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Oracle of Delphi

Taking the 1969 Pontiac Custom-S across country

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Some of you know, I'm on vacation and I am taking the Pontiac Custom-S across country on a road trip to California and back. However a problem has crept in. Pulled up in front of my sister-in-laws in Knoxville,TN the other day and turned off the car and the key locked tight in the ignition cylinder, for love or money I could not get that key out, I tried moving the steering wheel left or right, tried to start it back up, key would not budge. Called AAA, they sent a locksmith and he came about an hour later, and viola key was free. Tonight it does it again after coming back from the local supermarket, in my parents driveway, but as luck would have it, I bought a can of WD-40 just in case the car did this again, which it did. I sprayed the ignition cylinder waited 15 minutes pulled on the key and it came out.

My question is, is the problem caused by, old ignition cylinder, worn keys ( one key is 39 years old, the other about 5 years old), dirty ignition cylinder, or something else I haven't thought of? Any thoughts? I don't want to get caught in Death Valley, or some other God forsaken place and not have the WD-40 trick not work anymore. Should I take it to get looked at or do you think I am good to go? My mechanic looked her over before we left and found nothing wrong with the PCS, but did give her a full tune up before we left, and pronounced her Road Trip Worthy. :smilewide:

Other than that car runs fine and so does the Air Conditioner. :AH-HA_wink: I have been getting a lot of positive comments on my old girl, and I don't mean my wife either! :P

Any suggestions on the key/ignition problem would be appreciated!

Edited by Pontiac Custom-S
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Sounds like the lock cylinder is wearing out.

If this has only happened twice, you don't have enough data to determine how problematic this can be in the face of a long road trip.

My old F-150 has about 146K on it. I used one key the whole time- it's very worn. However, I know it's the lock cylinder there, because my brand new back-up key does the same thing, ie; regularly the key initially won't turn beyond 'OFF' with either key. Sometimes just inverting the key does it (it's a... 'mirror image' key). But it's happened enough I know the parameters of it, and I can still take it anywhere.

I'd lube the cylinder well, and I'd also poke around on the net and learn how to 'jump' the car should the key not work on you. '69 has column ignition, unfortunately; not as easy to replace/access as in-dash.

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Hey PCS...no stops in IL????

Cort:34swm."Mr Monte Carlo.Mr Road Trip".pig valve&pacemaker

WRMNshowcase.legos.HO.models.MCs.RTs.CHD = http://www.chevyasylum.com/cort

"I need to get away from this place" ... Smashmouth ... 'All Star'

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Hey PCS...no stops in IL????

Cort:34swm."Mr Monte Carlo.Mr Road Trip".pig valve&pacemaker

WRMNshowcase.legos.HO.models.MCs.RTs.CHD = http://www.chevyasylum.com/cort

"I need to get away from this place" ... Smashmouth ... 'All Star'

Just passing through IL, on our way to Michigan where we will be staying with friends.

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I almost replaced the lock cylinder on Project Camino when I rebuilt the steering column, it still works fine but I did notice a fair amount of play. You should still be able to get a new lock cylinder with keys fom GM as that design was used forever. The job is a bit of a hassle, but it could save you from being stranded in the middle of nowhere for a stupid reason. If you like your local dealer for service, you could get a price from them - it should only take a few hours at most to have it done.

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Any suggestions on the key/ignition problem

Just don't take it to my neighborhood Firestone while you're crossing through IL.

They'll charge you $99.99 to put it on the computer diagnostic.

< computer report > "Yep, the key's stuck, and it was caused by too low a level of coolant." :lol:

Edited by wildcat
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no missouri stops. :P lol

*no helpful advice at this time*

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If anything I'm used to keys coming out of the ignition VERY

easily and many times even with the ignition in the on

position since old school GMs are like that, some by design

and the newer ones because of wear. I've never owned a GM

vehicle from the 80s or later with over 100,000 miles on it

that locked the keys in the ignition when turned on...

