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Pontiac Grand Prix Key cannot be removed from ignition

Hello,

I have seen a few posts where others have described this problem. When shifting into park, if an audible "click" isn't heard, you know that the ignition cylinder ( or whatever mechanism it is) is stuck and won't fully release the key.

If you reach up inside the steering column from underneath the ignition switch, you can feel a small switch that - when pressed forward - will allow you to turn the key to its fully off position. You can then extract the key from the ignition switch.

Does anyone know of a permanent fix? Any help would be greatly appreciated!

2002 Grand Prix GT
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Comments

  • hey

    I have a 2002 Grand Prix SE and the same exact problem... just today i was told it has something to do with the "pilot", but honestly i have no idea. have you found out how to fix it?

    Thanks
  • Thanks so much for the reply. I have yet to find a permanent solution, and I have noticed several other threads that describe the same problem.
    I have toyed with the idea of attempting to take the steering column apart, but I don't want an airbag in the face should I force something that doesn't like to be fiddled with. I would love to see a schematic of the steering column, as I am curious as to why there's actually a little button to press that releases the lock. Have you tried this same method to extract the key? When I'm patient enough to actually wait for the cylinder to release it, it usually takes between 15 and 30 seconds, after which an audible 'click' can be heard and the key can be turned fully back for removal. The fact that it eventually does release indicates to me that something in the column is "sticking" rather than merely broken.
    If I ever find out how to fix this, I will post the solution here. Once again, thanks for the reply.
  • I know exactly what you are going through! I have just been through this nightmare. Every time I took it in to the shop over the course of 9+ months, they wouldn't have any problem with the key sticking. I read up on this problem on the web & everything I came across told me that these cars were notorious for the selenoid going bad, but there were no recalls on this. I finally got lucky the last time I took her in & it did stick for the technician too. As I had been telling the shop all along (perhaps they didn't want a girl telling them what was wrong with the car! LOL!), they found it to be the Shift Lock Solenoid ($251) was not providing power to the Ignition Lock Solenoid ($47) - these prices didn't include the labor. I was lucky enough that my warranty covered these parts. I wish I could tell you that there is an easy fix, but at least this will give you an idea on where to start looking & a round about cost of the parts. So, if you are looking to do this project yourself, you will still need to see a schematic on where & how to replace these parts which should be in the Haynes repair manual for the car. It pays to do research! LOL! Good luck & I hope this helps!
  • jsetojseto Posts: 2
    I've been dealing with this issue for about a year now. I've learned to live with it. My solution is simple: I make sure I come to a complete stop, press on the brake and wait for 2 seconds. Then, I place in Park, take my foot off the brake, and listen for the solenoid to click. If I don't hear it, I "finger-flick" the shifter button several times. This usually gets the solenoid to click. Then, I turn off the damn car.
  • Hi Gang, I have a 2001 SLT Jimmy (49k) with the same problem. A few months ago I had to have my multi-funtion switched replaced, ok no problem, then about a month ago the key would not go to the "HOME" position unless I played with the shifter and/or had the right touch on the brake peddle. This happens occasionally, but of course, at the wrong damn time!!I've had 5 back surgery's so I really can't maneuver like in the past, so I have to count on someone else's judgment (GRRRR) and I've had sooo many differant suggestions and the installer of the MF switch feels responsable but management says differently,does anyone have an idea where I can check some simple areas to start looking before I attempt to get on the floor and become part of the truck until the ER squad has to get the jaws of life to get me out? LOL
    Silverfox
  • pawlpawl Posts: 3
    Hi
    The shifter is your problem.
    It sends a signal to the Park Lock Actuator (mounted on the column). If No signal is recieved to actuator, no key release.
    VERY common problem.
    Parts about $250.00.
    Labor time about 1-2 hours.
    ease for DYI - 4-6.
