Key won't turn! Argh

Hi there,

I have a 03 Dodge Durango whos ignition swith has gone to pot. Key won’t turn at all. Got a new switch to replace it (which will be a totally easy swap out) BUT, the key won’t turn so I can’t unlock the latch/push pin/button to release it.

Anyone have any ideas?

The tumblers are stuck. I usually tap on the end of the key with a small hammer (driving the key into the lock cylinder) very lightly just enough to rattle the tumblers so the tumbler spings push them agaist the key. It should only take ten seconds to get the lock to turn. I’ve replaced a least a hundred lock cylinders that were stuck and have not had to drill any of them out.

Started going bad a week or so ago, tapping worked just fine up until now. No amount of tapping in the world is getting that thing to turn.

You should have changed it out as soon as it was acting up constantly. Now, unless you can get it to turn one more time, it may need to be drilled out.

Shoulda, coulda, woulda…When I go a drilling, what exactly am I doing? Just drill straight into the back of the switch? Just one spot? Should I kinda grind it around in there to get some extra room, maybe freeing up the lock?
Bit I’m using is the length of my key so I don’t go shooting through the other side and cause mor damage. Appreciate any feedback.

Well if you cant get it out by Finesse…Just look for a bigger hammer…LOL… IF you cannot tap the key in or have you also tried to TURN THE steering wheel which will take the pressure off the locking pawl? Know what I mean when I say this? Is the sticking key due to the wheel being cocked and stressed in one direction or another? I think you know what I mean…

IF you cant get it to turn…just snap the key and use a slide/slap hammer with a course hardened metal screw bit …first drill it and then screw it and use the hammer…THAT will pop out the tumbler internals for CERTAIN…I can assure you of that. If you don’t own the hammer, you can buy a cheapie at Harbor Freight for low bucks…and it WILL work… Buy the biggest one you can afford…Mine has an 8lb slide weight…and not much can withstand it. Hope this helps

Example of a hammer:


You may try a shot Of wd40 or the like into the lock to try to get those tumbers to move one more time n

03 dodge durango?

Drill + soldering iron + button + toggle switch = push button ignition and forget the stupid key.

Sorry, I’m no help. Always hated those things cause everyone had them in my town.

Still… I guess it’s a valid suggestion.

“You may try a shot Of wd40 or the like into the lock to try to get those tumbers to move one more time”

That is one thing WD - 40 might be good at. It may help you get the old lock out. However don’t use it on a working lock. WD-40 is not a good lubricant. It will slowly gum up a lock so it will not work. Locks work best when they are clean and dry. Not oiled.

Okay, thanks for the hammer idea. Going to Harbor Freight tomorrow. But could I get a little more clairfication on “just snap the key and use a slide/slap hammer with a course hardened metal screw bit …first drill it and then screw it and use the hammer”.

Break key off inside? What am I drilling and screwing?

Lets say the key was NOT there…and you would see the keyhole…If that were there for you you would screw the hammers “sheet metal body pulling” screw into the slit for the key…but now that your key is in the way…you cant do that and you’d have to drill it just to give the sheet screw something to bite into thats all.

*** JEEZ MAN…WHY AREN’T WE JUST UNBOLTING THE IGNITION SWITCH? The slap hammer is a method to steal an older car to be honest…Don’t ask…

I haven’t seen anyone recommend taking the steering column apart and go about it like you were changing the ignition switch. Unscrew the top and bottom column covers…and the switch is then right there…usually held in by some “security fasteners”…but not always…sometimes they are just BIG or REVERSE (Inverse) Torx bits…

You can but a “security bit” set from Harbor as well…in fact I had one in my hands last nite…on sale for 2 bucks…literally 2 bucks… It had what 80 different security bits? Some are torx bits with a hole drilled in the middle…some look like a warped Phillips bit…all SORTS of security doodad bits…

Just skip the violence and go about this as tho you were getting a new ignition switch…Which you will INEVITABLY need to do after you destroy the old one…No?


Well, this was 20 days ago, with no update.

My guess is the destructive methods were employed. I hope not.

Taking actions without a basis of fact can be costly, especially if the SKIM module gets damaged.

Getting it to work “one more time” is not the solution, but a FAVOR from the Fates, to avoid the TOW to the locksmith.

The new ignition lock cylinder can be coded to match the original key code. This will save you money when you LOSE the ignition keys next time. The new lock will still match the rest, as well as the VIN. We charge considerably more to work on a car that has been altered from its original condition, due to additional labor.

We charge about 75.00 for the new lock cylinder, matched to the OE key.

One trick locksmiths have come up with, to PERSUADE the lock to turn one-more-time, is to put a METAL key without the chip into the ignition, and apply a Sears AutoHammer against the key. The strong vibration will often loosen up the stuck wafers and allow turning the lock, which is necessary to removing it without drilling.

If your keys have excessive wear, a good locksmith can cut fresh keys and transfer the RFID chips from the old keys to the new, saving the cost of programming.