Chrysler minivan ignition wont turn... common?

I have a '98 Town and Country minivan, and started having a problem with the
key not turning. Anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes of
wiggling/jimmying/reinsertion would usually get it to turn. When I removed
both the tumbler and the ignition switch, both seemed to operate smoothly,
especially the tumbler. I went ahead and replaced the switch hoping that it
was just worn.
Well, the problem did go away for a while, but it is back and meaner than
ever. I could only find one discussion online about the problem and it
mentioned that this was fairly common; the problem was apparently a burr on
a wafer in the tumbler causing the wafer to hang. The solution was to either
replace the whole tumbler or have it re-pinned by a locksmith.
Has anyone experienced this problem? Does the solution seem viable?
Tim Taylor
Reply to
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If the problem went away after replacing the switch and then reoccurred, I would think the replacement switch should be replaced. Take it back to where you bought it and tell them it's defective. They my give you another one for free.
Before you try that, spray a little Tri-Flo in the cylinder and work the wafers up and down and see if all the wafers move smoothly. Make sure the park cable is adjusted and check for a binding steering wheel.
I've never had a problem like you discribe on Chrysler products but I've seen a lot of older style 10 cut GM ignition switches fail due to stuck wafers. The problem got so bad that GM redesigned the switch to help solve the issue. Most of the time when I run into a sticking GM switch the customer has a large ring of keys that weigh heavily on the ignition key bow causing excess stress on the switch. I think that has a lot to do with it.
Reply to
Glen Cooper
If the problem only occurs with the lock cylinder (what you seem to be calling a tumbler) installed in the vehicle suspect a problem with the shift interlock or a binding steering wheel lock mechanism.
Reply to
It is unlikely that a reoccurence of the same previous problem indicates a bad replacement part. More likely the switch was never bad in the first place. Ignition switches usually go bad electrically rather than mechanically anyway.
Reply to
Thanks for the response. Yes, I meant cylinder. I guess the tumbler is integrated in the cylinder. Please explain to me why I should suspect the shift interlock or wheel lock- I'm not following you. The problem only happens with the cylinder installed; with cylinder removed I can insert a screwdriver into the ignition switch and start the van every time.
Reply to
"Taylor" wrote in message :
" -- Thanks for the response. Yes, I meant cylinder. I guess the tumbler is integrated in the cylinder. Please explain to me why I should suspect the shift interlock or wheel lock- I'm not following you. The problem only happens with the cylinder installed; with cylinder removed I can insert a screwdriver into the ignition switch and start the van every time."
Well this is simple -- it is because only the lock cylinder is engaged to the shift interlock... The actual electrical ignition switch is only that a switch...
Read in your owners manual about how best to park on hills... If you are parking on a hill this could be your problem... You need to set the parking brake to take the weight of the vehicle off of the transmission... Having the tranmission under pressure will make it harder to shift out of park and sometimes also harder to rotate the ignition cylinder if the problem is really bad...
Someone else here described the real root cause of this kind of problem already...
"Glen Cooper" wrote in a message:
" -- Most of the time when I run into a sticking GM switch the customer has a large ring of keys that weigh heavily on the ignition key bow causing excess stress on the switch. I think that has a lot to do with it."
Try loosing some of the weight attached to your key ring and see if the problem goes away...
Evan the maintenance man
Reply to
The tumblers are the wafers, i.e. the parts directly actuated by the key.
OK so with the lock cylinder removed does the lock cylinder itself operate correctly? If not then the problem is the lock cylinder. If it does work correctly there is something other than the cylinder assembly and switch causing the problem. The shift interlock and/or steering wheel lock are a good place to start since both in many aplications can jam up the cylinder assembly and related parts so that the key cannot be turned. I can't think exactly how they work in that vehicle so I can't tell you exactly what to look for. A simple place to start is with jiggling the shifter and trying to rotate the steering wheel back and forth a little and see if that has any effect. The steering wheel lock binding and requiring wheel movement to turn the key happens sometimes as a part of normal operation and is not really a defect unless it continues to bind even while/after moving the wheel side to side (never seen that happen). This may seem obvious but virtually every locksmith who has worked for any length of time as had calls for this problem where the customer thought the lock or something else was to blame when all that was required was to move the wheel a little. Many have also probably had at least one call by someone who was trying to start the car in gear. It happens. It is also possible that something else is worn or damaged but I would start with the two things I mentioned. The shift interlock frequently has an adjustement, something in the shift interlock assembly could also be loose.
Reply to
If you KNOW the interlock setup on this vehicle that's fine. I don't know in detail how it works on that car, but on some vehicles the interlock is not directly engaged with the lock cylinder assembly but can via it's interaction with other parts still stop the key from turning. I don't state this to nitpick on you but because this could cause some confusion with an inexperienced individual when trying to repair the problem.
Are you talking about the electrical switch here or the lock cylinder assembly itself?
Reply to
How large and heavy of a ring of keys is the ignition key part of?
Often the sideways force of gravity on a large keyring can cause the ignition lock to bind or fail prematurely.
Reply to
Jay Hennigan
you seem to be calling
the shift interlock
bingo !
my2¢ also
Reply to
a problem with the
minutes of
turn. When I removed
operate smoothly,
switch hoping that it
and meaner than
problem and it
apparently a burr on
solution was to either
seem viable?
probably a stretched shifter cable. adjust or replaced.
