ElizabethH

Key Won't Turn In Ignition...

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I have had this problem happen multiple times now, and was wondering if anyone would have any thoughts on this... I will go to put the key in the ignition and the ignition is locked up and the key will not turn. After minutes of !Removed! around with the steering wheel it will eventually turn but it took me 20 minutes today.. Help... Any thoughts?

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I have seen it happen and have had it happen a few times not with the Lexus though after the second time it happen to me I learned to start parking with the wheels straight. Is your steering wheel locking and you have to pull to one side or the other to get the key to turn? Then that is what its doing locking.

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I have seen it happen and have had it happen a few times not with the Lexus though after the second time it happen to me I learned to start parking with the wheels straight. Is your steering wheel locking and you have to pull to one side or the other to get the key to turn? Then that is what its doing locking.

Thanks for your helpful suggestions... I will try all of them...

E

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I have had this problem happen multiple times now, and was wondering if anyone would have any thoughts on this... I will go to put the key in the ignition and the ignition is locked up and the key will not turn. After minutes of !Removed! around with the steering wheel it will eventually turn but it took me 20 minutes today.. Help... Any thoughts?

This happens to me on a regular basis. It's very frustrating. I've heard the straight wheel theory and it doesn't apply. My wheels ARE straight when this happens. Jiggling the steering wheel makes it worse. I was stuck at a gas station and had to call AAA to tow me away from the place because I couldn't turn my key to start my car. He fiddled with the key for awhile and got it to work. He claims that when this happens, move the key VERY slowly in and out of the barrel. By doing this, he unfroze my steering wheel. I've tried it subsequently and it doesn't work. Today my car is stuck in the garage with, you guessed it--a frozen steering wheel...I think there is a BIG design flaw with this SUV. When I took it to the dealership, the service manager said he had never heard of such a thing. Well, that's interesting. One of my friends has the same SUV--only the hybrid version--and this happens to him regularly, too.

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Also make sure the gear shifter is fully in Park. If it's slightly off it won't start.

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I have seen it happen and have had it happen a few times not with the Lexus though after the second time it happen to me I learned to start parking with the wheels straight. Is your steering wheel locking and you have to pull to one side or the other to get the key to turn? Then that is what its doing locking.

Thanks for your helpful suggestions... I will try all of them...

E

I have had this happen before too on my rx330 but all it took was to turn the wheel a little and it freed the key so it would start. I may talk to the dealer about it if it was as bad as yours. You don't want to get stranded.

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This is not a problem unique only to the RX family. I had the same thing happen off and on with my 05 ES330. The locking of the steering wheel, and its release with the insertion and twist of the ignition key, was designed by most manufacturers as a theft deterrent device. If you didn't have the key, you couldn't turn the steering wheel, thus someone supposedly couldn't drive your car away. The flaw, was if you took the key out when there was pressure against the wheels like rubbing up to a tight curb or wheels turned tightly, you had a devil of a time getting your steering wheel free when you put your key back in. With the Lexus however, it just does it all by itself with no outside force that I know of, nor does anyone else.

Now, with key-less ignition, all that has gone away and the problem is solved. I wish I had a solution for you. My 2010 ES with the push button start works like a dream.

Keep bugging your dealer so Lexus will put some of their wiz kids on this.

Paul

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Have you tried putting some kind of a dry lock lube in the key hole? Call a lock smith and get some advise on some kind of dry lube that is ok for this application. I've heard that some times the little pins stick inside and the lock thinks you are putting in the wrong key.

Jeff

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I had this happen to my wife's 2006 400H. It was the ignition lock set, all the pins fell out and they had to replace it. Thank goodness it was under warranty. We also had to have it towed (of course) and since the steering wheel was locked it took us some time to get it out of the garage.

Remember the emergency release next to the shifter so you can get it out of park.

The said this happens occasionally.

Lenny

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I have had this problem happen multiple times now, and was wondering if anyone would have any thoughts on this... I will go to put the key in the ignition and the ignition is locked up and the key will not turn. After minutes of !Removed! around with the steering wheel it will eventually turn but it took me 20 minutes today.. Help... Any thoughts?

I noticed a lot of folks talk about the locking of the steering wheel. I had this key problem with my 07 RX350 and they actually replaced my ignition core. My husband freaked out when he was with me when it happened because for the longest time he thought it was the way I was turning the key, or the tires weren't straight, or the steering wheel was locked, etc. At one point I almost called roadside assistance as I was stuck in a dark parking lot and couldn't get the key to move the ignition core in any direction. I finally just took a deep breath, waited a few minutes with the key out, and tried again and all of a sudden it worked. It had nothing to do with the steering wheel or the tires or the shifter being fully in park(which it was). Anyway, it scares me each time it happens and I'm hoping this new ignition core will fix the problem.

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Well, I'm still having the same problem with the new ignition starter. My key has gotten stuck twice in the past 2 weeks. And, now my dealer won't return my calls. This is ridiculous. I love my car, it fits my needs and is great to drive but I'm really frustrated now that I feel I can't trust the key to work or the car to start. Any suggestions? I've thought about trading it in, but I really don't want to spend the money. I may switch dealers and see if I get better service. I have yet to call Lexus corporate. Does anyone know if they can install the push button start into a car that has a key ignition start? Is that possible? Just a thought, LOL!

Thanks,

Bonnie

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I have had this problem happen multiple times now, and was wondering if anyone would have any thoughts on this... I will go to put the key in the ignition and the ignition is locked up and the key will not turn. After minutes of !Removed! around with the steering wheel it will eventually turn but it took me 20 minutes today.. Help... Any thoughts?

