Ignition key doesn't immediately turn

Hello, I have a 1999 Chevy Prizm that I’m trying to keep as long as possible since I’m now working very part-time hours. For the past week or two I put the ignition key in, and can’t get it to immediately turn. I check to make sure the car’s really in Park, push the key in further, pull it out just a hair…between each step I try to get the key to turn and start the car. After 4 or 5 tries it does turn and the car starts right up.

I’ve tried both my “regular” key and my spare, thinking maybe one was a little worn and not fitting quite right. I’m getting worried that the time will come when I won’t be able to get the key to turn. Is this a problem with the lock part of my ignition, or is there some glitch that’s telling the car it’s not in Park even though it is?

I just had to spend a good chunk of my emergency money to get tires and brake work on this car so it could pass inspection, and when I told the man at the garage about the key problem he shrugged and made some vague comment about old cars having problems.

It there something I can do about this problem besides worrying my self half to death?

Some ignition switches fail due to excessive weight haning from the key ring. Sounds like your ignition switch needs to be replaced. If you have a shop do it make sure they can adjust the wafers so your new key can open the door and start the car. A good mobile locksmith can do this job at your house. If you let it go the switch will need to be drilled out, making it more expensive.

Oh dear, this sounds scary-expensive. I’ve 4 keys on my key ring, I never considered that to be excessive weight. There’s not many locksmiths in this rural area, but I’ll call around next week and see what they have to say about this.

Thank you for your input.

This is basically a Toyota Corolla, and the lock cylinders are easy to change if you can get the key to turn. Basically, you turn the key to anything but ‘off’, slide in a pin to release a clip, and the lock cylinder slides tight out. The new cylinder slides right in until you hear a click. This becomes next to impossible if you wait until the key no longer works. They designed an anti-theft, so the pin cannot release the clip if the key cannot turn the lock past ‘off’.

Also, the lock cylinders are not expensive. Fix it now and be done with it. A competent locksmith may be able to get the new lock cylinder to match your old one, so you don’t need to change any keys.

Many locksmiths will make the needed repairs/adjustments for a fair price.  The dealer likely can do so also, but generally they will charge more.  As technology has advanced, the anti thief as gotten more complex and fewer lock smiths can handle the problem.  The dealer may well charge more than they should, but that is just the way things are.  

Good Luck

I’m about to leave the library (where I have internet access) so I did a last check on my post. I work on Monday, but on Tuesday I’ll call around and find a locksmith who does this type of job. Right now buying groceries is a luxury, so I do not want to wait until this become more expensive.

I am updating my lock experience. I was unable to find a locksmith to replace the cylinder lock, so I went to a Chevy dealer, and a part is being ordered. This repair will cost me $300.

How I wish I hadn’t been told this would not be expensive, for the shock of the price started me crying in the waiting room. But there’s no use having a car if I can’t turn the ignition key, so I’ll get this repair done tomorrow after work.