Why Won't My Key Turn?

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  #1  
Old 12-01-03, 02:40 AM
myotter
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Unhappy Why Won't My Key Turn?

I HAVE A 1995 GEO PRIZM THAT I RECENTLY LET MY SON DRIVE. NO TELLING WHAT HE DID TO IT, BUT NOW THE KEY WON'T TURN. A FRIEND CAME OVER AND LOCKED THE STEERING WHEEL AND GOT IT TO START ONCE. I TOLD HER TO TURN IT OFF AND TRY AGAIN AND NOW IT WON'T TURN AGAIN. CAN ANYONE FIGURE OUT WHAT'S WRONG?
I HAVE 5 KEYS AND HAVE TRIED ALL OF THEM-NONE WORK. MY SON SPRAYED WD-40 IN THE LOCK WHICH DIDN'T HELP.
AFTER MY FRIEND FOOLED WITH IT, NOW WHEN YOU PUT THE KEY IN, THE LOCK (OR IGNITION, I DON'T KNOW WHAT IT'S CALLED!)
PUSHES IN.

SURE COULD USE SOME ADVICE ON THIS ONE.
THANKS, KATIE
 
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  #2  
Old 12-01-03, 04:09 AM
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Have you tried rocking the steering wheel from side to side? Sometimes things get in a bind and wont let the key turn. Ever so gently turn the wheel while applying light pressure to the key.
Hope this helps,
Billy
 
  #3  
Old 12-01-03, 11:34 PM
myotter
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Smile

Thanks Billys68ss,
Yes, I tried rocking the steering wheel back and forth (although, not so gently,lol) and that didn't work. I don't know where to go from here. I walked to the auto parts store tonight and got some of that graphite for the lock and will try that tomorrow. Any more suggestions, I'm willing to try anything at this point!
Thanks, Katie
 
  #4  
Old 12-02-03, 12:58 AM
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I could be wrong here but if your parked and the car is on a hill going either up or down , that could be the problem. I noticed sometimes when I'm parked on a hill, I have the same problem, usually with just my body weight, I'll just rock the car back and forth and the ignition will unlock and turn.

If you tried everything and nothing works, your ignition pin in your steering colum is bad and will need to be replaced. I would get it towed to a dealer or shop and get it fixed.

Even if you did get it to work, I would still get someone to replace the pin because it sounds like it going bad and you wouldn't want to get stuck in the wrong place at the wrong time.

You also said you tried a few different keys, I'm not sure if Geos have computer chips in the keys. That could also be the problem but I highly dought it, but it is something to consider. On your key , does it have a little rubber handle, if so it probable does have a chip, if you went out and had other keys made up at a key shop, they will not work on your car. Spare keys have to be purchased at dealers and they cost somewhere around $100. with the chip in them, they are the only keys that will start your car. Just something to remember, if not on this car, maybe the next car you own down the road.

But like I said your ignition pin that locks and unlocks your ignition is bad, thats the problem, have that replaced and you should be fine, it's not a big job so don't get ripped getting it replaced.
 
  #5  
Old 12-02-03, 02:16 AM
myotter
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Thanks, Yellowtang,
O.k., for one, the chip in the key is not a problem. Mine doesn't have it. The key I've been using now over 2 years is one I had made.
The pin you're talking about--is that the anti-theft rod (I think it's for the power steering lock)?
So far, no one has told me I need to get a new lock (or whatever it's called where the key goes in), but I have found a place where I can get one for $80.00 if I need it. Sounds like alot to me, does that sound reasonable?
The guy at the auto parts store tonight turned me on to a guy that used to work with him and has his own little business now, that will come to the house. (First one I've seen that makes "house calls") but while I was there I bought some of that graphite that you use for locks and I'm going to try that tomorrow. I really don't think that's what it is, though.
When the problem first happened (before I had it towed to my h ouse), it was parked on a slight incline, but now it's on a level street, but I will try rocking the car back and forth tomorrow, just to see if that's it.
I think you're right, though. The pin sound like that's probably the problem. (And just for future knowledge, how does the pin get damaged?) I'm trying to figure out if it's something my son did while he had the car. It was working perfectly fine when he took it.

