WD-40 as suggested in the gas station.

We tried taking the door off and looking for the "plunger" I can't find it. I see a white plastic piece with a tiny black button on it attached to a spring. Is this the plunger? How do I push it? I tried pushing the tiny button and on the plastic white part.

We now took a fuse out and disconnected the black battery terminal as suggested by a repairman. Any suggestions? Thank you!!

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Old 09-04-2011, 09:28 PM   #2
2006 ion2
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Default Re: Key is stuck in ignition with car on, can't find plunger! Help!

is it an auto, or manual transmission? you most likely need a new lock cylinder.

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Old 09-04-2011, 10:32 PM   #3
Zosozeppelin
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Default Re: Key is stuck in ignition with car on, can't find plunger! Help!

Do as suggested, but before you get a new lock cylinder, check the key out. Mine did this exact thing to me and I've switched to my spare because my key was bent. I've also figured out that my car only likes to spit the key out when the steering wheel has the Saturn emblem perfectly straight. Once I figured that out, it hasn't done it to me since. It's been over a year since it last did it.

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Old 09-04-2011, 11:36 PM   #4
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Default Re: Key is stuck in ignition with car on, can't find plunger! Help!

It's an automatic. I still can't get the key out so I can't get it in to be repaired without towing it. If I could get the key out, I could probably start it and drive it in.

Roughly how much should replacing the lock cylinder cost?

Thanks!

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Old 09-05-2011, 12:33 AM   #5
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Default Re: Key is stuck in ignition with car on, can't find plunger! Help!

I can't find the plunger inside the door under the steering column. Can anyone describe what it looks like and how to press it? Thank you

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Old 09-05-2011, 10:19 AM   #6
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Default Re: Key is stuck in ignition with car on, can't find plunger! Help!

Did the Owner's Manual have no insights?

Zosozeppelin makes a good point about the Saturn's locking mechanism. My first 24hr Test Drive of the Saturn ION... I had that problem. Had to be talked though it by a friend. Try adjusting the wheel slightly and see if it releases.

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Old 09-05-2011, 12:01 PM   #7
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Default Re: Key is stuck in ignition with car on, can't find plunger! Help!

the automatics have the plunger, so it's in there. reach up in there and feel, it's exactly how it sounds, a plunger. also, nothing should be stopping you from starting the car, just from shutting it off. start it, then drive it straight to a mechanic, preferably a dealership. the cylinder is the cheap part, iirc, about $85. labor will kill you.

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Old 09-05-2011, 12:57 PM   #8
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Default Re: Key is stuck in ignition with car on, can't find plunger! Help!

Its a pretty good bet that the problem lies in the lock cylinder, as others mentioned. On mine, the person I got it from told me that from years of her having an insanely heavy keyring due to many many keys, it put too much stress on the cylinder itself. Because of this, if I go to put the key in and start it, it will not move out of the OFF position without 20 minutes of random juggling and twisting the key.

The only way I got around this is the fact that at any point from OFF to START, I can pull the key out, even if the key is running. So now I just turn the key back to just before OFF, and it won't lock the cylinder. Don't know if this is due to my lock cylinder being damaged or not, but you may be able to take your key out (if you haven't already) if you can put it forward to ACC or something.

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Old 09-05-2011, 04:24 PM   #9
2006 ion2
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Default Re: Key is stuck in ignition with car on, can't find plunger! Help!

You probably need a new cylinder and a new key made by a dealer cut from your vin

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Old 09-05-2011, 10:58 PM   #10
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Default Re: Key is stuck in ignition with car on, can't find plunger! Help!

Quote:
Originally Posted by paulsome View Post
Its a pretty good bet that the problem lies in the lock cylinder, as others mentioned. On mine, the person I got it from told me that from years of her having an insanely heavy keyring due to many many keys, it put too much stress on the cylinder itself. Because of this, if I go to put the key in and start it, it will not move out of the OFF position without 20 minutes of random juggling and twisting the key.

