Imminent Steering Lock Issue?

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Imminent Steering Lock Issue?

Postby markv » Tue 10.01.2012, 00:19

I'd never even noticed the steering lock when turning the key in the ignition to start the car until last week, when the key wouldn't turn immediately, and I had to jiggle the wheel to get the key to turn. Now I have to go through this process every time, even when I've parked the Elan in a straight line and then haven't moved the steering wheel at all. Should I be worried about an imminent steering lock problem? The only thing that's been different about my recent usage is that the car has been parked outside for most of the last 6 months (previously always garaged), so has got very cold and wet on numerous occasions.

Any advice/suggestions gratefully received.
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Re: Imminent Steering Lock Issue?

Postby Rice crispy » Tue 10.01.2012, 11:47

Mark,
spray the lock barrel and key slot with some wd40 or such like lubricant and all will be fine :D Mine got to the point where I couldn't turn the key about a year ago and since lubricating it has been fine.

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David
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Re: Imminent Steering Lock Issue?

Postby Brit-Car-Nut » Tue 10.01.2012, 17:01

As WD40 isn't a lubricant, you should consider a light oil like sewing machine oil or a teflon oil like Tri-Flow. Worst case you could use some marvel mystery oil. They also make lock lube that you can get at the local DIY that would be better than WD40.
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Re: Imminent Steering Lock Issue?

Postby dapinky » Tue 10.01.2012, 19:34

Personally, I'd go the other way and remove oil from the barrel :shock:

When i had this issue, i did the 'easy' thing and swapped the ignition lock completely (it was nearly as cheap as getting a spare key cut!!!).

Looking at the old one, it was full of thick greasy gunk (probably an accumulation of dirt, dust and old oil residue) which was more glue than lube, and the individual tumblers in the lock would not go where they were meant to with the key inserted (tiny springs operate them to the correct place to release the barrel), as the spring pressure struggled to overcome the glue.

I cleaned it all up and ended up with a servicable 'spare' unit, which was lightly oiled before going into storage.

Perhaps a squirt of brake cleaner, carb cleaner (my substance of choice for this one), or electric contact cleaner will work. (or WD40)

Basically, some 'solvent under pressure' should remove the gunk and then evaporate away (with the gunk running out onto a suitably placed rag), leaving a system which will work - only then lightly lubricate it all.

I think if you add oil before cleaning it up you may get a temporary improvement, but it will not remove all the cra@p and the problem will return (maybe in about 20 years time), or if the oil is too viscous, it will make it worse rather than better.
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Re: Imminent Steering Lock Issue?

Postby markv » Mon 23.01.2012, 00:51

Thanks, I'll try the WD40 and report back.
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Re: Imminent Steering Lock Issue?

Postby Kathryn » Wed 23.11.2016, 20:19

Aha, may be the problem I have! LEC to the rescue again!

Went to start the car the other day, turning the key whilst releasing steering wheel lock as you do, nothing was budging. I managed it in the end, by this time I was trying the spare key as I was worried about bending it, I don't know how I managed it but I think I was jiggling the wheel! I'd only been parked for 5 minutes and it hasn't happened before or since (I always lock the wheel when I park) but sometimes it is a bit stiff. Not sure if the issue was the steering wheel or ignition. Was actually wondering if a squirt of WD40 might help! Did it?
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Re: Imminent Steering Lock Issue?

Postby Kathryn » Wed 23.11.2016, 20:43

Btw no issues turning the key when the steering wheel isn't locked.
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Re: Imminent Steering Lock Issue?

Postby dapinky » Wed 23.11.2016, 21:34

Katherine,

Brake cleaner is better than WD40 - it needs to clean the crap out and not goo it up. WD40 will do it, but still leave an oily residue which will only serve to attract further dust.

I have read that locks should be lubricated with graphite powder only so it doesn't get gooey with age - but if it is already past that stage, WD40 should improve it temporarily.

Ideally, you need to remove the whole lock assembly, but it is time consuming as it is held in with 2 shear bolts for security, and getting them out can be awkward (I cut small slots in the top with a Dremmel so I could get a screwdriver in to undo them, and screw them back in again as required).

Once the ignition lock is out, spray cleaner into it and stand it on its face to allow the oily mess to drip out. Brake cleaner evaporates quickly, so it may need a few applications. When it runs out clean, allow it to dry (doesn't take more than a minute!) and try the key again. It may need doing a couple of times to allow the tiny springs to clean themselves and move about a bit with the key. Then simply replace it all and you're good for another 25 years.
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Re: Imminent Steering Lock Issue?

