key stuck

rob142rob142 Member Posts: 1
edited March 2020 in Saturn
I have a 04 Saturn Ion with auto transmission. When I go to shut off the ign. sw. after driving the ign. key won't shut all the way off and you can not remove the key. The key operates just fine. I can start the car, turn the engine off but the key won't turn all the way off to release the key. I was wondering if it could have something to do with the neutral safety switch on the transmission. Does anybody know how I can access it and test it to see if that is the problem? Thank you.


  • bertbagginsbertbaggins Member Posts: 38
    my wife has that same problem with her sl-1. she basically just jiggles the key around, and cranks on the steering wheel, eventually it works. I'm pretty sure we will have to get an ignition switch at some point. I have a saturn ion and my key is sometimes hard to turn. Saturn is a bunch a-holes who can't build a good car, and then when somthing breaks they try to get you to fix 20 other things so they can charge you 5000 dollars.
  • silverisissilverisis Member Posts: 3
    I am having the same problem with a 2005 ION, that I just bought used. I first thought that there was some special trick to the anti-theft device that I did not know. But, after a week of driving the car, I can find no rhyme or reason to why I can sometimes get the key out on the 1st try, and sometimes it takes up to 10 minutes. I will probally have to take it back to the dealer to see if it needs a new ignition switch while I am still under the 30 day warranty. Other than this frustraing issue, I am very happy with my ION, and I got it at a great price!
  • jojo2298jojo2298 Member Posts: 1
    The same exact thing happened to my wife except, the engine remained RUNNING! The Service Manager had taught me how to SAFELY DISABLE the vehicle without damaging the "Computer Chip": Feel under the Steering Column until you feel a bunch of wires... Follow the wires back upward (toward the STEERING WHEEL)... You will feel a CLIP.... PRESS the clip to unplug the clip from the column! This is the SAFEST WAY to disable the Vehicle, without DAMAGE to the computer Board! This WILL NOT remove YOUR key from the ignition (As Saturn had to install a new ignition System, to which our warranty had covered this) however, you will not damage the computer Board! When you are ready to bring the Vehicle in for Service, just plug this clip back into the column, start the Vehicle, and be on your way!... I hope this will help someone if this ever happens! ... ALSO (another "tip" from the Service Manager), "HAVE A MINIMUM NUMBER OF KEYS ON YOUR KEY RING"... because the weight of the keyring will SLOWLY deteriorate Your Ignition Switch!! RESPECTFULLY, "JO JO"
  • ladyintxladyintx Member Posts: 2
    I had the same problems and apparently it is a part called the BTSI switch or module. I just got it out of the dealership today and it works fine. Previously they had done work on the ignition switch which was not the answer. New keys were not the answer. BTSI seems to be the cure.
  • mimi2694mimi2694 Member Posts: 3
    I have an 06 Saturn Ion which has had the same problem for quite some time. The dealer has replaced the ignition and computer but the problem occurs, each time a little worse. I took it in today and will have to bring it back for an ignition solenoid. I explained in addition to the key not being able to be removed, while I'm driving, I'm hearing a locking noise, but the locks aren't opening or closing. What is unnerving is my car revs a little or declines in speed while this is happening. I explained this to the svc. mgr. but I got the impression he wasn't listening. Also, my svc engine light comes on and goes off with a code so quickly, that I miss it. Any suggestions?
  • arlowearlowe Member Posts: 1
    I have a 2007 Saturn Ion that I purchased in early August. It is now back at the dealer for the SECOND TIME because without warning, the key will not disengage from the ignition. The car CANNOT be turned off. My car is a 5speed and they just have me stall it. This last time it was stalled in my driveway overnight and of course in the morning the battery was dead (told the svc. mgr. that would happen). The first time they replace the ignition switch and cut a new key.
    I really love the car, and previously drove an SL-1 for more than 13 years. But this key situation is really disturbing to me. Any suggestions?
  • mimi2694mimi2694 Member Posts: 3
    Saturn replaced the shift solenoid, which finally solved my problem. I have an automatic transmission, though.

