Do I really need to replace the whole steering column?


#1

I have a 2000 Plymouth Neon (don’t laugh). Recently, it was doing odd stuff when I went to start it. I.e…it wouldn’t start. I called AAA for a jump start, but it isn’t my battery, or my starter. The AAA guy said that there’s a safety switch on the clutch pedal that sometimes needs adjustment or replacement. I took it to my new mechanic (reputable guy, I’m told) and he said, yes…that’s probably it. Long story short…It wasn’t the switch. There is a metal part in the ignition stuff that’s broken and when turning the key (I saw the part, and yes, it was broken), no electricity would flow and…get this…THE STEERING COLUMN needs to be replaced?! Does that sound right? Right now I can drive the car by using the key to unlock the steering wheel and using a screwdriver in the other part. In all other respects, the car is in good shape (I’m the original owner) and it runs well. Replacing an entire steering column seems pretty extreme…plus, I’m just as likely to run into the same problem with a “reclaimed” column, right? Any suggestions? I need to make a decision soon.


#2

I ran into something like this with a different car. I was able to purchase a “universal” ignition switch and mounted it outside the column on the lower edge of the dash, by-passing the column lock and switch…An accurate wiring diagram with a close-up of the switch connections is needed to do this…


#3

I did a similar thing, but just used a couple of toggle switches and a push button for the starter. I kept the lock cylinder in place, to lock the steering wheel, and you would need a key to unlock it. But, if you use a universal key switch, be sure to remove the column key cylinder to disable the steering wheel lock. This could possible lead to a dangerous event.


#4

thank you Caddyman and Busted Knuckles. I have read other posts on this board and it seems like I’m not the only person to face something like this (albeit with different cars). Perhaps you can help with some nomenclature? Correct me if I’m wrong…the gadget on the right side of the column is the key lock and the thingy on the left side is this ignition…connecting the two is something called an “a rod”? And in my case, it’s the “a-rod” that is broken? Given the following: Expense of a new column - Ridiculous…Going with a “re-claimed” column - no guarantee the same problem won’t happen again (plus, even this option isn’t cheat), the age of the car, finally…given that the key/screwdriver combo works, it seems that I should just leave well enough alone. Unless I can find or make an “a-rod”, that is. Perhaps I could just find a way to make a more stable and permanent attachment of the current arrangement?


#5

I recall replacing the ignition switch on a Neon about two years ago. There are two separate components, the ignition lock and the ignition switch. A rod connects the two. Both parts are readily available; I got the switch from AutoZone. If you have a broken rod you might have to replace the lock. I think you can also get one from AutoZone.

Both parts are easy enough to replace yourself, if so inclined. I can even guide you. If your problem is only with these items, you do not need to replace the steering column. However, it is possible the problem is deeper. I cannot tell from here. Find out the actual cause of the car’s problem.


#6

Hey Steve…thanks for the assist. I took a look online and while I found ignition switches and key locks, none of the pictures showed either part with the connecting rod. Could such a rod be fabricated?