Why is my car doing this?!??

Hey, if the Teeming Millions can’t substitute for Click and Clack, who can?

I hopped into my 2001 Saturn, which had been sitting in the blazing heat all afternoon, and the key simply WOULD NOT turn in the ignition. I damn near wore a blister on my finger from my repeated attempts to get the key to budge. I finally gave up and got home by other means.

It seems to be heat-related, having happened a couple of times this week, but I’ve always been able to get it to turn after repeated attempts. I realize the danger of the “post hoc ergo propter hoc” fallacy, and maybe it doesn’t have anything to do with temperature at all.

I figure I’ll be able to start it in the morning and can drive it to my mechanic, who, with luck, will be able to replicate the problem.

But what the heck would cause the key not to turn in the ignition?

Does the key look particularly worn? Do you have a heavy keychain? Worn keys can become more difficult to turn, since the pins aren’t lining up correctly; I can see heat making this problem worse. Heavy keychains can put too much stress on the ignition switch cylinder, resulting in premature wear to both the pins and the key.

Try turning the steering wheel until it clicks. There is some kinda safety feature in there, if it does not line up correctly the key won’t turn

The pins not lining up, exacerbated by heat, makes sense. Key doesn’t look all that worn to me, but it’s five years old… Maybe I should try hubby’s key, since he doesn’t drive my car that often. If I contacted the dealership and gave them my VIN number, they’d be able to cut a new key, wouldn’t they?

I was sternly lectured about the heavy key chain thing, so I now have my car keys on a separate ring. Two keys and a remote. That’s it.

It wouldn’t turn even with the steering wheel locked, although that usually doesn’t make a difference.

You could always just rip the pillar off like the Terminator. That’s what I would do :smiley:

I realize that **Feces of Death ** touched upon this but are you sure there’s no connection with the steering wheel?

I suggest grabbing the wheel with both hands and trying to make a hard turn to the left and then to the right. Naturally, the wheels won’t turn but it might disengage whatever mechanism that links the steering wheel to the key ignition.

Also, are you sure the car (if it’s an automatic) is in park? I would think that the key would still turn with the car not starting but it’s worth asking.

Keys wear, since they’re made of soft metals, but so are the pins inside the ignition switch. So if a new key doesn’t work, you may be looking at replacing the switch. It’s a pretty common problem. but not real expensive, as auto repairs go.

Good luck. :slight_smile:

Must be a General Motors problem. I’ve heared about the same problem in several Opel cars of that era.

The only solution is to change the lock cylinder. Good luck.

Yes, but they’ll charge you a high price for this. If hubby’s key is not worn & still works, you can take that into a key shop and have a duplicate made for much less than the car dealer will sock you.

Replacement isn’t the only option… yet… Try dipping the key in a light penetrating oil, MMO works nicely and insert the key several times in the lock. Oftentimes the the tumblers will get gummy and stick. Had this problem with dad’s car and this did the trick. Can’t hurt to try.

Yeah, I’d go along with this too. A squirt or two of WD-40 might do the trick?

A squirt of lube in the lock and my husband’s key did the trick, so I’m assuming my key is toast and I need to get a new one cut.

Thanks, all!

You’re going to want to use a non-petroleum-based lube like Tri-Flow or Finish Line rather than WD-40, which will after time (particularly in a hot car) leave a gummy residue as the volatiles evaporate.