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S-10 & Blazer 1982-2005
The S-10 and Blazer was arguably the most versatile and accessorizable mid-size truck and SUV on the market.
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  #1  
Old 03-04-2010, 06:59 PM
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Default Problem with Ignition Tumbler on '97 S-10

I've been having intermittant problems with my 1997 S-10 Ignition tumbler. Sometimes when I'm parked, I can't get the key to turn the ignition. Sometimes I have been able to tap the key into the tumbler and it will work but today I went to get in and go to the store and I can't get it to turn. I thought it may be the key so tried my original key that I keep in a safe place to make copies but no deal. To top it off, the plastic thumb **** the key fit's into also broke off, probably from trying a little gentle (a-hem) persuasion.

So now I am thinking it is time to replace the ignition switch but I am reading the Haynes manual and it says "turn the steering wheel 90 degrees to gain access to the backside of the steering wheel. Insert a screwdriver into the hole for each of the four spring clips to release the pin." This is to remove the airbag module. My problem is how can I turn the steering wheel since I can't unlock it? The holes are not visible in it's current position.

Am I going to have to punch out the tumbler or is there some way to manually release the steering wheel lock so I can turn it?
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Old 03-04-2010, 07:02 PM
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unfortunately you have to get key to work somehow. the other method is to break the lock mechanism, but you'll be replacing whole column then. keep at it until it decides to go. the tumblers can get wore out enough that even the original key in good shape won't work.
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Old 03-04-2010, 07:34 PM
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Going to call a dealership tomorrow but I thought someone might know how to remove the tumbler without taking the whole steering column apart. Now that I look at it, the thumb turn is part of the tumbler and I can see where it has broken away so the tumbler is exposed. They make it easy on TV when they pop out the tumbler stick a screwdriver in and steal the car. I know thieves don't worry about screwing up the steering column but there has to be a way. A new tumbler is only about $25 plus whatever the dealership charges to code it.
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Old 03-04-2010, 07:38 PM
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there is a set screw inside the column you have to take out to get tumbler out. usually a T25 torx driver. but yeah, steering wheel has to come off.
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Old 03-04-2010, 07:44 PM
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SH*T! Thanks. If anyone else has an idea, I'm all ears, with a full tank of gas and no where to go!
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Old 03-04-2010, 07:56 PM
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drill out the tumbler. 3/8" bit should do.
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Old 03-04-2010, 09:06 PM
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I will use that as a last resort. Thanks!
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Old 03-08-2010, 09:28 AM
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There is no set screw holding cyl.in on a 97' like there used to be in the 80's...It is a spring loaded pc.of metal which Haynes says to depress with an allen wrench. I just had mine out last week to replace the ign.switch. It was extremely frustrating for me to get it to "uncatch"...I spent a good hour + just trying! Finally she just worked and I got it out...what a pain....I also spent more time than required trying to get the air bag to release but finally did using a smaller reg screw driver. When you fiddle, disconnect neg.batt,pull air bag fuse and disconnect yellow air bag connector at lower column area-it's very easy to do. Also they state to set air bag down carefully and in normal position..yikes! I don't want that baby going off around me!
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Old 03-08-2010, 09:33 AM
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and that's what is great about these forums. i stand corrected. i thought they still used a set screw, but they do not. thanks for the correction and additional input for him,
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Old 03-08-2010, 09:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill's Dad View Post
There is no set screw holding cyl.in on a 97' like there used to be in the 80's...It is a spring loaded pc.of metal which Haynes says to depress with an allen wrench. I just had mine out last week to replace the ign.switch. It was extremely frustrating for me to get it to "uncatch"...I spent a good hour + just trying! Finally she just worked and I got it out...what a pain....I also spent more time than required trying to get the air bag to release but finally did using a smaller reg screw driver. When you fiddle, disconnect neg.batt,pull air bag fuse and disconnect yellow air bag connector at lower column area-it's very easy to do. Also they state to set air bag down carefully and in normal position..yikes! I don't want that baby going off around me!
Thanks Dad. The Haynes is pretty specific about disconnecting the battery, fuse and setting the air bag unit down somewhere faceup. It also mentions the removal process for 1995 and newer being as you described. We must have the same manual. My problem is getting to that point as I can't unlock the wheel to turn it. Can't even tow the vehicle without dragging it from it's parking place.


Well after calling a handful of dealerships, most of which were at a loss as to what to do, two recommended drilling out the cylinder. The Haynes manual does say that there is a hole in the top of the ignition module that you must use a small Allen wrench to depress the release pin so before drilling out the cylinder, I located the hole and drilled through the plastic cover and tried that first. Didn't work. A later call to my local mechanic who has the same year S-10 said that only works if the key can be turned so the pin can be depressed. So drilling was my last option.

Tried drilling with a 3/8" carbide tipped drill and found it tough going. Switched to a normal hardened drill and stepped it up to 7/16" and it cut like butter. Drilled to the depth of the key and was then able to turn the cylinder with a screwdriver and start the truck and unlock the steering wheel and transmission. Am going to go the route of an over the counter ignition cylinder and or module as it is cheaper than the one from the dealership. Probably will forgo getting it coded as well as that is an extra $20. Maybe someday if I decide to sell it but I'm keeping my S-10 as long as I can.

So I guess the lesson here is if you start having problems and are able to get it started, drive it home, park it with the wheel at 90 degrees and get that thing out of there A.S.A.P. Will have to check to see if that release pin works on a unit when the key can turn. If it does, the much simpler solution without having to remove the steering wheel would be to drill a 3/8" hole above the hole in the Ignition module and release the cylinder while the unit still works. You can get snap in hole plugs to dress it up and make it look presentable. To find out where to drill that hole, look at a new ignition module and take measurements from it. Not sure if that will even work yet but if it does, it would save a lot of time and effort not to mention no chance of setting off the air bag!

Last edited by drdx; 03-08-2010 at 12:01 PM.
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Old 03-08-2010, 09:53 AM
 
 
 
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Tags
1995, 90, 95, 97, 99, airbag, assembly, disconnect, ignition, removal, s10, steering, switch, trailblazer, tumbler, turns, wheel


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