View Full Version : Key will not release from ignition, need some help.

10-25-2004, 03:59 PM
Ok So here's the Details:
Vehicle: 1998 Pontiac Grand Am GT (automatic transmission :()
Problem: Randomly (sometimes it will be fine for days, weeks, sometimes it will happen 20 times a day) my car will refuse to release the key from the ignition, I will not be able to turn it completely off, it will stop turning at the Accessory mode in which it drains the battery, leaving the key locked in place.
What I've tried: I've had a new battery and Alternator installed (mechanic thought it was that but I think they needed to be replaced as a result of the problem not because they were the problem). At this point I think it has to do with some wiring problem between the shifter and the steering column.
What I do to get the key out: Dark Rituals involving the sacrificing of goats... seriously I have no idea why it decides to unlock but somtimes playing with the shifter or steering wheel seems to help.

10-25-2004, 05:09 PM
Make sure itís completely in the Park position; most automatics will not allow you to remove the key unless itís in park. Secondly, play with the steering wheel, the locking mechanism often makes it hard to remove the key from the ignition if the locked column is putting pressure on the ignition lock mechanism. Lastly look for burrs or anything on the key that would indicate a possible problem (aftermarket keys suck). Hope you have better luck, that problem sounds annoying :whipped:

10-25-2004, 05:32 PM
play around with the steering wheel, that usually works for me.

10-25-2004, 05:47 PM
Switch into neutral and then try.. It won't relase the key unless your in neutral OR park

10-25-2004, 05:48 PM
Oh and don't go back to the machanic that replaced your altenator and battery because you could remove your key:rofl:

10-25-2004, 05:51 PM
maybe you should try topping up your headlight fluid

10-25-2004, 05:52 PM
:rofl: or blinker:rofl:

10-25-2004, 09:41 PM
Yea like I said playing with the shift and wheel seems to work (although I think it's a placebo effect) but can take up to 20 minutes sometimes.

The battery and alternator were shot from repeated drainings that occured as a result of this problem, my car was at the point it would need a boost if the lights were left on for 5-10 minutes without engine running.

I've found I can determine when the ignition has released the key when there is a clicking sound from the steering column so the battery draining is kept to a minimum now.

ps. I keep my headlight and blinker fluid full at all times, I hear all sorts of horror stories about what happens when you run low on them.

10-25-2004, 09:44 PM
I get that shit with GM cars all the time.. push the key in all the way, then turn.. somtimes i gotta hit the key to get it to release..

now that your headlight fluid is topped up, check your muffler bearings

10-25-2004, 09:54 PM
Maybe there's button to release the key. One time one of my co-worker's let me drive her van home for her, and I had a helluva time getting the key out, and it turned out that there was a button...

10-25-2004, 10:00 PM
Make sure you are in the right key posistion.

What color is your headlight fluid on the dipstick?

10-25-2004, 10:38 PM
Couple suggestions:

Move around the steering wheel and while doing that try to pull out the key.


Hold brake, put the tranny into Park and push it all the way then try to pull out the key.

10-25-2004, 10:42 PM
cut your key up into small tiny pieces

and get a new one made!!!

ohh and check your windshield pressure

Dr. Lightspeed
10-25-2004, 11:46 PM
There is a cable that runs from the shifter to the ignition key called the shift lock cable sounds like it is out of adjustment. Have seen this on a couple GM auto console shift cars.

10-26-2004, 01:03 PM
No button release.
Pushing (or pulling) on the key makes no difference.
eclipseqt, thats what I was originally doing before my battery died from abuse, now I know when it will release the key because there is a distinctive clicking noise.
Defective I have had 5 different keys cut from my primary and spare that came with the car originally, it doesn't matter which I use.

Dr. Lightspeed, thanks

10-26-2004, 01:23 PM
I've seen this happen alot! I've even been screwed by the faulty GM locks.

I just jiggled the hell out of the key and it released, It could also be in your shifter like the DR said.

10-26-2004, 02:49 PM
first get a drill... and a hammer...

10-26-2004, 04:27 PM
Push Button Start mod!

I got owned an evil Talon a few weeks ago - girl co-worker comes in saying her key is stuck, can't start it - I offer my macho services to save the day (thinking wheel lock). After 30 mins I had to give up, it just wouldn't turn.

What I don't get it why something obviously mechanical would get blamed on the alternator/battery? I know it wasn't your case but how could that ever be the problem?


10-26-2004, 11:34 PM
Originally posted by canadiandaytona
Oh and don't go back to the machanic that replaced your altenator and battery because you could remove your key:rofl: :werd:
p.s. you guys have it all wrong. The problem is clearly his brake rotor surface lube.

10-27-2004, 01:46 PM
According to the mechanic that "fixed" the problem the key requires 12v to release, my battery was dead at the time (and my alternator was fuxed due to abuse from this problem) so he though it was that. I told him it wasn't but he was the expert and unable to recreate the trouble when he replaced both even though I told him it was intermittent.

10-27-2004, 01:55 PM
i used to have that problem in my dads vette, it had a little lever underneath the ignition switch, usually just took a whole bunch of jiggling to to it out lol.

10-27-2004, 02:05 PM
Yep, there's a little release button under the steering column. In the middle, most of the way back, you have to reach up inside, and you can manually operate the solenoid. Curious that GM left a hole there, so you can manually realease this. Perhaps they saw the problem coming?...
My mom's 96 grand am does it. It was fine until she lent her car to my bro's fiancee, who tried to turn the car off in drive. She twisted the key really hard, thinking it was just stiff, and ever since then, every single time you try to turn the car off, it won't turn right off.

I can probably explain better where the solenoid is.

It's either out of adjustment, or gummed up (most likely). However, in the case of my mom's car, the pin coming out of it is bent or something.

10-30-2004, 11:37 AM
it needs the ignition switch/tumbler assy. been happening on g-m's for 15 years.

10-30-2004, 11:39 AM
Haha when I read the title, I thought you made this thread while your key was still stuck in your ignition!
That woulda been gold! haha

10-30-2004, 04:13 PM
i used to have the same problem on my 89 gmc jimmy, i just got a new ignition put in, i think it was like 90 bucks