1996 Mercury Sable ignition switch

I recently re-acquired my 1996 Mercury Sable due to the fact that it wouldn’t start for the person who has been driving it. The lock cylinder in the column rotated too easily with the key, and the switch was stuck in “run” and would not turn off (dash lights stay on), nor would the engine crank. I removed the lock cylinder and was able to get the engine to crank and start with a screwdriver, but could not turn it off with the screwdriver. The mechanism would rotate back (easier than it should have) but would not turn off the engine or ignition, similar to the situation with the lock cylinder in place. Has anyone else encountered this and know what is broken and where, and how to fix it?

The switch is further down the column from the cylinder’s hole.
With a screwdriver you’re turning a gear, which moves a lever up or down.
That lever is connected to another ( to allow column tilt ) ,
and then the ignition switch.

The inability to turn it off almost says the a lever is broken so that pushing is possible but not pulling ( they’re plastic ). Yes it could be the switch also. with the age of the car it could be both.

How to get the column apart is not my forte’ and my guys have left for the day.

I had this same problem on a Cadillac Allante…Tearing down the column was virtually impossible, for me anyway…I located the actual ignition switch, outside the column, mounted on top next to the brake pedal arm. By unbolting the column from the dash and letting it rest on the seat, I was able to remove the switch from the column and manipulate it. With the help of a wiring diagram, I simply installed a $8 universal ignition switch in the lower edge of the dash. With the keys removed, you can’t even see it…I still use the standard key to lock and unlock the steering wheel…

OK, as a temporary work around until you can dismantle and fix or replace the steering column (which may actually be the easy way to fix it, I don’t know) you can kill the engine by pulling the plug from the coil pack. Then you can disconnect the battery so it won’t run down. You can then reconnect the plug to the coil pack, but leave the battery disconnected until you are ready to start it with the screwdriver again.

Funny you should mention pulling the plug on the coil pack, as that is exactly what I did to shut it down. The battery is dead as a doornail anyway. I am not driving the car, so it is not really an issue. The person who took the car from me (ex wife) really did a number on it. It was actually a really nice car five months ago, but is now wrecked and trashed. I have never encountered this issue and am hoping it will be a reasonably cheap and easy fix so I can sell the car for a few hundred dollars rather than scrap it. Putting a steering column in this car will likely be a deal breaker if I have to go that route. I am hoping someone here has seen this problem and can advise me as I am not familiar with the steering columns in these cars.

Mark, would you be willing to tell me your ZIP code, maybe just the first two digits? If you’re close by, I can help you out with it.

I had a customer, with no money, who drove his car this way for several months. He even installed a “bump starter” on his '98 Sable’s starter as it would not start with a screw driver. Hey, he was under the hood to connect the battery anyway. Luckily for him (oddly but luckily) his car was totaled by a hail storm, so he sold it to his insurance company for full retail and bought another one.

I appreciate the offer for help; that’s very kind of you. I’m in 61752, a small town in central IL about 15 miles southeast of Bloomington/Normal. All I have done with the car is removed the lock cylinder to see if it would start. Her boyfriend’s dad told me he thought it had no spark and needed a distributor (funny, the car doesn’t even have a distributor). I have never torn into one of these columns, which is why I’m trying to learn a little before jumping into it. I have done plenty of old GMs and a couple old Chryslers (they are surprisingly similar), but never a newer Ford.

Sorry, you’re 54XX off.

If you decide to go with a column, look at http://www.car-part.com . A salvage yard in your area has one, I’m sure. They really aren’t that bad to install. You’ll reuse your steering wheel, key cylinder, air bag, and the plastic surrounding the ignition, so color is not important.