    Good Luck
  • tat3299tat3299 Posts: 1
    I have never been able to figure out how to fix it professionally, but I have had to put a straw into the hole just under the ignition and leave it there. If the straw falls out I am screwed, my key never comes out.
  • taxxmantaxxman Posts: 1
    For the last 4 months I have experienced the same problem with my 2001 grand prix sedan. Lately the problem has become increasingly more difficult. I am at my witts end, with turning the key off then on until finally it releases and comes out of the ignition. What I would like to know is the solution to this problem? Do you go to the dealer, or do you go to a local repair shop? I would appreciate it if one of you grand prix owners who has had this problem then had it repaired could give me some tips on how to get it fixed.
  • My goodness! I was relieved and suprised to see how many comments are on this board when I googled the problem we are having with our car. When you put the car in park, and try to turn off the car, the key will not completely turn back to the "off" position, so we have start the car back up, drive in reverse, then forward, and try to release the key again... sometimes this goes on 10 times before we can get the key out. We also try turning the steering wheel back and forth. My husband is now on the phone with GM to find out why no recalls have been done. It sounds like GM is telling him we will have to bring the car in, pay $87. just for the diagnostics test, and they will figure out if it is to be deemed a warranty/recall issue. Will be in touch about what comes of this as we do not feel we should have to pay to have this issue fixed when soooo many others are dealing with the same problem.
  • brightguybrightguy Posts: 5
    That little cover that will have a pron on it Under the ignition switch that pron puches in on the button that needs to be pushed.removes key/allows ac/c, see :)
  • Hi! I hope someone out there can help me! I have a 2002 Grand Prix and in the last few months have been having trouble removing the key from the ignition. I have to put the car in "park-reverse-neutral-drive then back to park" several times before the key will release. Sometimes moving the steering column up or down will work too. It is an intermittent problem. I have had the "park/neutral switch" replaced. The key is still not releasing properly. I've also had the car to a locksmith who claims there is nothing wrong with the ignition itself. I have read online several others are having or have had this same problem but no one seems to give a direct answer to what needs to be done to fix the problem. If anyone has had this problem and has successfully had it repaired...would you please share with me what exactly was done to correct this. I would truly appreciate ANY help anyone can give me. Thanks!
  • markitomarkito Posts: 1
    Had my 97 Grand Prix SE 3.8 V6 for about a year now it has about 276k miles on it.I dont really know much at all about cars. Never had a problem with it until last night. My key got stuck in the ignition and wouldn't come out! I couldn't turn the car on either! So i left the keys in overnight. the next days i got my spare keys from my gf. Apparently theres a little cap underneath the steering column and if u pop the cap there is a little hole which i poked with a thin screw driver while turning the key gently trying to get it out. it came out fine. tried to start my car shortly after but nothing. it was dead and the key got stuck again. so i assumed maybe something is wrong with the battery. i took the battery connector off to see whats going on and i simply decided to scrap off the little layer of corrosion on it. put it back together and Bam! She's aliiivve! but after reading all the problems ppl encounter i got a little paranoid and decided that maybe its time to get rid of the car while i still can. what do you think?
  • bobmac2bobmac2 Posts: 1
    THE SAME PROBLEM THAT EVERYONE HAS WITH THIS SERIES OF CARS. I HAD THE LOCK CYLINDER REPLACED HOPING IT WOULD SOLVE THIS PROBLEM IT DID NOT COST ME 150.00 . SO I DID SOME CHECKING ON THE NET AND FOUND THIS GROUP AND OTHERS LIKE IT. I ORDERED IN A CONSOLE SHIFT ASSEMBLY IN FROM GM IT WAS OVER 400.00 CDN. A HUGE COST TOO MUCH SO I WAS READING HERE AND ON PERSON SAID TO LUBRICATE THE SOLENOID IN THE SHIFT CONSOLE. I SPRAYED SOME LUBE ON THE ACTUATOR ON THE SIDE OF THE SHIFT LOCK SOLENOID IT SOLVED THE PROBLEM RIGHT AWAY. I COULDN'T BELEIVE IT AFTER MONTHS OF TORMENT AND OUT OF POCKET COST. I HOPE THIS HELPS SOMEONE AVOID PAYING FOR REPAIRS YOU DON'T NEED. ALSO THEN AUTO DOOR LOCK AND UNLOCK WHEN U SHUT OFF THE CAR STARTED WORKING AGAIN .BOB MACINTYRE
  • Hi Bob,

