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1999 Dodge 1500 Van - Key won't turn in ignition

very unhappy very unhappy
New User | Posts: 1 | Joined: 06/06
Posted: 06/30/06
11:13 AM

I have a 1999 Dodge 1500 Van - I purchased it new.

I remain under Chrysler's warranty until Feb '07

56,000 miles currently…

Beginning in Dec. 2004, i began to have sporadic trouble with the key not turning in the ignition.  I had it towed to the dodge dealer, and they said it needed a new ignition cylinder - they replaced it - fine

Jan 2005 - again, the key wouldn't turn in the ignition - I had it towed to the dodge dealer - they sent the lock cylinder to locksmith for recoding - fine

November 2005 - again, the key suddenly won't turn in the ignition - I had it towed to the dodge dealer  - they greased the steering column, and changed the lock cylinder again - fine, but now getting pretty frustrated

December 2005 - again, the key won't turn - I had it towed to the dodge dealer - they installed a new ignition switch, “for it was binding and not allowing the key to turn” -

June 13, 2006 - again, the key won't turn - I had it towed to the dodge dealer - this time, they found the ignition lock seized, and said it was “necessary to replace the entire steering column due to an internal fault”…

June 23, 2006 - again, the key won't turn...Now, I'm afraid I have lost all faith in this rather young vehicle.  I was advised to purchase the Dodge over the GMC and Ford vans because it was supposed to be more reliable...

So I called Daimler/Chrysler...they said that there is nothing they can do and that I must be doing something to cause the problem.

Here's where that logic doesn't work -

1) I drove the van for over 4 years before this problem started.
2) Every tow company that comes out to *** (5 different ones), the driver says "that's a chronic problem with Chrysler" Grand Caravans, Full Size Vans, etc.  They all take out a rubber mallet, tap the key, turn the steering wheel back and forth rapidly, and the key turns over.
3) I went to 4 independent mechanics, explained the problem, and they all said (like the tow drivers) that they've seen this with vehicles month after month.

The van is UNDRIVEABLE if you can't turn the key even to put it into neutral for a tow.

I've been stranded 5 times, and been more than patient.


I'm still under warranty, and Chrysler says they can't help ***

Then what the hell is the warranty for?

Anyone have thoughts?

Many Thanks

automotivejtm-#001 automotivejtm-#001
Guru | Posts: 1016 | Joined: 03/06
Posted: 07/11/06
07:48 AM

sorry to hear that have you thought about taking legal action?  

uscarssuck uscarssuck
New User | Posts: 1 | Joined: 07/06
Posted: 07/19/06
09:20 AM


This issue is just starting with my Grand Voyager (which is a 1999)  I bought it new and It only has 60K miles on it.  

The Car is all locked up and I can't get the key to turn ... Clearly it has something to do with the "Anti-Theft" device .... This is convincing me that US Cars suck ... I had a Toyota and I have never had any problems with it......  This an obvious Design flaw  - We should sue ...

If anyone else has thoughts please email me.  Thanks.


notaplymouthfan notaplymouthfan
New User | Posts: 1 | Joined: 07/06
Posted: 07/25/06
10:21 AM

I have just found out about this horrible problem.  My two year old was playing with the ingnition area while relaxing in the van today.  I put the key in the ingition to move it and now it won't even turn.  The van sits blocking my drive way and I can't even tow it.  I am going to try the rubber mallet routine and see how far that gets me.  Sorry for your troubles.

By the way my vehicle is a 1999 Voyager.


beachbum beachbum
New User | Posts: 1 | Joined: 07/06
Posted: 07/26/06
07:04 AM

Hi Chris,     I have a 2003 Town and Country and also had the cylinder changed once due to the key not turning. Then the new one that Chrysler put in is faulty also. I use a rubber mallet also!!  My key just broke yesterday IN the ignition so I have to have a new one put in.  My thinking is that it is the key that is the problem. I am have them put a new ignition and new key. The door locks will have a different key, but at least I will be able to turn my key. There are others with the same problem. A older gent saw me hit my key recently in a parking lot and said the he also has to do the same thing. I will be sending a letter to Chrysler to get reimbersed $200 and some odd dollars.
Pittsburgh PA  

siobhan123 siobhan123
New User | Posts: 1 | Joined: 08/06
Posted: 08/02/06
08:25 PM

Hi to all unlucky dodge and chrysler owners. I have a 2001 dodge Intrepid and have recently been having problems with the ignition key turning, this morning it would not turn at all, i sprayed the key and ignition slot with WD-40 and key turned right away, this is just another quick fix to try. Chrysler and Dodge obviously have a problem with the ignitions in there vehicles. unfortunatley I am no longer under warranty so I will have to pay myself to get it fixed. Over the last 5 years this car has cost me almost half of what i bought it for new, ex. new transmission and engine, not to mention all of the other mechanical failures. I will never ever buy a diamler chrysler car again.


raider raider
New User | Posts: 2 | Joined: 08/06
Posted: 08/10/06
01:12 PM

Well, folks, guess I'm joining the fun.  We have a '99 plymouth grand voyager.  A few months ago we had the same problem...key wouldn't turn.  If we wiggled it a few times, it would work (not always).  At one point, I turned on the remote starter and, after the van started, put the key in a then it turned. However, now that doesn't even work.  We were going to a movie this evening and the cotton-pickin thing won't turn.  I tried the wd-40 trick but no go.  Does anyone have any other ideas?  I've never seen this in allll the years I've been driving and that's alot of years.

