I have a '91 Formula that I need to repair. I'm trying to get some insight
on what I'll be in the middle of before I'm in the middle of it.
Last week I went for a burger and when I tried to start the car to get back
to work the ignition switch hung up in the starter position. Fortunately the
anti-theft system kicked in and the starter didn't engage. After some
tapping and jiggling the switch unstuck and after several minutes the VATS
let me continue on my way. That was fun.
A couple of days ago the switch hung up again, this time in the run
position. I couldn't shut it off. About 45 minutes later I lost patience and
ended up breaking out part of the switch. Right now I've bypassed the VATS
with a resistor and I can work the switch with the key and a screwdriver.
Needless to say I need to replace the switch (and, I'm assuming, the VATS
My questions - is this a tricky job (airbag, etc.)? Any insights or things
to watch for? Is there a good on-line store to find the parts for
(hopefully) a good price?
Any info you could pass along would be appreciated. It has been years since
I've replaced a switch and have never been through as much junk on a column
as what this one has.
Had a '90 Formula that liked keeping hold of the key occasionally.
Didn't much like that but it was a minor annoyance.
One morning on the way home from work the steering wheel fell into my lap.
Didn't like that much neither....
So a friend and I tore it down to the pawls on the tilt. It sat for a while
until the column was no longer fresh in our minds. Finally printed out a big
blown up diagram of it and laboriously fitted it all back together.
Didn't much like that... tedious, but it worked.
Two weeks later it got totalled at a stop light.
....really didn't like that....
Yeah, sitting at a red light eating donuts with my future ex wife.
Glanced in the mirror and saw a girl going about 65... 20 feet behind me.
Tromped the gas to run the red light and she plowed me. At least I wasn't
sitting dead still tho..
Anyway, disconnect the air bag wiring first.
Get a big blown up diagram.
Find your lost patience.
Best I can do.
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Remove "spamless" to email me.
It just sounds like the ignition cylinder has failed and you need to replace
it. I had the wires break and the cylinder was replaced with a factory
replacement. I think the cylinder cost $40. It comes with a new key and a
spare. If you need to get to it, it's pretty simple.
You might check out this tech article that I've written about tightening
your tilt steering, it'll get you to the ignition cylinder.
It's a pretty easy job. Just need to go rent the tools from Autozone.
Steering wheel puller and a lock plate remover tool. Everythign else is a
piece of cake.
Thanks for the info. The job does appear to be easy enough to do. The
Sad situation is I just checked on the replacement part prices. According to
the local Pontiac dealer (I couldn't find the thing anywhere else) the lock
cylinder runs about $60 and comes with one dummy key. They will check the
value of the original VATS key, sell you the same valued blanks and cut them
using the dummy key. That's another $70 - $80 for a pair. I'll have to
consult with my wallet and think about this. My screwdriver was cheap and it
A steering wheel falling off in your lap, man that really had to pee in your
Thanks much everyone,
I was able to get a key made for my 89 for less than $20 at a local key
making place. They should be able to sell you a key with the right
resister in it and cut it to the blank for you easily. So the only high
cost should be the lock cylinder. You might also check with a locksmith
as they may be able to fix the cylinder cheaper than a new one.
Like Cy said, you don't have to get the key cut at the dealer, any
competent locksmith should be able to cut you one. If you don't mind losing
VATS, just leave the bypass in and get a non-VATS ignition cylinder and be
done with it.
I second what Bruce said. Thieves won't know the VATS is bypassed anyway and
the cylinder is about $24 at Auto Zone WITH 2 keys. I bypassed the one in my
wife's caddy after I got fed up with the "now-it-cranks-now-it-don't"
syndrome. Three tries and wait 10 minutes, repeat. She was not a happy
camper. Told me if it happened again she would have it towed home on my
I don't worry about it anymore....
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