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ttiger79, Auto Mechanic
Category: Car
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Experience:  ASE Master Certified, Certified advanced level engine performance
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key wont fit ignition

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All of a sudden, my key won't enter the ignition of my 2002 Buick Rendezvoux CXL. Nothing broke off in it, nor is anything jammed in it. Why won't the key fit?
It sounds to me like you have a failed ignition lock cylinder. This isn't uncommon for GM vehicles, and the only way to fix it is to replace the cylinder. What happens is the tumblers inside the cylinder get stuck, and the key will no longer go into the cylinder. It happens the other way sometimes, too, where you can't remove the key from the cylinder.

Unfortunately, if you can't get the key to go in, the cylinder will have to be drilled out. This is no easy task, as they are designed to withstand being drilled out. You may be able to get some kind of lube into the cylinder so that the tumblers can be freed. If you can get the cylinder to turn one last time to the run position, I can post a replacement procedure for you, and you may be able to fix it yourself. Just let me know!
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Customer: replied 9 years ago.
Reply to ttiger79's Post: Was able to get the key in one last time and took the car to our local locksmith. The first two tumblers were the problem. The locksmith fixed it for $25. I am still interested in your procedure. Would you send it in case this happens again or the locksmiths fix doesn't hold? Thanks for all your help.
Here's the listed procedure for you:

Ignition Lock Cylinder Replacement - On Vehicle

- Tools Required

* Snap-On A173A Bent Tip Awl or Equivalent

Removal Procedure:

1. Disconnect the battery negative cable. Caution: Refer to SIR Caution in Service Precautions.
2. Disable the SIR system.
3. Remove the steering wheel.
4. Remove the tilt lever close out plate.
5. Remove the retaining screw from the lower steering column trim covers.
6. Tilt the trim cover down and slide rearward in order to disengage the locking tabs. Remove the lower steering column trim covers.
7. Remove the retaining screws from the upper steering column trim cover.

8. Lift the trim cover in order to gain access to the lock cylinder access hole (1).


9. Insert the Snap-On A173A bent-tip awl (1) or equivalent, with a 2.5 mm (3/32 inch) tip, and 20 mm (3/4 inch) in length, into the access hole of the ignition lock cylinder.
10. Turn the ignition lock cylinder to START.
11. Use the bent tip in order to push down on the ignition lock cylinder retainer.
12. Release the ignition lock cylinder to the RUN position.

13. Remove the ignition lock cylinder from the lock cylinder case.

Installation Procedure


1. Insert the ignition lock cylinder through the trim cover in the upper steering column.
2. Align the lock cylinder retaining tab and the position tab with the slots in the lock housing.
3. Completely push the lock cylinder into the lock housing.
4. Install the retaining screws to the upper steering trim cover.
5. Match the tab slots on the lower trim cover with the locking tabs on the upper trim cover.
6. Tilt the lower trim cover up and slide the lower trim cover until the locking tabs snap into the tab slots. Notice: Refer to Fastener Notice in Service Precautions.
7. Install the lower trim cover screws to the steering column.

o Tighten the screws to 3.5 Nm (31 inch lbs.).

8. Install the tilt lever close out plate.
9. Install the steering wheel.
10. Enable the SIR system.
11. Connect the battery negative cable.

If you notice that you are having any kind of difficulty with the key again, you should change the cylinder out when it can still be turned. If you can't turn the cylinder, it will need to be drilled out, and this can be a painful process- as the cylinders are designed to not be drilled.

Good luck, and let me know if you have any more questions!

Customer: replied 9 years ago.
Reply to ttiger79's Post: Thanks for your help.
Not a problem!
Just let me know if you have any more questions!

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