What To Do When the Ignition Key Won't Turn



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Thread: What To Do When the Ignition Key Won't Turn

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    What To Do When the Ignition Key Won't Turn

    You may never run into this problem, but I have met a few who have. I've even helped a few people get their van going again who were having this issue.

    When I first got my Caravan, a problem developed where I couldn't turn the ignition key.

    For about a week, I thought I was in trouble and was going to have to do an ignition lock change.

    Occasionally, I could insert the key into the lock, but it wouldn't turn. This was a SERIOUS problem for me as I found myself stranded a few times until I was able to eventually "muscle" the key to turn (but also by figuring out the dynamics of the problem).

    For anyone who runs into this issue, I never changed the lock or switch and no longer experience this problem.

    An immediate fix is to tap on the metal ignition lock (right where the key goes in) firmly with a solid object that fits the diameter (or less) of the ignition lock. Usually, this will free the lock until you park crooked again. The head of a screwdriver is usually all it takes.

    The permanent resolution was an adjustment in how I parked the van.

    I learned that no matter where I parked, all I had to do was keep the front wheels dead straight ahead by centering the steering wheel before I turned the key off and this problem has COMPLETELY gone away. I no longer even realize I do it. It is habit and I never really notice I'm doing it anymore so it's no bother at all. I suppose I could replace the ignition lock, but I am satisfied with the method mentioned.

    If you are having this problem, try that.
    1999 Grand Caravan SE
    2006 Caravan SXT

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    I have the habit of keeping the wheels straight when parked because they taught it in drivers ed. I'm not really sure why I can remember stuff from that class from 5 years ago but not from the classes I finished last week haha.

    It is a good habit especially after parallel parking.
    Candy the van. '98 Sport 3.8L 132,200 miles. Used trans at ~96k. Great piece of my life and a fine van.

    '69 GTO drop top
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    I have not yet experienced it on my Voyager, but I can think of a causs for this in general and while we're at it a cause for not getting out of park.
    1. Like you said, the steering is off centre and it's pushing back on the column lock so you have alot of friction to overcome whilst turning the key. In normal circumstances, the fix is to turn the steering wheel away just a couple degrees to relieve the pressure, and holding it away while turning the key. It sounds from your description that it's not quite the same ailment though, but similar.
    2. If parked on a steep enough grade so there's significant weight on the park pawl, and said pawl is old and has a groove worn in it, the shifter won't be able to slide off the pawl. The fix is to get a couple of willing and burly men to push the car up the hill a couple of inches to take the weight off the pawl and you can shift out of park.
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    If they are like my intrepid was, if there is pressure from the steering wheel it will lock the ignition ...just take the pressure off and the key will turn.

    That is why it won't do it with the wheels pointing ahead,
    2006 Town@Country loaded up!

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    Quote Originally Posted by gn300 View Post
    If they are like my intrepid was, if there is pressure from the steering wheel it will lock the ignition ...just take the pressure off and the key will turn.
    That is why it won't do it with the wheels pointing ahead,
    In theory it would seem this would work.

    In practice, turning the wheel seldom helps in this situation for some reason. Usually once it locks, you will not be able to turn the wheel far enough to un-jam it. At least in a Caravan.
    1999 Grand Caravan SE
    2006 Caravan SXT

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    Quote Originally Posted by mistypotato View Post
    In theory it would seem this would work.

    In practice, turning the wheel seldom helps in this situation for some reason. Usually once it locks, you will not be able to turn the wheel far enough to un-jam it. At least in a Caravan.
    My lock works properly. When I accidentally lock it (it takes a great deal of turning usually to lock it) turning it even a fraction of an inch in the direction needed will unlock the key.
    Candy the van. '98 Sport 3.8L 132,200 miles. Used trans at ~96k. Great piece of my life and a fine van.

    '69 GTO drop top
    www.facebook.com/people/Andy-Greif/1410438927

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    ok.

    Never seemed to work with mine and I assure you I can apply quite a bit of torque

    I have a neighbor who's Jetta did the same thing and it didn't work with hers either.
    But I have seen it work on some cars occasionally.
    Guess it's a different scenario in different cars.
    1999 Grand Caravan SE
    2006 Caravan SXT

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    Sounds like you are applying the principle of a "bump" key, which does work.
    2005 T&C Ltd 3.8 108,000
    2000 Caravan 2.4l
    1990 Grand Caravan 3.3 149,000 owned 15yrs 4 trannies
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    1964 Simca 1000 (bought for $10 rebored) 50k 4yrs
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    1969 Corvair convertible 4 carb

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    The failing/jammed lock cylinder on the Dodge of this vintage is a known fault, exacerbated by long service with a heavy key ring.

    A locksmith and $90 solves the problem permanently.
    ---
    \\'05 Honda CR-V SE, Pewter Pearl
    \\'98 Dodge Grand Caravan Sport, Alpine Frost
    \\'68 Datsun 2000 Roadster, Extra Red Imron

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