2001 Saab 9-5 wagon ignition problems

My 2001 Saab 9-5 wagon has ignition problems. The key will not turn the ignition. It fits in but will not turn. It’s a manual, so I can’t get out of reverse. It will not move and I’m a long way from a Saab dealer. The key will activate the locks, etc., and the radio will come on.
Please help.
Shade tree 2

Do you mean the key will not turn to the start position? There is a clutch switch that needs to make to start the car. What I do not understand is why when you push the clutch it will not shift out of reverse. That says the clutch is not disengaging. Is the clutch reservoir full?

As I recall, the Saab ignition switch is on the floor next to the shifter. You must be in reverse to remove the key, i.e., reverse is like “PARK.” The cylinder can get messed up and the interlock with the shifter can, also. All I can suggest is to dismantle the console and look around.

Sounds like the mechanism is worn out. It happens. Wiggle the key and the shifter. Maybe you can get it to turn and start the engine. You might try fixing it yourself. I disabled one on a 1971 Saab many years ago so I could start and drive the car. There are still Saab service centers available. Use the link to find the nearest to you.


Good luck, keep the Saab faith!

could be just a worn out key too

Probably just the mechanism is kaput and need to be replaced with a new one. Or the existing one taken apart, cleaned, and lubed. You could try this though, might get lucky.

  • Get a shop vac and try to vacuum any debris out of the lock.

  • Clean the key with soap and water, dry it off, the lube it with some dry graphite lube especially for locks. (Or you could do what I do, get one of those short stubby pencils with a soft lead from the golf course and rub the lead along all the key surfaces. )

The mechanism is designed to lock in reverse and problems with this have been around for a long time. The console will have to be gone into.

In the interim, and preceding a trip to the dealer, the OP could try using the left hand to force the gear lever a little harder into reverse while operating the key.
That may, or may not, get it working on a short term basis.