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Old 02-19-2013, 04:56 PM   #1
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Steering Column - Ingition Problem Solved

Just wanted to pass this along. I spent the last two days trouble shooting/repairing my daughters car. It was taking multiple times to turn the key to get the starter to energize. At first it happened once in a while. Over time the problem became more frequent. She let it go too long and finally called Dad when the ignition failed to energize the starter at all.

The Focus is a 2008 SE bought new with 77,000 miles on it now. I believe this is the first year for the newer body style. She has a sales route with frequent stops and starts her car 30 to 40 times daily so her starting system gets much more cycle time than a normal car. The following is for a Focus with auto transmission.

First, the starter was removed and checked out OK. The starter relay was switched and OK. The neutral safety switch (is a multi function switch) is located on the side of the trans at the shift linkage lever was not touched except to pull the plug, clean and replace.

The starter switch is located on the left side of the steering column directly behind the turn signal switch, it was replaced $43, still no start with the key. (I learned after to remove the starter switch but keep the wires plugged into it. Turn the key to run, insert a screw driver into the starter switch turn it all the way and the car would start.)

The key tumbler felt Ok but it was removed and taken to a locksmith who verified it was OK. However he informed me that a local repair shop had just had the same problem last week and the shop came to them. The locksmith worked on a new cylinder for the shop but that did not fix their problem either.

Since the repair shop was just down the road as I stopped to talk to them. They told me last week they did everything I did on a Ford Escape and finally had to replace the lock housing assembly that wraps around the steering column just behind the turn signal assembly. The lock housing assembly holds the key cylinder on the right and the starter switch on the left and also helps the steering wheel to lock when removing the key.

For just under $150 I ordered the lock housing assembly (auto trans part # 9L8Z-3511-A or AS4Z-3511A for manual under $50) from the Ford dealer. It comes with the starter switch installed (now I have three of them)but you must use your old keys and lock cylinder. The replacement lock housing assembly can be installed without removing the steering wheel. Here is how....

Disconnect the negative battery terminal.
Remove the steering columns, top and bottom cover and the drivers knee panel under the dash.
Unplug the starter switch on the left side of the column.
Remove the security ring from around the key tumbler by unsnapping it from the housing. Electrical is done.

Three small bolts hold the lock housing onto the turn signal assembly. One bolt is on top, one on the bottom left and one on the right/front. You must use your key to unlock the steering column and turn the wheel to the right to allow access the right/front bolt. If you have one a 1/4" drive swivel will help. Remove all three.

Last, on top of the steering column you will notice an aluminum collar that holds the lock housing assembly in place. On the right side of this collar it is bolted to the steering column by only one anti-theft bolt without a head. (The head of the bolt is gone, designed to break off at the factory when installed for anti-theft reasons so normal tools cannot be used to remove it.) Ours had yellow paint on it. Use a small, very sharp chisel to tap the side of the bolt counter clockwise to loosen it and take it out. DO NOT LOSE IT! You cannot get a replacement.

You should be able to lift up the aluminum collar and remove the old housing assembly.

Use your existing keys you must remove the old lock cylinder tumblers from the housing assembly. Put the key into the lock cylinder and turn them one notch only, to the accessory position. On top of the cylinder is a small hole. Put a small torx socket (or nail) in it, push down, pull on the key to remove the tumbler cylinder from the old housing. Put the old tumbler in the new lock housing assembly.

OK, reverse everything and you are done. The hardest part of reassembly was getting the bottom steering column cover back on. I ended cutting a slot on the bottom of it to get it around the steering wheel tilt lever.

I did not find any information on this problem in my internet searches. However, I feel that as these cars age, over time many others will be having the same starting problems caused by the internal moving parts of the linkage within this housing wearing and getting sloppy. The linkage gets loosen up enough that when you turn the key on the right side, the starter switch on the left does not quite make contact to start.

Hope this helps someone else.



Last edited by TiIngot; 10-24-2013 at 08:38 AM. Reason: Auto vs Manual
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Old 02-21-2013, 08:52 PM   #2
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I came over here from the other thread. Great information for the future - thanks!
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Old 02-23-2013, 11:07 AM   #3
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As I said, I really believe that as this model of Focus ages we will see many more occasions of others having the same issues. I also think this setup is used in the Escape and other models. Even at the Ford dealer, the parts counter could not remember ordering a replacement housing before. He asked if he could open the box to look at it before I left. After I finished the job I took the failed part back to the dealer and gave it to them so they could review it with their service techs.

Last edited by TiIngot; 02-27-2013 at 09:21 AM. Reason: Spelling error
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Old 02-24-2013, 08:50 AM   #4
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You're the only verified person with this particular problem on this car. Really, most of the ignition lock cylinder problems are those from 04 or earlier Focis. After 05, we don't see this problem. It's good to know these oddball things though in case someone else has the same problem.
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Old 02-24-2013, 10:15 AM   #5
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Captain,

You hit the nail on the head. Previous Focus ignition switch problems were isolated to the key tumbler jamming up not allowing the lock to turn on the older models. I believe 2008 is the first year of the newer design change and probably a redesign of the steering column. In addition my daughters sales job requires many more start cycles per day which puts much more stress on the starting system than what would be considered normal use.

