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Old 09-05-2009, 11:21 PM   #1
jzambon
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Default Ignition Lock Cylinder or Ignition Switch?

Hey all,

I just came in town for a wedding and my sister had some questions about her SL2 (the third SL2 in the family). '01 SL2 is having trouble turning the key in the ignition. I needed to wiggle the key for about 5 minutes at one point today in order to get it to turn (note: the steering wheel lock was not impeding my efforts to turn the key). Once the key turned the car started right up.

She had the car in to the dealer for a SES light (loose gas cap, lol) about a week ago and the dealer told her that she would need to have the ignition switch replaced. He said something (paraphrasing from a paraphrased statement) that the two security bolts have become loose against the steering column and will need to be replaced along with the switch to the tune of >$200. Eventually, he said, the key will be completely unable to turn in the ignition.

So my question is, given that the problem appears to be with turning the key with an unlocked steering wheel, is the cylinder the only thing that needs to be replaced? The key works fine in the doors, and I used a spare key that has gone unused for most of its life. The spare key was rough to turn as well, isolating the issue to the ignition.

So, before I start drawing conclusions regarding this particular mechanic, what would the forum advise? Is this simply a problem with a stuck ignition cylinder or does the claim of the ignition switch needing replacement seem justified? Is there something else I should be looking for in order to isolate the issue to one or the other?

Thanks!

Richpin (with a million thanks!) videos:

Lock cylinder: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cown4CO2FJ0
Ignition switch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ni4nw_exMOY

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Old 09-06-2009, 12:30 AM   #2
Growser
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2002 SL2
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Default Re: Ignition Lock Cylinder or Ignition Switch?

My 2000 SL1 had same problem and dealer told me same thing. I replaced the Lock Cylinder and it fixed the problem. Real easy job to do, especially if you watch RichPin's video.

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Old 09-06-2009, 12:51 AM   #3
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Default Re: Ignition Lock Cylinder or Ignition Switch?

The ignition switch is on the other end of key. It is turned by the key/cylinder. If you have tried a new or nearly new condition key then you need to replace the ignition cylinder and get a new key. Little to no chance of the switch causing the key to not turn.

As for the loose bolts.
They hold the ignition cylinder housing to the steering column. They normally only loosen enough to let the housing move around a bit. Unless you can actually turn them out by hand they can be left for a while. They are a pain to remove as they need to be turned out using a hammer and a chisel to make them turn. New bolts are put in making sure that the housing is aligned to let the steering wheel lock in place. The bolts get tightened up until the heads break off.

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Old 09-06-2009, 06:23 AM   #4
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Default Re: Ignition Lock Cylinder or Ignition Switch?

The ignition cylinder is probably the culprit, but I always suggest that before swapping out the key & cylinder go to the Saturn dealer and have a new key cut from the serial number. I've done this twice in the last 6 months, once for my wife's 00 SW2 and last week for my daughter's 96 SW2. No more problems. If it works ok, you're done; if it doesn't, go back and have them do you up a new cylinder to match the new key.

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Old 09-06-2009, 10:11 AM   #5
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Default Re: Ignition Lock Cylinder or Ignition Switch?

Thanks for all the help!

When you go to saturn to get a new ignition cylinder for a key, how much does that run? Less than $100? I'm guessing that I would also get a new key?

I ran out to see if i could get a new key cut this morning but they are closed for the holiday weekend. I will suggest that my sister try to get a new key cut, if that doesn't work to get a new cylinder to match the key and install it herself, it looks like it involves 5 screws and a paperclip.

Thanks again!

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Old 09-06-2009, 10:32 AM   #6
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Default Re: Ignition Lock Cylinder or Ignition Switch?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jzambon View Post
Thanks for all the help!

When you go to saturn to get a new ignition cylinder for a key, how much does that run? Less than $100? I'm guessing that I would also get a new key?

I ran out to see if i could get a new key cut this morning but they are closed for the holiday weekend. I will suggest that my sister try to get a new key cut, if that doesn't work to get a new cylinder to match the key and install it herself, it looks like it involves 5 screws and a paperclip.

Thanks again!
New keys are 20 bucks and are cut to VIN. New cylinders are 60 + 20 for them to put it together and also includes a new key. Have them put it together, dont try to do it yourself.

...
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Old 11-30-2010, 09:25 PM   #7
brandon mitchel
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Default Re: Ignition Lock Cylinder or Ignition Switch?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jzambon View Post
Hey all,

I just came in town for a wedding and my sister had some questions about her SL2 (the third SL2 in the family). '01 SL2 is having trouble turning the key in the ignition. I needed to wiggle the key for about 5 minutes at one point today in order to get it to turn (note: the steering wheel lock was not impeding my efforts to turn the key). Once the key turned the car started right up.

