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Discussion Starter #1
HI guys im new to the forums but i'll be around for awhile.
I have a 03 ford focus se manual 130k miles, I bought used for cheap. It has problems but this one I need to resolve quickly I managed to get to work, but looks like i'll be stuck here.

The ignition keeps locking up, I cant turn the key over at all.
The last time I got stuck was in a mcdonalds parking lot then I managed to get it to turn during extreme frustration.

As soon as I got into my my parking spot for work I took very close attention to when I was taking the key out and how the keyhole was placed for position to turn over. The metal keyhole, when your placing the key in pushes in with the key, in order for the car to start it the metal circle disengages out which makes it in the right position to turn the ignition. Mine isn't disengaging so it's keeping it in the locked position. Im not an expert, but this is what I've observed and i've explained to the best of my ability.

Maybe I should use wb-40? I really have no idea.

Anyone else have this problem? I dont really want to go out and buy a whole new key ignition when this one maybe be still good.
 

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Put the key in and hit it really hard with the palm of your hand.
 

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Ford has a replacement ignition switch where there are tumblers to set to your original key
The ignition switch that has an offset keyway WILL fail. The newer one is centered
THERE IS NOTHING YOU CAN DO WITH THE OLD SWITCH
Replacement is easy if the cylinder can be turned
 

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I took apart the shifting (mine was automatic) column and ripped the spring out and glued that button down. no problem for 7 years with that at least.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
So after about 2 hrs of reading numerous posts on this problem, I'm going to first attempt to clean the ignition switch considering that it is common for the brass of the key to wear on the inside. I'm going to clean it and go from there. I seen how easily it can be replaced with a 707592 Strattec Ignition Kit which can be find on Amazon for about 25$ It will take Some time, but I'll code it myself if cleaning doesn't work.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Put the key in and hit it really hard with the palm of your hand.
I actually attempted this during extreme frustration, but proved to be useless. It's working out for me to be very gental using very slow and settle movements and paying attention to where exactly it allows me to turn it over. Until I fix it, this is what is working.
 

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You're flirting with death there, it WILL lock up and never come loose again, you have already pushed too much there. You have to fix it when it first does it or pay the price for the delay like all others. Or drilling out the old to put in a new one. AFTER the tow home job..................


'THERE IS NOTHING YOU CAN DO WITH THE OLD SWITCH'


Nay good brother, I redid mine to work fine and for years now, 2 of them, and still using the old cylinders. Cost maybe thirty cents each to fix.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
You're flirting with death there, it WILL lock up and never come loose again, you have already pushed too much there. You have to fix it when it first does it or pay the price for the delay like all others. Or drilling out the old to put in a new one. AFTER the tow home job..................


'THERE IS NOTHING YOU CAN DO WITH THE OLD SWITCH'


Nay good brother, I redid mine to work fine and for years now, 2 of them, and still using the old cylinders. Cost maybe thirty cents each to fix.
You cleaned your old ignition cylinder or replaced them? I heard that Ford still will put out the same faulty one as a replacement and costly , I've read good thing about the 707592 Strattec Ignition Kit which fits my model. 25$
 

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Cleaning will do absolutely NOTHING. The tumblers are worn but the problem is because they are, the key inside that fits into a groove in outer casting then does not lift free of the groove, cleaning will not touch that.

You must first quit driving car and try to get lock cylinder out NOW, you've already gone too long. If you can't get it out then you must drill it out, you'll enjoy that.

The key in question is toward bottom of lock cylinder, you can only see it with cylinder removed from car. IF you can get the cylinder out, then study which way cylinder turns when you turn ignition and then take a file (I use a dremel) and grind a radius (in other words, knock the sharp corner off there) on the sharp leading edge of the key, the radius then allows key to bump up and over the groove edge to then rotate like normal. Both key edge and groove edge are intentionally made sharp cornered to help them lock together, tumbler wear stops the key from lifting 100% free of the groove and it hangs. Once the radius is ground or filed ignition will still work as normal and the whole thing is transparent other than the problem is gone.

The BAD cylinders have the key hole off center, the good revised ones have a centered key hole. Supposedly anyway.
 

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amc49, would it be possible to grind the radius onto the key without removing the cylinder? You would not know which edge to do, but if you had 2 duplicates made up at a hardware store you could try grinding one edge of one key and the other edge of the other. Even though the cheapo hardware store keys would not have the radio chip, you should be able to hold your chip-equipped key next to the steering column while you try the other keys.

Does this sound like something that might work? It might save you some hassle.
 

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NO - absolutely not.

That's not the "key" he's talking about, part of the problem with trying to describe something mechanical with words.

For a short description, lock cylinders typically use pins or tabs for "tumblers" which are moved by the key to be in a released position from the groove they lock into to prevent turning when the right key isn't in the lock.

Imagine a row of spring loaded gates that stick up out of a cylinder when the key isn't in. Stick a key in, with it's different notches, and some will be lowered more than others. Grind them all flat, and that cylinder is now "keyed" for that specific key (no protrusions to keep it from turning with the key in place).

Key/tumblers get worn, and some will stick up & catch instead of turning freely. Radius the corners as mentioned, and the slight deviations won't make as much of a difference as they don't "catch" as easily.
 

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The tumblers actually press against another key inside the cylinder, you can see it exposed with cylinder removed. Not the IGNITION key as he states.

You most definitely do not want to be grinding on ignition key, you need all the height on the various points you can get there, they wear along with the tumblers and the added loss in height is what then does not move the internal key far enough to clear the groove. Get lock cylinder out and in your hands and it becomes perfectly clear.

'Course, if you've waited too long a moot point..........it'll be drill, baby, drill! then. What most do and a mistake. You don't get but maybe a couple chances on these. After that the fun............
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I have a much better idea of what you are talking about now, thanks! Amc and sailor, I'll follow up with u and let u know if it works.
 

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Oh, it'll work all right if done correctly...............
 
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