RepairPal is your advocate for car care advice and guidance

Q: key won't turn in ignition on 1998 Toyota Camry

Rookie cbe0621eac06868b3efe0d8d1d3611e23c60d3114864ea2ec19a68cfbd3eebab
Help, all of a sudden I can't turn my ignition switch. I've tried the obvious ie., car in park, sreering wheel not locked, 3 different keys.

I've had to use it 3 times in the past 36 hours and each time it has taken me more than 10 miutes/50-100 attempts at turning key before it has finally turned.

Now I have it in my driveway with the key left in the on position. I know that this will drain the battery but i don't know what other problems it will cause or how fast it will drain.
Toyota dealer says it will cost from $600-$800
No car image 94a1663db56199c5353592009e34aaa51078a2469bed068bb8d6f0ba43accf97
Get a Repair Estimate
Guaranteed by certified locations nationwide. Learn more
RepairPal estimates are guaranteed at over 1,700 quality certified locations nationwide. Learn more
1997 Toyota Camry Key Wont turn, Ignition Lock problem -1997 toyota camry FIXED!!! I see a lot of Douches with a capital D trying to charge people to fix this extremely common issue with this Camry ignition cylinder. OK pull the plastic guard off encasing the steering column. Get a phillips head screwdriver and remove the 2 screws holding the little off-white connector at the rear of the module(it has the wires to the ignition running to it). Get a pair of pliers or a small crescent wrench and while trying to turn the key use the wrench to turn the little rod sticking out of the back of the module. Make sure your turning it WITH the direction the key is trying to turn it. It should immediate be freed. Voila IT WORKS! AND THATS WHY PEOPLE DONT TRUST MECHANICS! HOW CAN YOU CHARGE SOMEONE FOR THAT INFO?
I've had this problem as well for the last 3 - 5 years.

2 things you can do:

1) Buy some graphite at the Hardware store and put it in the key hole. This works for a while but needs to be repeated and can be a bit messy.

2) Put the key in the ignition slowly and gently, gently try turning the key as you are putting the key further in. Eventually, you will reach the point where the key turns and you should be able to start the vehicle.

Hope this helps
try squerting a couple drops of wd forty in the key inlet that shood free it up try moving it around with the key a few times the graghite is prettygood but you will need to have your engnition switch replaced the toyota dealership is the wrong place try to find some one you know that can change it for you you can get the switch at o.rielys or autozone for a reasonable price
Yes, I had this problem a couple of months ago and eventually the key refused to work, I had to have a new ignition switch and starter replaced/installed, got a brand new key to boot.

Problem solved and no more worries. Pepboys charged a little over $400 to do the 2 hour job.
Most Toyotas have this problem. Graphite will not help. Do not replace the ignition system. Take your car to a lock shop that makes keys. They will adjust the tumblers. Total time about 30 minutes. Total cost about $80.
Talk to Bob's Lock Shop in West Valley City, UT for an explanation.
My daughter had the same problem. Bob fixed the problem and said he has fixed many Toyotas which have the same problem making the key turn in the ignition.
I had this problem with my 95 Toyota Camry. My steering wheel could turn hardly but my key did not turn at all in ignition. I tried many possible solutions like WD-40 and pushing the car from the back when and simultaneously turning the key, but No one worked. Finally, I bought graphite lube and put graphite powder on key and then put key in ignition. I took off key and then I used dust remover (that I bought from Walmart) to push graphite completely in ignition. After 5minutes try it worked! I did not anticipate this method to work!! But now after 5day I have had no problem and key can easily turn in ignition.
Ok,so I just had this happen to me with my 2002 Corolla. Stranded in a parking lot alone at night is no fun. So after trying every suggestion i found online to no avail, I called for a tow truck. Long story short, I tried my spare car key as the tow guy suggested and it worked beautifully. So for all those that have had their ignition "stick" in the locked position, try a good spare key before going to a mechanic who will most likely do an unnecessary and expensive repair.If the teeth get too worn on your key they won't catch the tumbler and your key won't turn.
Didn't find what you were looking for?