Question about 2005 Saturn ION

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Key stuck at ACC position

I have a 2003 Saturn Ion 2. More often than not, my key gets stuck in the ignition when I turn the car off. It will turn as far as the "ACC" position (i.e. leaving the dashboard display on), and I can rotate it back to the "on" position (restarting the car), but it won't rotate all the way towards me so I can pull it out. When this happens, I have to just sit and wait for it to "release" (which takes anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes). I hear a click and/or thump when it releases, which sounds like it's coming from inside the steering column, but sometimes I hear that sound and it hasn't released yet.
There doesn't seem to be any consistency about when the key does and doesn't get stuck, so I can't tell what's causing it or how to keep it from happening. It happens in all kinds of weather, and whether I'm parked on an incline or not. The dealership replaced the ignition cylinder, but that hasn't helped. I have tried a LOT of different things: graphite on the key, getting a new key made, turning the steering wheel (before, during, and after I turn the car off), jiggling the gearshift, opening the door, pumping the brakes, adjusting the steering wheel tilt up and down, etc.
It's REALLY frustrating, and sometimes unsafe (like when I'm forced to sit in my car, waiting, in a parking lot at night!). I've researched online, and while variations on this problem seem common, I haven't found a solution that worked for me. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks!

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A bit too late to help you I know, but this may help others. The problem is most likely a small lever arm microswitch that is oriented with the lever arm DOWN located just beneath the drivers side of the shifter. This is an interlock switch which prohibits starting the Ion in anything but park or neutral. There is nothing that holds the switch on the two posts that it mounts on and it is quite awkward to put back on. I strongly recommend using a small strip of double sided 3M tape on the side of the microswitch to prevent it from coming off in future. When this switch is not made, it will not allow the ignition switch to turn to the off position from ACC and it will not allow it to release the key. However, if you do not feel comfortable performing the repair, there is a 'secret access hole' under the steering colum, it is a small square door you can pry off so that you can put your finger in to it an depress a small round button that will allow you to rotate the key to OFF and remove it. And yes, you pretty much need three arms and have to stand on your head to do this, but, it will allow you to turn off the ACC and remove the key.

Posted on Jul 03, 2009

  • WV6Z
    WV6Z Jul 03, 2009

    One other thing, to access the switch, you will need to pry off the top of the console at the shift. To do this, you will want to set the parking brake, put the shifter in N or I (yes, you will have to have the key switched to run and have your foot on the brake pedal to do this), then you can turn the key back to ACC, or Off, if it will get you there by depressing the secret button in the steering column. You remove the top of the console around the shifter by pulling up on it by hand only at the power port. There are 4 clips, I believe, one in each corner. With the shifter in N or I you should be able to lift the top of the console off, unplug the power port and now access the microswitch on the drivers (under) side of the shifter so that you can put it back on, or replace it if necessary.

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  • 12 Answers

You brake trans shift interlock switch BTSI is shorted. make sure the button on your shifter is fully released. if it is move your shifter out of park and back into park that should help

Posted on May 15, 2009

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I've suffered this problem as well. Intermittent, but quite annoying. If the key goes in and turns, it's probably not the lock cylinder. And probably not the key release solenoid if you can hear it click when working properly. Most likely culprit is the small switch in the shifter. Try this: With key on On, but engine not started, put foot on brake and shift to "1" or "L" then back to Park firmly. That familiar click is heard and the key comes out as it should.


Opinion time. All these little "safety" features, made necessary by the public's gradual loss of common sense, have made vehicles more complicated, more costly, and more unreliable. The explosion of liability lawsuits, fed by lawyers and misguided juries, forces auto manufacturers to continually engineer new systems to wrestle control of the vehicle from idiotic and inattentive drivers. The only salvation on the horizon are driverless vehicles being perfected by Google.

Posted on Feb 19, 2013

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SOURCE: 2003 ford focus. ignition key won't turn. tried

Key possibly worn or barrell, really easy fix, need to remove a lock to match and cut a new blade to car and bingo To remove lock you need to turn key to first position and push athe button on the top and it will pull out.

Posted on Mar 23, 2009

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SOURCE: key stuck at ACC position

Its not the ignition.....it's the BTSI control. Its an automatic transmission shift lock control. If you paying yourself, it costs 154.00. At least mine did.

Posted on Aug 10, 2009

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SOURCE: key won't turn in ignition

SOUNDS LIKE THE ISSUE IS WITH THE LOCK CYLINDER. YOU MIGHT WANT TO REPLACE IT.

Posted on May 07, 2010

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There is a pin the shifter that activates a micro switch and the pin will miss-align that the key's will not release. Ask the dealer if there is a micro switch like the cobalt in the shifter that may have gone bad. All you need to do is take the center console apart where the shifter is and line up the pin again.
Good luck and keep me posted.

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