Thanks, Katie
 
  #6  
Old 12-02-03, 02:54 AM
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Ya, if you had the car towed to the house and it still doesn't work then you do need to get the iginition pin replaced. It sounds like it's broke for good until you get it fixed. I'm not a mechanic but I've had tons of cars and usually when the pin goes bad, you usually only get a short warning, and then it's done with.
You said you got a quote for $80.00 I guess that sounds far as long as that includes parts. Any less and it would probable be a waste of time for a shop to do it. I do most of my work on my on car but I wouldn't mess with that, when mine went bad, I had ford do the work being it was under warranty.
When mine went bad, it was embarrassing. The car was a 99 mustang, I knew it was going bad but I was about ready to trade it in for a new car. I was at the pontiac dealer looking at car and they went to start my car to see what they would give me for a trade in and my car would not start, just like yours, I couldn't turn the key. I had to have the car towed out of the Pontiac dealer, to the ford dealer. I never did go back to that dealer again after that.
But as you said , yes it does have something to do with unlocking the steering wheel and I dought if your kid had anything to do with it, it's just one of those things that go bad, with hardly any warning.
 
  #7  
Old 12-02-03, 04:11 AM
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Katie,
It is bound to be something in the locking mechanism. Like YellowTang said it is possible the pin. The best thing to do if take the steering wheel off and have a look see. If you arent comfortable with that then you will obviously have to have someone else do it. This is common on these type locks. Do you have a large key ring with a lot of keys? Is your key ring heavy? This is a common contributing factor to the symptoms you describe.
Good Luck with it,
Billy
 
  #8  
Old 12-02-03, 03:11 PM
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Sounds like the ignition lock cylinder is bad.80 bucks on a Prizm is probably close for the part.
 
  #9  
Old 12-02-03, 04:29 PM
myotter
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Thanks, guys,
You all have the same idea, so guess it is the pin.
Yellowtang, that sound like my luck, and I would have done the same thing. Oh yeah, the $80.00 is just for the part. I guess I'm going to have to have that guy come over and look at it and see if he can give me an estimate. Only thing is, he doesn't speak english and i don't speak much spanish--muy pokito!
Well, do any of you know, since my son sprayed WD-40 in there, will I be making it worse if I put that graphite poweder in there now? He did hat 6 weeks ago, but seems like it will all get gummed up inside there. I think I'll wait for a reply to do that!

Thanks again, Katie
 
  #10  
Old 12-02-03, 05:40 PM
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If it doesnt look wet inside the switch then you arent going to likely gum anything up. Although you are basically beating a dead horse. If the lock cylinder is the problem no amount of lubrication is going to help.
Billy
 
  #11  
Old 12-02-03, 05:48 PM
myotter
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Thanks Billy,

I thought about that after I posted the last reply.

I decided if that wasn't the problem (and I really don't think it is or the key probably wouldn't turn even as far as it does) so it would be useless to do that.

Guess I'll keep mthe graphite for the next car! LOL

Thanks again, Katie
 
  #12  
Old 12-02-03, 09:03 PM
myotter
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HI GUYS,

O.K. HERE GOES: MY DAUGHTER'S FRIEND CAME OVER AGAIN TONIGHT, MESSED WITH THE KEY AND GOT THE CAR TO START. NOW, WHEN YOU TURN THE ENGINE OFF, IF YOU ONLY TAKE THE KEY TO THE ACCESSORY POSITION, YOU CAN GET THE CAR TO START AGAIN. WHEN YOU TURN THE KEY TO THE OFF POSITION AND TRY TO TURN IT AGAIN, IT WILL ONLY TURN AS FAR AS THE ACCESSORY POSITION (AS BEFORE), AND NO FURTHER.
IF I WANT TO DRIVE THE CAR AROUND AND ONLY TURN IT OFF AS FAR AS THE ACCESSORY POSITION, (IF I REMEMBER), I WOULD HAVE TO DISCONNECT THE BATTERY WHEN I'M NOT USING IT, AND WOULD ALSO HAVE TO ALWAYS LEAVE THE KEY IN THE IGNITION.
SO, DOES THIS CONFIRM THE IDEA OF THE IGNITION PIN, OR DOES IT SOUND LIKE SOMETHING ELSE?

