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    1. #1
      Junior Member Ride S40T's Avatar
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      Key Stuck in the Dash

      Just a short write-up on the key being stuck in the dash…read something about a year ago on this forum but for those who it may happen to…think it may have been another issue but this one I have not seen or heard of.

      ISSUE: Key would not rotate all the way left. Car would shut off but the electrical did not shut down completely (draining battery) and worst of all, the car could not be locked. Crazy thing would not rotate no matter how much force applied. Free car anyone?

      Had read that a waning battery (low volts) may cause the ignition switch to falter so replaced the battery first (it was 5 yrs old anyway), no change. Over the phone Volvo thought it was the ignition, quoted around $650USD but had a local import shop trouble shoot since Volvo is 1.5 hours away and I was far from home. Local import shop immediately found out it was the “plunger” or some sort of recessed mechanism (for lack of a real word for the part) that lurks under the gearshift. Said they jiggled it and it came loose, and then “bing”, the key rotated, released, and came out. They tried for about an hour to reproduce the seizure but could not so they cleaned with brake fluid and lubed the linkage. For $72USD it was back on the road.

      Issue with the timing of the jam was that I was 5 hours from home which means every time during the trip while the car was gassed or when I had to use the restroom the car sat in the parking lot with the key in it for anyone to take advantage. Tossed a jacket over the dash and parked near open windows and quickly did business. The only way (that I found) to lock the car was to disconnect the battery, shut the hood, remove the valet key and manually lock the doors while the car was dead. This process would allow me out of a jam but the experience left me leery of my beautiful ride. It’s been almost 5 years/58K miles and I’ve not had any major issues until now - thumbs up on reliability.

      Still waiting on the wonderful trip to the shop for the PCV, have been using synthetic for two years so we’ll see if it makes a difference.

      Anyway, for what it’s worth. Happy motoring folks!

    2. #2
      Thanks for the heads up. With my S40 crossing the six year mark last Friday, this information would come useful.

      So far I haven't had any issues like this, but hopefully don't have to experience it. And I'm not sure why the ignition key would get stuck in the dash when the battery is low... I don't remember seeing anything in the manual but I was told about this by my sales person.
      Don't race with Volvos just because they don't look fast. Most of they actually are...

    3. #3
      Junior Member ion's Avatar
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      If you turn off our cars and leave the gear selector in 'Drive', it won't let you take the key out, right? So if the problem was related to something under the gear selector, maybe your car thought it was in 'Drive' even though it wasn't, and thus wasn't letting you remove the key. One thing to try in this kind of situation might be taking out the metal key insert and using it to activate the gear selector override function (inserting the key into that little covered slot next to the shift lever).

    4. #4
      Junior Member jedgar's Avatar
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      Random other key fact:

      For some reason, when the car is involved in an accident and detects airbag deployment, the key locks itself into the car and is impossible to remove, no matter how hard to push/pull.
      John Edgar

      Black 06 S40 T5 || RICA Stage II || 3" EST DP ||

    5. #5
      Junior Member ion's Avatar
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      Really? Maybe something got damaged in the key area, because the manual states:

      Attempting to start the car
      If damage to the car is minor, and there is no fuel leakage, you may attempt to start the car.
      To do so:
      1. Remove the ignition key.
      2. Reinsert the key in the ignition switch. The car will then attempt to reset COLLISION STATUS to normal status.
      3. Try to start the car.

    6. #6
      Quote Originally Posted by jedgar View Post
      Random other key fact:

      For some reason, when the car is involved in an accident and detects airbag deployment, the key locks itself into the car and is impossible to remove, no matter how hard to push/pull.
      Does the power get cut when the accident happened?
      Don't race with Volvos just because they don't look fast. Most of they actually are...

    7. #7
      Member jdsr917's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by jedgar View Post
      Random other key fact:

      For some reason, when the car is involved in an accident and detects airbag deployment, the key locks itself into the car and is impossible to remove, no matter how hard to push/pull.

      Did you put the car in park? the key will not come out if the car is in anything but park (w/AT)

    8. #8
      Junior Member orteped's Avatar
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      I had the same issue with the Key getting stuck in ignition with no obvious reason. The only thing that permanently fixed it was a new ignition. It was a simple part from the dealer, about $225 and me ripping the dash apart but it worked. Apparently there was an issue with the 4.5 year switches per the dealer I bought it from.

