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Steering Column Repair/GMC 2500 Ignition Switch and Steering Column


Hi Douglas,

I have a 1999 GMC Suburban (4WD,6.5L Diesel) that was the victim of an attempted theft while still in the dealer's lot after servicing.

The erstwhile thieves pulled off the plastic steering column cover and then broke the ignition switch away from the two (star/torx) screws that hold it to the column. During this process, they also managed to break the tongue that engages the slot in the end of the white ignition switch rotor, and they pretty-much destroyed the switch - it won't properly energize its output circuits. In fact, at some point, they pried off a cover on the switch and released those contacts and springs that are operated by the rotor.

Then they mangled the switch trying to start the car with, presumably, a screwdriver. Apparently they did get the car to start or hit the vehicle with another as both bumpers have some not insignificant damage.

To add insult to injury, the dealer tells me that they'll need $1500 to replace the steering column and plastic cover along with the ignition lock, switch and labor. Needless to say I told them to drop the car off at my house - which they did. I've always done most of my own vehicle maintenance, but this Suburban was in the shop due to that infamous Pump Control Module - and it was no charge under the warranty extension!?! According to the Service Mgr, they did this due to the extremely low mileage - 49K at the time.

My questions are:

1 - Does the (2500) Diesel-powered suburban use a different ignition switch than that used in the gas versions? If not, do you know (or know where I can get) the part numbers for this?
2 - Do you know of any way of repairing that tongue inside the steering column which engages the ignition switch rotor when the key is turned - short of replacing the whole column as the dealer claims?
3 - If the tongue can't be "repaired", can I somehow replace the gear/cam that it's attached to in order to reduce the cost somewhat?
4 - I think the dealer should be responsible for the damages incurred while the vehicle was in their possession, but they claim that since I didn't pick it up in a timely (enough) fashion, it's my problem. Even though the damages occurred within their locked service lot. What do you think?

I'm not at home right now, but if it would help, I can provide photos of the switch actuator tongue in the column as well as the mangled switch.

Right now I'm a victim, myself, of corporate downsizing and so the cost to repair this vehicle is something of a concern. (I was able to hot-wire the vehicle and move it from the street to my driveway.)

Thank you very much,

Hello Grace:

Sorry about your truck.  
You neglected to mention whether your vehicle was tilt or non-tilt.  There are some differences in the column, but only specific part numbers and prices.
You can certainly rebuild your column for much less than the $1500 quoted by the dealer.  That seems absurd, especially for a dealer who should specialize in repairing specific components.  I would expect that from a mechanic who is unfamiliar with columns, but not a dealer.  We'll get into the specific parts once you send a photo or two, but I would expect the damage to be around $500-$600 for everything based on your description.

Your questions:

1)I do not believe the diesel issue changes the column components but as I mentioned earlier tilt or non-tilt does.  We will get you part numbers and help you determine exactly what you need.
2 & 3) The tongue, gears, case, and housing for the lock are all sold as one component and installed as an assembly.  I am attaching photo of what I believe you are referring to.  I can get you prices and availability once we get specific.

4)As a previous shop owner, I was responsible for vehicles left in my possession until they were picked up, unless instructed to leave them off my property by the customer.  Inside their lot (in my opinion) makes them liable, but you should check with your insurance agent.  Worst case, this is a comp claim on your policy as you were not driving the car at the time.

If you would, please send pictures directly to me through my company website at ''.  Once I see the extend of the damage, I can help you manage the repair.  Also, if you can supply the VIN number so we can lookup the correct components, that would be great.

Once again, sorry about your truck.

Steering Column Repair

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Douglas Gan


My specialties are stolen vehicles, steering column and ignition locks repair, airbag service and installation and diagnosis. My work includes both domestic (USA) vehicles and foreign designs.


30 years owning a company that specializes in steering columns, ignition & airbag related problems

GM certified, ASE certified, 4 yrs college, Mech Tech degree
I own multiple auto repair companies and can help you professionally through any of our websites at: ---- we stock many older steering column parts and can rebuild your column if you ship it to us --- we sell airbag replacement information (no parts) -- we perform investigations for many types of vehicle claims
Please feel free to contact us through any of our websites for more information or help

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