Well, after reading everyone's problems (and considering my own), I went out to do the "wd40 spray" and the "shake the wheel like crazy" scenarios.  I had no success with the "spray".  But, but...after moving  the wheel back and forth a couple of million times, it (the wheel) disengaged from the locked position and I was able to start the thing.  Someone in this thread made an association between the problem and the security system.  We have a "remote" starter on this van.  My current line of thinking is that when you use the fob to engage the security system, it may be invoking the problem (yeah, I'm guessing here).  Anyway, for now, we're going to lock the van merely by pushing the lock button on the door instead of using the fob which engages the security system.  We'll see if the problem continues.  

davdk19380 davdk19380
New User | Posts: 1 | Joined: 08/06
Posted: 08/11/06
01:33 AM

Same deal here.... wife calls me today, she was trying to go out with the kids. Key goes into the ignition, dinging starts... but the key won't turn. I'm going to try to install a new cylinder... if I can find one. I'd hate to have it towed from my house to the dealer...


grandcaravanse grandcaravanse
New User | Posts: 1 | Joined: 08/06
Posted: 08/18/06
04:59 AM

Geez that is still going on---My 1993 grand caravan se does that after it has gone into "limp-in" mode (second gear only) After so long the ignition just locks up.  I disconnect the negative cable on the battery and the ignition works again.   After consulting (talking to a lot of veterans in automotive repair field) they say "If the pcm module is broke, it will send the wrong trouble codes like "limp-in mode" "lock the ignition" "the gears on the transmission are out" etc...This is not always the case, but likely.  


musketball musketball
New User | Posts: 1 | Joined: 08/06
Posted: 08/18/06
07:15 AM

Happens to me also, just started to.  1998 Voyager, 250000 KM's.  Only way I can get it to turn is by rocking the car back and forth a few times, then it unlocks. My theory is the transmission is causing this trouble, rocking the car moves the tranny enough to send it into park properly.

Never again will I buy Chrysler, I have no idea why I bought this one in the first place. Another new trick it played on me today is none of the electronics would work, radio, AC fan etc..  It just started "Working" for unknown reasons.  Just great, I go on vacation tomorrow and I'll have the intermittent car to worry about.  Great.  

travisunc travisunc
New User | Posts: 1 | Joined: 08/06
Posted: 08/27/06
01:24 AM

Same thing happened to me this morning.  Went to turn the key and it wouldn't budge.  I tried wd-40.....nothing.  But, if I pop the key a couple of times while it is in the ignition switch, it will finally unlock and work.

Is this covered under powertrain warranty (7years/70,000 miles)?  I have about 60,000 on my Town and Country now.


pres1111 pres1111
New User | Posts: 1 | Joined: 08/06
Posted: 08/28/06
02:14 AM

1998 Mercedes conv. 500 sel
same thing...key goes in but wont turn...i am thinking
since i changed battery something has changed with security.  

Tommis98Voyager Tommis98Voyager
New User | Posts: 1 | Joined: 08/06
Posted: 08/31/06
01:23 AM

WOW! I owe my Mother in Law a HUGE apology.  I left her my 98 voyager for the weekend and she claimed she couldn't get it started.  I went to her house and started the car right up...I really thought she was losing it!  I was really quite irritated with her because the car has run flawlessly for years and I have never had such a problem.  I was like, "What did you do to it?" I even turned it off and on several times in front of her so she could see it was fine. I took it home and last night I made a late night run to the store...yep, you guessed it!  The blasted thing WOULD NOT budge. It just locked up completely.  I tried turning the wheel and jiggling the keys, etc.  I fought with it till my fingers were numb, then called AAA.  They towed it home and here I am STRANDED with NO CAR!  There is no warranty so I can only hope it won't cost and arm and two legs!  

northbank66 northbank66
New User | Posts: 1 | Joined: 09/06
Posted: 09/01/06
06:44 AM

I have a 2000LHS that has just started to experince the iginition freeze scenario a couple of days ago. I called AAA but as we could not get the car out of park there was not much he could do, after about two hours of swearing and throwing keys across the garden the wife, who incidentally does not drive, put the key in the ignition and the car started first time.

The car has worked fine for the last two days an dthen this morning...the same thing and again the wife fired the @#$!@ first time.
I parked the car in Baltimore this morning turned it off, tried to turn it on again....nothing, well I guess no one will steal it. I'm just about to leave work for a 60 mile drive back home to Delaware and I can do without the excitement of wondering if the car will start. Always bought Fords in the past but the LHS was such a good looking comfortable car at the right wonder...after reading this link I don't think I'll be buying another Chrysler anytime soon!!  

windride windride
New User | Posts: 1 | Joined: 09/06
Posted: 09/04/06
01:21 AM

This just happened on my Chrystler Seabring last night - figures it just went out of warranty.  I first tried the standard key jiggle, steering wheel turn, rock the transmission, WD40.  And then thanks to this forum, read the mallet approach (used the wooden handle of a screwdriver since I had no mallet) and that worked.  It still gets stuck intermittently but the "mallet" is 3 for 3 at unjamming.  I don't think I want to caary a rubber mallet with me all the time.  Does anyone know how long this mallet whack will work as a temporary fix and what is the probable long term cause (i.e. what do I need to replace so that I don't have to worry about being stranded?


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