    9. #9
      You need a start control unit, the dealer will remove the one that has your key locked up in it and remove the key and then will replace with a new one. Its pretty common, I think ive done at least a dozen SCU's and half of those are due to stuck keys.
      TheRetrofitSource | 2020 Motorsports | RTernie | H&R Springs | Import Meet | Girodisc

      Current: E46M (daily) | S40 T5 (grocery getter)
      Past: NA1 NSX | Acura TL | LS-T DC4

    10. #10
      I had the opposite happen today. I can put the key in and it to turn Position 1 but not past that point. I could not start the car but could unlock the steering wheel, move the gear selector... but not start the car. I could get the key back out. I was told it was probably the ignition lock and I am look at about $700 in repairs. Does that sound about right? Thanks!

    11. #11
      Wait...so they lubed something around he shifter and now it works again?? There is no linkage to the scu from the shifter. There is a gear position sensor in the tcm on top o the tranny for gear position...but I'm not sure what they did to fix this...did they in fact fix it?
      Usually it's the scu in my experience

    12. #12
      SCU is entirely electrical. Unfortunately they will just fail, most cases with a few key on and off back and forth business you can manage to get them out before replacing it. However every now and then Ill have one that just wont come out and will just pry it out after its removed.
      TheRetrofitSource | 2020 Motorsports | RTernie | H&R Springs | Import Meet | Girodisc

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    13. #13
      Junior Member jedgar's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by frontwheeldriven View Post
      Does the power get cut when the accident happened?
      In the accident I was involved in.. the radio said.. "Airbag deployment detected, serious collision, seek assistance immediately" and then after a minute it say "downloading information....." and then that went on for a few seconds.. and then it said "shutting down system(or something like that)" and the car went dead (and yes, the car was in park).
      John Edgar

      Black 06 S40 T5 || RICA Stage II || 3" EST DP ||

    14. #14
      Danger Robinson family, danger! lol Cars are getting too smart for their own good.
      TheRetrofitSource | 2020 Motorsports | RTernie | H&R Springs | Import Meet | Girodisc

      Current: E46M (daily) | S40 T5 (grocery getter)
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    15. #15

    16. #16
      Junior Member Ride S40T's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by garbergtsi View Post
      Wait...so they lubed something around he shifter and now it works again?? There is no linkage to the scu from the shifter. There is a gear position sensor in the tcm on top o the tranny for gear position...but I'm not sure what they did to fix this...did they in fact fix it?
      Usually it's the scu in my experience
      Don't know what they lubed, there must be something that moves one part into the other under there...he referred to it as some sort of contact or plunger that was stuck. Maybe I misunderstood how he described it. But he said the parts were spotless (he usually sees soda or food gunk) and was baffled as to why it jammed or was not making contact.

      Odd thing, Volvo dealership never even mentioned this as a possibility. Of course they were at a disadvantage due to not being able to see the car but if had been seen by their advisors before, he most likely would have tossed it out as a solution. All I heard was "cha ching!"...everything he talked about said money money money. In fairness, I'll call them this week and provide some feedback.

      And yes, I think he said the key could not be removed becase the car thought it was in drive.

    17. #17
      Quote Originally Posted by jedgar View Post
      In the accident I was involved in.. the radio said.. "Airbag deployment detected, serious collision, seek assistance immediately" and then after a minute it say "downloading information....." and then that went on for a few seconds.. and then it said "shutting down system(or something like that)" and the car went dead (and yes, the car was in park).
      Now this is FREAKY!!!
      Don't race with Volvos just because they don't look fast. Most of they actually are...

    18. #18
      Moderator tmtalpey's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by jedgar View Post
      In the accident I was involved in.. the radio said.. "Airbag deployment detected, serious collision, seek assistance immediately" and then after a minute it say "downloading information....." and then that went on for a few seconds.. and then it said "shutting down system(or something like that)" and the car went dead (and yes, the car was in park).
      What it was doing was capturing the black-box information that most cars do. It's described in the owner's manual. If the key was retained afterward, either it was a malfunction or for some other reason the immobilizer triggered. This can happen if communication is lost between the CEM, ECM, BCM and DIM, these systems need to agree with one another before enabling the car to start. They have a little discussion abot the serial numbers, mileage and safety conditions before they vote to let you turn the key.