    Thanks for the info. I called the dealer I purchased the car from complaining about a problem that seems to an ongoing issue with GM cars! He told me to bring it in for a free diagnostic test to find out whats wrong with it. I did this and they called back saying it was the shift assembly. They also said it would cost $600 for them to repair it. I told him I could not and would not pay that much for a problem on a car the is only 5 years old and only has 40,000 miles on it (not to mention (again) this is a common problem with GM vehicles and there should have been a recall on it and fixed free of charge.) Thank goodness I was dealing with a great, understanding GM service manager. He made a deal that I would pay $100 and he would get GM to cover the rest of the cost. I had it fix the next day and have not had any problems since. Unfortunately I did not receive your e-mail until after I contacted the dealer and had my car fixed or else I would have tried what you suggested. But I will keep it in mind in case it starts to give me trouble again. Thanks again. Annette :)
  • Replying to: Markito

    I had this problem too (the key getting stuck). I was told if the battery is dying it could cause this problem. The ignition needs so many volts for it to release the key. I had my battery checked and unfortunately that was not the problem (mine was that the shift assembly had to be replaced). Since you cleaned your battery and it started working fine that would appear to be where your problem was coming from. You may want to have your battery checked also. You may be in need on a new one and that would take care of the ignition/key trouble in the future.
  • I Found the problem!!! Well someone else found it and I couldn't believe it. I have a 2001 JIMMY with the same problem, "Key cannot be removed" on my vehicle, about 4-5 inches away from the the keyhole, there's a tiny oval shaped plug, it blends in so well you have to really look for it, remove the plug and stik a small item (toothpick, maybe)and just gently push upwards and the key will come out. Just for my friends here, I'm going to the dealer and check if the same applies to your vehicle, I'll return with the results and better explain the process. I hope to return with promising news.

    The Fox
  • Same problem on a 2000 GTP. Battery died and key would not release. Once I jumped started the car the key came right out. Happened twice and it was the battery both times.
  • Hi folks...I appreciate all the responses to this most annoying problem.

    I still haven't taken this problem to the dealer for repair because I'm convinced that doing so will only result in a lot of unnecessary, over-priced work. Can't believe there is no TSB issued on this from GM/Pontiac.

    As it stands today, I'm continuing to use the method of reaching up into the column and pushing on the switch to release the key. It's kind on funny that when you do this...you are essentially "flipping the bird" to your car. Who says GM doesn't have a sense of humor?

    Another method with which I have had some success is as follows:
    - apply brake and come to a complete stop
    - wait a few seconds before shifting into Park
    - shift into Park, wait a few more seconds, then release the shift

    After about 3 seconds, I hear the audible "click". Don't know why this works, but hey... :shades:
  • Hey Annette or Bob. Can you please give me the name and address of the GM dealership that fixed your Grand Prix for $100.00. That would be awesome! You can write me at mestreeper@yahoo.com. Or post in forum. Thanks a whole lot!! Scott
  • I've experienced the same problem with my 03 Gran Prix. I had a locksmith come out and remove the key ($150.00). He stated the key cylinder needed to be replaced. It worked fine for a little while and has started again. I have also encountered a new problem. The car will not go into gear. I have had to remove the little shift lock cover and have to place an object there to get it to go into gear. Per my mechanic, it's more trouble to replace this section than to keep doing what I'm doing. I am a little surprised to see so many people are having the same problem with their keys not coming out. I am also surprised that GMC/Pontiac have not recalled the car and had this problem corrected. I have also been having problems with the fans as well. Seems to me that this is a defect in the car and not the owners. Also some of the tips I have read I am taking to my mechanic to try. Thank and good luck!!!!!
  • Look, everyone here seems to turns to the freaki'N dealer, Thats OK if your car is still under warentee, but after that time, get the heck outa der'! Hey If you got 2-3hundred bucks to blow. give it to me. The dealers service techs work under a flat rate system,generally on the very high end, because they don't get paid if there hands aren't movin' and they want the cream of the crop, easy jobs or nice jobs that there familiar with (ie. Tranny's, electrical, all the parts of the vehicle, so These "TECH's" take the jobs that there comfortable with and they know that an hour job can be done in maybe 20 minutes. Hey, they desrve it, AUTOS are hard on our bodies, working with someone right next to all day, just waiting for a fight or something, It's rough butt work, I quess it's the love of machines that keep us going. Look at it this way, if you ask a youngster to cut your lawn frt/back, He might say I'll do the front for $5 but your backyard is gonna have to at least $15, cuz sir, that thar yard is the biggest one I ever saw. OK you agree to $20 bucks, settled first time it takes him an hour to do both, but as he gets use to it, heck he can do it in half the time and still make $20 bucks, no problems, nice job, now he deserves that $20, not $10 Right? So look at your vehicle, is it worth such high dollar's cost to fix the car or dump it. well, if it's in nice shape and paid for, no other problems aside the Key issue. Maybe, who knows, if it needs tires brakes a long list of small basic maintenence stuff that just gets neglected. The reason the High price factor is NO ONE WANTS TO TOUCH STEERING COLUMNS!!!! explosive air back in your nose, that feels good, the wiring, the limited space, some/most cars they have to take off the front lower half of your dasboard, open the consule (floor shift) I've been in the auto repair biz for 30 years, no longer as I'm disabled but I'm dead butt serious. Steering colomns were not my specialty, and only a few dare to enter that zone...LOL
    One gentleman here called the locksmith to remove the IGN Switch, poor guy, he's (the locksmth) is there to make $$$$$$$$$ just like everyone else,

