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#4752911 - 05/10/18 11:19 AM Interesting issue and fix for my new-to-me Saturn
HemiHawk Offline


Registered: 03/09/16
Posts: 877
Loc: PA,US
So I had to buy a car recently for a relative (long story). I ended up with a 2006 Saturn Ion. After some research (before buying) it has some decent components... 2.2 EcoTec, 4-speed trans that was used in V6 models so its beefier than the years before 06.

But there was an issue... The key didn't unlock the trunk or either doors. It worked the ignition fine. So the only way into the car was the key fob. My first task for the car was getting the GM ignition recall done for safety reasons. The other open recall was for the assisted power-steering so that was replaced at the same time.

So heres the neat/not neat part. With the ignition recall you are given two brand new keys cut to the code of the VIN. So essentially new keys like the car was brand new. Those new sharp cut keys work all the door and trunk locks.

All this to say... It appears if you never use your key to unlock the doors its possible the ignition and key will wear together, but the door locks will not wear the same. I never saw this as a problem until testing all the things you would on a used car. I wonder how many people out there don't realize that if their key fob died their key wouldn't let them in the car??
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#4752948 - 05/10/18 11:58 AM Re: Interesting issue and fix for my new-to-me Saturn [Re: HemiHawk]
mjoekingz28 Offline


Registered: 11/21/07
Posts: 3996
Loc: United States of America
Neato-O!

Quite interesting.

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#4752955 - 05/10/18 12:07 PM Re: Interesting issue and fix for my new-to-me Saturn [Re: HemiHawk]
VeryNoisyPoet Offline


Registered: 12/16/17
Posts: 318
Loc: Massachusetts
Interesting. Seems some keys and locks that wear down faster than others. My car still has the original keys. They look no different from the valet key that never gets used besides some scuffing. They work in front door lock, tailgate lock, and glovebox lock just fine.

Would have been cool to see a side by side comparison of your old worn-out key and the new key if there was any visual signs of it getting worn down and changing shape.
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#4753007 - 05/10/18 01:03 PM Re: Interesting issue and fix for my new-to-me Saturn [Re: HemiHawk]
earlyre Offline


Registered: 11/22/11
Posts: 3892
Loc: Lima, Ohio, USA
so you're saying i should key unlock my sable every so often... the ONLY external lock cyl in in the drivers door...

that's also bad news for some late model Chrysler products. there was a run for a few years, my brother's 07 Dakota included, that if you unlock it with the key, vs the fob, it sets off the alarm...every time.


hrm... I wonder if my buddy should look into getting some vin cut keys for his vibe....since he bought it(120kmi 2010), they key only works in the ignition, but it's now worn down to the point he can remove the key with the engine running... and it stays running...(2003 MY, fast approaching 225k mi)


Edited by earlyre (05/10/18 01:07 PM)
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#4753021 - 05/10/18 01:15 PM Re: Interesting issue and fix for my new-to-me Saturn [Re: HemiHawk]
supton Online   content


Registered: 11/09/08
Posts: 12162
Loc: NH
Hmm, wife's car and my car don't have transponders, but I bet we'd have the same problem: we lock maybe a tenth of the time we use the cars. Maybe less. On the good side we have multiple keys, and only one key takes all the wear (per vehicle), thus giving us leeway on key (or car) replacement.
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#4753030 - 05/10/18 01:20 PM Re: Interesting issue and fix for my new-to-me Saturn [Re: HemiHawk]
zzyzzx Offline


Registered: 05/18/12
Posts: 4400
Loc: Baltimore, Maryland, USA
That's why I keep an original unused new key for the car that I use to have copies made from.

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#4753039 - 05/10/18 01:26 PM Re: Interesting issue and fix for my new-to-me Saturn [Re: VeryNoisyPoet]
HemiHawk Offline


Registered: 03/09/16
Posts: 877
Loc: PA,US
Originally Posted By: VeryNoisyPoet
Interesting. Seems some keys and locks that wear down faster than others. My car still has the original keys. They look no different from the valet key that never gets used besides some scuffing. They work in front door lock, tailgate lock, and glovebox lock just fine.

Would have been cool to see a side by side comparison of your old worn-out key and the new key if there was any visual signs of it getting worn down and changing shape.


I wish I kept the old one, but I think they got rid of it. I was noticeably smoothed out. I'm sure the metal was cheap and weak. The car has 150k miles on it so it was used in the ignition a good bit.
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#4753048 - 05/10/18 01:32 PM Re: Interesting issue and fix for my new-to-me Saturn [Re: HemiHawk]
bdcardinal Offline


Registered: 06/03/05
Posts: 11076
Loc: Santa Barbara, CA
Originally Posted By: HemiHawk
So I had to buy a car recently for a relative (long story). I ended up with a 2006 Saturn Ion. After some research (before buying) it has some decent components... 2.2 EcoTec, 4-speed trans that was used in V6 models so its beefier than the years before 06.

But there was an issue... The key didn't unlock the trunk or either doors. It worked the ignition fine. So the only way into the car was the key fob. My first task for the car was getting the GM ignition recall done for safety reasons. The other open recall was for the assisted power-steering so that was replaced at the same time.

So heres the neat/not neat part. With the ignition recall you are given two brand new keys cut to the code of the VIN. So essentially new keys like the car was brand new. Those new sharp cut keys work all the door and trunk locks.

All this to say... It appears if you never use your key to unlock the doors its possible the ignition and key will wear together, but the door locks will not wear the same. I never saw this as a problem until testing all the things you would on a used car. I wonder how many people out there don't realize that if their key fob died their key wouldn't let them in the car??


Yup it is extremely common. Ford only grants dealers access to key cut codes back 10 years. When someone comes in with a vehicle more than lets say 14-15 years old and has their code, the keys usually do not work in the ignition. At that point we sell them a new ignition tumbler and I build it to the code.
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#4753074 - 05/10/18 01:48 PM Re: Interesting issue and fix for my new-to-me Saturn [Re: HemiHawk]
Black_Thunder Offline


Registered: 09/23/06
Posts: 1300
Loc: Wisconsin
I know the door tumblers are a little more precise then the key tumbler so the more wear on the key then the door locks sounds normal but maybe from the door tumblers never been rotated they are seized?


I had an issue with a couple of my vehicles where the door tumblers wouldn't turn with the factory key but after soaking the inside of the tumbler with penetrating oil I was eventually able to work the tumblers free and then just made sure to manually unlock the doors here and there to keep them freed up.
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