If it was not for "Blind Luck" putting me in contact with a repair shop that had the exact same issue with a client the previous week I would not have been able to repair the issue on my own.

Again, I may be the first to document this issue here but I feel as these newer models get older you will see others posting looking for help with the same issue. I have used the Corvette Forum extensively looking for tips to maintain my '96 Vette and used a Thunderbird forum when I had one. Everyone using these forums adding informative posts describing problems they have solved is to be commended. I only signed onto this forum to give back to a community that has saved me hundreds (or thousands) of dollars over the years.

It is wonderful to use the knowledge of others to help you when a problem gets you stumped. However I also try to give back to the community when I solve something that I feel others have not.

Lee
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Old 09-03-2013, 03:37 AM   #6
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Ignition Question????

Hello I'm new to the forum. I think you can add me to the list of people with this problem...Hopefully you or someone can help me with an issue I 'm having with this fix.

Also on mine everything checked out. In my case I narrowed it down after everything checked out and after replacing ignition cylinder and ignition switch(On my ignition switch, I was curious and opened it....fell into a million pieces...so anyone who wants to try this repair don't do that.......). I tried it where I put my key in cylinder so it could read my key and then with a screwdriver turned ignition switch and voila it turned on. Then I reinstalled everything and tried the regular way of starting my car and nothing....removed items again and tried with screwdriver and it started again....did this a couple more times just to make sure I was dealing with the right part.

Also curious me.....What does that little plastic inside the metal rod do???Why is it there???(I don't just like to fix the problem I like to know how they work)

On my Ford Focus 2009 SE When I turn the key it does turn the gray little metal rod/metal piece. Can it still be messed up. On yours before you replaced it did it still turn when you turned the key without the ignition switch(if you tried that).

Note: the metal rod Im talking about is the one that goes into the ignition switch.....It feels/looks like it(the metal piece/rod) is not reaching.....or maybe it's me...

Also, A mechanic did work on it so I'm wondering could I missing something or not. the way the metal side of the ignition union looks is that normal. (I tried talking to the mechanic who did the work as my wife is the one who was at the mechanics when he did like a temp. fix. to see what he worked on, but he was rude and got mad when I asked, So I just didn't ask anymore.)(sorry link with pic didnt work so i removed it)

Thanks in advance, Abel

Last edited by DIY.AL; 09-03-2013 at 03:39 AM. Reason: url used didnt work
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Old 09-03-2013, 04:38 PM   #7
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Abel,

It has been a little while since I worked on my daughters car and I don't remember what the little plastic piece looked like.

But, the metal rod that sticks into the ignition switch on the left side ofthe steering column did turn when I turned the key on the right before the repair. I think the linkage inside the steering column became sloppy and when turning the key the rod did not turn far enough to engage the starter switch. The new replacement part does not have the slop inside it.

As I posted, being in sales my daughter starts her car about 30/40 times a day so her ignition system gets a lot more cycles than the average person.

Hope the repairs are done and everything is working again.
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Old 05-04-2014, 01:28 PM   #8
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2010 Focuse Ingnition Switch Assembly

I had this same exact issue on my 2010 Ford Focus, if you pushed in on the key while starting it would engage the starter, but it you just turned the key to start normally nothing happened. Replacing the lock housing assembly ( 9L8Z-3511-A) resolved the issue. What I noticed with the old assembly was that there is a plastic or nylon rod in the center that goes into the ignition switch that was not protruding into the switch as far as the new one did. When I pushed in on the key (before i swapped the tumbler to the new assembly) it would push this rod further into the ignition switch.

I believe TiIngot is right on the money with this, after many key operations wear will cause this to fail.
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Old 08-23-2014, 11:10 AM   #9
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Thank YOU!

Thank You TiIngot! You saved me a lot of troubleshooting. I just had the exact same problem with my 08 (87k) and I only start it twice a day on average. Still love my car though.
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Old 09-09-2014, 03:37 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TiIngot View Post
Captain,

You hit the nail on the head. Previous Focus ignition switch problems were isolated to the key tumbler jamming up not allowing the lock to turn on the older models. I believe 2008 is the first year of the newer design change and probably a redesign of the steering column. In addition my daughters sales job requires many more start cycles per day which puts much more stress on the starting system than what would be considered normal use.

If it was not for "Blind Luck" putting me in contact with a repair shop that had the exact same issue with a client the previous week I would not have been able to repair the issue on my own.

Again, I may be the first to document this issue here but I feel as these newer models get older you will see others posting looking for help with the same issue. I have used the Corvette Forum extensively looking for tips to maintain my '96 Vette and used a Thunderbird forum when I had one. Everyone using these forums adding informative posts describing problems they have solved is to be commended. I only signed onto this forum to give back to a community that has saved me hundreds (or thousands) of dollars over the years.

It is wonderful to use the knowledge of others to help you when a problem gets you stumped. However I also try to give back to the community when I solve something that I feel others have not.

Lee
Hi Lee and all,
Just wondering if anyone has seen this issue on a 2009 model?
My son is experiencing the exact symptoms you described and he already replaced the switch. So I'm leaning towards the lock housing assy.
Thanks.
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