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2001 Honda Accord, ignition key won't turn (full resolve)

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Old 09-22-2011, 12:57 PM   #1
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Default 2001 Honda Accord, ignition key won't turn (full resolve)

2001 Honda Accord. Ignition key would sometimes not turn, so you would have to shake it a bit and then it would turn without issue.

Finally, it quit turning. Key wouldn't turn at all. Couldn't easily push car because steering wheel locked.

Tried the WD40 in the lock that locksmiths suggested, it didn't really help.

Tried both the daily use key and the spare. The cuts didn't look too far off, neither worked.

It wasn't an issue of turning the steering wheel while turning the key.

Called two local locksmiths. The big name one didn't really give me confidence. The no-name sketchy internet found one gave me more confidence, but said the part would have to be ordered.

Started to do some research. Repaired it with the help of a friend or two.

The ignition switch needed to be replaced. Advance Auto sells a replacement, but normally has to be ordered.

I ordered this. It came. It's actually OEM AFAIK. The keys carry the Honda logo, it's of similar quality. Very happy with the part. I was impressed. Dealer quoted around $420ish, Advance Auto ran about $200 overnight shipped.

Removed the old one using a popular technique, using a dowel / screwdriver and hammering the screws on the edge around until they are loose enough to be turned with pliers / hand. There is a video of this on youtube. People have to remove this module in order to replace the ignition switch, so there is good help here. Once this was dropped off the column, the car could be steered. This allowed me to move my car from the building I rent commercial space in, and was loading at, when it broke. I was in front of a dumpster and in a day or two it would be an issue.

For a few days, I used the original key stuck in the ignition unable to turn (now hanging off the column) to get past the RFID key check, and the detached ignition switch to turn the car on. This way I could drive it home. Without the RFID key a low end thief couldn't steal my car easily.

Once it was removed, I wasn't sure if the RFID'ed keys were bound to the module on the ignition or the ECM. I figured it would be the ECM because if it was the ignition module then someone could roll around plugging in the ignition module starting cars.

The new part came with a notice that the car would have to be reprogrammed. Uh oh. Honda aren't user programmable with respect to adding keys, only the RF door fobs.

Installation of the new ignition module was easy. Two bolts hold it onto the steering column. The heads break off, similar to the old ones. Made sure it was aligned and that the steering lock pin was in place when I started to tighten it down.

I still had the ignition switch from the old assembly plugged in.

Then I visited a friend who had the HDS software and a cable. It was time to add the keys.

Some things to note.

The Immobi option will not show up in the HDS software unless you have a proper dealer ID code. It took a while to figure out why it wasn't showing up.

He had some 3 day demo of a program that could generate the codes needed to get through the software to the place where you add the keys. The software is setup to have the dealer or a locksmith call in and get some sort of response code that changes daily or some such. The 3rd party app didn't work immediately. The codes generated wouldn't work in the software. The trick was to set the date back on the computer a few years. Then all of a sudden the code worked. All of this is just a hardship in the HDS software client side, and has nothing to do with the car ECU.

Once through this, it was possible to take 1 original key and add 3 other keys to the system. A little bit of a shuffle to add them all, but a beautiful sight to see my car would be working again.


Car was now able to start on nice new keys using ignition. Took an opportunity to clean a bit then put things back together. Beautiful!

Then it was into the garage to figure out why the old ignition keyswitch died! What failed?

After disassembling the lock, it is true what other people said that it takes a decent bit of dis-assembly to get to the pins. Plastic parts have to come off, including the RFID reader module, a circuit board that detects the key is in and illuminates a light pipe around the key hole, and more.

A few pins hold the actual lock tumbler assembly in the lock. Once these are removed (one practically fell out, the other that retains this collar on the back end of the lock (opposite the key hole) took a little bit of work. Upon pulling out the lock assembly from it's housing it was pretty quickly obvious what was up. The first tumbler pin in the lock was stuck up. We removed it, cleaned it, lubricated it, and it still didn't seem to move great. Since it was the first pin, it would be my guess that over the years the stress put on the first pin of the lock from inserting the key caused it to deform a little, so it doesn't move so easily in the slot.

After cleaning, the old lock was pretty much back to the reliability of having to shake the key to get it to turn. I was happy to have a new lock mechanism over fixing the old one. A new tumbler pin probably would fix the old lock but not worth the hassle and risk to me.


So there is the issue, the resolve (and some hints on problems resolving it), and the cause of the failure! Left here for people in the future who might encounter this issue!

Much thanks to friend with the HDS software & cable and for the help!

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Old 09-22-2011, 02:13 PM   #2
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Default Re: 2001 Honda Accord, ignition key won't turn (full resolve)

Nice write up and interesting stuff. Especially the code trick. Now you have a key to start the car but need the original for the doors and trunk?
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Old 09-22-2011, 02:23 PM   #3
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Default Re: 2001 Honda Accord, ignition key won't turn (full resolve)

Nice one. Maybe call up your local locksmith to have the doors and trunk re-keyed?
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