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Old 02-25-2021, 02:32 AM   #1
StarLady
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Default Key stuck in the ignition!

Hi, all:
A new problem with my 1992 SC. Today I went to a doctors appointment and my key got stuck in the ignition. No amount of jiggling, tapping, turning the wheel, etc. could get it out or get it to turn. I had to call a tow truck and have the car towed home. So, right now the key is stuck in the ignition.

As I was removing my house keys from the keychain, I noticed that the clock was on. I'm getting old, but I don't remember the clock staying brightly on when the engine is off. Am I correct? Also the clock didn't have the correct time. I also tried dimming the clock light, but it wouldn't dim at all. Hmmm.... so I thought something electrical-related is going on. So I asked a friend to disconnect the battery (black cable). We tried removing the key with the battery disconnected and with the it connected again, but he key still wouldn't budge. Anyway, I didn't want the clock to drain the battery, so I left the cable disconnected. I hope that's the right thing to do. Oh, BTW, a new battery was installed just last week. Could this have something to do with it?

It's late at night, so I will deal with it tomorrow. In the meantime, my car sits outside with the battery disconnected. This had never happened before.

What could be the problem?
...
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Old 02-25-2021, 10:05 AM   #2
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Default Re: Key stuck in the ignition!

Hey Star Lady,
Read up on this:
http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=232149

Your new battery would have nothing to do with the problem. Ok to disconnect the battery. You probably need a new ignition lock cylinder. I recommend getting the real AC Delco one from Rock Auto as you can install the tumblers and keep your original key.

Here was what mine looked like:


Your clock is on because you are stuck in the accessory position. You can actually pop the switch off the bottom of the lock cylinder by removing 2 screws and start the car by turning the switch with a screwdriver.



People will suggest spraying lubricant - I suspect that a hard failure like you describe is more like my scenario.

One last thing - when you get the lock cylinder out, pull the wafers out one by one and write down the numbers. If you make a little diagram like this it will document which ones need to go where. They are labeled 1, 2, 3, and 4 if I remember correctly
...
Bryan Cotton
'99 SL2, 5SP bought new
Rebuilt at 204,067 September 2017
Engine, subframe, diff pin mod, brake lines, headliner, alternator, and so on!
'98 SC2, 5SP bought 2018

Last edited by Waiex191; 02-25-2021 at 10:14 AM.
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Old 02-25-2021, 10:24 AM   #3
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Default Re: Key stuck in the ignition!

The RA link for the AC delco part that trottida posted in the other thread is still good:
https://www.rockauto.com/en/moreinfo...357264&jsn=319

I've bought two of them.
...
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Old 02-25-2021, 08:02 PM   #4
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Default Re: Key stuck in the ignition!

Thank you Waiex for your very helpful response.
I read the other thread and I see that you had this same problem a few years back, except my key is stuck in the Acc position.

So, when the ignition lock cylinder is replaced with a new one, I won't be able to use my current one... Unless the tumblers from the current cylinder are put into the new cylinder? Am I understanding that right?

Okay, I guess now I gotta find an ACDelco ignition lock cylinder, and an auto locksmith. Or is this something that a "regular" auto mechanic can do?
...
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Old 02-25-2021, 08:21 PM   #5
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Default Re: Key stuck in the ignition!

Quote:
Originally Posted by StarLady View Post
. . . I guess now I gotta find an ACDelco ignition lock cylinder, . . .
Yikes! the ACDelcos available at FLAPs around here are expensive! Around $90 (3x or 4x the other brands)
What would be the next acceptable brand recommendations?
And which to definitely avoid?
...
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Old 02-25-2021, 09:03 PM   #6
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Default Re: Key stuck in the ignition!

The tumblers(wafers) wear along with the cylinder, housing and key. It is a reasonable DIY job to transfer the tumblers, but I suggest you check with a lock-shop for a quote on supplying an all-new lock assembly keyed correctly. The cost may not be all that bad if they use a non-Delco replacement that they feel is good quality.
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Old 02-26-2021, 01:46 AM   #7
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Default Re: Key stuck in the ignition!

StarLady,
The ignition cylinder is $40 at Rock Auto. Not sure how shipping to Hawaii works out or if you can wait. My '98 has an aftermarket installed but needs a separate key for the ignition, and the original key works in the doors. I am going to put the AC delco cylinder in it one of these days.

I was also stuck in accessory. You may have exactly the same failure.