Reply to
Thanks to everyone for their input. All suggestions to the problem are being held in consideration. I am still focusing the problem to be in the ignition cylinder itself and not the ignition switch assembly. A bit more detail of the problem: First of all, my keychain is not at all heavy- my wife and I each have about 3 keys each on our rings plus the alarm transmitter. The problem will occur at random times, sometimes a month or more will pass between occurrences. It doesn't matter if we park on level ground or on a slope, and through previous troubleshooting I eliminated the wheel lock as the problem. On this minivan the cylinder itself has no direct connection to a shift or wheel lock- those are handled by the ignition switch assembly. The cylinder when removed does indeed turn freely, as it should, but it usually does so when installed as well- the "locking up" problem is intermittent and never predictable.
During the most recent episode of the problem, I tried everything that I had successfully tried before, including turning the steering wheel, wiggling the shifter, and repeatedly inserting and removing the key (which in itself usually does the trick), but the ignition wouldn't budge. I then tried the method of lightly tapping it a few times with a hammer as described here:
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it turned the first time I retried it. I called around and found a locksmith that would repair it for $75, so I'm going to try that first.
Thanks again everyone,
Tim T.
Reply to
Taylor, I'm surpsided that nobody here picked up on the problem! This is your problem. And yes I have encountered it. Replace the standard wafers in the plug assembly with the GM 10 cut springs. The problem has nothing to do with interlock and switch. It's the fact that the springs compact and become very relaxed in the plug. The sidebar is not retracting in as the springs don't have enuf oomph to have the sidebar fall in place. That simple. If you don't have any GM 10 cut springs, remove the existing springs and stretch them somewhat do give it the snap action required. I'll e-mail more you more details.
Darren Wildwood Lock
Reply to
Darren Ingleson
This is your
standard wafers in the
nothing to do with
compact and become very
the springs don't
simple. If you don't
and stretch them
more you more
thought of that but didn't think it was this particular problem.
Reply to
Isn't 98 the year they went back to the side bar on the mini van? You know, with the new M code series.
I can see the original switch failing do to weak springs because of the 'bug factor' but a new switch? Was the new switch uncoded and were the springs and wafers just swapped out?
If new springs came with the new switch then I would think Chrysler would have learned from there own mistakes and made better springs but I dont recall having encountered this problem before. I thought 'sticking wafer toward the bow do to excess force' like on every other older GM 10 cut that use the same springs and we all know how weak the Chrysler/Jeep wafers are..
Darren you make perfect since. I see said the blind man to his deaf wife.
Reply to
Glen Cooper
Town and Country is a rebadged/fancier Caravan that uses a Strattec 703719 as the ignition cylinder. It has a concave chrome facecap with the sidebar that uses the Chrysler 8 cut ignition wafers. I have encounted this problem at least a dozen times. Chrysler HAS issued a TSB regarding this problem. The springs will be intermittint in releasing the wafers exacerbated by the lithium grease that is used from the factory. Take a rubber mallet or a 20 oz hammer and slowly tap tap tap the key whilst it is insewrted in the keyway and it will relase and allow to be turned everytime it has happened. I use this technique on the Alpha Techs all the time when it is jammed as well. I counted 15 posts with overweight key rings and interlock cables (huh?!?!?!) being thrown as problems and had to weigh in... Wha! No Chryslers down dere ;)
Darren Wildwood Lock
Reply to
Darren Ingleson
Darren as I recall you live in Canada. Down south where Key and I live it was over 70 F today and sunny. Could this explain why I haven't had a problem with the lithium greese?
Here in Houston the all time low for any day ever was on January 23rd or 24th something like that way back in the 40's of 5 above F and that was only one day. Not high siding, just puting the difference in geographical locations in perspective but I did wear a short sleeve shirt today.
Reply to
Glen Cooper
Yes. 98 was he first year to my immediate recollection. Open up your Strattec keying kit that has the 8 cut wafer springs and compare. No change is there? ;) They have not changed the spring length whatsover despite the TSB. I have pulled apart newer ignition cylinders of this ilk and it's the same bloody thing. Compacted wafer spring will not release up or down the wafer.
Last week a had a call for a '99 Caravan with the identical problem. The gentleman stammered out that he "WANTED THE $%$^& IGNITION CYLINDER REPLACED...IT"S%$%& SHOT!" I started to explain to the gentleman what the problem was and how it would be remedied (that being me quench with Triflo...tap tap tap....turn....tap tap tap..pop it out disaassemble and replace the springs and reinstall). He shook his head over and over sideways and walked over and calmly looked at me maniacally and said "I WANT IT REPLACED!IT"S CAUSED ME AND MY WIFE ENUF GRIEF"
Ok, replaced it I did. New Strattec 703719 came out of the red and white box, keyed it to his key, inserted and put together the clamshell shroud. Charged him $125 for cylinder+ codeing of $25.00+trip charge of $35.00 and labour of $60.00 =$250.00. He walked out cycled the ignition about 10 times...smiled and wrote me a cheque of about $300 after taxes.
He said to take the bloody thing (the old one) and use it as a fishing weight as I was packing up my tools. Gutted the old wafers and springs and am keeping it for the next job. Nothin wrong with it! If he only would have listened he would have saved about $200.00.
Oh well.....
Darren Wildwood Lock
Reply to
Darren Ingleson

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