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Ignition switch won't turn from LOCK

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97 Legacy L Wagon, Auto, 164K


I dropped off my legacy in 100% working order with a valet at a hotel in Vegas on Saturday evening. When I went to pick it up Sunday morning, they tell me my car won't start. I look at the car and the key won't turn from the "LOCK" position. The steering wheel is not locked.


I examine the key- which was created from code at the Subaru dealer a 2-3 years ago - it's been twisted. My assumption is the valet used excessive force to try to jam it and get it going and ended up bending the key. The key is used only in the ignition switch - I have key less entry and rarely use the key in any of the other cylinders.


After waiting a couple hours trying to get AAA to help (they didn't), I took a chance and had a copy of the key made at home depot and threw some graphite on the key and inside the ignition switch. I used the shift lock override to move the shifter from "P" to "L" and back a few times. After jiggling the key and moving the steering wheel back and forth for 15+ minutes, the key moved from "LOCK" to "ACC." I was able to start the car and begin my 370 mile drive home. When I got home, it was late, but the ignition switch and home depot key seemed to operating properly.


So my questions-

1. Are there any interlocks or other systems that would prevent the key from turning from LOCK to ACC?

2. Is it likely my ignition switch is damaged?

3. How hard is it to replace the ignition switch and keep the same key?


And morals of the story, at least for me.

1. I am going to keep a fresh spare key in my glove box or in a hide-a-key

2. I will opt for self-parking :)

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the key cylinder is surprisingly easy to remove,

once you know how.

a lock smith will cost something to re-key it.

i asked lockmedic the going rates just last week.

he's in tenn. i think.


on a side note,

what is the going rate for re-keying a subaru ignition lock cylinder that has no key?

same for the driver door cylinder?


just curious.



Originally Posted by lockmedic

Door is about $20 to reset to an existing key, about $15 to fit a key to it. We'd rekey it if you'd brought in a junkyard lock and wanted to replace a broken/missing one on another car but didn't want to have to carry two keys. We'd fit a key if you'd lost the keys and brought us the door lock.


Ignition is a bit trickier. 99 down aren't too difficult, 00+ are a bit more interesting as they're not really meant to come apart (assembled with blind roll pins). . . but they can be serviced. About $35 either way (fit key or rekey) on an 00+, up to 99 probably about $20 either way.


Don't do a lot of lost key replacements on Subaru around here, most folks just go to the dealers, and that's fine. They call us if it's a chipped key. Still do the occasional door lock replacement on the 95-99 leggies and outbacks when the tailpiece breaks off. I love the look of frameless windows but hate working on them. . .

chances are good the graphite did more than the new key.

but who knows?

lubing the lock now and then can't hurt.

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Ok, thanks.


I've discovered a new symptom - the steering wheel lock is not working now.

I can twist the wheels left and right as much as I want with the ignition switch in "LOCK."


I'm now able to operate the ignition switch fine with both the old key and the new key. I tried using the shift lock override to put the car in gear/ in neutral, then inserting the key and turning from "LOCK" to "ACC". Had no problems.

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Well, I pulled the ignition cylinder yesterday evening. Turns freely from LOCK to ACC. I took the key and the ignition cylinder to a locksmith and he thought it operated fine as well.


Tonight, I pulled the whole assembly, including the housing. As far as I can tell the wheel lock is working correctly. I examined the steering column too, looks to be in good shape - I've attached some pictures to of the column to show what it looks like.


Could the housing just have bumped out of alignment?





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