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Help! key broke inside ignition cylinder
Topic Started: Jan 4 2010, 08:44 PM (6,258 Views)
Metro_caon
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Help! my key broke inside the ignition cylinder! (about 1/4 of the key is inside) What can be done in this case? The key is stuck in the OFF position, it will not turn at all (I tried for hours but nothing helped), and the steering wheel is locked. I have taken the steering wheel off, but the Haynes manual does not give much help on that subject. If it does, it will ask to turn the key to the ACC position, which cannot be done in the first place. The car is at a local grocery store, so I would like to drive it home before they tow it away. I do have a key which came with the car originally, it comes in a credit card size casing, but it is plastic. It says to be used in emergencies only, but this is a plastic key, which has a 4 digit number, and has no 'teeth' at all. Any suggestions?
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Johnny Mullet
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If you are lucky, you will be able to use a small pick or a magnet to get the broken piece out. Then you can get another key cut, but if the ignition has been tight in the past, you might have to replace it. This would require pulling the wheel, the covers, then using a dremel tool to cut slots into the "Snaphead Bolts" so you can remove the bolts with a good screwdriver and replace the ignition. The original bolts had heads on them but are designed to snap off when tight.
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wikityler
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Some say...

1. dissconnect negative battery cable.
2. Remove the plastic that surrounds the steering column between the dash and wheel. There are 4 screws on the bottom.
3. remove the one screw that holds the ignition switch in place, and remove the switch.
You should now be able to push the key piece out from the back of the cylinder with a pin or wire.

Take the broken key and the plastic key and the numbers to a real locksmith. They can cut you a new key.
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JohnDN


If the magnet and pick do not work and you're about ready to take it apart completely you could use some Gorilla Super Glue, I've never had luck with super glue, doesn't seem to work at all for me, but Gorilla Super Glue seems to work great! I'd put a dab of it, just a tiny drop on the end of the key you have and then put that in the cylinder and hold it in there tight for about 30 seconds to a minute and then slowly try to pull the key out. You could let it dry longer but you'd have to be very careful to make sure you don't glue the key you inserted to the cylinder walls.
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LeoGeo
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Will the ignition not turn because the steering wheel is locked? My Geo also has about half the key broken off in the cylinder but it works just like normal when I shove the rest of the broken key in and turn it.
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Metro_caon
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LeoGeo
Jan 4 2010, 09:44 PM
Will the ignition not turn because the steering wheel is locked? My Geo also has about half the key broken off in the cylinder but it works just like normal when I shove the rest of the broken key in and turn it.
It's backwards...the steering wheel is locked because the ignition switch will not turn to any other position.
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LeoGeo
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metro50
Jan 5 2010, 01:23 AM
LeoGeo
Jan 4 2010, 09:44 PM
Will the ignition not turn because the steering wheel is locked? My Geo also has about half the key broken off in the cylinder but it works just like normal when I shove the rest of the broken key in and turn it.
It's backwards...the steering wheel is locked because the ignition switch will not turn to any other position.
Right, but when you lock the steering wheel, it locks the ignition switch and prevents it from turning. I believe it is an anti-theft measure.

You'll be able to feel it, try turning the wheel both left and right, it should turn about 10 degrees in one direction and not be able to move at all in the other direction. Move it about halfway though the 10 degree turn in the direction it'll move, then try turning the broken ignition key.
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Johnny Mullet
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:gp
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Metro_caon
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:banghead no luck...called a locksmith...$75 :(
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DustinLangston
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Use the locksmith if they can do it! I just had this happen to me on my wedding day! :( I called all the locksmiths in town and they all said becouse of the type of ignition that they couldn't help but if yours can do it. I removed the stearing wheel, the turn signal cluster, (you will have to remove the two zip ties on the steering shaft for clearance) and plastic around the ignition. on the left side of the steering wheel you will see the ignition with all the wires coming out of it. remove the screw and pull it out. Now use a screwdriver and turn it to start your car. now you can stay warm while working on the rest! :) its 0deg F here in springfield with the artic blast! ok.. your steering wheel is locked. If you don't spend $75 on a locksmith you will end up spending over $200 on a new ignition. so if your like me and don't mind starting your car with a screw driver try this! there are three tiny black pins around the lock cylinder where the key goes in. take a pair of channel locks or big pliers and wiggle the lock cylinder at the end where you place the key. the three pins should loosen up and wiggle out a little. now take a pair of side cutters or needle nose pliers and pull them out. the end should come out along with the tumblers and lock cylinder assembly. pull out all the peices. now reach in with a big flathead screwdriver and push the button down, mount your steering wheel and it should turn freeley. now temporarly just to get you home shove a penny or something in there all the way to the back to keep that tab pulled down so the wheel doesn't lock up on you going down the road!!! ouch! drive slow and safe just in case it does. when you get home you can do what i did and jb weld the the penny or something in there to hold the lach down. also in the future you can wire a three way switch and a push button ignition. Make sure you hide it well! hope this helps!
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Johnny Mullet
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..................with enthusiasm :thumb

Welcome Dustin :cheers
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DustinLangston
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Thanks Johnny.
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Metro_caon
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DustinLangston
Jan 6 2010, 02:27 PM
Use the locksmith if they can do it!
Well I made the job for the locksmith very easy! I already had removed the steering wheel, turn signal assembly, and the ignition part with the wires that turn the ignition on. What I did NOT remove was the 2 screws that hold the whole ignition switch assembly, and that was because these screws do not have a slot for a screwdriver or a hex head for a wrench, they have a plain head but they can be removed with a small vise grip! (The locksmith told me this!) I wish I had known these screws could be removed this way before I called him. I could have taken the whole ignition assembly to his store and could have saved me $50 for his trip to the location of my car. Or I could have used the screwdriver technique to turn the ignition on, since I had the steering wheel unlocked.

Anyway he was very nice and actually somehow made a slot on these screws for a flat screwdriver for very easy installation. He also mentioned the ignition cylinder was jamming so he also fixed that. Not to mention he's the only one who had the nerve to actually do the job at a 5 degree weather! I called other places but they chickened out, mentioning the cold weather.

Oh well, I'm glad this is over, I hope someone can use this info when the problem arises.
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idmetro
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Early Metro keys are particularly weak, they won't tolerate being forced or twisted. I've had this type of problem on other vehicles as well and was told by a locksmith that the best way to avoid the problem is to get a new key made every 2 years or so (remember if you have a new key cut from a badly worn old key all you will get is a badly worn new key) and to once a year put a little lock lubricant into the cylinder. So far no issues in the nearly 10 years I've followed that advice. If your key is badly worn I suggest getting the key codes from the dealer and then having a locksmith make a new key from that. An ounce of prevention....
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Johnny Mullet
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Welcome aboard idmetro :cheers
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