Ignition lock/steering column problem

I have a 1983 Mercedes 380 SL and the ignition key will not turn; the steering wheel will not release the key and I am at a loss as to what to do further than: tapping the ignition cartridge with a hammer, inserting key, tapping it, then trying. Nothing seems to even feel remotely like the key is attempting to work. Any suggestions??? I have heard it is best NOT to use WD-40 in the lock.

Sometimes the steering wheel locks itself up. try rotating the wheel to the center of play and removin the key.

Fords are popular with this. Like Barkeydog said try moving the wheel from one side to the other.

I sometimes have a similar problem w/my Corolla, esp if I park such that the front wheels are up against the curb. I’ve always been able to remove the key by jiggling the steering wheel back and forth though. Sometimes it take a few minutes. When this happens, afterward, I clean the key by putting it through the dishwasher cycle. Then I take one of those pencils they have at the golf course, you know the short stubby ones w/the soft lead, and I coat the edges of the key with the pencil lead. Lubricates the key a bit. After that, usually no more lock-up problems for a while. With an 83 though, you may be nearing the end of the key and switches life cycle, and might just need to have them both replaced. If it were my car and I couldn’t get it out, me, before banging on anything, first, I’d try spraying some WD 40 and give it some time to penetrate, then see if the key will turn. True, WD 40 probably isn’t the best lube for key switches, but since you can’t get the key out, WD 40 seems like it would cause less damage than banging on the switch.

I have the same car and have had the same problem, although intermittent and quite stubborn. . I had my old German mechanic friend tell me it was the locking mechanism where the key goes in, we replaced it. It still happened. I have managed to find a sweet spot between the two stop points of the steering wheel, as an earlier post indicated it is not at the extreme positions of the steering or has anything to do with the tumbler.

Best of luck. It has not happened for me in a long time now.

John (st augustine)