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Yikes, I am not sure about using a wet lubricant for that lock cylinder. Wouldn't powdered graphite have been a better solution? :twocents:
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If anything I'm used to keys coming out of the ignition VERY

easily and many times even with the ignition in the on

position since old school GMs are like that, some by design

and the newer ones because of wear. I've never owned a GM

vehicle from the 80s or later with over 100,000 miles on it

that locked the keys in the ignition when turned on...

I have to agree. With GM's "crossbar" style tumbler, I've found they only get looser over the years, unlike Ford and Mopar which can get jammy. I doubt it's your key cylinder.

I don't know if you have a manual or automatic or column shift or the floor shift. Also, I don't know if your key interlock is still functional... If you have an automatic, there is probably play in the key interlock. The interlock rotates the lower column housing to ensure the tranny is in park before allowing the key to be removed. Sometimes, this binds or doesn't quite move enough (as its a bunch of sloppy linkage) to allow the key to be removed.

The solution being to put the car back in Drive and slap it back into Park. Failing that, you can reach down and turn the column by hand. this is likely what the locksmith did by accident to remove the key.

If you have a car with the key interlock linkage removed (it interferes with headers), like my sister's 1969 Firebird, you can drive the car for miles and one day, the column housing will vibrate a little too far out of wack and the key won't come out... which, as you can imagine, requires the manual rotation of the column housing back to the 'release' position.

Hopefully, this will sound reasonable and make sense.

Stephen

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I have to agree. With GM's "crossbar" style tumbler, I've found they only get looser over the years, unlike Ford and Mopar which can get jammy. I doubt it's your key cylinder.

I don't know if you have a manual or automatic or column shift or the floor shift. Also, I don't know if your key interlock is still functional... If you have an automatic, there is probably play in the key interlock. The interlock rotates the lower column housing to ensure the tranny is in park before allowing the key to be removed. Sometimes, this binds or doesn't quite move enough (as its a bunch of sloppy linkage) to allow the key to be removed.

The solution being to put the car back in Drive and slap it back into Park. Failing that, you can reach down and turn the column by hand. this is likely what the locksmith did by accident to remove the key.

If you have a car with the key interlock linkage removed (it interferes with headers), like my sister's 1969 Firebird, you can drive the car for miles and one day, the column housing will vibrate a little too far out of wack and the key won't come out... which, as you can imagine, requires the manual rotation of the column housing back to the 'release' position.

Hopefully, this will sound reasonable and make sense.

Stephen

Great post!

I had forgotten about the early interlocks being like that. And the PCS is a first-year car! My money is with this answer.

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I have to agree. With GM's "crossbar" style tumbler, I've found they only get looser over the years, unlike Ford and Mopar which can get jammy. I doubt it's your key cylinder.

I don't know if you have a manual or automatic or column shift or the floor shift. Also, I don't know if your key interlock is still functional... If you have an automatic, there is probably play in the key interlock. The interlock rotates the lower column housing to ensure the tranny is in park before allowing the key to be removed. Sometimes, this binds or doesn't quite move enough (as its a bunch of sloppy linkage) to allow the key to be removed.

The solution being to put the car back in Drive and slap it back into Park. Failing that, you can reach down and turn the column by hand. this is likely what the locksmith did by accident to remove the key.

If you have a car with the key interlock linkage removed (it interferes with headers), like my sister's 1969 Firebird, you can drive the car for miles and one day, the column housing will vibrate a little too far out of wack and the key won't come out... which, as you can imagine, requires the manual rotation of the column housing back to the 'release' position.

Hopefully, this will sound reasonable and make sense.

Stephen

I'd agree with that-esp since the car is not driven every day....

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Just passing through IL, on our way to Michigan where we will be staying with friends.

MI, Huh? :smilewide:

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Good luck with the trip.

Chris

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It grabs the key when I take it out of Drive and put it into Park and turn off the engine. It will not let me switch it from Park into Neutral or Drive and it will not let me turn the car back on. It hasn't done it since my parents house, but I plan to do a lot of stopping and site seeing, so in and out of the car a lot the next few days, let's see what it does.

Thanks to all who answered this.

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Good luck with it, PCS.

I think SAmadei has the issue nailed.

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Just passing through IL, on our way to Michigan where we will be staying with friends.

That's too bad you're just passing through IL. When will you be coming through?

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