You don't reuse the tumblers, but you take out the old ones and write down which number went in which position. That was my little picture with the key next to it. If you know which number goes in which position then you can take the new ones, match up the numbers to the position you wrote down, and put them in. Take another look at the picture. The cylinder has 5 tumblers sticking out on the top, and 4 on the bottom. Note I have 5 empty boxes on the top, and 4 on the bottom. There are 9 tumblers total. Take out the first one. It will have a number that is either 1, 2, 3, or 4 on it. Write it in the corresponding box. Now do that 8 more times. This is now your map. Take out your new tumblers, and put the correct tumbler (which will be marked 1-4 just like the old ones) in the right slot on the new cylinder. Now your old key will work still.


Any decent mechanic can do it. It is easy. Of course there are a lot of bad mechanics, and also mechanics who don't stray outside of their comfort zone.
...
Bryan Cotton
'99 SL2, 5SP bought new
Rebuilt at 204,067 September 2017
Engine, subframe, diff pin mod, brake lines, headliner, alternator, and so on!
'98 SC2, 5SP bought 2018
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Old 02-27-2021, 12:05 AM   #8
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Default Re: Key stuck in the ignition!

Thanks again, Waiex.

Shipping from Mainlad to Hawaii is exorbitant. That's why it's usually better, or at least the same $$ just to buy here. So not much benefit to buying stuff online unless it's nominal or free shipping.

Anyway, I just got off the phone with a mechanic. After I explained the problem and pointed out that the key was stuck in the "ACC" position, he said that it might not be possible to remove just the ignition cylinder. He said that probably the whole assembly had to be taken out (I don't know what "assembly" he was referring to). Plus he said he won't be able to come and look at it until Tuesday.
...
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Bought it brand new, and still loving it today.

Last edited by StarLady; 02-27-2021 at 12:11 AM.
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Old 02-27-2021, 12:17 AM   #9
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Default Re: Key stuck in the ignition!

I'll read the other thread again and see if I can figure out the step-by-step procedure. Unless it already exists somewhere...? If so, Could someone please point me in the right direction?
...
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Old 02-27-2021, 12:44 AM   #10
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Default Re: Key stuck in the ignition!

The "assembly" is primarily the cylinder, the housing it goes into, the tumblers, tumblers springs, a keeper for the springs, and a few other bits and pieces.

Back to some useful info... the cylinder and housing tend to wear about the same, so if the cylinder is bad then, the housing is also suspect. Actually, if your only knowledge right now is that the key is stuck, then it is just as likely that the root problem is the housing as cylinder. You need to replace the whole assembly. Did you consider my suggestion to get a quote from a lock shop?
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Old 02-27-2021, 05:38 AM   #11
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Default Re: Key stuck in the ignition!

billr: Thanks for your reply.
I guess I'm confused as to what the 'ignition lock cylinder' is. I thought that was an assembly (tumblers, etc) that can be taken out as one. Is that part of a bigger assembly system? Confused...

I'm also confused as to who would be the best person for this job: a regular auto mechanic? Or a regular locksmith -- the kind that works on house door locks? (do they know their way around a car's steering wheel?)
I suspect their fees will probably be very different, so that too would be a consideration...
...
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Old 02-27-2021, 09:32 AM   #12
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Default Re: Key stuck in the ignition!

To remove the housing there are a couple of security bolts that have to be removed.


There is a whole thread on it.
http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=145361

The cylinder is this part, basically the AC Delco part from Rock Auto or wherever.


This is the housing looking down the hole for the cylinder. For some reason I had a piece of white PVC pipe stuck in there. Ignore that.


Here is the housing showing half of the saddle clamp which is held on by the security bolts.
...
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'99 SL2, 5SP bought new
Rebuilt at 204,067 September 2017
Engine, subframe, diff pin mod, brake lines, headliner, alternator, and so on!
'98 SC2, 5SP bought 2018
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Old 02-27-2021, 09:42 AM   #13
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Default Re: Key stuck in the ignition!

Continued from above...

I don't think the housing is a wear item. Not even sure if you can buy a new one. The most challenging part is the removal of the housing. You have to take the plastic covers off the steering column, use a Dremel tool to slit the security bolts, then you are good. We all put it back together with normal bolts. I used hex head M6 and others have used allen heads.

I used a Dremel with the snake attachment. That made it reasonably easy to slot them.

