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1998 LS400 key wont turn, steering column locked


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Hi Everyone, great forum!

I just replaced the battery in my LS400. Actually my car sat all winter & I recharged the battery it had- which had run down. Battery charged, replaced, car wouldnt start altho all systems, steering wheel tilt, lights, locks, radio appeared to be well juiced. Also steering column was not locked. Cranked steering wheel hard & it locked. Still could not start. Locked all doors & tried to rock steering wheel- nothing. Left it alone for 20 + minutes- started right up. Drove 20 miles to gas station, filled up- no start. Jimmied with steering wheel as before , locked unlocked doors, prayed- wallah, started. Backed up 20 feet, inflated tires- no start. Tried everything i had- No Go.

  Honestly I dont know what i did when it did start, different than when it didnt start. 

  Any help- greatly Appreciated! Thx, Kristina

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I'm sorry you haven't received any help, or suggestions.. I can think of some things to try, but I dont believe you would know what I am talking about..

due to the condition of not starting, I would tell you to seek professional help, to see their comments first and relay the info to us, so we will have a clue.


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Please suggest away! I may well know what yr talking about- not an expert by any means, but I do minor work on cars & motorcycles. :)

Update: 4-11

Left my LS400 sit over night. Today I unlocked drivers side door with key- one turn . Got in locked all doors. Tried to start, steering wheel wont give, key wont turn. Tried 2nd time- Started right up! Steering wheel did what it's supposed to- no problems.

Quickly drove car the 20+ miles home. Car ran beautifully like it usually does. No hesitations, full function of all accessories, great pick up & speed- No issues.

Got home, backed into driveway, shut car off. Did not remove key - tried to start- started like a champ.

Locked car, left it alone about 3 hours- Did the exact same steps I did earlier when it did start- Steering column locked up- Key wont turn. 

Things I tried:

Yanking hard on steering wheel to unlock- & I mean hard- No.

Locked & unlocked from both drivers & passenger doors with key- No.

Reprogramming key thru long procedure of pushing gas & brake pedals- No

Checked all fuses in drivers side kick panel- all good.

somebody on here suggested unhooking green & red wires from Drivers side kick panel & "grounding them" to circumvent alarm system. Located wires- not sure where to ground them to? Unhooked both, kept them separated & tried to start- No.

Since it starts fine if anti-theft steering column lock is not activated- thinking either its something with the anti- theft system or possibly steering column?

Any thoughts? Thank you.

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Hi Kay33,

Sorry about your problem. In the past I've had  problems with key and column locking up. Messing with the brake pedal while trying hard to rock the sterring wheel back and forth Us ualy worked.

Here are some "might help" thoughts.

The ignition switch may be broken or unaligned.

Have you checked all the fuses... also,.the one for the theft deter-ant system should be checked.

As you know, the brake pedal must be depressed when turning the key. Also  the connection between the brake pedal and the lock out feature maybe bad or have a bad connection.

Good luck,



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Thank you for sharing. I have checked all fuses. Also i tried the shift lock override button- which allowed shifting, but steering column still locked.

Also security light flashes, but shuts off when key is inserted.  & why does it work sometimes, sometimes not?

Help Please!

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  • 2 months later...

  • 3 weeks later...

Hi Everybody, This is Kay- posted my query in April '19. It is now July 19 & I finally finally have a Solution! Yay! So for anybody else who may have this trouble....

  In my 1998 Lexus LS400 which I bought used, I have one valet key & one ugnition key. (i kno, i kno- need to get more keys.) In any case the ignition key stopped working with the security system- so the steering column wouldnt unlock with key in ignition. But then again- abt once every 30 tries, it would. There are not batteries in these keys, they dont have lock/unlock fobs. Very basic keys with very basic chips.

This is what worked- HUGE, HUGE Thanks to Tyler of OReilly auto parts, in Pollock Pines, CA!!!



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