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2001 Prizm, keys won't turn locks or ignition

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New User

Dec 4, 2015, 9:37 AM

Post #1 of 4 (736 views)
2001 Prizm, keys won't turn locks or ignition Sign In

Hey guys, I need some help with a strange problem.

2001 Chev Prizm
1.8 L
114k miles

So the problem first started to surface about 2 months ago. Of the three exterior locks on the car (driver side door, passenger side door, trunk) the two locks on the doors suddenly began to only turn one way. The driver side lock would only turn to the right, meaning I could unlock the door but I couldn't turn it left to lock it from the outside. The passenger side door was the opposite: it would only turn left so that I could lock the doors from the outside, but it would not turn right so I couldn't unlock the door from the outside.

This struck me as odd but I wasn't too worried about it and decided I'd deal with it some time in the future.

This was how things were 3 days ago, on Tues Dec 1. I didn't drive the car on Wed Dec 2. Yesterday, Dec 3 when I went out to drive it, none of the three exterior locks would turn at all so I couldn't get into my car at all. I was in a hurry and needed to get to work, so I called a mobile locksmith to come open the door and get me in my car. I drove to work and back with no problems, making sure not to lock my doors so that I wouldn't be locked out because the locks still would not turn.

Today I go outside to drive the car and the ignition won't turn at all. And this is not a problem with the steering wheel being locked or anything like that. I have spent quite a while trying to turn the key in various ways, I have used a different key, nothing works.

Is there any chance some kind of electrical failure with the power lock system/ignition system could be causing this?

Thanks in advance for any help.

Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
Discretesignals profile image

Dec 4, 2015, 10:28 AM

Post #2 of 4 (718 views)
Re: 2001 Prizm, keys won't turn locks or ignition Sign In

Unlikely an electrical issue would cause something like that. The only thing all those things have in common in the key. You stated you tried another key, but did that other key work before this problem started?

Since we volunteer our time and knowledge, we ask for you to please follow up when a problem is resolved.

New User

Dec 4, 2015, 10:35 AM

Post #3 of 4 (715 views)
Re: 2001 Prizm, keys won't turn locks or ignition Sign In

Yes, the other key was working fine. Both keys worked fine one day, and then suddenly the next, neither one works.

For instance, I drove home from work last night at 10pm. No problem whatsoever turning on the ignition. Today at 8:30am when I go to take my kid to school, the ignition won't turn. It was working one moment, then suddenly the next, not working. That can't be an issue with the key.

With the cold weather, is it possible there is something going on with the locks? Yesterday when I had the "locksmith" open my car, he used of technique of bending the door open with inflatable air pads that he had wedged into the crack between the door frame and the hull. This actually bent the door frame out of shape a bit which I noticed as soon as I was driving because I could hear the air whistling through the opening. Is is possible that the air getting into the cab overnight somehow affected the ignition?

kev2 profile image

Dec 4, 2015, 12:26 PM

Post #4 of 4 (705 views)
Re: 2001 Prizm, keys won't turn locks or ignition Sign In

best guess-
have you used keys to -open a tape seam, scratch something, anything that may have put gum, glue wax onto the key- then transferred into each lock causing pins to not move back out freely after being pushed down?
examine key, alcohol* might help and some spray cleaners (carb, brake) work key in and out - then some gun or sewing oil... try doors first....

* to clean key !! - not to consume- ok just a shot or 2

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