THANK AGAIN, KATIE
 
  #13  
Old 12-02-03, 09:28 PM
KurtDixon
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I am not a pro, but I would say you sealed the deal on the pin. When you turn the key to OFF, it locks the ignition and steering column. The pin is fussy and doesn't allow you to turn the ignition sometimes, since only turning the key to accessory does not engage the lock, this is why you can start the car as many more times as you want.
 
  #14  
Old 12-02-03, 10:09 PM
myotter
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THANKS KURT!

O.K. I'M GOING TO GO WITH THAT. I'M PRETTY RETARDED WHEN IT COMES TO CARS, SO GUESS I'LL CALL AROUND AND SEE HOW MUCH IT'S GOING TO COST ME TO GET IT FIXED. BEEN WITHOUT A CAR FOR 6 WEEKS NOW AND IT'S KILLING ME! 9YOU NEVER KNOW HOW MUCH YOU NEED IT UNTIL YOU DON'T HAVE IT, ISN'T THAT WHAT THEY SAY?)

THANKS AGAIN, KATIE
 
  #15  
Old 12-03-03, 06:04 AM
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The problem is with the cylinder and key assy, not the steering lock mechanism.

Once the tumblers go to the lock position they don't want to line up to release the clyinder when the key is inserted.
 
  #16  
Old 12-03-03, 03:45 PM
myotter
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HI TOYOTAMAN,
THANKS. SO WHAT DOES THAT MEAN? DO I NEED A NEW LOCK ASSEMBLY? EVERYONE ELSE SEEMS TO THINK IT'S THE IGNITION PIN. IS THAT INCLUDED IF I HAVE TO GET A NEW LOCK ASSY,
(YOU CAN TELL I KNOW NOTHING ABOUT CARS! LOL) OR IS THAT SOMETHING I DON'T NEED TO WORRY ABOUT (BECAUSE THAT'S NOT THE PROBLEM)?

THANKS AGAIN, KATIE
 
  #17  
Old 12-03-03, 04:16 PM
KurtDixon
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Take someone else's advice before mine, mine was just a guess
 
  #18  
Old 12-03-03, 04:48 PM
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No the "pin" is part of the steering column locking assy.

It is not part of the cylinder and key. You need a cylinder and key.

The steering column lock should be fine, I only see them go bad when someone breaks them on a car that is stolen.
 
  #19  
Old 12-03-03, 10:45 PM
myotter
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Thanks, guys

O.k. now that I guess the car is "diagnosed" one more question:
When I buy a new key assy is it something that I can just pop the old one out and the new one back in or is it more complicated than that and I need a pro to do it for me? Like, do I need to take the dashboard apart at all or anything like that, need to work from behind the dash, any wires hooked up to it, etc?
Since the key assy is $80.00, I really can't afford that AND a mechanic, so if I have to go that route, it'll be awhile still b4 I can drive it!

Thanks, Katie
 
  #20  
Old 12-04-03, 03:24 AM
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Here is a short list

Remove the 4 screws holding the plastic steering column covers(the ones surrounding the lock)

Turn the key to the accessory postion

Do the same to the new one and you will see a small 1/8" dia pin that you can push in as you rotate the key. When the small pin goes in that is the accessory position .

Locate a hole on the bottom of steering column lock(hold the new cylinder and key to help locate it.

Use a small screwdriver, pick, or what ever you can find to insert and push that pin in and pull out the cylinder and key.

Take the new one with the pin in ( accessory position) and insert into lock housing.
 
