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90LS400Lexus

If You Key Won't Turn- Don't Panic

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Some of you folks that have owned a LS400 for a while may already know this, but I just found this out today. When you place the key in the ignition and go to turn it- if there is the slightest pressure on the steering wheel while it is locked- the switch will not turn- or at least on my car.

Normally- my wheels are straight when I park the car, so I have never had this happen before.

Today- after I filled the car at the gas station- I got back in the car. I went to turn the ignition and it would not turn. :blink: I tried to turn it for about 2 minutes- and I wiggled the key- but still no luck. There were a number of cars behind me. I finally got frustrated and turned the key with a lot of force and it finally turned. I zoomed out of the parking lot. When I made my next stop, then got back in the car- the ignition turned with ease. I was thinking maybe it was a worn switch, or bad key. When I got home- I was testing the switch and kept turning the switch on and off, to try to figure out what had happened. It turned with ease again, which is how it had been operating, but at one point- I noticed it would not turn again. I realized at that point that I had my hand on the steering wheel, pulling down on it just slightly- enough to put pressure on the steering wheel lock. That was enough pressure to keep the switch from turning and I figured out that is what had happened at the service station. :rolleyes: Most cars require more pressure on the wheel lock to keep the ignition from turning, but I guess these Lexus have a stronger lock than most cars and since the ignition is in the dash- it must be set up different cars with the ignition on the column. I was glad to learn that it was not a problem, but rather the nature of these cars.

Has anyone else experienced this?

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Yep, my 90 LS had the same situation and I thought the ignition switch was broken the first time it happened. After I realized what was going on, it was never really a problem. On a similar vein, the gear selector will not shift out of park if the brake light switch at the brake pedal fails.

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Some of you folks that have owned a LS400 for a while may already know this, but I just found this out today.  When you place the key in the ignition and go to turn it- if there is the slightest pressure on the steering wheel while it is locked- the switch will not turn- or at least on my car.

Normally- my wheels are straight when I park the car, so I have never had this happen before. 

Today- after I filled the car at the gas station- I got back in the car.  I went to turn the ignition and it would not turn.   :blink:   I tried to turn it for about 2 minutes- and I wiggled the key- but still no luck.  There were a number of cars behind me.  I finally got frustrated and turned the key with a lot of force and it finally turned.  I zoomed out of the parking lot.  When I made my next stop, then got back in the car- the ignition turned with ease.  I was thinking maybe it was a worn switch, or bad key.  When I got home- I was testing the switch and kept turning the switch on and off, to try to figure out what had happened.  It turned with ease again, which is how it had been operating, but at one point- I noticed it would not turn again.  I realized at that point that I had my hand on the steering wheel, pulling down on it just slightly- enough to put pressure on the steering wheel lock.  That was enough pressure to keep the switch from turning and I figured out that is what had happened at the service station.  :rolleyes:   Most cars require more pressure on the wheel lock to keep the ignition from turning, but I guess these Lexus have a stronger lock than most cars and since the ignition is in the dash- it must be set up different cars with the ignition on the column.  I was glad to learn that it was not a problem, but rather the nature of these cars. 

Has anyone else experienced this?

It sounds like you locked your Steering Column. When your ignition doesn't turn, try turning the steering wheel in the loose direction and turn the ignition key. It should come loose. If that doesn't work, try pushing the shifter towards the radio until it clicks. I've experienced dirt and grime build-up between the shifter stick and plastic cover. Cleaned it out and it never happened again.

When my dad had my LS before,he actually took it to the dealer, and they wanted to replace the entire ignition column. :chairshot:

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My wife called me in a panic one time because they key wouldn't turn. Since my Chevy does the same thing I asked her if the wheels were turned. She said yes. When I told her to turn the wheel as she turned the key, the engine started. The Lexus seems very sensitive to this.

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Same thing happened to me at a gas station as well. The car is indeed very sensative to this. It really had me freaked out at the time. After a minute or so I finally turned the wheel to loosen it and boom the car started. I made sure I told my wife so she does not do the same thing....

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So it looks like I am not the only person this has happened to. You are right UFC3- that was what happened- just pressure on the wheel lock.

Meist- your story sounds like mine. I was not sure of what to do. :wacko: There was several cars behind me, waiting to get fuel. I could not get the car out of gear either. I was about to just get out and tell them that my car would not start- until I turned it with a little extra force. I did not realize that the slightest pressure on the wheel lock would hold the switch. These cars must really have strong switches. On most cars- this amount of pressure on the wheel would still not keep the switch locked that tight. Probably would take a little more force than normal, but not as much as this car needed.

I have always been aware of how it can be difficult to get many cars to get the ignitions to turn, if the wheels were turned when the car was turned off and there was pressure on the lock, but I never guessed that just my hand on the wheel was enough to pull it down to keep it from turning. :rolleyes: On the way back home- I kept thinking that my key or switch was bad, but as stated, when I got home- I checked it and realized the wheel lock was holding the key. Now I know to start the car with no pressure on the wheel- which is usually the case. I guess at the service station- I had the wheels turned a little more than normal as well.

:D

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when it happened to me, I just jiggled the steering wheel and it started right up. no panic...

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I felt like a dope after realizing this. After doing the "garden hose fix" on the steering wheel, I put the cover back on and needed to turn the steering wheel to get the other screw in. The key wouldn't turn so I thought it could be some security issue since I left the key in the ignition for so long. I even went so far as to shut the door, lock/unlock a few times, when that didn't work I came inside to search. Doh!! Apply pressure to the steering wheel. How silly.

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My ebrake gets used only once a year and that is at the annual inspection. No hills here so you can just about leave the car in neutral and it stays put.

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