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Topic Review (Newest First)
05-10-2013 06:24 PM
amc49 Ignition key against tumblers which raise a key out of a groove in the lock cylinder main housing. The groove there is sharp edged and the key must lift 100% to clear, slightly worn tumblers let that lift drop just enough to not clear and the key then hooks hard to not let cylinder turn.

The mistake is saying 'I'll fix it later', you often don't get the later. Gotta do it then before more wear occurs, only a slight bit more and it's drill city.
05-10-2013 01:06 PM
Vohaul is that Mike guy ( from waaay earlier in the thread and long ago) that does keys and lock cylinders still around?
05-10-2013 11:27 AM
sailor Should make more sense when you see the tumbler.

Common car type tumbler has spring loaded "tabs" that stick down into a slot when the key is out or wrong for the tumbler, preventing it from turning. These are quite sharp edged, so I can see how a slight chamfer on that edge would make it work easier if the key is worn a bit making them stick out a little.

You can watch them work with the key once it's out, making things more obvious.

BMW motorcycle luggage used to come with tumblers that had full size tabs, you'd insert the bike's key, then grind/file off excess, thereby matching that tumbler to the ignition key. Get the ends nice & smooth & it worked better, like amc is describing.

Nice "do it yourself" hint I'm thinking...

05-10-2013 01:20 AM
NJTrailCrawler "ground a radius" sounds like you take material OFF the key. Am I reading that right? ('re not talking about the "car key"... doh!)

I haven't seen the OEM tumbler yet, only the retrofit. The theory is that it will make sense when I pull it out. (knocking on wood)
05-10-2013 01:11 AM
amc49 Your time to fix it is before it locks up to not ever come loose again. Most don't do that though and then throw parts at it. First time mine did it I pulled cylinder and ground a radius on the key that tumblers lift. The key edge is what stops lifting enough when tumblers wear just enough to not lift maximum. Car been working fine now maybe 3 years since done, no trouble at all and cost zero. Did the other one too and hasn't even acted like it wants to screw up. I keep tumblers lubed too so key slides in properly.
05-09-2013 12:31 PM
got mine to turn again...

the key in my 2000 ZX3 wouldn't turn at all.

i was finally able to get mine unstuck by (1) putting two quick shots of WD40 Silicone in the keyhole, then putting the key in and (2) hitting it on the end with a hammer while applying constant turning pressure to try and turn the key. The key started to slowly turn and, as i continued tapping, it finally made it all the way to start the car. It now is freed up and working normally, but i suspect that it is only a matter of time till it locks up again.

i see that you have to be able to turn the key to get the old one out and do the tumbler swap, so...

i found a great vid on youtube showing the tumbler swap in detail, with only one under $50 part required.

here's the part: Strattec #707592. $32.90 on Amazon.
12-05-2010 09:08 PM
Thanks - it worked.

Didn't realize what was happening until it was almost too late - last year, the IC started binding and left the boss and kid stranded. With much fist-hammering, I finally got the thing to turn, and got us home. My next stop? Focus Fanatics. A quick searched yielded this thread, and after a thorough review, I decided to buy the IC and key it myself.

Found the instructions to be straightforward, and following a few minutes of review, I keyed it on the first try.

The next hurdle was the now completely immobile IC. Another scan of this thread revealed this post - #59 - that enabled me (with my trusty Dewalt) to turn that IC and swap in the new one. That one thread made the whole process quicker and easier in my case - so thanks nadnucv8 for that tip!

I'd have totally been lost, and somewhere between 300 and 500 dollars poorer without this thread!

Meant to pass along my thanks sooner, but, well stuff happens.
10-23-2010 05:36 PM
How to fix an "ignition key wont turn"

4 years ago I tried this and I never had to replace the keys / tumbler.

Take some non-stick cooking spray, gently mist the key slot.

Also, some keys wear off on the tip which makes the key insert deeper than it is supposed to. Try gently moving the key in and out about 1/8 inch while turning the key.