  #21  
Old 12-04-03, 03:45 AM
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Just like Toyota man said, if you think you or your son is up to the job great.
Another tip, I don't know who told you the part is $80.00 but I would shop around because I know you'll find a better price then that somewhere else. Atleast call Napa or Pepboys first to see if they are selling it cheaper.
Do not call the goe dealer for the part, they will have the highest price for the part and don't get the part from a middle man or a gas station.
Just a little tip to save you money, if $80.00 is the best you can find then fine.
 
  #22  
Old 12-04-03, 05:26 PM
myotter
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Wink

HI YELLOTANG AND TOYOTAMAN,
THANKS FOR ALL THE INFO. (I THINK 80.00 IS PRETTY STEEP ALSO) CHECK OUT THE OTHER TWO PLACES. I GOT THAT QUOTE FROM KRAGEN.
SOUNDS PRETTY EASY, GUESS I'LL GIVE IT A SHOT FIRST. (ALTHOUGH I ALREADY UNSCREWED THE 4 SCREWS FROM THE STEERING WHEEL COVER AND IT WON'T COME OFF-SEE, I ALWAYS HAVE TO MAKE THINGS HARDER THAN THEY REALLY ARE-LOL)
GUESS I'LL GET OFF THE PC AND "SHOP AROUND"

THANKS AGAIN, KATIE
 
  #23  
Old 12-04-03, 05:51 PM
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After the screws it is snapped together, you may have to "pry" it apart.
 
  #24  
Old 12-04-03, 07:22 PM
myotter
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HI TOYOTA MAN,
YEAH, I ALREADY NOTICED THAT. I DIDN'T GO ANY FURTHER BECAUSE I DIDN'T WANT TO BREAK ANYTHING. CAN I JUST TAKE OFF THE BOTTOM HALF (BECAUSE THE TOP HALF HAS THE WIPER AND BLINKER LEVERS GOING THROUGH IT).

WELL, I CALLED THE OTHER PLACES AND THEY ALL SAY IT'S A DEALER PART, SO HOW'S THE IDEA OF GOING TO AN AUTO DISMANTLER AND GETTING ONE THERE (AS LONG AS THEY HAVE THEY KEY TO IT.) THERE ARE SEVERAL AROUND HERE 5-10 MILES AWAY, BUT I COULD PROBABLY GET A RIDE IF I COULD FIND ONE
AT ONE OF THEM. I'M JUST AFRAID I'LL END UP WITH ONE THAT HAS PROBLEMS TOO, AND DON'T KNOW HOW TO CHECK ONE.

THANKS, KATIE
(P.S. SORRY IF I'M BEING A PAIN IN THE BUTT!)
 
  #25  
Old 12-04-03, 11:58 PM
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You could probably get away with just the bottom.

You could get a used one, it might not be to much better than your old one.

Tip: Sometimes these are ruined by using a key that is not OEM. The dimensions may not be exactly the same. Causing wear on the tumblers of the lock
 
  #26  
Old 12-05-03, 12:22 AM
myotter
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IS THERE ANY WAY TO TELL IF A USED ONE IS GOOD B4 I BUY IT? PROBABLY CAN'T TAKE STUFF BACK THAT YOU BUY AT THE JUNK YARDS-DON'T KNOW. I'VE NEVER BEEN TO ONE. I THINK I'LL TRY JCWHITNEY AND SEE IF THEY HAVE ONE. KNOW ANY OTHER SITES?
THIS CAR IS THE SAME AS A TOYOTA COROLLA (I'M SURE YOU KNOW THAT!) WOULD I BE BETTER OFF ASKING FOR THE TOYOTA PART INSTEAD OF A GEO PART? THEY'RE HARD TO FIND!

KATIE
 
  #27  
Old 12-05-03, 02:44 AM
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This part is going to be a dealer item. With used parts it's a crap shoot. It's not that hard to replace so if the new used one is NG they usually stand behind parts at least 30 days.


BTW: Caps on the internet is considered shouting!
 
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