    Prior to that, they replaced the ignition and "the computer" although I'm not sure which "computer" they were referring to. I don't beleive I have that service receipt.
  • silverisissilverisis Member Posts: 3
    I have basically just coped with the situation. I can remove the key eventually, it just takes a few tries and sitting in my car longer than I want to which is an inconvenience. Since it does not affect the overall operation of the car, I really don't want to pay the dealership to do a bunch of explorative surgery that may never fix the problem. At least that is my impression of what other people have gone through. I am thinking of installing a remote egnition switch to bypass the problem entirely. Has anyone else tried this?
  • mimi2694mimi2694 Member Posts: 3
    Saturn had already done the "exploratory surgery" on mine, replacing the ignition switch itself, some sort of computer. They finally narrowed it down the shift solenoid when I told them if I played with the key and the gear shift, taking it out of park and putting it back into park, sometimes that would work. So far the shift solenoid has been the answer and my key comes out with no problem. It seems over time, the symptoms changed or got worse so they could finally pinpoint the problem. I never took the car in specifically for this problem until the last visit when it just became intolerable and since my car is still under the extended warranty, might as well have them fix it.
  • charlie22207charlie22207 Member Posts: 1
    The problem with the Saturn ION's not turning off, I.E. ignition will not turn to the off position is with the lock cylinder. Specifically the retaining clip that holds the tumblers and springs in place.

    I just replaced a lock cylinder on my girlfriends car because the only way she could stop the engine was to stall out her manual transmission.

    When reassembling the new lock cylinder (stock OEM replacement part) I noticed there was nothing holding the retaining clip in place. The instructions indicate you need to use cylinder material on all four corners of the clip to hold it in place. This essentially means gouging and or bending existing metal material on the lock cylinder pushing it over the retaining clip to hold it in place.

    BAD DESIGN!!!!!

    no matter what I or how I did it even with a new cylinder I would only get a few turns out of the new cylinder until it reverted to the same problem.


    Remove tumblers, springs, and retaining clip. Install cylinder..... end of problem.... Of course any key that will fit into the slot will now start the car....

    Cheap car, cheap parts..... we get what we pay for...... personally I never have nor will I ever purchase a GM.....
  • orbit9090orbit9090 Member Posts: 116
    edited August 2010
    Saturn Ion key stuck in ignition? Intermittent problem for Saturn Ion whereby ignition key will not remove from ignition switch after automatic transmission is placed in Park? Is your key stuck in the ignition lock cylinder?

    A possible solution is to replace the Brake Transmission Shift Interlock (BTSI) SOLENOID. The Saturn dealership pronounced it "bitsy cell-a-noid" - It is the circuit that tells the keylock mechanism that the car is parked and allows the key to rotate to Off.

    I was experiencing intermittent problem whereby ignition key would not remove from ignition switch after automatic transmission is placed in Park.

    Stuck key solution was to replace the Brake Transmission Shift Interlock (BTSI) SOLENOID circuit.

    New BTSI solenoid fixed my 2007 Saturn Ion when the key would not rotate out of the ignition lock cylinder after car was placed in Park. :)
  • silverisissilverisis Member Posts: 3
    Thanks for the tip.
    I figured it had something to do with the car not registering that it was in park, because sometimes, I was able to get the key out by shifting the gears in and out of park several times.
    For a while, I was able to jiggle my key out of the ignition, which left the electrical system on while the engine was off. Eventually, I was not able to turn the electrics off at all with the key, and started having trouble with my battery due to the electrics running it down. AAA replaced my battery under warranty and jump started me several times.
    I finally got sick of this, and since I found I was no longer able to remove the key at all, I broke open the owner's manual to find out about the kill switch under the steering column. Not terribly difficult to locate. There's a little panel on the underside of the steering column that I took off, and if you reach inside, there's a button that you push, and Voila, I can turn the car out and remove the key!
    I know this is a temporary solution, but it's a free one until I can afford to take the car to the dealer for repairs.
  • saturnion2006saturnion2006 Member Posts: 2
    edited October 2010
    I've read a ton of posts on this common problem. My problem is that the key won't come out with any of the posted methods: pushing the little plunger does not work; jiggling the key does not work; shifting back and forth does not work (it's an automatic).

    And it seems a consensus that replacing the ignition switch will not resolve the issue. But is replacing the BTSI a more surefire resolution?

