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    Thread: Ignition lock cylinder frozen due to cold?

    1. 12-14-2010 10:52 AM #1
      Searched around a bit and didn't find anything close to this.

      It's been really cold this week. Yesterday I went to start my car at 8 am and the key wouldn't budge. The wheel lock wasn't engaged. The usual tricks for when your key doesn't want to turn (wiggling the steering wheel, etc.) didn't work but the key wouldn't turn at all. Tired for about 30 minutes and gave up. Not sure how cold it was at 8 but it was well below zero. Worked from home and at 3 pm went out to my car and the key turned easily. Ran some errands and had at least one start in the mix. Key turned easily.

      One thing of note is even after letting my car warm up 5 or 10 minutes, the transmission was difficult to engage. Went in first alright, but the first time I put it in 2nd the stick popped right out. Took a couple of blocks until the transmission easily went into gear.



      Today I had the same problem. About 8:30 it was -18F. Same problem--can't get the key to budge. The wheel lock isn't engaged. Tried for about 10 or 15 minutes and gave up. It's been over an hour so I think I might give it another try.


      Is the cold causing this? There is frozen moisture on the cluster window. I have no idea how moisture would get in when it is already cold as **** out, but maybe moisture is getting into the cylinder and freezing?


      I don't really have anything to apply heat to it, so I'm not sure what to try. Any ideas? Thanks for the help. Work is 40 miles away--really need to get there.



      1996 Jetta Trek




      EDIT: Tried again and still can't get the key to turn, but the frost on the cluster window is gone, so maybe I'm making progress. It's also warmed up a bit--closer to 0.
      Last edited by deucejmp; 12-14-2010 at 10:59 AM.

    2. Member dceola's Avatar
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      12-14-2010 11:07 AM #2
      mine has actually been doing something similar to that.. however i can usually get it to work after putting the key in and out a few times and wiggling it a bunch..
      '96 Golf Harlequin VR6, Chagal Blue base

    3. 12-14-2010 11:54 AM #3
      I should probably mention that I don't have lock deicer or lock graphite on hand. Even if the tumblers are worn and need to be repaired, I'm sure either of those would help, but I won't have access to them until I get my car started. If anyone has any suggestions using common items, that would be great.

      I do have an extra key that I made after I bought my Jetta, that rarely gets used. I tried that key without improvement.

    4. Member keganater's Avatar
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      12-14-2010 12:00 PM #4
      If there is moisture in there and the cold is the issue, just take a hand warmer or blow dryer or something to unfreeze it and then run to the store and grab some liquid wrench "silicone lubricant" and spray some of it down into the lock cylinder. It will remove moisture, help prevent against future moisture, and help lube up the moving parts in the cylinder
      => => =>

    5. Member dan0954's Avatar
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      12-14-2010 12:00 PM #5
      Well, I'm guessing you do not have a Bic lighter or you would of heated up the key.
      Maybe you could heat up a key on the stove top.

    6. 12-14-2010 12:14 PM #6
      Unfortunately my car isn't parked near an outlet, so I can't easily get power to try something like a blow dryer. I didn't think about trying a lighter though--I do have one of those.

      Was just out for try #3. When switching between the original key and my spare I noticed that the tip of my original key is a bit twisted. The spare is not. At any rate, probably time to retire the original key.

    7. 12-14-2010 02:48 PM #7
      Lighter didn't help, but I didn't try for very long because I was using the spare key and it looked like I was starting to damage the key.

      Eventually I borrowed enough extension cords to get a blow dryer there, aimed it on high at the lock for 10 seconds and it was freed up and started. It's really cold so the idea of scouting for things I didn't have wasn't very intriguing, but it became necessary.

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      12-18-2010 06:23 PM #8
      Quote Originally Posted by deucejmp View Post
      I should probably mention that I don't have lock deicer or lock graphite on hand. Even if the tumblers are worn and need to be repaired, I'm sure either of those would help, but I won't have access to them until I get my car started. If anyone has any suggestions using common items, that would be great.
      .



      DANGER!!!!

      NEVER EVER EVER use a GRAPHITE based lube when an electrical connection is involved like the ignition switch.... If you use it you will likely short out the switch or worse!!!!!!!

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