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'70 280S-'73 450SLC-'81 380SL-'84 500SEC Euro-'92 300SL24-'95 E320
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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I have an '81 380SL. Was running errands, stopped the car and when I returned I inserted the key and it will not turn no matter what I do. Worked fine then it didn't, no symptoms prior to this happening. I have tried the steering wheel back and forth yank, I have tried neutral, I have searched the forum, I have looked at the maintenance manual and have found nothing that helps so far. I learned how to remove the tumbler, but is does me no good if the key won't turn to position 1 to get it out. I sprayed graphite lube in there, I tried PB Blaster. I have tried my spare key, I even tried bowing to the east during a full moon and nothing. Can anyone help me with real useful suggestions? I am at a loss.......
dws (David):crybaby2:
 

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1972 280CE
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4,211 Posts
You probably have one chance of unjamming it before it completely seizes up. What you'll need to do is move the key back and forth while someone else giggles the wheel and if you're lucky it will unjam (expect to do this for some time).

If it does, then do not remove the key and make sure that the steering does not lock until you replace the tumbler. If you can't get it un stuck, then expect to replace the tumbler, lock assembly and steel casing.

It's not a fun job. I did it once and never want to do it again.
 

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2021 SL770
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I have an '81 380SL. Was running errands, stopped the car and when I returned I inserted the key and it will not turn no matter what I do. Worked fine then it didn't, no symptoms prior to this happening. I have tried the steering wheel back and forth yank, I have tried neutral, I have searched the forum, I have looked at the maintenance manual and have found nothing that helps so far. I learned how to remove the tumbler, but is does me no good if the key won't turn to position 1 to get it out. I sprayed graphite lube in there, I tried PB Blaster. I have tried my spare key, I even tried bowing to the east during a full moon and nothing. Can anyone help me with real useful suggestions? I am at a loss.......
dws (David):crybaby2:
If you can't get it out the easy way, you'll likely have to drill it. And you or may not need to replace the steering lock, as well. Good luck!
 

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I had this happen on a 78 slc I was working on, after several hours a day, for several days, trying to get the darn thing un-jammed.

I had to suck it up and pull the wheel off, and the cluster out, found myself a dremel and some of my wives bathroom mirrors and carefully ground out the retaining pin and pulled the ignition switch free.

I was lucky to be able to source a replacement lock set from a generous(or he just took pity:D) member.

as far as i know, that would be the same thing a locksmith would to to remove the cylinder, that pins gotta come out. it is tedious, and nerve racking, but if you take your time, its not to difficult.
 

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'70 280S-'73 450SLC-'81 380SL-'84 500SEC Euro-'92 300SL24-'95 E320
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Discussion Starter #8
Thank you all for your input. Looks like I have some things to try and some work to do.
dws
 

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I dread the day this happens to me. If I were less Dutch I'd just replace it now. Luckily there are at least half a dozen DIY's on here, peachparts, and elsewhere on how to drill it, so it is doable. Good luck.
 

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1978 450SL--117K
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Am I to understand from the postings in the links provided that MB will make a new lock cylinder that uses the same key as the original? Seems so as Rock used his old key on his. That is a really nice feature. no need for two keys that way.
 

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Yes, it varies in price a bit depending on the dealer, but the new tumbler should only be about $35 from what I've heard.
 

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The key I knew about--had to provide them with a title to the 560 to get a second "master" key for it. But the tumbler set, that is nice. Usually, you end up with a key for the ignition and one for the door locks/trunk.

Maybe this should be thought of as preventative maintenance? Do it while it's still easy?
 

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1988 560sl
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The key I knew about--had to provide them with a title to the 560 to get a second "master" key for it. But the tumbler set, that is nice. Usually, you end up with a key for the ignition and one for the door locks/trunk.

Maybe this should be thought of as preventative maintenance? Do it while it's still easy?
absolutely! just got a new tumbler/key from the classic center and plan on doing it tomorrow. I had the issue with the key not wanting to turn sometimes. put some graphite in the lock and it loosened up but not taking a chance on being somewhere and having to have to call a tow truck.
 

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1988 560SL (California Model)
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absolutely! just got a new tumbler/key from the classic center and plan on doing it tomorrow. I had the issue with the key not wanting to turn sometimes. put some graphite in the lock and it loosened up but not taking a chance on being somewhere and having to have to call a tow truck.
How much was it and what did you have to send them (like copy of title)?
 
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