The key will go into the ignition switch, but it will not turn at all. So the steering and transmission shifter are locked up also. The car has a automatic transmission.
I have the exact same issue with my car. I've heard it is a problem with the saturn SL1. I actually stumbled apon this thread searching for possible solutions on the internet...as nobody else is able to tell me what to do.
The problem is that there is a piece inside of the ignition that shaves the key little bit by little bit each time you start the car. I just spent 45 minutes today at a hardware store, while the employees tried time after time to copy my key exactly so that it would fit. No success. I have three spares...that will only work after literally about 5 minutes of playing with the wheel.
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This could be an ignition key placement problem! Most cars get worn out with the key start. I have replaced the "switch" with the keys on numerous cars. They have tumblers like all locks, when these become worn or loose their place, they will not allow the function to work properly. It is not in the correct place to allow the key to come out. Some try to keep the car in the starting position etc. Other's will not turn the car completely off, and you will draw down the battery. Check this out with either a dealer or take it to Auto-zone/Napa etc. They sell this replacement key switch.
Does the vehicle start an run ?Can you turn the key to the off position ? And the key won't come out ? Did you try some key graphite ( lube ) ? New lock cylinder need maybe . Or is it a problem with
Steering Column Electric Park Lock
If the vehicle is equipped with a floor-mounted console gear shifter, an added safety feature is an steering column electric park lock system in the steering column. The steering column electric park lock system prevents the steering wheel from being locked when the transmission is in gear and the vehicle may be moving. The column ignition lock system consists of a steering column electric park lock and a park position switch, that is located in the A/T shift lock control switch. The steering column electric park lock contains a spring-loaded pin that mechanically prevents the ignition key cylinder from being turned to the Lock position when the transmission is not in the Park position. If vehicle power is lost or the transmission is not in the Park position, the operator will not be able to turn the ignition key to the Lock position and will not be able to remove the ignition key from the column.
Try turning the steering wheel to the lock position, in either direction, while you try to turn the key. This is a common issue. There is torque from the steering wheel column that is binding the lock cylinder.
Have you tried turning the steering wheel while turning the key? I know you said it's locked, but they usually have a little play in them, sometimes when it's turned as far as the lock will let it the ignition will be put in a bind. If that doesn't help the only other option I can think of would be to replace the ignition set yourself, you'll get new keys and save yourself a trip to the dealer.
Get new key cut at dealer then insert into ign, Use object to tap strait in several times then jiggle key and rock steering wheel at same time.if this does not work will rquire new cylinder and housing.
I have a Saturn too. Happens all the time. The last time you turned the vehicle off the wheel was turned one way or the other. When the steering locked, the wheel trying to center itself put a lot of tension on the key cylinder.
The Fix: Which ever way the wheels are facing (however slightly), turn the wheel a little more in the same direction while trying the key. It will only take the slightest movement of the wheel to release the tension and allow the key to turn.
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