Tech Tips
Ignition Key Locked Down

Recently I pulled up to a gas pump and filled er' up and hopped in to leave in my bosses 85 Firebird. Tried to turn the key and nothing. It was locked down tight. I wiggled, I jiggled, I checked the gearshift, I cussed and no success. This was a little embarrassing sitting in the pump isle unable to leave when others were waiting.

Pay attention to this: This is hereafter known as the "Key and Palm Trick". In a desperate attempt I used my thumb and middle finger to grab the lock cylinder housing where those two tabs are. I pulled outward on these while applying inward pressure on the key with my palm. Ignition, blast off, I started the car and drove straight home.

I went inside and got a tube of powdered lock graphite. You can pick this up at the hardware store for a couple of bucks. I put a towel in my lap while I sat in the drivers seat, so the graphite wouldn't stain my pants or seats. I then shot graphite into the keyhole and all around the cylinder housing that turns. I worked this in and out, on and off, for about a minute, and I have not had any key problems since. I then put graphite in every lock on the car, house, and padlocks I could fine.

Fact: Hardly anyone maintains there locks properly. While there are many components in the locking mechanisms on doors and such that require oil, the tumblers are not one of them. Don't, I repeat DON'T, use WD-40, Liquid Wrench, 3-in-1 Oil, Sewing Machine Oil, or any other petroleum based oil on lock tumblers. It gums them up and attracts dirt and dust. If you already have or suspect as much, get some carb cleaner, or TV tuner cleaner, or Electronic Circuit Board Cleaner, something that leaves no residue, and degrease the tumblers. Use compressed air or allow to air dry, then apply the dry powdered graphite. Then say good-bye to your lock problems.

I have seen and heard of more people buying new locks, new ignitions, tearing up their consoles, taking apart their steering columns, when all they needed was $2.00 tube of lock graphite.


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