I do believe you need to remove the housing to do this job, especially if the cylinder has failed like mine.
...
Bryan Cotton
'99 SL2, 5SP bought new
Rebuilt at 204,067 September 2017
Engine, subframe, diff pin mod, brake lines, headliner, alternator, and so on!
'98 SC2, 5SP bought 2018
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Old 02-27-2021, 01:41 PM   #14
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Default Re: Key stuck in the ignition!

I apologize if I am making this confusing or giving misinformation; let's see if I can do worse yet...

That lock has three major parts, a core (plug) that goes inside a "barrel" to make up the "cylinder" assembly. That (two-part) cylinder then goes into a big hole in the housing. The housing is what attaches to the steering column. On some locks, there is no separate "barrel", the barrel is the bore in the housing; hence my concern about housing wear. There is only a core/plug and housing, and the core was often called a "cylinder". So, I referring in general using different nomenclature. That's my excuse and I'm stickin' to it!

Back to useful info: In most cases, a car mechanic will simply remove the cylinder and send it to a lock-shop for re-keying. You can remove the cylinder and take it to the lock-shop yourself and save the cost of the middle-man (auto mechanic). Or, look for a mobile lock-smith who will come to you and do the whole job. Most lock-shops/smiths are "universal" and handle auto locks as well as all other types. Note that a mobile lock-smith will probably cost more than taking the lock to a shop, but less than having a mechanic take the lock out and to a shop.

I still think the least expensive way may be to take the key to a shop and have them provide the cylinder, mated to that key (and your car type, of course).
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Old 02-27-2021, 06:48 PM   #15
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Default Re: Key stuck in the ignition!

Waiex and billr:
Thank you both so much for all the very useful info. Now I understand what needs to done. Basically:

1. Remove the plastic cover.
2. Remove the 2 bolts holding the housing. (This seems to be the hard part)
3. Remove the housing containing the lock cylinder assembly
4. Remove the lock cylinder assembly from the housing
5. Install a new lock cylinder assembly
6. Put it all back together

There's no need to remove the entire steering wheel and column, right?

Now I understand that a regular auto mechanic would be just a "middle man" so I'll get on the phone calling locksmiths in the area. I know how much the ignition lock cylinder assembly costs at the local FLAPs, so it'll be just a matter of how much they charge for the labor (and making the house call).

I'll post later after I speak with the locksmiths.
...
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Last edited by StarLady; 02-27-2021 at 06:57 PM.
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Old 02-27-2021, 07:12 PM   #16
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Default Re: Key stuck in the ignition!

You probably do not have to remove the housing, do not have to open up the steering column at all. I was unintentionally misleading you about that. If the cylinder does not rotate at all in the housing, which appears to be the case with this lock, then there will be no wear on the housing. The "cylinder" consisting of both the core and barrel will include all wear parts.
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Old 02-27-2021, 08:04 PM   #17
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Default Re: Key stuck in the ignition!

This is not gong well... I have called three locksmiths. One said that he couldn't do it because he had no experience with Saturn ignition locks. The other two said that they would need to drill the ignition lock cylinder out. Although I said that all that had to be done was remove the plastic cover and then the housing and cylinder)
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Old 02-27-2021, 08:55 PM   #18
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Default Re: Key stuck in the ignition!

Quote:
Originally Posted by billr View Post
You probably do not have to remove the housing, do not have to open up the steering column at all.
Not my experience. I needed the housing out, especially with the failed cylinder.

Any competent mechanic can do this, you don't need a locksmith. Any competent DIY person as well. Do you know anyone handy? Do you do any of your own work?
...
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Rebuilt at 204,067 September 2017
Engine, subframe, diff pin mod, brake lines, headliner, alternator, and so on!
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Old 02-27-2021, 09:13 PM   #19
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Default Re: Key stuck in the ignition!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Waiex191 View Post
Not my experience. I needed the housing out, especially with the failed cylinder.

Any competent mechanic can do this, you don't need a locksmith. Any competent DIY person as well. Do you know anyone handy? Do you do any of your own work?
No, unfortunately, I cannot do this job. I'm partially handicapped. Besides, I don't have the tools either. And I don't know anyone here that might be able to help. I have called and left messages for another two locksmiths, and another mechanic. Awaiting responses.
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Old 02-27-2021, 10:12 PM   #20
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Default Re: Key stuck in the ignition!

Hmmm...
Just how difficult is it to remove those 2 bolts?

(I'm reading the other thread, but its very long )
...
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