08 May 2011

How to get your car key into the ignition in a Saturn when it's stuck

Have a Saturn? Car key won't go into the ignition? You're not alone! Before you take it into the shop and start spending hundreds on diagnostics and replacement parts (some of which may be completely fictitious and made up by the dealership!), here are a couple things to try first, and also a way to help prevent the problem. If your car is like mine, you won't need to do anything more complicated or expensive.

Basically, near as I figure it, the problem arises during hot summer days when heat expansion in the steering column causes the ignition to go slightly out of alignment. To fix it, all you need to do is bang on it from underneath. Just use the base of your palm and administer a couple good whacks upward. The key should slide in easily after that.

arrows point to part of steering column to give a couple good whacks

There's also an easy way to keep it aligned afterward. When you've reached your destination and turned off the car, pull the key out of the ignition and then immediately slide it back in again. It may take a bit of jiggling to get it in the second time, but it should still go in. After that, when you next return to your car, the key should go in fine.

If the car key will go into the ignition but won't turn, it may have locked. This is a "feature" of all cars, not just Saturns. To unlock, put your foot on the brake, then turn the steering wheel while gently pressing the key in the direction you want it to go. If it doesn't work one way, turn the steering wheel the other way.

The above is how I solved the problem in my own Saturn. If none of those work for you, and/or if you have an additional solution, please let me know in the comments.


Anonymous said...

I've had the same exact problem for 3 years with my 2002 SL1 ..first hot day and the key won't work !

Anonymous said...

thank you so much. I was just getting ready to take my saturn in for a new ignition and thought, what the heck. I'll just google it first. Imagine my surprise when I found saturns are prone to this and it's so easy (and inexpensive) to remedy.

Anonymous said...

same. Thx a bunch.

Anonymous said...

the key to my 2000 saturn will NOT TURN!! i tried for an hour straight every combo possible and will not start.. HELP ME!

Anonymous said...

With mine you have to tap the shifter push in pull up and turn the key at the same time its the shift lock solenoid sensor

Anonymous said...

In my 2002 Saturn wagon, key will go in and not turn. Steering wheel will not turn, yes I had the brake pressed. Do I keep whacking the steering column until something turns?