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Discussion Starter #1
Took my 77 Sprint out for a drive today and after I shut it off I can't start it because the ign key will not turn to the start position. It goes to the accessory position ok. My shift indicator needle quit moving also (th350). Had it towed home. My power windows are down and it's going to rain tomorrow. I plan to get into the doors and jumper the windows up first and then attack the switch problem.

What is likely to cause this? Checked my manuals and did a search but can't find much info. I've never got into steering columns before.
 

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The part that you put the key in and turn is the lock cylinder. The ingition switch is mounted on top of the column about where the bottom of the dash is. The switch is operated by a rod that goes from the cylinder to the switch. If the key turns "back" to accessory, but not forward to "on", the first thing to check is that the rod is still attached to the switch. They have been known to come loose. Lower the steering column by taking the two bolts out of the yoke that holds it to the dash supports. You'll find the switch right on top of the column. You cannot access it without dropping the column. Check for the rod being in its slot. If it is, unbolt the switch and use a screwdriver to try to move the switch back and forth. If it doesn't move, get a new switch and you're fixed. Hopefully that fixes the problem. To remove the lock cylinder, you have to remove the steering wheel and the turn signal switch. The problem is that you supposedly can't remove the lock cylinder from the column unless the key is in the "run" position which you can't get to. If the switch doesn't solve the problem, post back because I (we) will have to cogitate on how to remove the lock cylinder if the key doesn't turn forward.
 

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It's possible that either the column shifter linkage has worn enough to prevent the key from turning or the tumblers in the ignition itself has worn bad enough to prevent the key from turning. Wear of the ignition tumblers and the ignition key itself can be accelerated by having a lot of keys on the same key ring as your ignition key. This also scratches the paint on the steering column and is not a good practice. I would first try having someone jiggle the shifter linkage arm on the steering column under the hood while you try to turn the key and get the car to start. If this does not work it's probably time for a new ignition. Having a new ignition professionally installed by a locksmith will likely cost around $100-$125 parts and labor making a house call to your home, I know I had to have it done because I was unsure of what to do. I watched him closely and next time I would do it myself, other than having to have a steering wheel puller it doesn't take any specialized tools.

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I had the same problem a couple years ago. I accidentally discovered that my ignition key had worn out! For 12 years, I carried it on a key ring with many other keys and between the aging and wearing process, it finally wore to the point that it would not turn the lock all the way to "start".

It failed like this: One night, my wife drove the truck to the local Wal Mart. When she returned to the truck and tried to start the engine, the lock would not turn all the way to "start", so she went back in the store and had a new key made. Of course, the new key would not work because it was identical to the worn one! She then called me. I showed up in the parking lot with a spare key and it worked like a charm. Is your key worn out? Do you have a good spare? Might be as simple as that. Mine was.

By the way, I never heard of anyone else wearing an ignition key to the point that it would not turn the lock forward to the "start" position, but the GM embossing was even worn off my key.

Good luck and let us know what you find out.
 

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When I got my 76 the Keys would fall out of the ignition when I was driving. So when I started fixing it up I got a new set of locks and ignition keyswitch set. Its a matched set with only one key for both doors and ignition switch. It came from The El Camino Store, I think.

I could turn off the truck and then without the key I could turn it on again and put it in Acc position. After 28 years it time to replace that stuff. Buy a new set of locks. Its worth the 40 or 50 bucks it takes.
 

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Actually you don't have to tear the door apart to make the windows go up. A fused (for safety) jumper lead connecting BAT to IGN on the fuseblock works. Does the same thing as turning the key to RUN.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks for the great advice, guys.

I fiddled with it a few minutes today. Squirting WD40 in the lock didn't cure it. I messed with the tilt and shifter until now it goes from off to run, but will no longer go into accessory. The power windows used to only work when the engine was running. Looks like the AC duct needs to be removed to drop the column. Maybe I can use a remote starter switch to fire it up or at least use jumper cables from another car to power up the windows. I need to move it out of the street to work on it. My wife says why don't I just have it repaired? Not yet. Working on them is part of the fun, right?
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Cured!
Hotwired it and moved it into my garage. New lock cylinder was all it needed to fire right up. Thanks again for all the help, guys.
 

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THE PROBLEM IS MOST LIKELY THE ING KEY CYLINDER

I AM A RETIRED LOCKSMITH.

I HAVE BEEN CALLED OUT FOR THE SAME PROBLEM WITH GENERAL MOTERS ING LOCK CYLINDERS THAT WON'T TRUN TO THE ON / START POSITION MANY TIMES IN MY 28 YEARS IN THE BUSINESS.

THE PROBLEM IS: THERE IS A RETAINING CLIP THAT HOLDS DOWN THE TUMBLER / WAFERS INTO POSITION. WAHT HAPPENS IS, THE RETAINING CLIP COMES UP CAUSING THE CYLINDER TO FAIL.

THE REASON THE KEY TURN TO ACCY PSOITION AND NOT THE START POSITION IS, THE LOCK DOES NOT USALY TURN TO THAT POSITION THAT OFTEN, THUS THE LOCK DOES NOT GET THAT MUCH WARE IN THAT POSITION.

JUST REPLACE THE CHLINDER THE COST IS AROUND $10 TO $12 BUCKS,

GOOD LOCK
james84Elky
RETIRED LOCKSMITH......
 

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Re: THE PROBLEM IS MOST LIKELY THE ING KEY CYLINDER

James84elky said:
I AM A RETIRED LOCKSMITH.

GOOD LOCK
james84Elky
RETIRED LOCKSMITH......
Dang a retired locksmith..Hang around and don't disappear. May be a little late for this guy but lock questions do come up. Nice to have an expert.
 
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