The key wont come out of ignition
It sounds like one or more pins in the lock tumbler portion of your ignition switch has slipped out of position and jammed the cylinder so that you can't remove your key. These pins, which are actually shaped more like thin washers, are made of soft brass and gradually wear over time. Especially if you or another driver of the car had your ignition key on a keychain with a bunch of other keys, the weight of that key ring will also push and pull on these pins over time, increasing the odds that one of them will go out of alignment and cause this kind of a problem. That's why you'll see car enthusiasts have a single ignition key on a keychain or have it be detachable from the rest of their keys--it saves a lot of wear and tear on the ignition switch.
To fix this problem, you'll need to remove the lock tumbler portion of the ignition switch and take it to a locksmith to have it rebuilt. A locksmith will take out the old washers and springs and replace them with exact new replacements. Assuming the lock tumbler isn't cracked (they almost never are), you'll end up with a switch that works like new. This process is also usually much cheaper than ordering a new ignition switch, and it also re-uses your existing keys. Of course, a locksmith can also replace the washers in a brand new ignition switch to match your existing keys.
Removing the lock cylinder could be a bit of a problem if you can't wiggle the ignition switch at all. However, don't try to force the cylinder back into the "off and take the key out" position if the switch is otherwise rotating freely. If you take the key out at this point, there's a good chance you'll never get it back in again. On GM cars of this vintage, there's usually a little hole somewhere on the bottom of the ignition switch. Normally, you push up into this hole with a very stiff wire while turning the key to the "on" position. This will release the lock tumbler, and you'll be able to pull it out of the steering column. Note that this only pulls out the lock tumbler; the actual ignition switch will still be left in place, permitting you to start the car with, say, a screwdriver instead of a key.
It doesn't sound like you have this problem, but you may have trouble pulling the lock cylinder if you can't rotate it enough to use the proper tumbler removal procedure. If that's the case, the best thing to do might be to call in a locksmith to do this for you. It will cost you a bit more for them to work on your car instead of just on your tumbler, but they have additional experience that helps them know how much force they can apply to a stubborn lock without, say, bending or breaking off the key (and even more expensive scenario for you). Plus, if they screw up, they get to buy you a new ignition switch, so that expense isn't coming out of your pocket. If you can still start your car, you can save locksmith house call charges by driving to their place of business and parking in front of their store. I have had to do that, and I saved $75 in locksmith charges off the bat by driving my car to the guy's shop instead of having him come out to me.
May 16, 2011 |
Oldsmobile Bravada Cars & Trucks