She had the car in to the dealer for a SES light (loose gas cap, lol) about a week ago and the dealer told her that she would need to have the ignition switch replaced. He said something (paraphrasing from a paraphrased statement) that the two security bolts have become loose against the steering column and will need to be replaced along with the switch to the tune of >$200. Eventually, he said, the key will be completely unable to turn in the ignition.

So my question is, given that the problem appears to be with turning the key with an unlocked steering wheel, is the cylinder the only thing that needs to be replaced? The key works fine in the doors, and I used a spare key that has gone unused for most of its life. The spare key was rough to turn as well, isolating the issue to the ignition.

So, before I start drawing conclusions regarding this particular mechanic, what would the forum advise? Is this simply a problem with a stuck ignition cylinder or does the claim of the ignition switch needing replacement seem justified? Is there something else I should be looking for in order to isolate the issue to one or the other?

Thanks!
Maybe its the ignition switch. The ignition switch is lets you start your engines combustion process by connecting the starter to your battery.

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Old 12-01-2010, 12:38 PM   #8
saladdin
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1998 SL1
Default Re: Ignition Lock Cylinder or Ignition Switch?

Same issue here with 98 SL1.

Changed the cylinder and works fine. I did not get a cut key. I bought a generic one for maybe $20 at Oreilly's, came with key. I just carry two keys around. Actually, I don't carry any keys around. I leave them in the car at all times. But I am prone to do dumb things.

Read some of my posts and you'll see how dumb I can be, if I can change the cylinder anyone can.


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Old 08-11-2015, 09:33 PM   #9
SaturnWring
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Default Re: Ignition Lock Cylinder or Ignition Switch?

Saturn SL ignition replacement on the cheap.
I just replaced the ignition cylinder and ignition housing on my 2002 SL1 (3rd generation is 2000-2002). Here are some notes and tips I figured out along the way. I wanted to do it on the super cheap, as this car has a ton of miles on it.
My situation:
My key would not turn. I got a new key from dealer, and it also did not work. Steering wheel lock was not the problem. You cannot pull out the ignition cylinder unless you can turn it to accessory slot. Locksmiths are really expensive and I am not one. After trying to force it and then failing to drill it out I called around some shops. Cheapest quotes just to replace cylinder were over $250. Dealer wanted over $400. I found I could buy both a new (uncoded) ignition cylinder and a new ignition housing from Amazon for less than $85 total shipped Prime, so I did. I figured I might have damaged the housing anyway and I wasn't getting the cylinder out any time soon.

Removing airbag, steering wheel and other parts:
Watch RichPin's YouTube video about how to remove 3rd gen. airbags as well as his video on how to change the ignition switch (it shows how to remove the ignition housing). Watch them again (links are below)
Remove negative contact from car battery.
My first problem was not having a skinny enough 5 mm nut driver to get off steering column housing as well as the multifunction switch behind the steering wheel (sockets are too big to fit in the holes to access the nut heads). I found a Dewalt 7/32"drill head nut driver on a multipurpose screwdriver worked fine. You can buy 5 mm hand nut drivers online but none of the hardware or auto supply stores around me stock them.
I used a flathead screw drill driver bit (about 2 inches long) and vice grips attached at a right angle to get in the triangular holes to pop the airbag off. My wheel was locked so turning the wheel to get at the holes with a screwdriver was not an option. I pried the air bag with a flathead screwdriver like in RichPin's video while I turned the drill bit-vice grip in the holes.
After getting airbag off, I failed to disconnect the little black electric connectors which end up feeding through the steering wheel. I removed the steering wheel bolt with a 13/16 inch socket, and then pulled the wheel with my hands back and forth to pull it off. When it popped off I accidentally pulled the three pins out of the black connector on the car side of the connection. Thankfully I could see what order to slide then back from RichPin's video. I think it is for the horn, but it would suck not to have that.
Getting the multifunction switch off is easy if you can get to the 5 mm nut heads (see above).
Disconnecting the various electrical connectors is pretty easy. Follow that one RichPin mentions way back to undo its metal clip to give you enough slack to take off multifunction switch.
The security bolts were way easier than I thought they would be. A cold chisel hit at the right angle moved them in one soft hit, and vice grips and fingers did the rest easy.
Take off ignition housing and remove switch and the removal part is done.

Installing replacement parts (housing and cylinder):
The ignition housing came with reverse torx replacement security bolts. I just tightened them with vice grips. The ignition cylinder came uncoded with no key (loose pins and springs in little sealed bags). After much research into what it takes to code it or how much it would cost to have it keyed to my old key, i decided to install it uncoded (any Saturn key of the right size will turn it). That may not be appealing to everyone, but my car is a manual, so it is less likely to get stolen where I live. If someone stole it they might just be doing me a favor anyway. One bonus is that both the old worn out key and the newly cut key work now.
Mounting the switch and housing is easy. I put the cylinder into the housing before mounting and made sure my key turned it.
Do everything else in reverse order. Make sure your steering wheel is mounted on straight, if that is a concern of yours.
I ran into trouble with the security light flashing and my Passlock 1 system cutting of fuel pump when I tired to start the car. The new magnet passcode sensor system from my new parts did not have the same resistance code to send to the control module which tells the pump to run (no one is trying to steal us). I went through the three stage relearn process twice but it still was not working. The procedure is below -- it takes a total of 30+ minutes. I was almost ready to give up but I went through it again making sure I waited a little over ten minutes each time I let the flashing security light turn off. I waited five second between each reset. That time it worked and everything is functioning great!