    any ideas? thanks!
  • sawdust4sawdust4 Member Posts: 1
    This seems to be very good information. I looked in my 2007 Ion manual and could not find details without reading the whole manual. Can you post where the info is located?
    I called AAA and the driver opened the fuse box and pulled the ECM (engine control module?) fuse to shut the engine down. He replaced the fuse and we re-started the engine. The engine ran VERY rough. Hope it didn't damage the ECM. We shut down the engine and I located the battery in the trunk spare tire well to disconnect the negative lead and prevent the battery discharge. Now I'm looking for the "magic" button. I will also try replacing the BTSI solenoid. If I can remember, I'll post my results.
  • 11falcon11falcon Member Posts: 3
    edited November 2011
    Well my ionic friends, I was recently hit from behind and my 98 sunfire was written off by my insurance company and was given $1722.00 and the aggravation of finding a car. It has been 10 days now and my wife and are deligently looking for a car, and I came across, yes you guessed it a Ion, 2004 with 98,000 kms for $5000 cdn ( forgot to mention I am from the great white north lol) it is a lvl 2, standard and a 4 door. Well when I tried to start it I had some difficulty in turning the key, thought it was me or some safety lock I had to press or something like that. Anyhow I did get to turn and off we went, both of us really enjoyed the ride, however I did find that I could not get the side view mirrors to adjust in the downward motion on both mirrors, not sure if this is common. I also could not get the driver side power lock button to function, the passenger power lock works. I brought the car back looked at the carfax ( car history report ) and all is good, it is certified and passes the emissions test (not sure if my u.s. friends have emission testing). I do worry about the ignition key not turning smoothly as it should, I am going back to the private dealer tomorrow and will bring up these issues, any advice would be greatly appreciated.
  • mdiaz1mdiaz1 Member Posts: 4
    yes - It happened to me as well.. yesterday..
    I was told by a locksmith that what happens is that 'a pin falls out' of the ignition and that causes the key to get stuck.

    Any news on GM issuing even a bulletin on this item?? It is absolutely ridiculous that a safety item such as this is overlooked.

    I had to take the car to the dealer at the behest of the locksmith, as I, unfortunately,l need my car and cannot afford to not have it..

  • gmcustsvcsarahgmcustsvcsarah Member Posts: 1,964
    If we can look into your vehicle's information for you to see if there are any open recalls associated to it, or if we can assist in working with a dealership towards resolving this concern, please send us an email with the last 8 digits of your VIN and more information.

    GM Customer Service
  • mdiaz1mdiaz1 Member Posts: 4
    Well.. I took it to the dealer and received confirmation that this is NOT a recall item - no surprise there..
    however, they were able to repair the cylinder for a very reasonable price.
    thanks for your follow up.
  • gmcustsvcsarahgmcustsvcsarah Member Posts: 1,964
    Glad to hear this, mdiaz1. If you should need anything in the future, we're here to assist!

    GM Customer Service
  • 11falcon11falcon Member Posts: 3
    Glad to hear that you fixed it, but at a price, GM should really stand behind this product. I did go back to the dealer of the saturn ion lvl 2 and he was more than willing to replace the ignition switch but not the pw mirrors, hmmm. If I was a businessman I take care of my customers needs. Any how I told him that I would think about it and get back later. I continude to search for a vehicle and came across another 2006 Saturn Ion 5speed manual, 2.2l, 4cylinder, 4door and with 138,000kms, asking price, $4,200 ( cdn ). I took it out for a spin ( a short one at that, the seller has no insurance on it ) and it was solid it does not have a dual overhead cam (dohc) , anyrate the seller is to certifie and e-test it. Plus I did talk him down to $4000. I will get the car report hopefully tomorrow. I had not experienced any problems with the ignition or pw options, YET :) It really is a shame that us customers have to deal with this ( these ) issues and resolve them on our own, while these multi billion dollar companies profit from us and oh yes, plus get bail outs as well!!!
  • pamela519pamela519 Member Posts: 62
    Mine too. my key is stuck. this is after the problem with the starting no starting, replacing battery and starter. worked for a week and then a few weeks ago I go to turn the car on and the key is now stuck between on and off. nothing in the car will turn on. not the engine, lights. nothing. and no matter what i do or jiggle i can't get the key out

    any suggestions? i have a 2005 Ion and I HATE IT. i have had problems with the starting since may of 2009 and finally this past may one day after driving the dog up to the fields it would not start. tried for 2 hours.

