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Steering wheel did'nt lock-now key won't turn


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My 90 conv has a wierd problem with the steering wheel lock. The key was removed but the wheel is not completely in the lock position. Now the key won't turn at all. The wheel will actually turn with a lot of clicking. When the key is forced all the way to the lock position, the wheel does lock but the key still won't turn. The Buick dealer has my car and estimates that it will take 4 hrs @ $70/hr just to get inside the column to determine what broke. This happened once before and I was able to get it started after a lot of wiggling of the wheel etc. Any ideas? $280 to remove a wheel seems obsesive. I do have a service manual and even a set of micro fiche and reader.

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It sounds like the ignition lock rack is broken and/or the ignition lock cylinder is broken. If the lock cylinder is broken besides reinstalling it wires must be pulled thru the column. <P>These column rebuilding jobs can be a bit time consuming. Four hours seems a bit high. I would guess more like 2 or 3 hours at the most. It might actually list 4 hours in a labor book for the job. There could be a chance a part might have to be ordered. If the wheel is loose up and down now is the time to have it fixed. Pay an extra $1 and get the turn signal cancel spring replaced now that it's apart. <P>Any good shop should be able to fix this. They have made a simmular column sence the mid 70's. If you can get it running and the wheel clicks while turning don't drive it. The wheel could lock up.<P>Tom

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Guest wally888

I had a simular problem, but didn't involve the wheel lock.<BR> For a while, maybe 20 times, I had difficulty turning the key to stop engine. After having to pop hood and pull plug wires, I decided it was time to take action( like my cruise control , Tom, still taking action).<BR> A local locksmith removed and repaired the problem for about $35.

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I had a problem that the key did not turn and was unable to start the car. I removed the steering wheel and a screw that held the lock in. The lock slid out and the replacement lock from an auto parts store slid in and did not need the screw. It took about and hour cost $20 for a new lock.<BR> Keep in mind I did not have an air bag in the collum and this was 1985.<P>

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The dealer is telling me the 4 hrs is just to get into the area due to wires,pulling wheel, airbag etc. Ive had similar problem with ford pu and honda but by repeated jiggling always got them going. I spent an hour on this one. By the way the shifter didn't lock either. If the key is forced to the lock position, the wheel locks but releases when key is let go. Thats as far (1/16") as the key will go. Zero in the start direction.

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By the time I got to the dealer this am to try my second key they had already installed a new lockset and were reassembling things. The tumblers etc were just worn out? or so they say. I'm waiting for a call and the total$. Will post later. Thanks for the responses.

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The dealer replaced the entire ignition switch. Had to replce keys etc. Total cost was $418 of which $280 was labor. Wow!<BR>I watched part of operation and that area is pretty complicated, glad I didn't try it myself.

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My 88 had the Key/steering column problem. Couldn't turn the motor off and steering wheel locked. Strange feeling to have your baby car go out of sight behind a wrecker still running. None of the men around me had the courage to pull some cables (afraid of a shock) and neither did I. The cause was the broken rod and the cost was about $250.00 including towing. <P><BR>

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  • 1 year later...

I had the same problem with the car, not being able to turn off. The key which turns a tumbler and a key rack had craked. I think its called a key rack. Anyways, I believe it broke because the grease that is used in the steering column broken down with time. This caused friction in the metal parts that are used to turn the tumbler and key rack. I did the repair myself. I took me about 6 hours to repair it. Yes, it is very tricky because of limited space. If your doing the job yourself make sure you use a good grease.

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