1997 Pontiac Grand Am, Ignition Switch Will Not Turn Off, Key Cannot Be Removed

This 1997 Pontiac Grand Am came in with the complaint that the ignition switch will not turn all of the way off. This causes two other problems. The key cannot be removed from the ignition lock cylinder and the ignition stays on enough for the systems not to shut down fully. The battery will go dead as a result. This is an increasingly common problem on many GM cars. This repair is only about how to get the ignition, switched off fully, so that the key can be removed and the battery drain condition can be avoided.

Look at the underside of the steering column plastic housing. You should see a removable section as shown in the picture below.

Place the tip of a spare key or a flat blade screwdriver into the slot as shown below. Using the slot as a pivot point, gently push the key head or screwdriver handle towards the base of the steering column.  You just need to flex the forward edge of the insert panel enough to clear the main plastic cover.

Now, slide the insert on the direction of the arrow to remove the insert from the housing cover.

With the access cover removed you now have enough room to use the ned of your finger to locate the steel button and push it in. With the button/pin pushed in you can now turn the ignition key all of the way off.

I removed the cover in order to give you a better view of the pin/button that needs to be pushed in to release the ignition switch and therefore the key.

Keep in mind that this is just a mechanical override to allow the key to be switched off fully. It is not a fix. I will do a post about diagnosing and replacing the faulty part  soon. In this case it was a faulty floor shifter assembly.  Click here to see that post.

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