    19. #19
      Junior Member Alexdfw's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by stealth View Post
      Volvo has become self-aware...
      LOL....i suppose if a woman wearing absolutely nothing comes up to me and says, "I like your car..." --i should just drive away as fast as possible... n'est-ce pas?


    20. #20
      The key getting stuck happened to my wife about a month ago. The positive terminal of the battery had a lot of corrosion on it. I jiggled the battery cables and the key came out, then reinserted the key and the car started up.

      Today, the key didn't get stuck but the car wouldn't start. I did a thorough cleaning of the battery terminals and connections. When I tried to start the car again, this message popped up "steering ... failure". I pulled the key out, reinserted it. The airbag light and the two lights below it came on and the "i" icon was blinking. Disconnected the battery again and the car was dead except for very dim cabin lights. I tried to connect one of those portable jump start units with no success. Will try to have AAA jump start it tomorrow.

      Is the SCU something I can replace myself or is it something only the dealer can do ( do they need to reprogram it or something)?

    21. #21
      LOL funny thread - and how things all come at the same time.

      I was stranded at a gas station some way from home - the key could be removed, but the car just won't start. total electical failure. I thought it would have to do something with my tune (just got it the same day) so I was pretty pissed ... after jump starting the car (which means pushing it down a hill and forcing in 1st gear) it all went well. started again, had all electrics back again and stuff...

      at the dealer, we had a SCU-related error - and the mechanic told me, that this is pretty common on our cars - and the ignition lock has to be replaced at some time.
      the issue has some side-effects ("key error, plz try again" msg in dash) too, but the light / msg doesn't have to come on.

    22. #22
      Quote Originally Posted by grayshade_s40 View Post
      The key getting stuck happened to my wife about a month ago. The positive terminal of the battery had a lot of corrosion on it. I jiggled the battery cables and the key came out, then reinserted the key and the car started up.

      Today, the key didn't get stuck but the car wouldn't start. I did a thorough cleaning of the battery terminals and connections. When I tried to start the car again, this message popped up "steering ... failure". I pulled the key out, reinserted it. The airbag light and the two lights below it came on and the "i" icon was blinking. Disconnected the battery again and the car was dead except for very dim cabin lights. I tried to connect one of those portable jump start units with no success. Will try to have AAA jump start it tomorrow.

      Is the SCU something I can replace myself or is it something only the dealer can do ( do they need to reprogram it or something)?
      AAA was able to jumpstart it, now it's sitting at the dealer awaiting diagnosis.

    23. #23
      I keep a spare SCU in my glove box if thats of any comfort to you guys lol. They are top 10 failure items for these cars unfortunately. Not hard to replace really but to get them out can be a pain because they are held in using two screws from behind the dash. A std. torx socket and ratchet will work but is very tight thus why I had to buy these mini rackets that use bit inserts.
      TheRetrofitSource | 2020 Motorsports | RTernie | H&R Springs | Import Meet | Girodisc

      Current: E46M (daily) | S40 T5 (grocery getter)
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    24. #24
      Member MM's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by ForceFed Motorsports View Post
      SCU is entirely electrical. Unfortunately they will just fail, most cases with a few key on and off back and forth business you can manage to get them out before replacing it. However every now and then Ill have one that just wont come out and will just pry it out after its removed.
      Hey Kyle, this has been happening to me lately. Not ALL the time, but about 80% of the time when turning the car off, the key gets stuck between position I and 0. I don't force it but just keep turning it to position I or even II sometimes and then it allows me to turn the key to position 0 and remove the key. So, how much longer before I can expect the ignition to not allow me to remove the key? And, how much is the job usually worth to replace the ignition?
      2005 S40 T5 AWD M66 Sold
      1990 244 DL Sold

    25. #25

      Key Jam

      Quote Originally Posted by garbergtsi View Post
      Wait...so they lubed something around he shifter and now it works again?? There is no linkage to the scu from the shifter. There is a gear position sensor in the tcm on top o the tranny for gear position...but I'm not sure what they did to fix this...did they in fact fix it?
      Usually it's the scu in my experience
      I wonder if its related to the "click" sound you hear in the gear shift when you turn the key from position O to I, the one that allows you to move the shifter out of park even if the car hasn't been started yet. If that little actuator was jammed up the car may think its still in Drive even though the shifter is in the Park position, because the actuator hasn't made contact.

