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My 2002 Honda CR-V started acting up a few weeks ago. I started having to insert the key several times before it would turn in the ignition lock. This is one of those fancy-dandy ignitions that requires an electronic chip in the key. The Honda service center told me that the ignition lock was failing and that it would cost $750 to get it fixed. I told them to pound sand.

My favorite locksmith looked at it on Friday and told me he could fix it for $125. I couldn't leave it with him that day. He said, "OK, but don't wait too long, the lock cylinder isn't going to get better, only worse."

Yesterday it got worse. Right after putting chains on the tires, (We've been having weather out here.) I got in to start it up and the key wouldn't turn. I've tried every trick I know -- wiggling, jiggling, tried all three keys that I've got, tried turning the wheel, wiggling the shifter, whispering sweet nothings into the steering column, etc.

So my question is: how can I get the damn key to turn?

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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I would guess nothing, since Honda likely designed the lock in a proprietary way that pretty much forces you to take the CR-V to one of their service centers.

I have the same kind of key for my Volvo. I have no clue how it works, but it seems as if the key communicates with the lock upon insertion and allows one to turn the ignition. I would have tried jiggling, too, but you may also want to slide the key back and forth in the slot at different speeds to try to get it to "talk" to the lock.

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Originally posted by AHI in AR

In all seriousness, my guess is that it's more a mechanical wear issue than an electronic one. If so, rebooting won't help. But then again, I'm just guessing.

It's definitely a mechanical wear issue. For the past few weeks I've been able to get it to work by applying a counter-clockwise pressure on the key as I've inserted it slowly. If I inserted it straight in, it wouldn't work.

The locksmith said that he's seen this issue many times across several different car makes. If I can get the car to his shop, the repair is $125. If he has to come to me, the price jumps to $575. It's a moot issue right now anyway, because his Sprinter would never make it up my steep driveway, which is covered in 15" of snow & ice with nary a tire mark on it. I talked to 6 towing companies today and every one refused to come to me when they found out where I lived. It wouldn't have helped because the locksmith couldn't get out of his house today anyway.

If I can figure out how to get the key to turn the lock just once, I can leave the key in there until the weather clears up and I can get to the locksmith.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Originally posted by Jim Katen

My favorite locksmith looked at it on Friday and told me he could fix it for $125. I couldn't leave it with him that day. He said, "OK, but don't wait too long, the lock cylinder isn't going to get better, only worse."

Jim Katen, Oregon

Good advice is priceless.

You may just be holding your mouth wrong.[;)]

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The "chip" is usually just a resistor. I've by-passed hundreds of them by taking a reading of the resistance and compiling off the shelf resistors to match and then installed them in series under the dash in the wiring.The "chips" as a rule have nothing to do with turning the key, but rather with talking to the computer and telling it that the rightful owner is there and wants the car's ignition system/ fuel delivery system to be activated.

The lock tumbler is worn. If you're the kind of operator that has a 1 lb key chain, take all that crap off your key ring because it swings back and forth as you drive and wears the tumblers out.

Here's the rub. To change the cylinder, one must reprogram the computer to accept a key with different values. When I quit, I could flash GM, Ford, Chrysler and Toyota. The expense for that ability was about 5 grand each per year. Honda was more, Nissan was more.

I'm sorry, but even if it was me, I'd at least have to take the vehicle to the dealer to be flashed.

Buy the lock and key, tow it to the dealer after you've installed it and have the black box flashed to accept the new value. A flash shouldn't cost more than a hundred bucks.

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Originally posted by Chad Fabry

The "chip" is usually just a resistor. I've by-passed hundreds of them by taking a reading of the resistance and compiling off the shelf resistors to match and then installed them in series under the dash in the wiring.The "chips" as a rule have nothing to do with turning the key, but rather with talking to the computer and telling it that the rightful owner is there and wants the car's ignition system/ fuel delivery system to be activated.

That's my understanding. The key enters the cylinder and turns it, but the transponder in the key tells the computer that it's ok to start the car.

The lock tumbler is worn. If you're the kind of operator that has a 1 lb key chain, take all that crap off your key ring because it swings back and forth as you drive and wears the tumblers out.

Not me. My keyring has three keys and one remote control on it. My understanding of the problem is that the sidewinder key design uses split tumblers with very small and delicate tips on each of the tumblers. As these tips wear away, the key can no longer actuate the cylinder.

Here's the rub. To change the cylinder, one must reprogram the computer to accept a key with different values. When I quit, I could flash GM, Ford, Chrysler and Toyota. The expense for that ability was about 5 grand each per year. Honda was more, Nissan was more.

I'm sorry, but even if it was me, I'd at least have to take the vehicle to the dealer to be flashed.

Buy the lock and key, tow it to the dealer after you've installed it and have the black box flashed to accept the new value. A flash shouldn't cost more than a hundred bucks.

Too advanced for me. Installing a new lock involves removing the steering wheel & airbag. I ain't going there. The locksmith tells me that he can simply pop out the cylinder, locate the worn tumblers and toss them in the trash. The cylinder will work fine with any or all of its tumblers missing - even if you inserted a blank key -- as long as the transponder chip is correctly programmed.

It makes me wonder why they need a custom-milled, two sided sidewinder key at all. They should have just gone with a straight transponder key like the Prius.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Had the same thing happen with my 2000 Plymouth Voyager about 2 years ago.

Locksmith came out, changed the pins or tumblers (whichever), gave me a new key, charged me about a $100.00, told me to keep the pound of keys from swinging around as I was driving, and then disappeared into the night.

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If it's a mechanical issue then it could be the mechanism getting gummed up. It happens. Spray some WD40 on the key and work it in there. You might have to do it a couple of times to get it loosened up. They tend to act up in colder weather too. Moisture gets trapped in there and freezes. Try the WD40, you got nothin to loose.

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Originally posted by John Dirks Jr

If it's a mechanical issue then it could be the mechanism getting gummed up. It happens. Spray some WD40 on the key and work it in there. You might have to do it a couple of times to get it loosened up. They tend to act up in colder weather too. Moisture gets trapped in there and freezes. Try the WD40, you got nothin to loose.

I already dosed it with Tri-flow when the problem several days ago. While it did an admirable job of lubricating everything, it actually seemed to make the problem worse as I think that the worn tumblers could now settle into the wrong position even easier.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Originally posted by Brandon Whitmore

If I can get the car to his shop, the repair is $125. If he has to come to me, the price jumps to $575.

It won't do you much good right now, but I have access to a car trailer if you need help once the snow melts.

Better yet, know anyone with AAA?

Thanks, I'm hoping it won't come to that, but I'll keep your trailer in mind.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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I miss the days when you could easily figure out what was wrong , buy a rebuilt part, and fix the problem in your driveway. The worst problem was when you lost a nut or bolt and had to drag a magnet around until you found it.

Now that everything is electronic, you need an IT guy instead of a mechanic to fix your car.

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