Hi ElizabethH,

I just went thru the same issues on my rx330 that I just purchased.. Apparently it happens to a few but not all owners. This leads me to believe that yes it may be a bit of a design flaw Lexus needs to address but I am questioning now if it ISNT happening to all owners, is it then a poor servicing issue whereby the cylinder that accepts the key isnt being lubricated appropriately during prior services..???

Im inclined to think that improper servicing or a overlooking by SOME mechanics during lubrication servicing is more the cause of this ''stuck key '' issue rather then the actual design of the cylinder. Its just a gut feeling I have.....Simple enough a service to have been forgotten if a mechanic gets distracted. I know from the servicing protocol that I was sent by Lexus that lubrication of locks latches and hinges is required by them to be done by the mechanic. Maybe its time we who have had the problem all send a letter to Lexus to let them know that they may have to be clearer in this protocol to their service people to say the igntion cylinder must also be lubricated...

The thread titled 'KEY STUCK IN IGNITION" is on Pg 5 I believe on the rx 330 Forum.. I saved myself 660.00 of tow and cylinder replacement charges by giving my mechanic this tip FOUND ON THIS THREAD. Go figure that he wouldnt have known of the simple quick fix available......

Maybe the Lexus techs should be required to read these forums in order to troubleshoot these problems.

Solution was as you will read; simply tap the key with a hammer in the direction it is locked (which I am assuming in your case it was in the off position as was mine)..the cylinder should receive a spray of dry graphite powder also asap.. Some who have had this happen with their 330's have not had a recurrance 8 months later after doing this simple fix...Unfortunately others had the cost of the cylinder being replaced w/o having had a chance to do this simple fix. Okay if you are under warranty, not so okay if u arent as I was'nt when it happened to me.

I park my vehicle with the wheels straight all the time and yes sometimes steering columns will lock if wheels werent straight but this ''stuck key issue' is purely a issue in the cylinder itself..not with the wheel placement or steering column...The cylinder Could have gotten a tad dirty from the key itself and these auto parts are so finely tuned now that this small speck of debris could make a huge difference in functionality of the part.

Pretty sad and scary to know this is happening to a lot of Lexus owners but my gut tells me that had these cylinders been being lubricated properly during servicing, the issue may have been avoided...Good Luck on finding the thread. It was sure a $$$$$$$ saver in my case. I am still upset that my Toyota/Lexus mechanic didnt know the quick fix solution for it. As far as I am concerned we should all be writing letters to Lexus about it.

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Here's what worked for me...I kid you not. Haven't had a problem since.

http://us.lexusownersclub.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=67691&st=0&p=425479&fromsearch=1entry425479

No hammer needed (though I suppose the hammer might save hurting the palm of your hand).

It's worked for someone else as well who had the same problem after reading my post.

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having the same problem as listed above-

I have an '08 RX 400h and i cannot get the vehicle started!!! steering wheel is turned counter clockwise and cannot be unlocked after my wife parks it a few hours ago.

This has happened before but usually just takes a removal of the key and a re-try then it starts up, but no go this time...

any suggestions?

Stuart-

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Hey good news! I just did the old hitting the key with the palm of my hand and it seems to have done the trick. Hopefully this can be avoided if I take the time on shut down to straighten the steering wheel and hopefully the lock won't require the hammer or palm of hand hit.

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While torquing the steering wheel, left and right, and with the key in the ignition, turn the key to start the engine. That should work if the steering wheel was inadvertently rotated after the key was removed.

Now, if the key is not inserted all the way in, rap it with a hard object to get it to bottom out. If this works, buy a small tube of dry powdered graphite and squirt into the cylinder before inserting the key, the next time.

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It appears to me that this key/steering lock-up problem is a reoccurring issue with Lexus products. I have a 2007 RX 350 and have been plagued by this frustrating, exasperating problem for over a year and, as stated by others, the Lexus dealer is telling me it's my fault because I am either pulling on the wheel when I exit or enter the car or not straightening the wheels when I park. Even though when I follow these instructions the key still locks. I have had to get assistance from strangers to just get my car started. The dealer apparently does not want to take responsibility for this defect and completely ignores my concerns. I have had a love affair with this car from the start but I can assure you that the relationship is over. I will NEVER purchase another Lexus in this lifetime.

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I would've told my dealership to keep the car until this issue happened, again.

Is the steering wheel locking or your ignition key? If your ignition key is not turning, did you rap it to fully seat it and then later on, inject powdered graphite into the ignition cylinder key hole?

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many years ago my 2006 400h would do this, the ignition would lock up randomly and it took a lot of wiggling, pressure on the key while in the lock, and trial and error to get the key to work sometimes. Please understand this is totally unrelated to the steering wheel locking the ignition. I could tell when it HAD happened after the fact when I took the key out and the tumblers inside did not click normally. Finally during a service visit to the dealer, at a time when it was working normally, I told them about it, they squirted graphite inside at no charge and it fixed the problem permanently.

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This is not unique to Lexus. Have a locksmith replace the inner lock cylinder. It's not expensive. They will match the new cylinder to your existing key. Your problem will only get worse if you don't. My daughter had this same thing happen to her until she finally couldn't get the key to turn at all one evening in a not so great part of town. A locksmith will charge more to come to you at night, especially in a bad part of town.

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Regarding having a locksmith replace the inner lock cylinder, my assumption is that you would have to remove the lock cylinder first and bring it to them. I have seen the diagram outlining how to remove it and it looks pretty daunting. In the case of your daughter's car, was the locksmith able to remove/replace the lock cylinder?

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