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97 4-runner, 89 pick
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Discussion Starter #1
97 4runner

Every now and then, my key will get locked in the ignition. The key works fine for starting and opening the doors.

When I place the truck in park and rotate the key, it will turn half way and power off the engine but will not turn all the way to lock the steering wheel and it can't be removed. I can turn it back to start, shift the gears and turn the wheel but it still won't release the key. I end up having to leave the key in and later after driving it will then operate normally.

Any ideas?
 

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97 4-runner, 89 pick
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Discussion Starter #2
Never mind. I hit it with graphite and it turned. I can assume the cylinder is on it's way out.
 

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I have had that happen to me. I finally got feed up with sitting in the cold, waiting to find the sweet spot for it to turn, and took it to the dealer. I left the key in the ignition and ran inside to talk to someone. The tech there told me I was lucky to bring it in when I did, with the key still in the ignition because if not they would have had to charge me to remove the dashboard to get that cylinder out. It cost around 125 to replace the cylinder. I was willing to pay twice than to be stuck in the parking lot. The only bad thing is that now I have two sets of keys.
 

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Replaced tumbler

I had to replace the tumblers in my 97 4runner 2 weeks ago. I had a locksmith come ... he popped out the ignition and replaced them, fitting them to my current set of keys. $140 cdn. Interesting how both our vehicles, same year/model had the same problem at the same time.
 

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I have the same problem on 4Runner 1996, but i still don´t know how to fix it. This problem mostly apears on my 4Runer after washing the car or during rainy days.
 

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30YRTOYOTAPARTSEXPERINCE
04 Camry; 09 Sienna
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1,237 Posts
BfreemanNH hit on a good point by spraying a little graphite in the tumblers, but what I would suggest also is to get a new key cut by CODE, do not trace your existing key. Over time, the key gets worn down from all the use, in many cases a fresh key solves the problem. If this proves unsuccessful, then it is usually time for a new tumbler. As another member pointed out, you can take the NEW lock cylinder to a locksmith and the can recode the new cylinder to the old key. Each region will dictate its own price so shop around.

FYI: I do sell to TN member for 30% off MSRP and I only charge actual shipping costs plust $1.00 - $2.00 for materials, etc.
 

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Give me somethin to break
05 tundra doublecab
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my key gets stuck in my 97 as well. I found that disconnecting the battery will allow it to turn and release every time. at 240k though it probably is the ignition switch,,huh?
 

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Had the same problem 1996 4 runner.
You can go to the dealership and get a key cut to code, and spray some graphite in all the lock cylinders and move the key to the lock and unlock position a couple of time to get the graphite moving in the cylinders and lube all the parts in the mechanism.
You can get a key cut by a locksmith, but the problem with that is he will cut a key off your old key and if it worn you'll have the same problem.
Or just try graphite and make sure you work the locks in order to lube all the mechanisms.
Best of luck.
Marcus (alln1day)
 

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Give me somethin to break
05 tundra doublecab
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yah, had a key cut to code, still did it even lubed it with graphite,so buying new switch BUNT!!!
 

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Most likely you don't need a new tumbler. I read on here or on another forum that there is a solenoid on the gear shift that burns out.
Do this: Next time the key gets stuck, disengage the battery. If the key releases, you need a new solenoid. This solenoid tells if the truck is in gear. It still thinks it's in gear and won't release the key.

After taking the truck to the stealership and telling them the above (in one ear and out the other), they replaced the tumbler and guess what, I drove it home and still had the key stuck. They "said" the solenoid is fine when I picked it up. They replaced the solenoid "at half the cost" since they already stole $100 for a new tumbler install.

Hope this helps someone save some $ on not installing a new tumbler.
 

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Just fixed same problem on my 97 Rav. When the key stuck I put WD40 in the ignition, waited 3 minutes then after taking off the plastic steering column cover (3 screws) so I could see under the ignition locking cylinder, I mildly hit the ignition cylinder on the bottom with a hammer while trying to turn the key. Now that I could get the car started I went to Autozone and bought a new ignition lock cylinder for $88 and turned key to ACC, pushed on the little button on the bottom and out it came. Soooo easy! Just make sure you get the right one...$88 at local store, $170 at dealer.
 

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Most likely you don't need a new tumbler. I read on here or on another forum that there is a solenoid on the gear shift that burns out.
Do this: Next time the key gets stuck, disengage the battery. If the key releases, you need a new solenoid. This solenoid tells if the truck is in gear. It still thinks it's in gear and won't release the key.

After taking the truck to the stealership and telling them the above (in one ear and out the other), they replaced the tumbler and guess what, I drove it home and still had the key stuck. They "said" the solenoid is fine when I picked it up. They replaced the solenoid "at half the cost" since they already stole $100 for a new tumbler install.

Hope this helps someone save some $ on not installing a new tumbler.
Of course I read all the posts at the top before finding yours. Spent 300 on new tumbler ignition switch and upper column bracket. Now I see the solenoid as more than likely the issue. Appreciate the detail and would love a link to that other forum post if you ever find it. Thanks for doing your due diligence. Also what is that solenoids name?
 
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