2005 Toyota Camry

I have a 2005 Toyota Camry that has been very unreliable. The ignition locks up and I never know whether I can start my car. I am a widow,76 years old, 5 foot tall, and not strong enough to turn the steering wheel while I turn the key.

In 2006, while my car was still under warranty, I took it back to the dealer and they said all I had to do was turn the key to the right at the same time I turned the wheel to the right. I could get it to unlock for awhile but it became increasingly difficult. Now, my car locks up almost every time I try to start it and the only way I can unlock it is to find a strong person who can push the wheel to the right while I turn the key. One of the persons who helped me unlock my car said that a woman in her office has the same problem with her Toyota so I guess this is a problem with the Camry model.

Recently, when I called the repair department at the dealer, the mechanic said that I needed a new ignition switch and that my car is no longer under warranty. So, I took it to a local mechanic and asked him to put in the new switch. He had my car a few days and when I picked it up, he said I didn’t need a new cylinder, that he had taken it out, greased it and found that it worked fine. It did work fine for two weeks and then it locked up tight as a drum!

At this point, I am really sorry that I bought a Toyota. Should I go back to my mechanic or take my car to the Toyota dealership? Would I still have the same problem if I have the ignition switch changed? I feel that the Toyota dealership should have taken care of the problem when I went to them while the car was under warranty. Can you give me any suggestions on how to proceed? Thank you.

If the mechanic you took it to was honest then your ignition switch should be working fine. I’d try to avoid doing things that cause the lockup in the first place. Make sure that when you are getting in or out of the car you don’t turn the steering wheel causing it to lock into position. Don’t ever turn the steering wheel after you have turned the car off or just before you turn it on. Being an older lady, there is some chance that you may hold onto the steering wheel getting in and out of the car in order to steady yourself. You may be accidentally turning the wheel and locking it up.

The way you park could be causing the steering wheel to bind. Remember that until the moment you turn the ignition key off, you have power steering. When you park, after the tire has lightly touched the curb or parking block, do not touch the steering wheel as you are turning off the ignition key.

The trick is to not run the car onto the parking blocks or the curb, especially with the wheel turned. If you park and don’t pull on the steering wheel, the steering lock will rarely operate. Stop, put the car in park and don’t move the steering wheel after shutting the car off. Tell the mechanic to just change the lock mechanism if the problem comes back. Sometimes you might have to move the steering wheel a little if the lock engages bot you shouldn’t have to work hard to do it. You can always turn it one way or the other while turning the key. Keep the wheels straight when parked. I’m really sorry that there are mechanics who won’t change the bad part.

You are not alone. Toyota wants to be numero uno & beat GM for the spot ( already did to Ford). So to do it, they have to make more vehicles so more sales worldwide than GM. In the process, they sacrifice quality. You are lucky you don’t have mushy, low brake system. My 2005 Camry has. They won’t fix or adjust it when I still have warraty. Acording to them, it’s normal. What is normal when your brake goes all the way down to the floor & yet brake still doesn’t engage the way it should be? Brake should be about HALFWAY down to engage. I don’t buy Toyota anymore. I have been getting rid of my 3 Toyotas. I bought Nissan (2007) when my daughter needs a car for college. I am in the process of buying either Malibu or Cobalt & trade-in one of the Toyotas.

I do not mean any offense, but I wonder if the fault isn’t at least partially in your own behavior? It isn’t uncommon at all for older people to grab onto the wheel for support as they get in and out of the car. It really seems like a natural place to grab, but if you do grab the wheel as you lift yourself out, you are likely turning it without even noticing that you are doing so. That will in turn engage the steering wheel lock and cause problems later.

There may be a problem with the car, but it might be worth watching your own behavior - make a concerted effort not to touch the steering wheel when getting in or out of the car. Use the door, door frame, grab handles, anything else.

It sounds to me like it is operating as intended, but that Toyota, like other manufacturers, hasn’t fully thought out proper design for older owners.

You may be right that I have been moving the wheel when I get out of the car. I never understood what the locking device was and why it was locking up. I told my son-in-law about the problem I’m having and he said his Nisson has the same locking system. He gave me a demonstration of how it locks and how to unlock it. I tried it three times and was able to unlock it. It helped me to know that I can get out of the car by not touching the wheel and not locking the ignition. I was careful today and did not have it lock up on me. I appreciated all the responses from everyone, it was a big help. Sure has been a frustrating experience and I have grown to hate my ?undependable? Toyota. There have been many times when I have asked strangers to help me force the steering wheel to the right while I turned the key. Not too smart on my part but I was stuck with a locked up car.

I appreciate all the replies that I got for my problem with my Camry. Today, I delivered Meals-on-Wheels and had to get in and out of my car over 20 times. I was careful to slide my seat all the way back and not touch the steering wheel. My car didn’t lock up once. Thank you.