Cannot remove key from ignition of 1970 Firebird Formula 400

Asked by Aug 09, 2016 at 01:15 PM about the 1970 Pontiac Firebird Formula

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

I have been restoring this car for 4 years, it is almost ready to drive.  All of a
sudden, I cannot turn the ignition key back to lock to remove the key.  I
removed the lock cylinder and it works fine outside the column, but when I
install it, the key will NOT turn to the lock position. it has worked fine recently,  
any ideas?

16 Answers


Very common for the ignition switch to cause this, sometimes it is cause they are just loose or they are coming apart, you will have to loosen up the steering column and drop it down enough to see the switch, if it is loose readjust and tighten, if it is coming apart replace it and then adjust it properly.

1 of 1 people found this helpful.

Do you mean the key switch? because I took it out and it work fine with it out of the column but when i put it b ack in, the key won't come out, :<(


No, the ignition switch, it's down the steering column. Follow the little rod that goes down the top of the column.

1 of 1 people found this helpful.

I have the steering wheel off and the blinker assembly too. I don't see a rod, is it inside the column? Sorry, I feel pretty stupid.


Well yes and no, part of it is inside but it becomes visible down the column you will need to drop the column to see it, then it will lead you right to the ignition switch.

1 of 1 people found this helpful.

I will try that in the morning, thank you so much!!!

Good morning tennis shoes, I found the rod and switch, thank you so much sir. I took the switch off and lubed it good, it seems to work well, I moved the rod back and forth and it rotated the key switch easily, but when i put it all back together, it still will not release the key. Thoughts?


Did you try moving the switch with it off the rod? I still believe that the switch is fouled up.

1 of 1 people found this helpful.

I took the switch off the rod and moved the rod up and down, which turned the key switch, but I STILL could not get the key to release, what am i doing wrong sir?


Can you remove the key and lock cylinder completely? If you can take it out and then see if you can remove the key from the cylinder, if you can't then a problem has happened inside the cylinder itself, you can either replace it with a new set or take it to a locksmith and have it repaired. Make sure you leave the ignition switch removed while performing this. You will have to reset it when the new or rebuilt parts are put back in.

1 of 1 people found this helpful.

I have taken out the key and lock assembly and I CAN remove the key. I did not do anything with the ignition switch when I remove this. Could that be a part of the problem? I just CANNOT turn the key into the lock position when it is all together.


OK remove the ignition switch and put the cylinder and key back in and see if you can then turn to the lock position and remove the key, if you still can't remove the key then there is a problem with the rack and pinion inside the column, it may have jumped a tooth.


Forgot to ask, Do you have a fixed or tilt column? If it is a tilt the little slide unit can break and cause you trouble also.

1 of 1 people found this helpful.

see pic.

1 of 1 people found this helpful.

It IS a tilt wheel, I have not had a chance to look at the rack and pinion yet. I am OLD and have a bad back so I took yesterday off. I will check it out today. I can't tell you how much I appreciate all your help sir.

I have tried everything! It just will not go into the lock position, I would really love to talk directly to you to discuss this issue if you are willing, please e-mail me your phone number at my name is Jim

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