Saturday, May 30, 2009

Public Service Announcement: Saturn Ignition Problem!

Ok, this is a break from the usual cooking and cat related posts. But, I had a bizarre car problem recently and (this will be shocking. maybe you should sit, or at least brace yourself) the internet was ONLY SORT OF USEFUL! As a person who does, myself, contribute to the content of the interwebs, I feel some need to rectify this, so here you go.

My problem: my car, a Saturn Ion (which I do like! it is a 'super low emission' vehicle and gets great gas mileage) all of sudden, out of the blue, would not turn off. Yep, wouldn't turn off, as in the key would not physically turn to the off position (which is pretty much unlike any car problem I've ever had). After much swearing and pounding on the steering wheel, it was determined (by a phone call to Saturn) that the only way to turn it fully off was to disconnect the battery, which is a colossal pain in the neck.

What the internet said: After I unhooked the battery, I immediately googled it (obviously). I found a lot of stuff about this, apparently it is a known problem, and according to the many people who are angry about it on Consumer Affairs, it can cost a ton of money to fix it at the dealer or a mechanic, because they replace the entire ignition. This seems to be how most people are solving this problem. Obviously, this was depressing, until I saw one guy in the middle of the list of complaints claiming to be a locksmith, saying that he's fixed a lot of these himself without replacing anything. I was intrigued, and called a nearby mechanic, who is apparently super awesome and honest to see if he could help me or tell me what to do. He told me it is a common problem, and not to take it to him, but just to take it to an automotive locksmith he recommended (see? awesome and super honest).

The solution (listen up!!): DON'T pay hundreds of dollars to replace anything big if you have this problem. This is what a mechanic will do, because they'll see something about the place the key goes in is broken but won't know if its something else with the ignition, and will replace the whole thing. BUT, the problem is typically that a spring (or something) pops out and a tumbler gets out of place in the lock so the key can't turn. The locksmith had to work on my car for a few hours, but ultimately managed to save the lock and repair it. It still wasn't cheap to pay for all that labor, but it was waaaaaaaayyyyy less than the numbers the other customers were throwing out on the website I found. I couldn't find anywhere on the internet telling me to do this, so, here you go, internets, this ones for you.

(here are search terms I tried to use to help me fix the problem, which I'll just put on here in case it'll help someone else find this hint!
Saturn ion won't turn off
key won't turn
Saturn ignition problem
Saturn key stuck in lock
Saturn key problem
car key stuck
can't get key out of ignition
help! )


Anonymous said...

Hey I am having the same problem with my 1999 Saturn SL2. I stay in Mayfield area (I am new here). What shall I type in google to find a locksmith in the nearby area?

Thanks in Advance!!

-- Priyanka Agrawal

yellowfish said...

Hi- I think what you need is an automotive locksmith- there should be yellowpages on the internet that would help you locate one, or you could look on which is how I found the mechanic I called for advice. When I left my car, I had to leave it with him for most of the day because I guess he would come out and try to fix it throughout the day, since it was tricky. They actually had to cut the key to get it out, so I had to get a new key made. He said he might have had to replace the whole lock if he hadn't been able to fix it, and that would have been pretty expensive but not as expensive as the entire ignition or whatever it is that Saturn would have replaced.

Hope that helps- good luck!

Anonymous said...

Like the other anonymous poster I'm having the same problem with my 1999 Saturn SL2. Thanks for publishing your experience.

Gina Wett said...

I had the same problem this weekend with my 2006 Ion. I called a locksmith and he fixed it for about $240. The lock is alittle stiff but it works now. I'm going to be fighting with Saturn on this.

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