    26. #26
      Junior Member briancpearce's Avatar
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      I had the same problem happen last year on my '05 S40 T5 (about 65K mi at the time). Every time I'd shut the car off, the key wouldn't turn to the left past the I position and I couldn't pull the key out of the dash. This meant of course that I couldn't lock the car which made me very nervous. I have a manual transmission car, and it didn't matter if I was in neutral with the parking brake set or not. Took it to my local dealer because I have an extended warranty, and they replaced the ignition switch. Of course the dash doesn't go back together exactly the way it came apart so I've got to live with some minor imperfections. The repair would have cost me $550, but with the warranty I only had to pay a $50 deductible, thankfully.
      2005 S40 T5 FWD (manual of course)

    27. #27
      Quote Originally Posted by MM View Post
      Hey Kyle, this has been happening to me lately. Not ALL the time, but about 80% of the time when turning the car off, the key gets stuck between position I and 0.
      Hard to say, if its that frequent then it could take a dump at any time. They are pretty common failure items but most cases people will fix them after the first failure. Our customers wont even try to get the key out, they will just tow it in lol.
      TheRetrofitSource | 2020 Motorsports | RTernie | H&R Springs | Import Meet | Girodisc

      Current: E46M (daily) | S40 T5 (grocery getter)
      Past: NA1 NSX | Acura TL | LS-T DC4

    28. #28
      Junior Member tilley's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by ForceFed Motorsports View Post
      Not hard to replace really but to get them out can be a pain because they are held in using two screws from behind the dash. A std. torx socket and ratchet will work but is very tight thus why I had to buy these mini rackets that use bit inserts.
      I'm attempting the SCU replacement myself, but I've hit a wall....I managed to get the two screws out holding the SCU in, but in order to get the old SCU out from behind the dash, it seems that the key has to be removed first (key is larger than the hole in the dash, and even if it wasn't there isn't enough room around the SCU to maneuver it out with a key in it). I tried grounding Pin 8 and 12v at Pin 7 of the connector per some info I found on the net, which should have allowed the key to be rotated completely to 0 position and released, but this didn't work (my car battery was disconnected when I tried this; maybe it should be connected?)

      I got this far and unless someone can point out something I'm missing, it's dealer time next week.
      Last edited by tilley; 03-27-2011 at 08:17 AM.
      2005 S40 T5 AWD M6

    29. #29
      Not sure if this will work but this is what you could try. Text is hard to read but the red lines require power and the black is ground. So B7, B5 and A3 need power and A1 needs ground.

      2009 V50 T5 AWD GT: Work in progress: (1) (2) (3) (4) (5)
      Previous rides: (1) (2)

    30. #30
      Junior Member thefisch33's Avatar
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      Mine did this when i chaged a fuse under the glove box. The plug that connects the box was apparently loose. The dealership just rebooted the "low side" system and it was fine. Wasnt covered under warranty though because i caused it by replacing a fuse.

    31. #31
      You are right that there is not the SCU can't be removed with the key still in it. I had my SCU apart today for a different non start application. I took it apart to clean the contacts. While it was apart I noticed the solenoid the prevents the key from rotating back to the 0 position. The part that holds the key in is two plastic balls that fit to the key. They are on springs and are free to move in and out in the 0 position. When you turn it away from the 0 position, there is a plastic channel that keeps the two balls from being abel to move back, thus locking the key in. The solenoid is used to stop the key between the 0 and I position. It is the two plastic ball pieces that are holding the key and not a metal solenoid. The plastic balls looked pretty cheap. I bet if you just pulled or pried the key out, you could force it past the plastic balls. The balls might break along the way or the key (In that case hopefully you have another key, or will can replace the chip form the broken key into a new key). EIther way you could get it back out. If the solenoid is bad in your SCU, you can just remove it and not have to buy another one. Otherwise the price for a new one at the dealer is ~$140 USD from the dealer.

