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Locked Steering Wheel

Having an issue with my 2000 Honda Accord - will go to put the key into the ignition, key slips right in, but will not turn. The steering wheel is locked. This has been happening intermittently for a few months with no improvement. Sometime it wil take me 10-30 minutes of wiggling the key, turning the steering wheel, etc until the steering wheel unlocks and key turns in the ignition. My patience is wearing and I’m concerned that it will eventually get to the point where it won’t turn at all! I’ve tried with an alternate key and same results. Any suggestions as to what I need to do?

Didn’t this come up before? If you used an alternate key and still did the same thing, and the key does not look worn, then most likely the lock cylinder itself needs to be replaced. They should be able to just pop out the old cylinder, change the tumblers on the new one to match the current key, and pop the new one in. This would be a good locksmith or the dealer. Others may have other ideas.

Do you have a second key? A Valet key? If you have either, have you tried it? The problem may just be wear on the key. Or even a dead key FOB battery if you have a security system.

If it isn’t than it’s the key cylinder, especially since the key won’t turn.

Post back with the answers.

If it came up before and I missed it when searching, I apologize for the repeat. I suspected it might be the key cylinder (after searching the net and determining it wasn’t a key issue after trying the valet key as well) and called the dealer for an estimate on replacement yesterday and was told they’d need to replace the whole ignition cylinder, which with parts, labor, new key fob and programming would cost nearly $700… seemed incredibly steep to me.

They may have to replace the locking mechanism which would mean taking the steering column out, drilling out a couple bolts, replacing the mechanism, and reprogramming the keys again. Just depends what kind of key system is on their. Might want to try an independent mechanic shop but if the system needs to be reprogramed again, might not have a choice. Second opinion time though but take it so they can physically take a look-see.

The other answer is to have an independent shop do the work. They will buy a replacement lock cylinder, have a locksmith re-key the lock cylinder to your existing keys and disassemble the column to replace the cylinder. Last one of those I did came to about $450 I think.

Question: Once you get the car started, can you leave the key in the ignition and have it start easily the next time? If so, and your other keys reliably open the doors, I’d just leave a key in the ignition and lock the doors with another key (remote locks may be deactivated by this).

insightful wrote:
If so, and your other keys reliably open the doors, I’d just leave a key in the ignition and lock the doors with another key (remote locks may be deactivated by this).

If this car is stolen with a key in the ignition, it could be a big problem for trying to collect any insurance money.

Point taken; but why would you tell your insurance company?

Well it would be on the police report, plus it would be insurance fraud. At any rate, it sounds like the problem is in turning the key or the connection between the key cylinder and the lock mechanism so it wouldn’t make much difference if the key were left in and turned off.

The bad news is it looks like the whole mechanism needs to be replaced instead of just the cylinder but the good news is the whole part is less than $150 at Rockauto complete with a couple keys. Problem is the steering column needs to come out to put it in. Could be worse though, mine would be $1100 just for the part.

Is your key a computerized key? If not get a new key cut by vin number. I was having trouble with all my keys, took a little jiggling, turning around the key etc. to be able to start. Got one key cut and it worked perfectly, got another cut for a spare. Otherwise new ignition lock in your future I fear.

It’s not fraud if they don’t ask ;-]. Also, from a claims adjuster:

“Granted I have not handled claims in every state but in 23 yrs I have never seen a policy that states a theft is not covered if the keys are left in the car. I have covered many theft claims where the key was in the car. You can expect lots of questions and a little suspicion about whether you left the keys in the car on purpose hoping somebody would take it. Assuming you weren’t behind on payments or something like that you will get paid.”

I’m just saying, if it works, it’s what I’d do. If I could avoid spending $700 on a $3000 car, I’m in.

Also, there’s always “The Club” steering lock for $30 at Walmart.