Good luck!
10-22-2010 09:31 AM

Excellent instructions here.

I just had a similar problem. Apparently, something within the ignition cylinder got old and gave way. My wife had some trouble inserting the key and asked what was wrong. I have been having trouble intermittently with the key feeling like it binds as I push it into the ignition cylinder for 2 years now. My 10 year old cylinder was just wearing out. Well, something finally gave as I shoved the key in with a little force. But whatever it was jammed into the back of the lock and prevented the key from getting all the way in. So now, I had a cylinder that wouldn't turn because I couldn't get the key far enough into the lock.

I called my insurance company, and they offered to tow it but couldn't tell me price to have it fixed. So I called 4 local locksmiths and the dealer. The dealer wanted around $400. The locksmiths wanted around $200 to replace the cylinder. One locksmith wouldn't keep the old key, said (without seeing it) that it would be too old and just wouldn't push the pins far enough. He basically wanted said I'd have to get a new key for an additional $90 (key+programming PATS).

While I was calling around and waiting for call-backs to get quotes, I searched online and found this forum and thread. I printed out the first page of instructions and pictures as well as the November 2002 auto hot products tech tip. Since I didn't want to spend $300 and so many people had had success I decided to give it a go. I had the car towed to my house and then on the way home picked up two cobalt drill bits from a hardware store, 1/8" and 1/4" (they were out of 3/8").

My wife was a little upset when I said I was going to work on the car starting at 10PM, but I assured her that I was only going to give it 30 minutes and then I'd call it quits - done or not.

This is how it went down:
  • 5 minutes to get out the work light, extension cord, and drill.
  • 1 minute to put a plastic bag under the ignition cylinder hanging from the gear shifter, open the package and chuck up the 1/8" drill bit, and mark the key way for where to drill.
  • A little over a minute to drill to 1" depth with the 1/8" drill bit. Went slow to avoid overheating and try and go straight in.
  • 20 seconds to open the 1/4" bit and change bits
  • 2 minutes to enlarge the hole. This was tricky because the bit ate through the metal so fast it kept pulling itself into the hole and biting off huge chunks. I had to get the drill spinning and then try to slowly touch the surface. Even so, it bound up 5 or 6 times, but I was still done pretty quick
  • Now, roughly 10 minutes in I've got the hole drilled and started looking for the locking bar. This turned out to be non-obvious. There weren't any gaps or spaces that I could see. So I spent 2 minutes getting a flashlight, fishing around with a small screwdriver, fiddling with the key, enlarging the hole by drilling up into the keyway, and finally fishing out springs and pins. At this point I referred back to the pictures and decided I must be missing something. So I started scraping at the bottom of the hole and something moved. It had looked solid, but there was a piece of metal free down there. I pried it up. I couldn't manage to get it out with the screwdriver so I went looking for a bit of wire.
  • 3 minutes later, I had it out, had cleared out the rest of the junk that was loose and could turn the ignition cylinder.

20 minutes!!! Great instructions, and using the right tools and I was done with the "hard" part in 20 minutes. Thanks guys!

I spent another 10 minutes cleaning up and had a working ignition in under 30 minutes start to finish. Now I just need to order a new cylinder to replace the old one, or I may just pull out the drilled one when I have some time and remove the first pin which keeps binding and the last one which looks mashed in the back of the cylinder and drive it that way for a while. It won't start without the PATS key anyway and I mostly just commute with it so I'm not too worried (but maybe I should be).

Thinking back on it now, I could have tried taking my non-PATS spare key and filing off the end until it would go in far enough to turn, but that wasn't guaranteed to work either. The thing caught in the back may have prevented turning, it could have been a pin which means the cylinder would have remained locked, or it could have worked... Oh well :)

Thanks for the great technical help. Now it's time to find a cheap IC keyed for my car.
10-20-2010 05:26 PM
FocusNovice420 this happened to my 2002 Focus. The dealer charged me $1000.00 to fix it.
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