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Summary
  • You’ll need a pick, screwdrivers, the repair manual, and safety glasses to replace the ignition lock cylinder.
  • Each vehicle has specific ways to replace the ignition lock cylinder, so it’s best to refer to the manual.
  • It costs an average of $250 to have the ignition lock cylinder replaced by a mechanic.

A faulty ignition lock cylinder can be a real bummer. Sometimes, when the lock cylinder starts going out, you can jiggle the key to get it to turn. But eventually, that trick no longer works, and you’re left with a car that doesn’t start.

That means you (or your mechanic) will have to replace the lock cylinder. On some vehicles, this task is relatively straightforward. In other cases, the process requires the removal of additional components, such as the steering wheel—and that can make things tricky.

How to Replace an Ignition Lock Cylinder

The steps for replacing a lock cylinder vary from car to car. Still, the following information should be helpful, because it gives you an idea of what the job might involve.

automotive ignition lock cylinder and key
The part where you insert your key to start your vehicle is called the ignition lock cylinder.

Tools for Lock Cylinder Replacement:

The tools needed to replace an ignition lock cylinder will vary, depending on what type of car you have.

In general, however, you’ll need:

  • Pick, awl, or pocket screwdriver
  • Screwdrivers
  • Repair manual or access to a repair database
  • Safety glasses

Ignition Lock Cylinder Replacement Instructions:

Before we start, keep in mind: all vehicles are different. The information below is generic and for entertainment and educational purposes only. Be sure to follow the repair information for your specific application.

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Repair manuals, such as those from Chilton, are useful, but a subscription to a repair database is even better. ALLDATA and Mitchell 1 both have single-vehicle subscriptions for DIYers that provide detailed factory repair information.

You can learn more about accessing quality repair information in this article.

Note: On vehicles equipped with an immobilizer system and a transponder “chipped” key, for the vehicle to run, you will need to perform an anti-theft relearn procedure after installing the new lock cylinder and key. This often requires the use of an OEM-level scan tool or a dedicated key programming tool.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s discuss replacing an ignition lock cylinder.

Ignition Lock Cylinder Removal

  1. Put on your safety glasses.
  2. Disconnect and isolate the negative battery cable.
    Warning: On some vehicles, when replacing the lock cylinder, you may have to remove components that could disrupt the supplemental restraint system (airbags). Consult the factory repair information for any additional steps for disabling the SRS system as needed. Accidental airbag deployment can cause severe personal injury.
  3. There will be a trim panel or cover (usually, the upper and lower steering column trim panels) blocking access to the lock cylinder. Use a screwdriver to remove the fasteners holding the trim panel in place.
  4. Then, remove the trim panels from the vehicle.
  5. Insert the key and turn it to the ACC, START, or RUN position as specified in the repair information.
  6. Insert a pick, awl, or small screwdriver into the lock cylinder housing to release the lock cylinder retaining tab.
  7. Move the key to the ACC, START, or RUN position as specified in the repair information.
  8. Remove the lock cylinder by pulling it straight out of the housing.
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ignition cylinder repair
The steps and tools required for replacing a lock cylinder vary from car to car.

Lock Cylinder Installation

  1. Compare the new lock cylinder to the old lock cylinder to ensure that both are the same design.
  2. Turn the ignition key to the ACC, START, or RUN position as specified in the repair information.
  3. Align the lock cylinder with the keyway in the housing and the slot for the retaining tab.
  4. Push the lock cylinder in so that the locking tab locks against the housing.
  5. Reinstall the trim panels you removed to access the lock cylinder.
  6. Reconnect the negative battery cable.
  7. If necessary, perform the anti-theft relearn procedure to program the new keys to the vehicle.

The following video demonstrates what ignition lock cylinder replacement typically involves (on a vehicle without an immobilizer system):

And what if you no longer have your key or the key won’t turn in the lock cylinder? This video demonstrates how to remove an ignition lock cylinder without the key:

Ignition Lock Cylinder Replacement Cost

Typically, ignition lock cylinder repair involves replacing the entire lock cylinder, rather than rebuilding it. Expect to pay around $200 to $300 to have a professional do the job for you.

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Where to Get a New Ignition Lock Cylinder for Your Vehicle

There’s nothing more nerve-wracking than turning your key only to find out your car won’t start. It’s possible that your battery has died or the spark plugs have worn out. Sometimes, the problem points to a damaged ignition lock cylinder.

Here at CarParts.com, we have a great selection of ignition lock cylinder replacements on hand and ready to ship. All our products passed stringent testing and were carefully handpicked by industry professionals, so you can rest assured that you’re getting the best bang for your buck.

Start shopping by entering your vehicle’s year, make, and model into our website’s vehicle selector. This will narrow down the search results to compatible ignition lock cylinders for your ride. You can also use the search filters to shop according to your preferred brand, price range, and more.

Get your ignition lock cylinder as soon as possible when you shop from us. Thanks to our strategically located warehouses across the US, you can get your product delivered straight to your doorstep in as fast as two business days.

Check out our products today!

About The Author
Written By Automotive Subject Matter Expert at CarParts.com

Mia Bevacqua has over 14 years of experience in the auto industry and holds a bachelor’s degree in Advanced Automotive Systems. Certifications include ASE Master Automobile Technician, Master Medium/Heavy Truck Technician, L1, L2, L3, and L4 Advanced Level Specialist. Mia loves fixer-upper oddballs, like her 1987 Cavalier Z-24 and 1998 Astro Van AWD.

Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.

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Bill LaRowe w

On my 2004 Toyota Rav4 2wd auto transmission when the lock cylinder is removed there is a rotating piece left behind. It is not attached with any extraneous hardware, and is free to rotare. It appears to be a cam. How should it be positioned in respect to the body of the lock cylinder is replaced?
I haveinstalled a new switch, but have not been able to get the assembled mechanism to work.

Hi Bill,

Are you replacing the lock cylinder or the ignition switch? If you’re replacing the lock cylinder, the key needs to be turned to the accessory position for the cylinder to be able to slide into place.

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