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Saturn/Ignition lock cylinder problem


Jim Hardy wrote at 2006-08-23 12:33:35
I have exactly the same problem with my Saturn SL1.  I can't turn the key back to the release position so the only way to stop the engine is to remove fuses from the fuse block inside the engine compartment.

Even worse, the local Saturn dealership quoted me the outrageous price of $680 (plus Tax),to replace the lock cylinder and the housing.

Licensed thievery for a problem that is common to Saturn.

Chris wrote at 2006-09-27 03:10:00
I've been researching this and it seems to be a huge problem with Saturns.  Our ignition cylinder is junk after only 35,000 miles and they won't stand behind it.

It should be a recall but GM won't unless the government makes them!

Rick from CT wrote at 2006-12-02 07:55:55
I was way out in the middle of nowhere when my ignition switch on my 2001 Saturn LW200 became jammed. I called for help from the dealer and the Lead mechanic advised me to take my 3/8 inch extension bar and place it right against the switch, hit the end of the extension bar 3 times with a hammer. I hated to do this but I felt I had nothing to lose anyway, so I gave it a try. That worked great! I was able to turn the key and start the engine. I drove to the dealer where he replaced the ignition switch because it was internally least I got the car home without being towed.

Marusguy wrote at 2008-06-14 07:11:38
I have a 2003 Ion.  I have to giggle the key in the ignition to get it to turn from the off position.  I thought my problem was that the key was getting worn but it works on both doors and the trunk.  When I got out one of the original keys that came with the car that had never been used, the problem was the same. obviously it's the Ignition Switch and not the key that is at fault. Saturn dealership estimated $450 to replace it! (reminds me of the Vikings: loot and pillage!!!) Am sure I can fix it mysalf unless there is some diabolic secret about how to do it.

Anne Troy wrote at 2008-08-05 00:18:57
I work at a Midas, where a customer brought their car in with this problem. My own 98 Saturn also has this issue. The answer is to get a replacement key from the dealer. It cost the Midas a mere $4.99, which may be a wholesale cost, but you should pay that or a little more. DO NOT HAVE THE IGNITION REPLACED! Try this first.

Ian's Jacked Up Saturn wrote at 2009-08-10 14:06:39
This has to be a recall issue and if it isn't, then I am sure that GM or Rodger Penski will be faced with future litigation. on 8/9/09 I had my 4-year old in tow while driving my 2004 Saturn Vue (same ignition cylinder). I stopped the vehicle placed the shifter in park and tried to turn the vehicle key in the off position. The Key got stuck and I was left with trying to fix this thing in 90+ degree heat in Michigan. I had to "strong-arm" the key in the on postion, then back to the off position. It worked, but this is unacceptable if my wife is driving the car.

MRKLEW wrote at 2011-11-13 18:12:50

1.First remove the upper steering column cover:

You can use a small 6 pointed socket to remove the upper column cover, it is not necessary to have the torx socket. This well expose the ignition switch.

2.Unfasten the top electrical connector from the ignition switch:

Part of the harness on the switch goes to a small switch at the top of the key lock cylinder. Dis connect the wires to the small switch and replace the upper column cover.

The ignition switch is released with two small tabs. The ignition switch is held in with two small tabs, you can release these tabs with two small screwdrivers and pull the  

ncbro wrote at 2012-12-02 18:18:26
I have the same problem with my 2003 ION.  The temporary fix on it is to gain access to a switch under the steering column and press it while continuing to turn off the switch mechanically.  This was outlined in my owners manual in the Features and Controls titled "IF YOUR KEY CAN'T BE REMOVED FROM IGNITION LOCK CYLINDER(AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSIONS ONLY)". In my manual it is on page 95.  

Yes, there is a tiny switch you reach into to press to allow the key to finish turning OFF.  This switch allows or prevents an actuator to operate and disengage the mechanical ignition sleeve lock.

So far I have been using this temporary procedure and sometimes the key will rotate without doing this.  I have not ordered the actuator (about 60 bucks) to replace because I can do this now.  It could be also the auto transmission shift lever switch is not making good contact when placing the car into Park to turn off the ignition.  So, replacing the ignition switch is at best a gamble to permanently fix this problem.

YouTube has videos on how to change this switch is you search for them.

ncbro wrote at 2012-12-06 16:12:54
Saturn ignition switch videos;  (one of six)  (S series Saturn)  (DX series)   (broken key removal .. general)

ncbro wrote at 2012-12-07 00:35:06
Saturn ignition switch videos;  (one of six)  (S series Saturn)  (DX series)

geoff8253 wrote at 2014-04-01 23:56:48
My friend just got a recall for his 2004 Saturn to get his ignition replaced.  FYI.  Keep your eye out for yours or go to the dealer asap.


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Michael S. Depetris


Clutch and automatic questions I am not real good on... Also some electrical problems would be hard to answer without seeing the problem first hand...


I have been a Saturn SL owner for 13 years and have done 90% of my own repairs. My car has 320,000 miles on it..

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