Postby lotusflasherman » Wed 23.11.2016, 22:10

dapinky wrote:Katherine,

I have read that locks should be lubricated with graphite powder only so it doesn't get gooey with age - but if it is already past that stage, WD40 should improve it temporarily.


:agree: Correct as usual Dave. Company I worked for used Union Locks by Josiah Parkes and issued us with little 'puffer' bottles of graphite powder. Still got mine after many years and still works a treat.

Equivalent here ...www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Kasp-K30050-Microfine-Graphite-Lock-Cylinder-Lubricant-Powder-50g-/252416816174 Mine was much smaller than this and from my experience, this one will last you 100 years.. :lol:

keys and locks work silky smooth but only trouble is ... graphite is black so key comes out with fine black powder on it that will transfer to fingers, face, whatever... carry a Kleenex to wipe it off the key straight away!
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Re: Imminent Steering Lock Issue?

Postby lotusflasherman » Wed 23.11.2016, 22:21

Kathryn wrote:Btw no issues turning the key when the steering wheel isn't locked.


Kathryn, when you pull the key the steering lock is set so that attempts to turn the steering will then lock it when the indent and plunger line up. If you turn the steering so the lock engages there may be a load on the lock from the tyres that makes it difficult to unlock with the key. If you unload the lock plunger by turning the wheel it should be easier to turn the key. Best to park straight and not turn the steering wheel.
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Re: Imminent Steering Lock Issue?

Postby Kathryn » Thu 24.11.2016, 00:50

lotusflasherman wrote:
Kathryn wrote:Btw no issues turning the key when the steering wheel isn't locked.


Kathryn, when you pull the key the steering lock is set so that attempts to turn the steering will then lock it when the indent and plunger line up. If you turn the steering so the lock engages there may be a load on the lock from the tyres that makes it difficult to unlock with the key. If you unload the lock plunger by turning the wheel it should be easier to turn the key. Best to park straight and not turn the steering wheel.


Yeah I know that. Although I wasn't quite sure of the internal workings.

I always straighten up the wheels when I park - don't want to look like I just carelessly whizzed into a space! I wonder if I did on this occasion as I was in a rush to get into the garden centre before it closed, and that could be the issue. Hmm yes. If I recall, the steering wheel was turned at quite an angle. But as I said, I often find it a bit stiff. (and I am stronger than I look)
I do turn the wheel when I turn the key - how else am I supposed to unlock it?! I guess it's not strictly necessary to lock the wheel every time but I always have done!

I don't think I'll be attempting to remove the lock barrel, if Dave found it awkward! But thanks for the suggestions Dave and Phil. If I continue to have problems I may have to get someone to have a look at it for me.
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Re: Imminent Steering Lock Issue?

Postby dapinky » Thu 24.11.2016, 00:56

Kathryn wrote:I don't think I'll be attempting to remove the lock barrel, if Dave found it awkward! But thanks for the suggestions Dave and Phil. If I continue to have problems I may have to get someone to have a look at it for me.


Don't be put off by my choice of words - perhaps 'fiddly' may be better than awkward. Not something to be attempted at the roadside, but at home it is easily achieved with patience (I always find that the worst part of any job on the steering column is lining up the screws and bolts for the lower plastic cowling).
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Re: Imminent Steering Lock Issue?

Postby markv » Thu 09.02.2017, 13:27

Rice crispy wrote:Mark,
spray the lock barrel and key slot with some wd40 or such like lubricant and all will be fine :D Mine got to the point where I couldn't turn the key about a year ago and since lubricating it has been fine.

Regards
David

*** Update 5 years later***
I followed your advice, sprayed some WD40 in and it was immediately fine. Five years on, I haven't had a single problem since. Thanks!
Regards

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Re: Imminent Steering Lock Issue?

Postby Rice crispy » Fri 10.02.2017, 09:47

markv wrote:
Rice crispy wrote:Mark,
spray the lock barrel and key slot with some wd40 or such like lubricant and all will be fine :D Mine got to the point where I couldn't turn the key about a year ago and since lubricating it has been fine.

Regards
David

*** Update 5 years later***
I followed your advice, sprayed some WD40 in and it was immediately fine. Five years on, I haven't had a single problem since. Thanks!

Hahahah likewise
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Re: Imminent Steering Lock Issue?

Postby Bern » Fri 10.02.2017, 14:38

Although it appears to have worked in this case, I wouldn't put WD-40 into an ignition lock barrel, or if you do put something else back in afterwards. Graphite powder is good!
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