    then the above and now this.... so frustrating

    any advise?
  • mdiaz1mdiaz1 Member Posts: 4
    I called a locksmith to ask about the problem and whether they could fix it. They could not. I then took it to the dealer where they 'reset' the cylinder, got the key out and I have not had problems yet with it. The fix was $90. You may want to call them and ask about it, it is NOT a recall item.
    Oh! I also went to the Saturnalia blog and there is a fix that some folks tried and worked for them. Basically the same - take the cylinder out from the steering column and it requires that you put a drop of superglue on some very small area of it and then installing back. I did not feel brave enough to do myself.
    I hear you on the weird problems that you're having with your ION.. it does get tedious.. I don't hate mine though..
    Good luck!
  • 11falcon11falcon Member Posts: 3
    Hello, believe me on this, I went to a local mall and found a locksmith. Now my problem was that the key was not turn true/smoothly. So I came across this locksmith and had a key made. It did not work, I took it back and he machined it again by taking millimeters off. It did not work! The mall ended up closing so I went back the next day and you guessed it, had another one made this time it worked but only if I pulled the key out by half a mm or so. I went back in and explained it to the locksmith. He started from scratch with a new key keeping in mind the feedback which I gave him. He made the key and this time he came out to try it and my goodness it worked and it worked so smoothly that I am going to get two more made from him. Now I enjoy starting my 2006 Saturn, and let me tell you I tried it more than once on that day, go figure, it only cost me $5 cdn. But I do not take credit for this, that goes to my wife, it was here idea to go to the locksmith, I was going to go to a local mechanic, and who said husbands dont listen to their wives, lol.
  • greg1117greg1117 Member Posts: 3
    have had the same problem with my saturn.on the underside of steering column their is a hole.just inside their is a small button,push it in and the key will come out.hope this helps.
  • mdiaz1mdiaz1 Member Posts: 4
    No button on mine - thanks for the reply - I took it to the dealer and they fixed it for me for $75. It was well worth it to not have to deal with taking my car apart and trying to figure out what to do with it.
    Be Well!
  • greg1117greg1117 Member Posts: 3
    If anyone else read my post,I forgot to mention there is a small square cover you have to pop off to access.
  • greg1117greg1117 Member Posts: 3
    edited February 2012
    Has anyone else had a problem with the bushings.My saturn has only has 80000 km on it and now I have to take it in for a 3rd time to have them replaced.I think this is excessive and the dealer should reimburse me for at least for the cost of labor.
  • autobot04autobot04 Member Posts: 2
    Hi, have a 2004 ION with the key starting to stick in the ignition. What cylinder needs to be repaired or does it need to be replaced? Thanks!
  • autobot04autobot04 Member Posts: 2
    I had the bushings replaced on my 2004 about 3 years ago. Took it to an alignment place after hitting a hidden pot hole and they told me the bushings were cracked. Replaced them with "heavier duty" ones for practically no cost and I haven't had a problem since.
  • mortonkmortonk Member Posts: 9
    I have a '06 Saturn Ion 3. About a week ago my key got stuck in the on position and the car would not turn off. I finally just turned it off by disconnecting the ignition switch and managed to get the ignition lock out. I have now replaced the lock, but it wont turn and the ignition switch won't go back in because the mechanism between the lock and the switch it crooked. Also, the wheel is locked and won't turn. The ignition lock won't come out now either because it can't turn to line up with the 'removal holes'.

    What do I do?
  • gmcustsvcsarahgmcustsvcsarah Member Posts: 1,964
    Hello mortonk,

    We're sorry to hear about this situation with your Saturn Ion. If you had planned on getting this checked into by one of our GM dealerships and wanted for us to check into this further with you, please contact us via email at [email protected] and we would be happy to set up a Service Request to document this further and follow up with your dealer (include your name and Edmunds username, phone and address, the last 8 of your VIN and mileage, and the name of your involved dealership).

    Sarah, GM Customer Service
  • mortonkmortonk Member Posts: 9

    I hope to be able to get this resolved without going to a dealer. I have heard the cost of having a dealer work on this far outweighs what it takes to fix it. I don't have a lot of money. I'm a teen, and this is my first car.

    If I end up using a dealership, I will let you know.
  • gmcustsvcsarahgmcustsvcsarah Member Posts: 1,964
    We certainly can appreciate that! We hope you're able to get this resolved so you can continue enjoying your Saturn!
    Sarah, GM Customer Service
  • paulanyflpaulanyfl Member Posts: 4
    edited December 2012
    Get this, I just purchased a 2007 Saturn Ion redline on Saturday 12/1/12 and that night the key got stuck in the ignition. It is a manual, so we stalled it out to stop the car running but the lights remained on. Had it towed to dealer Monday morning because the battery was dead and was told later that day that it need a new ignition lock at a cost of $459. Wow! And then they said that if the tech breaks the housing it will be another $150. I just OK'd the work but reading this forum really makes me mad. Understand that I lost my house in Hurricane Sandy, relocated to another state, then was rearended on my way out of town, so I had no car and no home. I bought this little car as a 'fun' purchase and expected to have at least 30 days without any problems. Please GM, contact me so I don't have this huge expense after just paying for the car. The car is at DeVoe GMC in Naples, Florida and it's the only redline there at this time. They have my info. Thanks.
  • gmcustsvcgmcustsvc Member Posts: 4,252
    Good morning paulanyfl,

    We're sorry to hear that between Hurricane Sandy, a car accident, and now this, things have been rough. If you wanted for us to check into this further with you and your involved dealership, please contact us via email at [email protected] (include your name and contact information, the last 8 digits of your VIN and mileage, the name of your dealership, and a brief recap of the situation).

