ignition switch problem 2008 Impala

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Anyone know of any issue that would commonly keep the key from being turned to the "off" position? Started maybe a month and a half ago where every now and then I would have to play with the key, shifter, and brake pedal for a while until I could turn the key all the way to "off" so that I could remove the key. Just this evening it happened again and no amount of playing, starting/stopping engine, whatever would get the key to release. I was resigned to leaving the key in the car overnight and then having to drop it off somewhere and take my pickemup truck to my 11AM meeting.

Now when I came inside the house, I realized that there was nobody home and therefore my friend's truck was not in the garage as I thought, so my car was blocking his path back into the garage. So I went back out, moved the car to the yard beside the driveway, and the key came right out. Only thing I could think that is pertinent is that when parked in the driveway the car was sitting nose up; when in the yard was pretty close to level, maybe slightly nose down. But after this happened I pulled back into the driveway again and was able to remove the key, then parked car in the yard a second time and was also able to remove the key.

Two questions:

1) when the issue occurs, the key is in the very first position forward from "off." Only the "brake" warning light and PRNDL indication are lit, and the heater fan is not running. If I had to, could I leave the car like this overnight, or if this happens again, should I hook up a trickle charger so as not to run down the battery? Car has a little over 50K miles on it and still has original battery, although I have no reason to believe that the battery is in anything other than fine shape (it's never run dead, I've not experienced slow cranking even on cold mornings, etc.)

2) I'd really like to get this fixed before the car goes off lease (I think I may buy it) in another 20K miles, but seeing as the problem is intermittent and does not occur often, I'm not sure if taking it in now will be productive. Does anyone know if there is a TSB or anything like that regarding this kind of issue, and/or is there a common problem where if I take the car in and describe the issue as I have above, the service writer will say "oh, yeah, it's your doomaflatchey" and replacing the doomaflatchey will actually fix the problem for at least another 50K miles, hopefully more?

thanks,

Nate

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You will doubtlessly get a better answer than mine, Nate, but I think the problem is in the switch itself. As I remember from the olden days, most switches had to have the steering wheel at the right spot to be able to extract the key. If that were not right, you couldnt get it out.

If you parked such that there was pressure on the steering system, you might not be able to operate the lock.

Also, the switch (tumblers and key lands) itself must me within specs. Wear, etc, could hang you up here.

Are you using a re-cut key? Do you have a fresh key to try?

Hope you get this sorted out quickly. Not only irritating but a little dangerous

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On 01/03/2011 05:43 PM, hls wrote:

don't think that's the problem, although I am familiar with it working the other way (not being able to *start* the car because of pressure on steering shaft/lock) because car has power steering and I am also in the habit of letting go of steering wheel while trying to turn off key (because of issues with other cars and binding steering linkages and no-start, above) also I did try wiggling the steering wheel to no effect.

using a copy of the one key that I got with the car. I do have that key but that is typically safely tucked away in drawer

indeed... I can lock the car with the remote fob and leave the key in if I have to (in fact, I have deliberately done that a few times, e.g. cold mornings when stopping for a cup of coffee at store before inside is warmed up. But that is not an ideal long term solution.

nate

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Does it have a security system (beyond the key fob)? In other words is the duplicate key a plain 'ol metal key or is there a resistor, chip, etc. in it which must match up with the car?

*IF* plain ol' key, there is a key-can't-remove solenoid. The solenoid only allows key removal if shift linkage in park. In this system, you can't move the cylinder back to the "remove" position; you are stuck in "off" but it's totall off.

Two tiny wires power the solenoid, and I've had them fail. In this system, the mechanical cylinder is connected with a linkage to the electrical switchl

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On 01/03/2011 07:52 PM, Miller wrote:

There is something in the key, because when I had a new key cut, I had to go through some procedure which I don't exactly remember at the moment to make the copy start the car.

so do the wires run directly from the column to the shifter? (floor shift, BTW. not sure if they still offered column shift in '08 but my '05 had one so I figured I'd specify.)

nate

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wrote:

There's an interlock between the shifter and ignition lock. The lock must be told that the car is in park for it to allow you to turn it all the way off. It's either a cable or solenoid, and it's probably still a very common problem. The dealer will know exactly what you're talking about.