To find RichPin's videos (I cannot post url's):
Google "remove airbag Saturn SL"
Google "change ignition switch Saturn SL"

Relearn procedure for Passlock:

1. Turn ignition switch to RUN position.
2. Momentarily rotate ignition switch to START position and return to RUN position. DO NOT start vehicle.
3. Wait a minimum of ten minutes.
4. SECURITY indicator light changes from a flashing or on state to an off state, turn ignition to OFF position (make sure it has been ten minutes)
5. Wait five seconds in OFF position.
6. Repeat steps 1-5 two more times (for a total of three times waiting ten minutes after the third turn to START)
7. From OFF turn to START. The car should start on this ignition cycle.

If the ignition switch is turned OFF before ten minutes has passed the relearn procedure must be restarted. Even if the security light stops flashing, wait more than ten minutes.

Good luck!

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Old 08-12-2015, 08:55 AM   #10
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Default Re: Ignition Lock Cylinder or Ignition Switch?

I recently bought my sons a 2003 L300. Soon after getting it he was complaining that the ignition key was difficult to start the car. Sure enough, if you wiggled it enough it would start, but it was clear the ignition cyllinder lock was kaput worn. Looking at the key also told the same story.
I priced out a new uncoded cylinder lock on the internet and with my Chevy dealer (who is a main Saturn parts center). There was not much difference in the price of the lock. I needed to have the lock have the same code as the rest of the locks as I didn't want him having a multitude of keys to lock/unlock doors, ignition.
I checked with a local locksmith who did auto locks and there was little difference either between them and the dealer.
So the dealer it was. The total cost came out at $75.00 for the lock cylinder kit, an eye watering $40 for the new key and main dealer labor of $115.00 to remove the old lock and code and install the new one plus cut the new key. Could I have made savings? Yes. I could have bought the lock and had the dealer code it, then installed it myself, so my bill would have been around $100. Did I have the time? No. So in this case I bit the bullet. The car works perfect now.
The Richpin video on swapping the lock cylinder is simplicity itself. The previous posters suggestions I do think concern not only swapping out the lock, but the wobbly ignition bracket too and hence are much more involved instructions.
Here's the link for just replacing the lock cylinder...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yt8wnj4qHoc

Good luck

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Old 08-12-2015, 10:55 AM   #11
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Default Re: Ignition Lock Cylinder or Ignition Switch?

Quote:
Originally Posted by SaturnWring View Post
i decided to install it uncoded (any Saturn key of the right size will turn it).
I leave my Saturn around town open and unguarded, sometimes with the key in it. No takers so far, but one can continue to hope...

This is in downtown Detroit, in not so nice neighbourhoods.

Darren

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Old 03-26-2017, 02:00 PM   #12
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Default Re: Ignition Lock Cylinder or Ignition Switch?

Revive the old threads on common problems! Just bought 05 Vue, v6 fwd. 128k. Key would turn in the ignition only if I held my mouth just right, wiggled the steering wheel, bumped the gear shift, and chanted an incantation.
After watching several vids, I took the cylinder out and found a ton of brass shavings from the keys all around the area. The problem appeared to be the "bar" not retracting enough when the key is inserted. With nothing to lose, I gently ground down the edge of the "bar", rounding it a little so it can turn past the sharp edge of the groove inside. Cleaned it all really well, soaked it down with silicone spray, put it back in, worked it a few times, cleaned and lubed again, and it`s working great. Total cost so far: $0.00. I will get a new key cut from the dealer and save a new copy in reserve for when the tumblers finally need replaced.
Wish me luck with my GM. I bought it because it had a Honda motor/ trans!

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Old 03-26-2017, 03:30 PM   #13
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Default Re: Ignition Lock Cylinder or Ignition Switch?

Quote:
Originally Posted by dfuerst View Post
I leave my Saturn around town open and unguarded, sometimes with the key in it. No takers so far, but one can continue to hope...

This is in downtown Detroit, in not so nice neighbourhoods.

Darren
Mine gets locked every time, even when sitting in my driveway. I dont trust anyone and im always worried about someone taking something. When i had my old car with manual windows, id roll up every window if they werent already.
Car theft doesnt seem to be as common now, but i still worry.

...
1999 Saturn SL1-129k at purchase(may 2016)-139k when wrecked(September 2016)

1999 Saturn SC1(This car is cursed)-156K at purchase(october 2016)-170k currently (jun 2017)

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