    GM Customer Service
  • eharper23eharper23 Member Posts: 1
    Love, love, love my usually super reliable 2003 Saturn Ion 1, but I have had minor issues removing the key for about two years. No big problem, as it normally resolved itself within a few minutes. This past weekend, however, after sitting uncranked during the holiday break, I went to start my beloved car only to find my year old battery had (I assumed) died from my neglect. When I went to remove the key, I could only pull it out in the ACC position. Not being bright enough to know the implications of this, I am probably responsible for the battery's final demise. We Googled the online fix for removing the under-steering secret panel to manually release the key, which allowed me to turn the car to off but simultaneously caused every light on my dash to shine brighter than our Christmas tree. After my boyfriend tried unsuccessfully to charge the battery and/or get my car to crank, we had it towed to the closest GM dealership hoping to get it back before the end of the break. After taking two full days just to check my car, the tech decided this morning that rekeying it would solve the problem. Needless to say, it did not.

    Now he says my battery and my power steering are shot (neither of which caused trouble before). He says the car is running "REALLY rough" (another new symptom). He replaced two fuses and the spark plugs, but this also didn't help.

    The key/ ignition issue seems to be fairly common, and the power steering is an oddity GM and the NHTSA board investigated in later models, but is there any chance any of this could be related to the BTSI solenoid? I had printed your e-mail and casually left it on the seat in case the mechanic needed some advice, but he still seems stumped.... I really miss my Saturn! :sick:
  • paulanyflpaulanyfl Member Posts: 4
    I have been successful with my Florida dealership working in unison with GM to cover the $451 repair of the ignition lock replacement. It took almost three weeks for this to be resolved to my satisfaction. Apparently during a vin number check through GM the ignition lock on my 5-hour old Saturn was replaced less than 2 years ago. I argued with GM and the district rep was trying to bully me. Well, the dealership worked super hard (service manager) to go over the DM's head and got me some great news just in time for Xmas. I hate that the consumer has to fight for everything but I stuck to my guns and got a positive result. I notice now that the steering wheel doesn't lock when turned in the off position. Reading other posts I think that may have been the culprit. Whatever the case I am pleased with my outcome. Thank you for steering me in the right direction.
  • tordeforesttordeforest Member Posts: 1
    Forget everything else you read here. This is a simple, free thing to fix in 5 minutes. It takes a few years for dirt and dust to accumulate under the shift cover. Pull the shift cover off and spray WD-40 into the area under the cover. Voila! Problem solved.
  • saturnaliasaturnalia Member Posts: 1
    Stop the presses!!!! I had the same problem and someone suggested removing cowling and spraying shift lever with WD-40 or silicone..But wait! That didn't work and while reinstalling (yoga lessons encouraged) the cowling I found a little door on the bottom of the steering column just inside the key slot. Removed that and low and behold! There is a little button you can push and voila! the key will remove!...Seems Saturn knew there'd be a problem but was loathe to actually correct it and installed a "fix" instead... I wonder how many have paid $$$ to some mechanic for his 12 seconds of work..American ingenuity
  • CahillsrCahillsr Member Posts: 1

    Forget everything you have been told. There is a small micro switch on the driver's side of the shifter. This switch releases key and unlocks doors when tranmission is put in park. Replace this micro switch problem solved watch this video but don't try to repair just replace switch

    Ebay listing for micro switch
  • CourlandCourland Member Posts: 1
    edited June 2021
    That's why I don't like cars that are on an automatic transmission. I have been driving for so many years with a manual transmission, and I have never had such problems. I can advise you to go to the car service and ask specialists about this issue, it seems to me that you have something with the inside of the car and you need help, and instead. And I advise you in the future, if you live in the private sector, always buy a surveillance camera over the garage, because just a few months ago my car was stolen. I have no evidence, but if there were cameras, then this is an entirely different matter.


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