I have a 2002 Honda CR-V which I can't get my key all the way into.

This problem just appeared today. This morning I tried starting my car and I found I couldn't get my key all the way into the ignition. There was something inside the ignition cylinder keeping the key from going in. After about 5 minutes of fiddling (i.e. shaking the wheel, the key, repeatedly inserting and removing the key) I managed to get the car started.

I thought it was just a weird coincidence. I know about how the steering wheel can lock. In this case the steering wheel was loose/moving, but I still couldn't get the key in. However, I just assumed it was something related to that. After all the key still worked fine in the door.

The next time I tried to start the car today I absolutely could not get it to start. I tried for +20 minutes. I had the same problem as before except I found I could get the key all the way in if I forced it, but I could not turn the key once all the way in. Once pushed all the way in, the key took considerable force to pull it out again. I discovered that the key was rubbing against something as I was forcing it in, making a shiny mark on the key.

At this point I had the thought to try the spare key in the hide-a-key attached to the car. The regular key is quite old a worn. After getting the spare key, I managed to get it in after about 10-20 seconds of fiddling and the car started just fine. Note, I am unable to force the spare key in, presumably because it can't slide past whatever is keeping the key from going into the ignition cylinder. I thought I had solved the problem!

However, the next time I tried to start the car with the spare key, I had considerable more trouble the previously. I had to fiddle with the key for longer before I managed to get it in and turn the key.

I just tried to start the car again, and I cannot for the life of me get the spare key into the ignition. I've also noticed that the spare key is starting to show some damage at the same location that the old key was being rubbed. Whatever is keeping the key from inserting is no longer moving.

I think something wrong or broken with the ignition cylinder's pins. I'd prefer to spend as little money to get this fixed as possible. This car is quickly becoming a beater; no ones gonna want to steal this thing. I just need some kind of quick fix so I can start the car. I'd be fine with the car starting via hot wire even. I've been googling to figure out a way to get this fixed, and I found some reference to removing the pins/tumblers from the ignition cylinder. This way the car would work like normal, just any key would be able to turn it on. Is this a viable option? Is there something else I should do?

  • Try putting a little bit of dry graphite into the cylinder. If you don't have graphite, you could try a small squirt of WD-40. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 May 17 at 23:36
  • I'll give that a go. I actually have identified the offending pin. It seems I can move it if I lift from below with a bike spoke. For some reason, the key is unable to lift the pin. I'm gonna run to get some dry graphite to see if that helps. Thanks for the suggestion. – Alex May 18 at 0:51
  • Even after lubricating the lock I still can't get the key in. I'm afraid I'll need to buy a new ignition cylinder. – Alex May 18 at 3:28
  • Replace it - you have noticed the wear after 18 years, 365 days and perhaps an average of 3 starts per day... – Solar Mike May 18 at 6:14
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    Apparently this is a common problem with Hondas. The lock cylinders were poorly made. Unfortunately, it was clocked in at about $1300 for a replacement, $800 for the part alone. Instead I've decided to hire a locksmith to fix the cylinder rather than replace the whole thing, this was much cheaper, about $200. I'm confident this will work because it sounds like the locksmith has done many jobs like this. – Alex May 18 at 22:37

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