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2001 Dodge Caravan....key won't turn

AntiqTools AntiqTools
New User | Posts: 1 | Joined: 01/10
Posted: 01/27/10
07:12 PM

I have a 2000 T&C and just started having this key lock problem. Having experience in mechanical and electronic technology, I immediately thought it was low battery voltage on the security system, since I could flip the door lock switch a couple times and the problem would clear up. I'm amazed to see that so many are having this problem. I checked my car battery voltage and also the charging voltage. The problem is so inconsistant, whether I open the door and close it, flip the door switches or press the key bob. It all will allow my key to turn. I have not resorted to the rubber hammer. Sounds like the same problem.  

doh614 doh614
New User | Posts: 1 | Joined: 01/10
Posted: 01/31/10
10:27 AM

2001 Dodge Grand Caravan  My key also wouldn't turn. It is about 12 degrees outside
and late last night found out I had a flat tire.  My husband turned wheels to see where leak was with ignition turned but not cranked.  Key got stuck. He gently hit key with mallet and whola problem solved. This is first time in nine years of owning van that this has happened and under extreme circumstances.  I will not travel without mallet ever again.  Thank you all for posting. Now has anyone else had problems with aluminum chromed rims pitting and causing air to leak out of tires.  My husband blames me for to many curb shots. It only happened once on drivers side front tire that is the only curb shot that I had on one way street (hit so hard I pinched tire and it "POPPED", however I damaged rim and has been a thorn in my side ever since. Now its happeneing on pass side and I never hit curb on that side.  Apparently aluminum chromed rim pits and causes slow leak and now in extremely cold temperature (12 Degrees) it went flat. Thinking about replacing all four rims with cheap 17 inch black rims so they don't pit, and putting baby moons on.  

waynep7122 waynep7122
Addict | Posts: 4547 | Joined: 08/09
Posted: 01/31/10
10:36 AM

talk to your tire guy... they can sometimes throw the wheel on their tire machine, let the air out of the tire.. break the tire off the bead but not dismount it... spread sealer on both bead surfaces and re inflate the tire.. rebalance it and put it back on the car...

steel rims can rust inside also..    if you have a bent rim.. or damaged rim.. replacement rims are available new and used.. there are even shops... at least out here in the sun shine of so cal.. that will machine out damaged areas... weld them up and machine them...  and on polished rims.. you cannot tell where the repair is..  

ten13 ten13
New User | Posts: 1 | Joined: 02/10
Posted: 02/08/10
12:59 PM

94 people have found this site and entered a reply.  how many people have not entered a reply but have had this issue?  this is crazy i have a 2000 dodge grand caravan. and i run into this problem almot 3-4 times a week.  i usualy just try to hit the key with my hand but i will try something more substantal next time.  thanks for all of the help and i hope to see a recall letter someday for this product that is obviously defective.  

minivan minivan
New User | Posts: 1 | Joined: 02/10
Posted: 02/10/10
11:13 AM

I was wondering if everyone that has had this ignition problem also had trouble getting their key in and out of the ignition.  I didn't just have trouble getting it to turn I had trouble getting the key to go in and to come out.  Any suggestions for getting it in and out.  The first time this happened to me was so totally unexpected because nothing had happened prior to indicate there was a problem.  A friend of my husband suggested using a small amount of silicon spray to lubricate the inside of the lock. I also read that on the internet.  I haven't tried it yet though, I am still searching the internet for other answers.  In my case each time I put the key in it got worse.  Two times when I took the key out and flipped it and put it back in it turned easier.  

waynep7122 waynep7122
Addict | Posts: 4547 | Joined: 08/09
Posted: 02/10/10
04:12 PM

check the lock cylinder... its wearing out.. you might want to have another key made by codes.. sometimes stamped onto the ignition lock housing (seen after you take the lock out..

it is possible for a lock smith to take the ignition lock you carry into his store..  take it apart .. examine the pins.. and cut a new key to fit all the locks with the same code as the original..

depending on the year.. it is also possible to get a new key from chrysler..  you will have to have the vin number ..

here is the video that shows how to make the existing key fit the new lock ...

with the info on the card...  you should be able to get a locksmith to cut a new key on his code machine.. if you key is as worn as it sounds..

not with a file..  

