getting at the ignition

I have a 1994 cavalier, and my ignition isn't working right. It turns back just far enough to turn the engine off, but thats it. It doesn't turn back to its correct position when off, and it doesn't go back that extra notch to
turn the radio on.
I see 3 screws under the steering cover that I removed, but the cover still won't come off. It looks as if there is a screw holding it on from the front end, but to get at that, i would have to take the whole steering wheel off.
Does that make sense? Do I have to do all that just to take off the cover?
Thanks
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1. Worn out Ign Switch ? 2. Internal Parts broken or binding? 3. Bad Key ? 4. Try turning the steering wheel left or right. Some strain on the steering wheel lock may be causing the Ign Switch to bind. Make sure the steering wheel isn't turned all the way to the extreme end of its travel point.
If you monkey around with a steering wheel with an airbig you make make it go KABOOM in your face. Some other posters should be able to tell you how to disable the airbag ( If equipped ) so you can work on the car. My experience with Steering columns has been on non-airbag cars.
Make sure the steering wheel & front wheels are centered before removing.
To replace the ignition switch you have to remove the steering wheel. The horn hub on my 89 Cav Z - 24 just pressed on and could be pulled off by hand. There may also be a trim cap snapped on the end of the steering column that comes off aftee the horn pad is removed.
Horn wire needs to be removed next. Twist & pull out. Then there is about a 3/4 nut holding the wheel on.
There is a snap ring / clip on the end of shaft you need to remove as well. It keeps the nut from loosening.
Remove the nut & snap ring, you might also need to get a steering wheel puller to remove the wheel off the end of the steering column. It can be a very tight press fit.
There may be centerpunch marks on the end of the spline shaft & inner diameter of the steering wheel spline to show proper alignment, if there isn't any marks you need to put two marks on it so you can get the steering wheel back on in it original position or the wheel will be off center when driving.
If the wheel has been off several times it may come off by just pulling outward on it. Once the wheel is off, if I remember correctly the turnsignal switch comes out next. You may just be able to remove a few screws , pull it out just enough to clear the end of the steering column, twist it aside to gain access to the ignition switch.
I forget what all holds the ignition switch in place but it is a simple task to remove & replace. I replaced an ignition switch in 1986 so its been awhile.
Having a repair manual would help too.
Good Luck
========Harryface ======== 1991 Pontiac Bonneville LE, 3800 V6 _~_~_~_~274,129 miles_~_~_ ~_~_
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Thanks Harry, that was very helpful. I'll give it a try in a few days. I tried to get the plastic cover off that encloses the turn signal, wipers and ignition but I couldn't figure it out. I think there is a screw hidden, that requires the steer wheel to come off first.
If I replace the ignition switch, I'd get a new key (which is fine) but that should fix it right?

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Assuming your ignition switch IS the problem - replacing it should solve your problem. Yes you do get a new key with the new switch, but you can have the new switch reworked to work with your old key, but there's really no point in that seeing that key is only operating the Ign switch.
Once you get the old switch out inspect some of the parts inside the column that move with the ignition switch. If you have a manual it should show an exploded view of those parts..
========Harryface ======== 1991 Pontiac Bonneville LE, 3800 V6 _~_~_~_~274,329 miles_~_~_ ~_~_
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What 's needed is a lock plate depressor, a fairly inexpensive tool, and a steering wheel puller, also reasonably priced.
After pulling the steering wheel, the lock plate is depressed, and the locking " daisy " removed to access turn sig. switch and lock. The ignition switch itself is [ at least on a G body ] at the base of the column, opposite the pedals. Check that linkage for binding, damage. One last hint, go to your GM dealer and buy a couple of those nasty lock plate retainer rings. They are a challenge, and a couple spares is a great phycological boost.
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