Answering the phone all day long can be really hard sometimes. As a full time locksmith and call-answering service for the past few years, I've tried to save time and money for my customers and diagnose the problem over the phone.
A "stuck ignition problem is very common among all car manufacturers and in this blog article I would like to concentrate on TOYOTA makes from years 1990 to 2001.
How to be smart when your Toyota ignition freezes
It will probably be just another day when you get into your 2000 Toyota and try to start it, but the key refuses to cooperate and doesn't turn in the ignition cylinder. After trying for half an hour, climbing in and out of the car at least ten times, frustrated, you probably call your mechanic thinking that you'll find the solution to your problem there. Any mechanic or auto shop guy will probably think twice before taking an ignition job, some even call us to do the repair for them and mark the price up on your bill!
When you have car ignition problems you want to call a locksmith--not just any locksmith, but one who knows about the split wafer symptoms and can repair the problem with no new parts or ignition replacement, which can cost $300 to $400.
A professional locksmith is able to diagnose and repair the problem in the field for half of what a mechanic costs. No need to tow the car because the problem can be solved in the field and the car keys will remain the original ones.
Cause of the "Toyota Split Wafer Ignition Problem?"
One cause of the problem is the faulty design of the ignition cylinder. Lack of a dust cover allows dust and other particles to accumulate inside the cylinder and disturb the force equilibrium between the key springs and wafers.
The second probable cause for a stuck Toyota ignition is a bad key copy or worn out key. A worn key can gradually damage the wafers and housing of the cylinder until it just gets stuck.
The third and most likely cause for ignition lock-out on a Toyota is a failure of the split wafer system. Toyota added a security feature to their locks that is basically a wafer (2 in a cylinder at positions 4 and 7) that is split in half and sits on the same cut positions in a given key. In 99% of the cases that I run into, the cause for the ignition to freeze is that after using the key for awhile, one of the split wafers overlaps another one and prevents the key from turning.
My recommendation for a potential car buyer (new or used) is to keep the lock and keys in good condition.
A lock should be lubricated one to two times per year (in Hawaii try to make it two times a year because of proximity to the ocean) and keys should be checked by a locksmith once a year for worn-out cuts that might prevent the plug from turning smoothly in the cylinder housing.
Even if you lubricate and have your keys checked, a malfunction may still occur, and when it happens, it is good to know a good, reliable locksmith to help. Just in case.
For more information on Toyota Split Pin ignition, including photos, see this helpful PDF.
To get your locks lubricated, keys checked, or other fine locksmith services, call The Key Guy at 548-1999.