Tempermental ignition 2000 RAV 4

So we have a 2000 RAV 4 that my kids’ aunt and uncle gave them last year when my oldest daughter started to drive. This month, my son turned 17 and started driving the RAV 4. I have also driven the car from time to time. My daughter and I never have issues starting the car. But my son, who uses my spare key (a duplicate I had made at Lowe’s) has on two occasions called us frantically because he has inserted the key in the ignition and cannot turn it to start the car. Eventually, with enough jiggling and shoving, he manages to get the car started before I have to go and rescue him. The two times it happened were both in the evening around 8:30. Not surprisingly, both those times were about an hour later than when he should have been home. The only time he was able to deliberately duplicate the ignition issue for me was once when the steering wheel was turned when he turned off the car and then tried to re-start it. Any thoughts? Is it a problem with the starter or is it teenage performance anxiety?

If the original keys that came with the vehicle never give a problem, then one has to suspect that the key that was made at Lowes is the problem.


When you park with the wheels turned sharply it puts stress on the mechanism that locks the steering wheel. Next time have him try this. If the wheel is turned to the left and the ignition is locked, to put pressure on the wheel, as in turning left farther and the pressure on the lock should be released.

It’s just in the way that he drives. Not that he is doing anything terrible, but I’ll bet that if you watch closely…he never straightens the wheel as he comes to the spot to park. Where you and the daughter probably do straighten the wheel in that last foot.


I might add something else . . .

Do not make a copy of a well worn key, especially if that key is already a copy

If you have multiple genuine Toyota keys for this car, make a copy of the best key. For best results, obtain a genuine key blank from the dealer and have a decent locksmith cut it for you

When I say decent, that is not Lowes or Home Depot. That would be an independent locksmith

Speaking from personal experience, some of the cheapo aftermarket keys wear out very quickly

Another possiblity . . . ask the Toyota dealer if they can cut a key for you, based on the key code, which they should have stored in their central database, wherever that may be. Unfortunately, I don’t think they’ll be willing to look it up, because they may be lazy


Most dealers will cut a key using the vin. You will most likely need photo id and registration to show you are the owner. It will take a little bit of time since Toyota has a procedure that must be followed before the key code will be provided to the dealer.