Had the same thing happen on my 2001 Town & Country (90K miles) recently. My wife called me at work from the grocery store parking lot. Ignition key wouldn't turn.
You'll eventually need to replace your ignition key switch lock on the steering wheel. The part can be purchased on ebay for $34.99 with free shipping. The part is a few inches long and cylindrical in shape. You need to provide your VIN # when ordering to ensure you get the correct part. You can install in 15 minutes; you just turn the key in the ignition, push on a tab under the steering column, and the ignition key lock falls out. Reverse the steps to install the new replacement.
For a free, short-term fix: put the key into the ignition; use a rubber mallet to tap the key into the ignition. This is guaranteed to work. I read a long thread on the internet, and everyone who tried it were amazed that it does work. You might go 25 start-ups before the next time the key won't turn. You could do this forever, I suppose, but you'll eventually want to purchase and install the replacement part.
I recently had this happen to me in a mall parking lot at closing time. I was extremely frustrated and envisioned a tow to the dealer to get it fixed and all of those dollar bills flying out of my pocket. My girlfriend calmly pulled out her phone, googled the problem and RepairPal suggested the "guaranteed hammer" trick... needless to say I was skeptical.
But it worked like a champ!
Simply tap the key firmly with a hammer and the key will turn and start the car.
Thanks for the tip....
I had this happen to me leaving me stranded. I called my cousin to look up anything on this problem. She too found info about beating on it with a hammer. Unforturnately I did not have a hammer with me so I used whatever heavy object I could find. DID NOT WORK! I had to have my car towed which was not easy because the steering was locked up. The next morning my husband went with a rubber mallot and worked like a charm. Guess we should have asked the tow truck driver for a hammer. I keep one in my car now. Apparently this is a common problem with this car.
As others mentioned previously, thank you! We just had this issue with our 1999 Town and Country today. I googled for some related issues and found your post. Could not get to turn initially, but simply tapped on the key with the side of a hammer while in ignition and it then turned. I think I will order the ignition key switch lock soon. Much appreciated!!
I woke up yesterday morning and my car would not start. The key could go into the ignition but it simply will not turn. I ended up getting a ride to work with a co-worker and thinking this may be expensive to fix. I looked up what to do when my key will not turn in the ignition. I tried this trick and to my SUPRISE it WORKS!!!!!!!!!!!! I have no idead how you figured this out but thanks for posting this. It was very helpful. The car started right up like it was never having a problem.
I did the hammer tap and it worked. My wife had a heavy key chain she had just attached which seemed to contribute to this not working. I took the heavy key chain off. Then I got a small bottle of graphite. I put graphite on the key, slid in and out of lock, kept putting graphite in. This was maybe a year ago and I've not had the problem happen again. Seems like in our case the heavy key chain caused some wear on the key or tumblers, the tumblers started sticking a little, maybe with the shavings from they key. Graphite loosened everything up and since we removed the key chain we stopped the cause of the sticky tumblers.
Thank you so much! This happened to us tonight and the rubber mallet worked! We were so thrilled bcause we are on vacation. My husband did say he did it lightly at first and it didn't work but then he did it again a bit harder (3 to 4 good taps) and it worked! Try it and hopefully works for you too. :)
260,000 miles on 2003 Chrysler Town & Country - "key in ignition will not turn" - first tried (in 15 degree F snow storm)by heating up the steering column with a blow dryer, and then used WD-40 sprayed into the ignition cylinder, that lasted intermittently for six months, sometimes it would stick, but if you persisted in trying to turn the key without bending it, eventually it would start. Now in summer (in 90 degree F heat wave) no matter how long I persisted in trying to turn the key, and no matter how much WD-40 I sprayed into the key hole, the key in the ignition switch would not turn.
Called an "AAA" locksmith; dispatcher said he would charge $15 to come to where the car was parked; I said I wanted to know the total cost of the repair before agreeing to any charges; dispatcher said he would charge $90 per key plus the cost of the ignition cylinder plus labor, but that was if he didn't find anything else wrong. Easily could have cost me $15 plus $180(two keys)plus $90-110 (ignition cylinder) plus $50 labor which easily surpass $300 to repair and replace ignition switch. Went to both Autozone and Advance Autoparts; both carried the same switch, a Dorman 924-703 Ignition Lock Cylinder selling for the same price $67.50 which comes WITH TWO KEYS and instructions. Local "mobile" mechanics (who travel to where the car is located to do the repair) wouldn't work for less than a flat fee of $100+ (labor)but wouldn't quote an hourly rate. I bought the
Dorman 924-703, but the instructions assumed that the key in ignition could be turned, making the instructions worthless.
Went to google and then to your website, which is the ONLY WEBSITE I've found that lists the rubber mallet solution. IT WORKED PERFECTLY, and EXACTLY AS ALL THE OTHER CONTRIBUTORS WHO ANSWERED THIS QUESTION reported.
Thanks, everyone; I lost a full day of work earnings today plus a penalty for not showing up; but at least the car now starts reliably and I won't miss all my weekend assignments. IT IS AMAZING THAT IT WORKS!! Thanks!!