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Unread 06-03-2011, 07:24 AM   #1
Ken4444
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Replace ignition switch or key cylinder?

I'm trying to figure out if I need to replace the ignition switch (on steering column) or the key cylinder on my '85 with tilt steering collumn.

Right now the Jeep won't turn over. I had this problem yesterday but kept turning the key and it fired right up after a minute of fiddling with it. Earlier today I had the same problem but now it's dead again. I haven't make any recent changes to the electrical system. The battery has been starting the engine just fine.

This morning there was a point where I had the key totally removed from the key cylinder but the stereo lights were on. This leads me to believe that the problem is with the key cylinder or the ignition switch and not the starter solenoid.

I should probably replace the starter solenoid and the ignition switch anyhow, but since the key cylinder requires more work to replace, I'm hoping I can avoid that but I don't know.

I don't have a good understanding of the relationship between the key cylinder and the ignition switch other than to know there is a metal rod that seems to be the link. Based on the problem I'm having, I'm not sure which of the 2 components could be causing this.

I'm not a fan of resorting to just randomly installing new parts until a problem is fixed; I'd like to have a better understanding of what is actually failing before I dig into this.

Thanks!

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Unread 06-03-2011, 02:07 PM   #2
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Any takers on this one? I guess I will replace the ignition switch first and see if that does the trick. So much not not randomly swapping parts
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Unread 06-03-2011, 02:25 PM   #3
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Turn the key (or have someone turn it) and watch the rod to see the switch it depresses. If it doesn't engage the starter, see if you can depress it by hand enough to get it to engage. If that works, you've eliminated the switch.

If the switch is good, the rod may be bent.

It's a process of elimination and thinking/watching how the parts work together rather than throwing parts at it, hoping one of them fixes it.
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Unread 06-03-2011, 02:32 PM   #4
jalves3
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I haven't messed with many of these but if the key turns its full cycle then it is probably the switch but it can also be the rod is worn and not moving far enough to make the switch contacts connect. Did you try to manually move the rod?
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Unread 06-03-2011, 05:52 PM   #5
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I would just about guess the 'Rack & Pinion' gear in the top of the steering column has given up. (right under the steering wheel and locking plate)

Sounds like the lock cylinder is working fine,
The ignition switch is doing it's thing,
Sounds like the linkage between lock cylinder and ignition switch down on the column is the weak link...
(Had the same issues in both CJ's and FSJ's)

Next time you try fiddling with it, reach under the dash, grab the linkage rod and see if giving it a little 'Assist' helps, that will narrow things down.

The tilt wheel column is FAMOUS for wreaking havoc with those little cast aluminum gear racks, and the pinion attached to the end of the lock set is famous for chipping teeth off.

The last tooth in the 'Start' position takes the worst of it since that is where they have the most pressure on them...
(Bury the key switch while pumping the throttle and cussing because the vehicle won't start right up! The longer it takes, the harder you seem to twist on that lock set!)
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Unread 06-05-2011, 07:00 PM   #6
Ken4444
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Thanks to everyone for the help! You'll never believe what the problem was. It was one of the huge 'gotchas' with Jeeps... I posted the whole story here.

I now have a new understanding of a whole other system of the Jeep.
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Unread 06-05-2011, 08:25 PM   #7
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Unread 06-05-2011, 09:54 PM   #8
13riverking
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ok, i dont mean to overrun this post, but my 81 wont shut off with out running the starter into the flywheel then the switch will turn back, is it the linkage in my tilt or just lube the switch, only happens when im in a parking lot with alot of people, never at home, just started today............
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Unread 06-06-2011, 06:17 AM   #9
Ken4444
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 13riverking View Post
ok, i dont mean to overrun this post, but my 81 wont shut off with out running the starter into the flywheel then the switch will turn back, is it the linkage in my tilt or just lube the switch, only happens when im in a parking lot with alot of people, never at home, just started today............
Can you clarify exactly what is happening? The engine is running and you turn it off, but the starter engages again?
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Unread 06-19-2011, 01:14 PM   #10
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I think that he has to turn the key FORWARD, to get the key to turn BACKWARD (off position). This engages the starter into the flywheel.

(Mine just started a similiar situation. I've been having a bit of a tough time turning the jeep OFF.

The ignition switch seems to be "sticky". Not a great term, but it's the best that I've got. There's some sort of glitch in there.

Today, I decided to spray some PB Blaster in the key hole, and around the switch, and also it the vicinity of where the key release lever goes into the column.

Well, to work it in good, I switched the key back and forth (without starting the jeep). After that, I DID start the jeep. I went to turn it off, and nothing budges! The key won't turn to the off position, and the release lever won't move. I don't expect the lever to move, anyway, if the key is in the ON position. So, I couldn't shut the jeep off.

I drove it into the garage, popped the hood, and disconnected the hot wire from the DUI distributor. And there she sits.

Ant ideas what this sounds like? I think I'm just going to get a new ignition switch coming, just to have it here.

Thanks, Rich.
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Unread 06-19-2011, 01:44 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rixcj View Post
Any ideas what this sounds like? I think I'm just going to get a new ignition switch coming, just to have it here.
You're going to have to go in deep. You may need to at least replace the key cylinder, but you may need a new lock rack or something in that vacinity.

The mechanics are actually really, really simple:

1) When you turn the key, the key cylinder turns a short metal shaft. (1.5" long or so)
2) That short metal shaft has a nickle-sized gear on the other end.
3) That gear pushes or pulls the lock rack.
4) The lock rack pushses/pulls the metal rod that goes down to the ignition switch.

So if your key isn't turning, then there's a problem somewhere in there.

The problem is that you have to go trhough a lot of steps to get in that deep, and you'll need at least 3 speciality tools to get that far. They're not expensive, but it's a learning curve just like anything else.
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Unread 08-01-2011, 10:42 AM   #12
SavSilvrCJ
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Sorry for the hijack but does anyone know where to get the gear for a non-tilt steering wheel. Was having the same issue. Pulled the key lock cylinder and part of the gear the pushes the actuator rod came with the lock cylinder. I dont even know what this part is called. Thanks in advance for any help.
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