The only way I got around this is the fact that at any point from OFF to START, I can pull the key out, even if the key is running. So now I just turn the key back to just before OFF, and it won't lock the cylinder. Don't know if this is due to my lock cylinder being damaged or not, but you may be able to take your key out (if you haven't already) if you can put it forward to ACC or something.
Yeah, it shouldn't be doing that. At all lol. I'd have that replaced. You can also learn from my mistake of leaving it in ACC after you had the engine on (to listen to the radio while you wait on someone at the store or something like that) and then turning it back on. It tripped the computer into throwing the P0442 code. I had to have it reprogrammed by the dealer for that after they figured out that it was a TSB that needed to be done on it.

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Old 09-06-2011, 12:37 PM   #11
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Default Re: Key is stuck in ignition with car on, can't find plunger! Help!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zosozeppelin View Post
Yeah, it shouldn't be doing that. At all lol. I'd have that replaced. You can also learn from my mistake of leaving it in ACC after you had the engine on (to listen to the radio while you wait on someone at the store or something like that) and then turning it back on. It tripped the computer into throwing the P0442 code. I had to have it reprogrammed by the dealer for that after they figured out that it was a TSB that needed to be done on it.
Haha yeah the whole cylinder is pretty screwed up. The previous owner told me it was just one of those things "I'd get used to over time." Yeah well until then I'd rather keep the cylinder a half a click forward from OFF than try to explain to my boss I was half an hour late to work because I couldn't start my car. I'll probably have it replaced eventually when I scrape up some extra funds. Especially since that whole code issue sounds like a real pain lol. And also because with my current system, I (and consequently anyone who wants to steal it) can pretty much start the car with a screwdriver, paperclip, or any long piece of metal in roughly the same shape/size as a key...

So yeah I guess the moral here is change the lock cylinder ASAP.

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Old 09-06-2011, 05:48 PM   #12
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Default Re: Key is stuck in ignition with car on, can't find plunger! Help!

my wife's 06 just went through this,,ended up with new ignition, new ignition housing and new key. It is possible to drive your car to the repair shop. I had pulled a fuse to get car shut off, then disconnected the battery. Reconnected the battery and turned the stuck key to start up and drive to the shop,, good luck.

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Old 09-06-2011, 09:59 PM   #13
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Default Re: Key is stuck in ignition with car on, can't find plunger! Help!

Quote:
Originally Posted by paulsome View Post
Haha yeah the whole cylinder is pretty screwed up. The previous owner told me it was just one of those things "I'd get used to over time." Yeah well until then I'd rather keep the cylinder a half a click forward from OFF than try to explain to my boss I was half an hour late to work because I couldn't start my car. I'll probably have it replaced eventually when I scrape up some extra funds. Especially since that whole code issue sounds like a real pain lol. And also because with my current system, I (and consequently anyone who wants to steal it) can pretty much start the car with a screwdriver, paperclip, or any long piece of metal in roughly the same shape/size as a key...

So yeah I guess the moral here is change the lock cylinder ASAP.
Yeah, a $100 smoke test and three hours later a tech says "Hey...Isn't there a TSB on this...?" It suckeddd

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'06 Level 3 Quad Coupe. 116K as of 1-8-14.

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Old 09-08-2011, 07:27 PM   #14
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Default Re: Key is stuck in ignition with car on, can't find plunger! Help!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zosozeppelin View Post
Yeah, a $100 smoke test and three hours later a tech says "Hey...Isn't there a TSB on this...?" It suckeddd
Yikes, I can imagine. The only thing I can do in those situations is try to look up the specific code and hope its something I can fix myself. But I'm no computer whiz, so it's a real gamble. That's why I like working on my '68 Cougar - hardly any computer components to go wrong and make me feel like an idiot when I realize I don't know how to fix it lol

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Old 09-08-2011, 10:35 PM   #15
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Default Re: Key is stuck in ignition with car on, can't find plunger! Help!

Ha, I know nothing about how to do ANYTHING on my car myself. I can change the wiper blades and fill the washer fluid. Learned how to change a tire, and that's about the extent of my knowledge. I've never tried to do anything myself. I'd probably end up blowing the car up. I'm just on here so I can learn the lingo and figure out how stuff works that way when I bring it to get fixed somewhere I know they're not trying to screw me on service.

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