How to remove the ignition if you can't turn the key
If you are reading this, you are at a bad place, a very bad place. If you are one of the lucky ones and can turn your key to the first position, consider yourself very lucky and get your butt to the dealer, shell out your 140 bucks and replace the lock tumbler/cylinder before you get in worse.
For those that are here (can't turn the key at all), I'm going to teach you what I learned so you won't have to reinvent the wheel. First, before you go any further are you SURE that you can't get that key to turn just one more time? Really sure? Have you tried touching the key with a sander or other vibrating machine? Some guys have a lot of luck with that...go ahead, steal your wife's or GF toy, it's for a good cause...yes, it will be so easy to just change the cylinder if you can turn it to the 1st position....10 minutes vs 4 hours.
If you're still here you're as screwed as I was...first things first...go to the dealer and order your keyed tumbler/cylinder...it'll take a couple days to get so you can get the other work done while you wait...next, check out auto-parts-warehouse for a new ignition lock cover(pn#w0133-1716605) and the Ignition lock housing(pn#w0133-1607413). Both will run about 117 bucks with free shipping. Cheapest place I could find for genuine parts...I didn't want any piece of crap that would be different...I wanted exact parts. Trust me, call the dealer for the cost of those two parts<ROTFLMAO>. After you regain your composure we'll move on......
OK, basically, we're going to remove the entire ignition/steeringlock assembly and replace it all with the new parts that you just ordered. I just finished mine and you can't even tell that anything was ever done to it. Relax, the only special tool that you'll need is a dremal tool with a pointed or cone-shaped grinding stone...you can get by with a 1/4" drill but it would be really clumsey to use right next to finished, exposed parts that you don't want to scratch.
Gather a selection of screwdrivers, 10mm wrench, a couple of nut drivers 9small 14" or 5-6 mm?) and remember to look through everything before you do it..this is neither complicated or difficult but remember that you don't want to break anything so take your time.
Remove the left side vent...I use a jewelers screwdriver to pry out one side then the other...lay it on the passenger floor, nect remove the housing for it and the headlight switch..it's one piece that comes out with a single screw to the top of the housing. Also, remove the transponder from the panel, I used a small plastic wedge to pry it off of the ignition lock. Once you use a small screwdriver to pull the rubber "flange" out, it the transponder will pop right off...careful, it's connected by a coaxial cable so gently let it hang, it has 6-8 inches of play in the cable.
Next, loosen and remove all of the screws securing the lower instrument panel..there's a few of them so get them all, including the one way up in the little hole on the righthand side on the panel in the foam bolster. Also remove the center screw securing the under-steering column cover and take it out. Don't worry about the diagnostics point or the hood release..we'll get those in a minute. Gently lower the lower panel and now get to the cpu tie-in and the hood release...I removed the cable from the hood release since it was easier for me to do it. After you remove the two screws for the diagnostics connector, lower the connection and slide the back of it with the provided grooves, the back of the cover slides about an inch, letting you now remove the electrical plug, pull it through the panel and take the panel out of the car...you don't want to break it while you work.
Okay, now remove the gear engagment cable (arrow #2) by squeezing the two prongs together and pulling the piece out from the ignition housing, next is the small two pin key-in-ignition warning buzzer connector(arrow #1). Next, get your dremal tool and grind down the locking pin on the steering lock. It's about 1/8" thick pin of very shiny metal, but it's not case-hardened and will be nice and flat in about 2 minutes( see the circle in the attached picture). You need to be able to slide the entire assembly out and once you look at it, you'll understand what I mean. OK, now get that 10mm wrench and loosen the clamp and remove the bolt....now gently rotate the assembly and remove it.
Ta Da, now if you try your key, it will probably turn to the first position...........just kidding, mine didn't either.....once you get your parts, lube up the new cylinder, slide it in and turn it to position one, slide the new black cap on and you'll see how the pin that you grounded down pops out into place when you remove the key. You will have to relocate the "key in ignition" buzzer to the new lock housing but first you have to remove it. Careful here, I used a piece of very strong and thin spring metal (you could use a paperclip) with a small L bent into the end of it to get behind the extended button in my old housing so I could slide the switch up and out...don't force it, look at the picture and you'll see how the switches pops into the column lock arm....see on your new one how depressing the lock will push out the button? Thats what you have to make happen with the paperclip. The hardest part of reassembly was gently prying on the upper panel to get the assembly to rotate into position while the key (that came with the new cylinder) was in the 1st position so the pop-out pin would retract and therefore slide onto the steering column. Once you have it into place properly, just reassemble and you're done.....
Couple of tips.... remove the neg cable to the battery before you begin(you will have to have your radio code handy when you reconnect it)
You will have your BAS/ESP lights on when you are done, turn off the car, turn the steering wheel full lock to lock...then restart your car...lights all gone and the sensors recalibrated.(that was a scary one not to know going into it, thought I'd broken something)
OK, not that big a deal....260 bucks and the car looks and acts like new...of course I could have paid a dealer the 1600 that he would have charged me...MINIMUM!!
This is the very FIRST thing that has broken on this car in the three years that I've owned it other then a couple warranty items when I first bought it.....it's been extremely reliable and even this was my own fault since i used to keep 20 keys hanging on my ring....I knew it when it started to ruin the ignition but it was too late...that was two years ago and it finally gave up the ghost....not too shabby if you ask me....
Last edited by Jeff Kushner; 03-26-2009 at 12:34 PM.