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  1. #1

    Join Date
    02 Dec 2017
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    UK
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    2
    Saab(s)
    9-3 2.0T S Auto
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    Sticky ignition key?

    Just thought I'd share this in case somebody wants to have a go at solving the sticking ignition key issue. Mine was getting pretty bad and I knew it was best to remove the lock barrel while I could still get the key to turn (albeit with a lot of wiggling) - which as stated elsewhere can be done easily with a small screwdriver or stiff wire through the hole in the side. I worked out that the key would turn the barrel if it wasn't pushed all the way in - pulling it out a millimetre or two made all the difference, so that might be worth a try if you're having problems. Update: I ended up sticking a piece of plastic about 1mm thick over the top of the barrel so the key doesn't go in all the way - it made a huge difference (see post further down for pics).

    Anyway, I took the lock out and carefully dismantled it - every last bit of it. The brass tumblers (they may be called something else?) of course need to be kept in the right order, and the tiny springs which operate them are very easy to lose, so you need to be organised. Mark everything, take photos. There are ten tumblers and ten springs - I stuck them to a piece of card in order as they fit in the lock. Everything was filthy as you might expect on a 17 year old car with the ignition lock between the front seats. Using various solvents I cleaned everything back to clean metal. I used progressively finer grades of glass paper to sand the tumblers flat /smooth, as they were all damaged to some extent.

    However, dirt is not the main reason these locks fail. The brass tumblers wear and catch on the inside of the barrel. This is where it gets tricky, but if you have the patience and a bit of technical know-how it is possible to repair a worn lock. Put the clean tumblers and springs back in the barrel - I suggest you tape them in as you go, one at a time, because once cleaned they will fall out easily. Once they're all in, insert the key and this will keep them in place. They should then be fairly flush with the barrel, but chance are they will be sticking out and that's why the key won't turn smoothly.

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    Depending on how bad they are, you can use a file or glass paper to remove some of that metal and also curve the ends more so they can turn inside the barrel without catching. You need to make sure the key stays in and I strongly advise removing the electronics from it so they don't get damaged. If you have two keys, use the one that doesn't work so well for this part. I did most of the work with glass paper, simply wrapping it round the barrel / tumblers and spinning it round in my hand. It may take a while so you'll need patience as well as strong hands.

    I should say at this point I'd already checked fleabay for a replacement, just in case I messed things up! And if the worst happens, simply remove the tumblers and you'll have an ignition lock that you can turn with any key, or a screwdriver! As long as you have the electronics and the paired ignition lock collar, the barrel will turn.

    It's vital to keep it all clean and I used an aerosol electrical contact cleaner with a straw - it provides a decent force of liquid and dries quickly. When finished I used a dry PTFE lubricant and some WD40 - don't use anything thicker on the barrel innards; I sprayed the bottom section - with the pin, under the white plastic cover - with white grease.

    Now my lock turns almost without any resistance - it's not perfect, and I'm sure a locksmith would frown at my methods - but it saved me enough for a decent bottle of Scotch and I have the satisfaction of knowing it's been done thoroughly. Having dismantled the centre console to get at it, I also took the opportunity to clean everything thoroughly. I did this to save money and because I knew I could, but obviously it's a lot easier to simply replace the key barrel even if this means you end up with different keys for the doors and ignition.

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    Last edited by spolky; 1 Week Ago at 14:20.

  2. #2
    Saab Enthusiast
    Join Date
    10 Apr 2017
    Location
    Denham, England
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    136
    Saab(s)
    2011 2.0 9-5 Aero
    Thumbs Up:   26
    One of the reasons that these locks wear is that, when they start getting sticky, people use WD40 to try and ease them off. The WD40 then attracts dirt and this acts like an abrasive. The correct lubricant for any lock is a dry film, as you have used, but I wouldn't suggest getting WD40 anywhere near it once you have cleaned it up unless you want to do it all over again.

    Despite what it says on the tin, WD40 isn't a great lubricant, using what the manufacturer recommends will always produce a longer lasting result.

    Very informative write-up though and it may save somebody else from buying an unnecessary spare.

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  3. #3

    Join Date
    02 Dec 2017
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    2
    Saab(s)
    9-3 2.0T S Auto
    Thumbs Up:   0
    Quote Originally Posted by GeoffR View Post
    One of the reasons that these locks wear is that, when they start getting sticky, people use WD40 to try and ease them off. The WD40 then attracts dirt and this acts like an abrasive. The correct lubricant for any lock is a dry film, as you have used, but I wouldn't suggest getting WD40 anywhere near it once you have cleaned it up unless you want to do it all over again.

    Despite what it says on the tin, WD40 isn't a great lubricant, using what the manufacturer recommends will always produce a longer lasting result.

    Very informative write-up though and it may save somebody else from buying an unnecessary spare.
    I agree you certainly don't want to use oil. WD40 is very thin and to my mind it just cleans the mechanism of any swarf and dust that got in when I was working on it. The dry PTFE (also made by WD40) is a better bet - put it on your keys as well.

    After I put it all back together there was still some stickiness, particularly on a new key I just had cut, and I found by not inserting the key fully it would turn more easily. I cured this by sticking a piece of 1mm plastic over the top of the barrel - see pic. I used clear plastic but the double-sided tape turned out to be white, but once installed it looks fine - see pic. Maybe black plastic would have been better.

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    Last edited by spolky; 1 Week Ago at 14:19. Reason: image duplicate

 

 

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