BCL1963 BCL1963
New User | Posts: 2 | Joined: 02/10
Posted: 02/11/10
09:59 AM

UNBELIEVABLE!  The rubber mallet thing actually worked!  I looked online for hours trying to find something to help me with the "key won't turn the ignition" issue for my wife, who owns a 2002 Dodge Neon.  I was skeptical about the solution because I didn't want to do any further damage.   But after trying everything else, I found my rubber mallet, gave the key an assertive tap (maybe 2) while it was in the ignition switch (not real hard) and I was able to turn the key and start the car!  However, I would not recommend repeating that method too many times because you may actually cause further damage to your ignition switch that may result in costly repairs.  

After I got the car started, I called a locksmith and asked him about my issue.  It sounded to me that he was very familiar with this issue, that it was a common problem and he sounded very confident that he would be able to resolve it easily.  He said that it's caused by oil and other debris that builds up over a period of time causing the tumblers to cease up, and needs to be cleared out so that the tumblers can move.  He charged $145 to clean the cylinder - a lot cheaper than it probably would've been if I had taken it to the dealer.  



smi11y smi11y
New User | Posts: 1 | Joined: 02/10
Posted: 02/11/10
01:24 PM

i cant believe this actually worked... i banged on my key with a hockey puck while it was in the ignition. Boom. Done. Durango started!  

Laylah Laylah
New User | Posts: 1 | Joined: 02/10
Posted: 02/11/10
01:27 PM

Well I shall join this club.  I just purchased a 1999 Chrysler Cirrus and have been having this same problem.  Thank you all so much for posting this information!  I tried the mallet tap and it worked.  My 9 yr old son and I were sitting in the parking lot of my apt. complex trying everything to get the key to turn.  I came inside and found this forum.  You all are a life saver!  

I do have a question.  Does anyone know how much this repair is gonna cost me for my model and year of car?  

Thanks in advance.  

BCL1963 BCL1963
New User | Posts: 2 | Joined: 02/10
Posted: 02/11/10
01:58 PM

Hi -

Call your local locksmith and ask them how much it would be to:

1.  Get another key made.  The one you have is probably worn out and isn't moving the tumblers.  That shouldn't be no more that $10+, but whatever it is, it's cheaper than going to a dealer.

2.  How much would it be to clean the metal filings and other debris out of the switch.  The price we have so far is $145, which probably would 3X more at a dealer.

3.  Your last resort if none of those things work would be to get the switch replaced, and so far I've heard $250 and up for that.

Good luck and I'm glad the solution helped - as unbelievable as it is...


waynep7122 waynep7122
Addict | Posts: 4547 | Joined: 08/09
Posted: 02/11/10
10:47 PM


there are several threads...   new lock cylinders are easy to install in most...  dorman products sells one through most parts stores that comes with new tumblers...  i posted the you tube video above..

lock smiths can also install new tumblers.. as that is the root of the problem..

try this video

dorman ignition lock cylinder removal and key matching  

joefar75 joefar75
New User | Posts: 2 | Joined: 02/10
Posted: 02/13/10
04:24 AM

It's AMAZING how many people have this same problem spanning cars that have 40k miles to 120k miles. I ordered my new lock cylinder Wednesday, got it on Friday and Im going to pop it in this afternoon. Looks like it pretty straight forward.

I have another question, as Im not that familiar with these forums. Is there a forum on that clunking sound from the front end that these caravans are infected with?  

fzangara fzangara
New User | Posts: 1 | Joined: 02/10
Posted: 02/16/10
05:50 PM

I have 2001 dodge caravan and the key would not turn. So its late ,no one is open, so i googled "2001 dodge caravan ignition problems" and this post popped up.

Amazing....That hitting the key with a hammer trick actually works. Only I did not have a rubber mallet. I did have a small ball pean hammer (or as I call it an
"enginers hammer") and whaked it few times and well-ah it worked. I think im going to keep the hammer close by.

If i had not seen this my repair would would have cost me bundle in time and money.

I would like to take my "enginers hammer" and use it on chryslerSmirk  

Thank everyone Laugh  

grubenn grubenn
New User | Posts: 1 | Joined: 03/10
Posted: 03/08/10
08:41 PM

My daughter was out in our van and called to say the key wouldn't turn. Her friend drove back here and brought her an extra set of keys. That wouldn't turn either. Next my husband went over there--no luck. Then I got online to see if I could find any tricks. You are right. A few quick wacks on the key with a screwdriver and it started right up. Thanks. It's my van and my husband says he's leaving me the screwdriver.  

BobR2 BobR2
New User | Posts: 7 | Joined: 05/09
Posted: 03/15/10
01:49 AM

The folks at have these switches, for Dodge Caravans and will match it up to your existing keys for a grand total of $50.00 plus shipping.  They will overnight it to you if need be.  This is much cheaper than the dealer who wants up to $300 for the job.  

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