My 2001 Mazda Tribute ignition key cylinder was broken and locking up constantly. I would
have to jiggle my key for up to 20 minutes to crank the car
nothing to do with steering wheel or shifter lock – the cylinder was
busted). If at home sometimes I would resort to getting out a sander to
vibrate the key while in the ignition and get it to turn. I was ready
to take a sledge hammer to the car. I didn’t do any internet research
on replacing the key cylinder until today because I figured it would be
a big miserable job…but it wasn’t!!!
To get to the cylinder, remove the
3 screws on the bottom side of the plastic steering column cover.
Remove cover – use a screw driver to pry apart. Turn key to run
position (don’t start engine). There is a pin on the bottom of the
cylinder which is now exposed- take a small screw driver and push the
pin in and pull on key. Cylinder should slide out. Get a new Ford
Escape cylinder at the auto parts store (I payed $86, comes with two
keys), note: the parts store will not have one for Mazda, but Escape
and Tribute are essentially the same car – many Mazda
parts you can only get at the dealer for an outrageous price. Now do
the following procedure...(note: you must have both original ignition
keys for this to work)
1. Get some long needle nose pliers (forceps work best because they lock).
2. Using the pliers, grab the receiver knob that the end of the key cylinder normally
engages near the center of the steering column. (Look in the hole that
the cylinder was in)
3. Take one of the original ignition keys and insert it into the open
cylinder hole alongside the pliers (this simulates the key being in the
4. Push in and turn the pliers (ignition knob) and the first original
key at the same time to run position - don't start the engine.
5. Wait for the key light to come on solid, then go off on the dash and turn pliers/key
back to off position…note, if key light is flashing, tilt pliers
slightly and try again.
6. Repeat with second original key and then the new key. You must go in
this order and you must go from one key to the next in 10 seconds or
less. This is how the car programs the new key. You may have
to try a few times (I had to) and tilt the pliers a bit if they
interfere with programming
(key light flashing).
7. Once the key light comes on solid for a second or two and goes off with
all three keys in a row (not flashing) then you have it. Repeat process with
original keys and other new key.
Use pliers to align receiver knob to run position and Insert new key
cylinder (remember to insert new key in new cylinder and align so
cylinder will slide in properly - key should be turned in cylinder to
9. Try out new keys…car
should start! Install column plastic cover. You will still need to
carry an original key to open the doors unless you fully trust that
your keyless entry fob will always work. I would estimate this job to
take about 20-30 minutes if you have the tools and new cylinder ready
when you start. I was VERY skeptical when I tried this, but it worked
great for me and I thank Mike at Cheapfobs.com blog a bunch!!…Good luck with yours!