Balky ignition switch

Hard to turn the key - I have to jiggle and hold it just right. It’s mainly my wife’s car now and this could be a big problem for her. It’s a 1999 Honda Civic with 195,000 miles.

Seems to me it’s likely the key mechanism, not the electrical switch. Would a bit of the correct lube help and not hurt? If so, what lube?

something like this?

Graphite won’t hurt to try, but be careful about transferring it from your key to your clothing for a while. Don’t use anything like WD-40, which will actually gum things up over time.

Does the other key do the same thing?

I used graphite on any car with keys and never had issue with transferring to the cloth.
After you apply it, get a paper towel and get your key in and out 5-10 times, wiping it off until you see no traces.
Nowadays I seem to have only one old car with key, the rest use push-button start.

Nowadays I seem to have only one old car with key, the rest use push-button start.

You are not the only one but we seem to be in the minority my daily driver is a 1990 F150 with a 1982 Dodge half ton backup neither one have the fancy bell’s whistle’s nor do I want them.

Base models (like my 2017 Tucson) still use a key.

I was having a similar trouble, went to a chevy dealer, had a key cut by vin number, $8 and problem was solved. Worth a shot, in the olden days locksmiths could perform the same service, not sure if they still do,

These cars are under a Recall for faulty switches; mainly the electrical part. Call your local Honda dealer, give them the VIN, and see if it’s covered. Even if the key and tumbler are not covered you might catch a break because of labor overlap. Something like a million cars affected or something like that.

There’s also a fair number of other Recalls on these cars. Ask to have any applicable ones performed as it’s free of charge as to parts and labor.

Thanks for your suggestions. I used graphite in the key tumbler area with little change, then started taking things apart. The electric switch is several inches left of the key area. It works OK. (No recalls on this VIN.) In between is the steering wheel lock. That’s where the resistance is greatest. I was able to get some graphite and then some spray white lithium grease into it and it is now working much more smoothly.

Both keys work about the same. It still takes some jiggling, but less, and once it starts turning its action is smoother and with less resistance. If I have to replace the whole assembly eventually, I have a better idea what’s involved.

BTW it helped a lot to get out of the garage and into the sunlight to see all around the area once I got the plastic covers off the column and the back of the steering wheel.