Question about 1996 Pontiac Grand Am

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Ignition key switch

I replaced the key assembly on my 96 with one from a 95. The 96 had a wire plug on it and the 95 didn't, so we took the tumbler assembly out and traded the housing. Now the car will only run for 2 second and it dies. Is it because the plug on the housing?

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  • brewer_842 Aug 11, 2008

    i have done the same thing. to bypass the anti theft there is a yellow wire to cut then the car will run fine anyone know excatly where that yellow wire is please email me at brewer_842@hotmail.com if you can help ty

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The plug is for the passlock sensor. It senses the key and sends a signal to the cluster which interprets that signal and sends a password to the PCM telling it to let the engine run.

If that siganl gets interupted or not sent at all the engine will only run for 2 seconds and then shut down. You will have to replace the ignition cylinder and the sleeve around it which contains the passlock sensor. If you order a passlock sensor it will come with both but you may have to get the cylinder coded to your old key.
Once installed you will have to perform a 10 minute re-learn to allow the engine to run. To perform the re-learn put the key in the ignition and try to start it, once it stalls don't take the key out, leave it in for 10 minutes or until the theft light stops flashing. Then turn the key off for no less than 30 seconds then try and start the vehicle.

Good Luck

Posted on Aug 25, 2008

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1 Answer

How to remove ignition cylinder


I have done lots of these because the key is hard to turn and you must "WIGGLE AND SHAKE" to get your car started. If this is the problem you are experiencing, then:

Yes, you can replace just the ignition lock cylinder. I recommend using the AC Delco lock cylinder kits. (AC Delco Part Number D1493F) They come with packages of numbered tumblers (which must be assembled) so the new cylinder can be configured to accept your existing Ignition key.

If you replace the entire ignition switch/lock cylinder assembly, your computer will have to be reprogrammed so your engine will start and run. (Not to mention, this is the expensive way to do it.)

You must remove both your instrument cluster and your radio to access the mounting screws and elecrical connectors for the switch/tumbler assembly. It is not real hard to do, but assembling the new tumblers into the new cylinder can be kind of tedious. (As well as extremely frustrating if you do not do it correctly.)

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The reason that the key wouldn't turn must have come from a malfunction of the ignition switch or the connecting rod, rather than the just the tumbler. Since the dash lights & gauges work now, at least part of the ignition switch is working, but apparently not the part that's engaged when the switch is turned to the "start" position.
By replacing just the tumbler, the dealership tech would have jiggled the connecting rod just enough to reseat it (and fix the jam that was causing the key to fail to turn in the tumbler), but didn't fix the real problem, which seems to be a worn out ignition switch or worn connecting/actuating rod.

Here's your steering column anatomy - illustration courtesy Ford Motor Company.


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