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Nate Nagel wrote:

Sounds like the ignition switch interlock solenoid is getting sticky. It is a small solenoid that normally prevents you from shutting the key all the way off while the vehicle is in gear and in motion. It allows you to shut the engine off but not get to the lock position. It is NOT the same one that locks you from shifting gears unless the brake is pressed.

Usually you will find a small plug or hole in the bottom of the steering column in the area of the ignition switch. If you stick a small straight object in the hole you will find a spring loaded plunger that will move the solenoid and allow you to turn the ignition off and get the key out.

As to the repair, there are two options, new solenoid (not hard to replace) or remove it and just leave the wire unplugged IF the solenoid doesn't have to be connected (most don't)

I have done this on about 5 vehicles that I own. I figure I'm smart enough that I won't lock the column if I have to kill the engine.

GM has a bulletin out BUT they have discovered that the fix they do doesn't always work. I sent you a copy.

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On 01/03/2011 10:13 PM, Steve W. wrote:

got your email, thanks. also sounds like you might be onto something with your assumption of what the problem may be. I'll have to check it out tomorrow while it's light out, and be prepared to try to release it manually next time it does it to confirm the problem.

nate

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On 01/03/2011 10:13 PM, Steve W. wrote:

It's doing it again right now, haven't seemed to find the magic touch to jiggle it loose, there are several holes under the column but none seems to release the key...?

am actually home sick and not supposed to go to work for another week (just got back from doctor) so would really like to get this key out rather than run the battery down

nate

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On 1/11/2011 8:26 AM, Nate Nagel wrote:

I think you're looking in the wrong area. I don't know about GM but my Hyundai and Toyota won't release the key until the shift lever is in park. That's where you should be checking. Check the shifter by putting it in drive and then to park until you're able to take out the key. It would probably help if you were firm about it.

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On 01/11/2011 02:42 PM, dsi1 wrote:

tried that, no joy. I think I have located the problem. there is a connector on the side of the shifter with a loose - as in dangling - wire. the connector moves with the shifter so I am assuming it went intermittent and then finally broke today. unfortuantely I cannot see how to disconnect it. yes, I pulled the top of the console off in the driveway just out of curiosity. Right now it's locked with the remote but the key is still stuck in.

my shifter doesn't really look a lot like the ones in any of the links posted (earlier body style)

n

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Nate Nagel wrote:

That is likely the wire that triggers the solenoid. Repair it and you should be GTG.

Most of them have either a tab or a pin lock. Some are just a PIA regardless.

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On 01/11/2011 03:37 PM, Steve W. wrote:

Unfortunately I don't see how to do that without removing the whole console... can't see how to remove the connector and not sure that I could pull it above the console even if I did. And, I don't particularly have a lot of patience at the moment, having been sick for the last four days and all. :(

Maybe I can get a kind coworker to trade cars with me and run it into the shop for me?

nate

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On 01/11/2011 03:51 PM, Nate Nagel wrote:

well funk. neighbor just knocked on the door to say lights were on. weren't when I came inside. car wouldn't start. put battery charger on. hands now really, really cold. (I did mention I'd been sick? All my normal resistance to cold weather is shot.) will see what's up in AM. hope stupid automatic lights don't kick on again.

nate

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Check where wires enter connector on shift lever. You need to remove center console. Harness may be pinched, or broken wire at connector.

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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Nate will be glad to hear that. He has been waiting over three years for an answer.

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Nate Nagel wrote:

Usually you need a pen or similar to hit the plunger. Most of the time the key release hole will have a cap in/over it. On most of the ones I have seen the cover is sort of clipped into a hole.

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On 1/3/2011 12:33 PM, Nate Nagel wrote:

You might want to make sure the shifter is in Park position. You should also try putting it into drive and into Park several times to see if that releases the key. If it does there's some problem with the interlock on the shifter. Well, that's my guess anyway.

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what condition is the key itself in?? Worn keys can cause problems too. If the key is fine it's most likely the lock cylinder that is bad..

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On 1/3/2011 5:33 PM, Nate Nagel wrote:

I not sure if this applies but many years of this model had a cable between floor shifter and switch that is adjustable. The adjustment is at about the middle of the cable.

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