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Weird experience at the repair shop today

Hi everyone, we had a weird experience at the repair shop today. We have a 1993 grand marquis. Last week we made a appointment to get our diver side power window fixed. I also told them we were still having some problems with the ignition switch they replaced last year. The problems back then was when you put the key in it will not turn so you have to take it back out and twist the ignition switch up and down to line the inside part up so you can put the key in and the alarm would not go off when you left the key inside the ignition switch. Anyway last year after they put in the new switch the key would work ok but the alarm to let you know you left the key in would only go off every now and again. A few weeks ago the key started not going in straight again. So today when I told the mechanic about it he said he would put some wd 40 on it and if that didn’t work he would have to change the switch. I said we did a year go. He said then it was still under warranty and he would put in a new switch. Later he comes in and says he changed the ignition switch and it was working fine and said we have two new keys. He then fixed the car’s window but he then came back in and said the key is now stuck in the ignition switch and he can’t get it out a gear inside must have just gone bad, I said we didn’t come in that way can’t you put in another new ignition switch, he said no the key gets stuck with the new ignition switch and the old one and we would have to just drive the car and leave the key in it because it was stuck. He said in order to fix it we would have to leave the car there all day so he could take apart the steering wheel and see what gear is bad. We said we would come back we could not leave the car there now. We went home thinking we would never be able to get the key out without a costly repair. When we got home the key came out when I just moved the ignition switch back and fourth a little. I then noticed we only had one copy of the new key and we were supposed to get two. So I called back the shop and told them we only got one key for our new switch, he said that was because we didn’t get a new switch they put the old one back because that was not the problem, the problem is somewhere in the steering column. I told him the key came out and he said that was good. We are not sure if we should find a new shop or maybe this was a honest mistake.

Yes to a new shop .

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Is this “repair shop” a chain, or an independent mechanic? The only possible alternative interpretation i have is that the key was stuck in the new ignition switch, so he swapped the old switch back so you wouldn’t have to leave the key in the vehicle (although I’m not sure if it’s possible to do that swap with a key jammed in the ignition switch).

I’m leaning towards finding a new shop as well

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It was a independent mechanic , I don’t get what happened either, he claimed the key got jammed in both the new and old switch which is strange, we went home thinking we could never get the key out again only to find I could get it out with just a little moving it around , very strange I’m am looking online now for a new shop. I guess the guy maybe didn’t know how to fix a ignition switch, he did do a good job on the power window. There were two other customers in the small waiting room when he had to come in and tell us the key was jammed in and couldn’t come out so I’m not sure what happened but I guess better safe than sorry and we should look for some place else.

The key doesn’t go into the ignition switch. It goes into the ignition lock cylinder.

https://www.rockauto.com/en/catalog/mercury,1993,grand+marquis,4.6l+v8,1199550,ignition,ignition+lock+cylinder,10041

The ignition switch sits at the base of the steering column.

https://www.rockauto.com/en/catalog/mercury,1993,grand+marquis,4.6l+v8,1199550,electrical-switch+&+relay,ignition+starter+switch,4700

There’s a metal rod that runs from the lock cylinder down to the ignition switch.

You can see the rod in this image.

If the ignition switch is worn/out of adjustment, it can mess the lock cylinder up.

Tester

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The mechanic’s story is definitely possible. They ignition switch interfaces with parts inside the steering column that lock the steering wheel when the key is removed, and those parts could be the problem. I wouldn’t recommend a new shop just b/c of this incident. IMO what you want in a shop is somebody who uses their professional training and experience to work your problem, and to continue until you are satisfied with the result. While most of the time the first attempt takes, sometimes it’s often an iterative process, and you have to keep bringing the car back in. And you have to allow the shop to keep the car for the time it takes to diagnose and fix the problem. During that time you either need to find other transportation, or if they offer that service, a loaner car the shop provides.

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Yeah that’s what is must be, the ignition switch is worn out and it messed up the lock cylinder. It was the lock cylinder they replaced a year ago, I got the two mixed up. The new lock cylinder never really worked right so I think they should have replaced the ignition switch like you said.

We do like the shop, they did a good job on the power window, I just don’t understand why he thought the key was stuck, I was able to get it out very easily with just a little moving it back and forth but maybe he was afraid to mess with it to much because the key could break off. I will call them tomorrow and talk to the mechanic.

The transfer case lever on my ancient 4WD truck sticks sometimes, and I’m the only one who can unstick it. For me it is easy to unstick b/c I’ve done it many times. But somebody, like a shop mechanic, who hadn’t had it happen to them would probably say it was completely stuck and a replacement was needed.

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I have replaced ignition linkage and gears in Ford steering columns, they do fail. Your mechanic tried a new lock cylinder and it didn’t solve the problem so the column will need to be inspected, most mechanics will not want to disassemble the column if you can not leave the vehicle for repair.

Then it is not broke and you do not need a repair however I suspect that very soon you will find that the ignition still binds.

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When the mechanic stated he put WD 40 in a lock cylinder, he would have lost my business.

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WD-40 is not a good lubricant for metal. It may kind of work a short time but it will not last. Use something else; even a tiny shot of spray Pam. And don’t laugh; I use it with metal work on my lathe and it works great other than the burnt French fry smell due to hot metal which is not a concern here.

Sometimes new keys have burrs on them. Maybe sticking in the key and removing it repeatedly can fix it.

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Yeah I think you are right, now that the key got stuck and unstuck we are having some of the old problems again… the transmission stick now moves a little every time we turn the lock cylinder to start the car. Have you ever heard of this happening, we do have air bags in the steering wheel and I sure don’t want them to go off by mistake because the steering column might have a problem

I have used regular motor oil to lubricate lock cylinders. Dip the key into the oil and insert into the cylinder. Push it in and out a few times and wipe oil off of key if any remains.

Once I didn’t have access to a container of oil, so I removed the dipstick in my car and rubbed both sides of the key on the oil stuck to the dipstick. That is all that is needed, worked like a charm for me on various locks around the house.

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