    Try this, go to the dealer and tell him something's "funny" sounding in the steering column, He respond with "just what kind of "Funny" sound or what ever you say, but don't tell him what it is, say "look, just zip it around the lot and you'll be sure sure and hear it, no $$ yet, now when he returns and starts to rattle off all these $$$$$ signs,Say to him, hey could you grab my keys for me, please (out of the ignition) BOOM they won't come out, now YOU have him pinned, chances are as he was driving around the lot thinking all sorts of $$$ pop up, then when he says oops can't get the keys out, You say, Thats the sound I was talking about, I say that same sound everytime I turn off my, looking really stupid at this point he may what sound? You reply' YES,YES THAT'S THE SOUND! "IT WON'T COME OUT", thats the sound I hear when I drive this car, now thats great if it happens to him, but it goes back to the day when the TV guy came to your house and your TV works fine, then I quess you might have to jump around and repeat and rinse LOL (blonde joke thing) sorry gorgous. I found my problem, someone here mentioned it earlier in one of the older post regarding THE KEY FACTOR, so I found what one guy did, and I still use that method today, I have a GMC truck, but all the steering columns are made in One big factory that just does steering components. so move your butts and look for this little plug, I admit, it's not easy to find, but ALL GM cars have this plug!! There sort of hard to locate this plug for theft reasons I imagine.
    Now I have a new problem, 3 GM vehicles and the windows won't go up!!, now everyone mentions that there windows don't work, GM techs say bad motor, BULL all vehicles are designed with obsilesance (obsolete life time) things go on a car break at a certain time span, how else they gonna make any $$$ if the car last twice as long?? remember the old refridgerators (God my spelling) they still last today, but then, no one would buy another, aside from efficiancy factors the point is these cars have inadaquate power rated motors installed to perform this task, cost $$ to put the correct one in, hey for 20cents less, toss this one in instead.
    gang, sorry if I rattled any cages or took up so much space, but just trying to help, everyones right to an opinion, right? well in todays america, who knows what rights, the government dosen't even know what it's doing anyways, the winners know before the ballots are even counted who's gonna win, Hey I love my country, vietnam era vet, repectable citizen and all but today, I just don't know anymore.
    Later Gang
    sorry bout the grammer and spelling,
  • I am Not a Technician, but I work on my own. USE THIS AT YOUR OWN RISK.