      Quote Originally Posted by tilley View Post
      I'm attempting the SCU replacement myself, but I've hit a wall....I managed to get the two screws out holding the SCU in, but in order to get the old SCU out from behind the dash, it seems that the key has to be removed first (key is larger than the hole in the dash, and even if it wasn't there isn't enough room around the SCU to maneuver it out with a key in it). I tried grounding Pin 8 and 12v at Pin 7 of the connector per some info I found on the net, which should have allowed the key to be rotated completely to 0 position and released, but this didn't work (my car battery was disconnected when I tried this; maybe it should be connected?)

      I got this far and unless someone can point out something I'm missing, it's dealer time next week.
      2005 S40 2.4i Manual

    32. #32
      I wouldn't suggest pulling or prioring the key as first you need to get to position 0, if you pull the key in position on forcefully that will guarantee the SCU will need replaced and a good chance the key will too. Another option is to take the key apart so the fob portion is not present at the switch anymore which should allow you to remove the SCU and then open it up to get the other piece of the key out and possibly repair the SCU. Please take pictures if you do this so it can be added to the stickies.
      2009 V50 T5 AWD GT: Work in progress: (1) (2) (3) (4) (5)
      Previous rides: (1) (2)

    33. #33
      Junior Member tilley's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by thefisch33 View Post
      Mine did this when i chaged a fuse under the glove box. The plug that connects the box was apparently loose. The dealership just rebooted the "low side" system and it was fine. Wasnt covered under warranty though because i caused it by replacing a fuse.
      I wasn't under there for anything, but a connector may have come loose. Thanks.

      Quote Originally Posted by mpbrenna6447 View Post
      You are right that there is not the SCU can't be removed with the key still in it. I had my SCU apart today for a different non start application. I took it apart to clean the contacts. While it was apart I noticed the solenoid the prevents the key from rotating back to the 0 position. The part that holds the key in is two plastic balls that fit to the key. They are on springs and are free to move in and out in the 0 position. When you turn it away from the 0 position, there is a plastic channel that keeps the two balls from being abel to move back, thus locking the key in. The solenoid is used to stop the key between the 0 and I position. It is the two plastic ball pieces that are holding the key and not a metal solenoid. The plastic balls looked pretty cheap. I bet if you just pulled or pried the key out, you could force it past the plastic balls. The balls might break along the way or the key (In that case hopefully you have another key, or will can replace the chip form the broken key into a new key). EIther way you could get it back out. If the solenoid is bad in your SCU, you can just remove it and not have to buy another one. Otherwise the price for a new one at the dealer is ~$140 USD from the dealer.
      Thanks, good info on how the mechanical aspect works. I might try this as a last resort (forcing out). I have already purchased a replacement SCU for $200 CDN (including discounts)+tax = $230

      Quote Originally Posted by slrising View Post
      I wouldn't suggest pulling or prioring the key as first you need to get to position 0, if you pull the key in position on forcefully that will guarantee the SCU will need replaced and a good chance the key will too. Another option is to take the key apart so the fob portion is not present at the switch anymore which should allow you to remove the SCU and then open it up to get the other piece of the key out and possibly repair the SCU. Please take pictures if you do this so it can be added to the stickies.
      I didn't think I could take the key apart while stuck in the dash. I'll have a look at my spare to see how it comes apart. Good thought.

      slrising, what was the source for your SCU diagram? I understand that the SCU has changed over the years. For what model year is it? Also, any thoughts on whether my car battery should be connected when I play with powers/grounds at pins? There is another 3-pin connector at the 'top' of the SCU (labelled pins 1, 2, 3). Perhaps this connector provides some basic power to the unit that enables certain functions (see A:1 & A:3 on the diagram?).
      2005 S40 T5 AWD M6

    34. #34
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      Do the SCU units have to be programmed to the car once installed - or - are they plug and play?

      Perhaps someone should put together a DIY, if this is such a common issue!
      2005 Volvo V50 T5 AWD 6 Speed

    35. #35
      Junior Member tilley's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by GuelphV50 View Post
      Do the SCU units have to be programmed to the car once installed - or - are they plug and play?

      Perhaps someone should put together a DIY, if this is such a common issue!
      I'm told by several Volvo dealers that (at least) upto MY 2005, they are plug and play.

      Touchy DIY....how to take apart a dash and tamper with an ignition switch....
      2005 S40 T5 AWD M6

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