When is it time to replace your ignition lock cylinder?
There is probably no easier malfunction to diagnose than a broken ignition lock cylinder. When you put your key into the lock, it will either not turn all the way or won't turn at all. The action will be very loose, and you may end up turning the cylinder all the way around inside the housing. That is usually because one or more of the tabs in the cylinder is broken and it won't stay fixed. Sometimes, you won't be able to put the key all the way in or turn the ignition lock cylinder at all. The reason for this is almost always because the tumbler pins are stuck in place and the plug won't rotate. If that is the case, then you won't be driving any time soon. But for many vehicles produced without fancy programmable keys or electronic theft-proof locks, you can install an ignition lock cylinder and get your car or truck back on the road.
How do ignition lock cylinders work?
Most ignition locks are pin tumbler style locks that use a series of different sized pins that are pushed down by springs from an outer cylinder into an inner cylinder, preventing it from rotating. If the correct key is inserted into the lock, the lower pins will push the upper pins up to the exact position where the difference between the upper and lower pins are in line with the sheer face of the inner cylinder allowing it to rotate. Behind the lock cylinder is usually a cam that will activate the ignition switch. Depending on the position of the key in your ignition lock, the switch will turn on certain accessories and in its final position it will start the engine. Today's modern luxury and sports cars will operate on a push-button start and may or may not require an ignition lock and key at all.
D.I.Y. level of difficulty: 2 out of 5.
Replacing your broken ignition lock cylinder will vary depending on your vehicle's year and manufacturer. The most important part of doing this job right is access and order. You may need to remove several components in a specific order so that you can access the lock housing. Most of the time this can be done by unscrewing your lower steering column cover or a plastic panel under your dashboard. In some instances, you will have to take off the steering wheel. Either way, exposing the housing that holds the ignition lock cylinder in place will be your first step. Next, you will need to locate a tab or detent that keeps the cylinder fixed inside the housing. Now, put the key into the lock, turn it one click to "ACC", and press the detent. If this doesn't release the lock cylinder, then with the detent still pressed in turn the key just a little bit more and the detent should fully depress. The cylinder will now come out. You can now install your replacement ignition lock cylinder by following the same steps in reverse. There may be a few anti-theft devices that will inhibit your progress, so if you get stuck you can always look online for a more specific guide for your car. If you feel you cannot accomplish any of this on your own, consult a mechanic.
You're almost done.
When it comes to buying a new ignition lock cylinder for your vehicle online, there are going to be many options. At Car Parts Discount, we carry only the best aftermarket brands or original equipment manufacturers of replacement ignition lock and switch components for your car. So whether you just need to get your car back on the road or are doing a comprehensive restoration, we can get your parts at the lowest possible prices with the fastest shipping around. Don't be fooled by cheap parts, go with the best.