    Had the same problem with my '00 GP 3800. It was very erratic, 95% of the time, no problem, it was the 5% that ground my gravel. So I put a small amount of GM Heat Valve Penetrating Oil (Definite must have for any DIY'er) on the key, and ran the lock cylinder through a few cycles and repeated this occasionally. KEEP A RAG HANDY, THE STUFF KINDA STINKS AND YOU DON'T WANT IT ON THE UPHOLSTERY! Then I did the rear brakes - stay with me now - New pads and rotors. The pedal came up when braking and I've not had a problem since. That's what I did, for those of you who remember Fred Drier as TV's "Hunter" - Works for me.
  • donwydonwy Posts: 2
    2003 Grand Prix - Key stuck, shifter would not come out of park and ignition would not turn all the way to the key release position. Solution: normally would be to change solenoid, either on the column or on the floor shifter (could have been but was not the ignition module). Some dealers change it all and I have heard horror stories of $1200 bills. Instead, a very good tech at a very honest dealership looked for and found a broken wire at the solenoid and soldered it. He then cleaned the solenoid, all the connections, the steering column solenoid, the ignition module and the shift mechanism. They also provide a ride to work and pick up when the work is done. Got it in by 8 am and back by 11:30 am. Repair took two hours of labor and the final bill was $140 including all taxes. This entire job is now guaranteed for six months and if anything else goes wrong, they will fix it free! I also service my Silverado Duramax there. 11 guarts of full synthetic oil, high end filter and full lube is $85. Meets warranty requirements to keep warranty in place with no issues.
  • sykes01sykes01 Posts: 3
    Found the little pron and got the key out. The car still won't go in gear and I refuse to pay for this to be fixed because I just stick something in there and go. My fans are now straight wired to a kill swith that I turn on and off when I get in/out of the car. Per my mechanic, it's cheaper than replacing the whole fan unit (which I suggested). Now that summer is approaching, I will have took at it. My daughter who has a 00 Grand Am is having the same problems with her fans now. And thanks guys for letting me know I am not the only person having these problems. I thought I was just having bad luck with my car. lol
  • d588996pd588996p Posts: 5
    Hey I've had the same problem on a 2000 JIMMY. I did the same thing as U did and has always worked. My current problem is with my 2001 Pontiac Grand Prix SE, Same problem as my JIMMY. The key turns and doesnt release, right before the release it jams. If I play with it I can here the click sound that indicates the release. I've changed the Ignition key cylinder and had to pay $50.00 to Recode my key since my model uses the PK3 keys. I still have the same problem as before, Today I will check my gear shift nob to make sure its not causing the problem. does anyone have any ideas as to what the problem might be?
  • tawny0207tawny0207 Posts: 4
    You are exactly right. I had replaced a few things (and none of them fixed the problem) before breaking down and taking my '02 Grand Prix to the dealer to find out what was wrong. They told me it was the shift assembly. They replaced it (a year ago) and I have not had the problem since,

    Annette
  • brown100brown100 Posts: 1
    What if you just remove the park lock? That's what I did, and am now able to start and shut off vehicle. Still goes into gear... just don't know if this is dangerous???
  • dcbradleydcbradley Posts: 9
    I bypassed the park lock actuator (at the steering column) altogether by just zip- tying the plunger so that it is in a fully-engaged position. Key comes out all the time now and no issues with shifting. I have had this solution in place for the last several months now.
  • One of the fellow Grand Prix owners emailed me this solution and it works quite well. I purchased a $1.00 eyeglass repair kit from the dollar store, removed the covering to the ignition (directly under it on the steering wheel) and simply use the small screw driver to push the release button. It releasese the key. As my brother (and mechanic) say it works and keeps me from having to spend any money to have it replaced. Per most of the messages I've seen, they've spent quite a bit of money to try and eliminate this problem and some have worked and some haven;t. Some suggest having the shift switch replaced (mine gives me trouble every once in a while). Some suggest having the iginition switch removed. I've been doing this for about 4 months now and it works well.
  • I just purchased my 2002 Grand Prix a week ago. The first few days it didn't give me a problem but now it is. I can pull the key out, but it isn't in the correct 'lock' position. i even found out that I can pull the key out while driving and keep rolling. Probably not a good thing, though.

    Anyway, I keep seeing that people keep mentioning the 'Solenoid' (I hope I spelled it right) under the steering column. Could somebody give me an idea of where it is at? To the left or right? Somebody told me to try the graphite lube, but it has not worked yet in my case.

    Right now I pulled the key out, but my park light on the dash is still on, so I'm thinking that it might run down my battery, but I am hoping not enough to drain it in one night at a time. I had to lock the doors manually since it still thinks the key is in the ignition and it won't let me use the automatic locks so that i won't lock my imaginary key in the car.

    Also, someone else mentioned popping off the shift lock cover. Is that the little square thing to the right of the gear shifter? I am car-illitterate, so please forgive me for all of the questions! But thanks for anybody's help!
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