Fix your stuck Ford ignition

Picture of Fix your stuck Ford ignition
The key wouldn't turn in my mother-in-law's 2004 Ford Focus wagon. After doing some research, I found that apparently this is a typical problem in many Ford vehicles, especially the 2000 to 2005 Focus.

I looked around online, and found a few different solutions to the problem. One involved tapping the key with a hammer to get it to work, another involved drilling out the old cylinder to install a new one.

The biggest problem I found was that each solution was either temporary, expensive, or involved getting a new key. This means that you would end up with one key for the doors, and a different one for the ignition - not the solution I wanted.

This instructable will show you how I solved the problem. I ended up with a new ignition lock cylinder, but continue to use the original, programmed key. The total cost of the repair was the price of the part - $72.99 with tax. The whole job took me about 4 hours, but I had to figure out how a lock works without much help. If I were to do it again, it would probably only take 2 hours.

The repair involves changing the ignition lock cylinder for a new one, and reprogramming the computer to accept the new keys. Ford has a passive anti-theft system (PATS) where each key has a chip, and they have to be programmed in. No problem if you've got two functional keys, because you can add new ones, but you have to be able to turn the key in the ignition to do so.

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Step 1: Stuff you're gonna need

Here's what you need to do the fix:

10mm wrench
#2 Philips head screwdriver
T20 Torx screwdriver
8mm socket and driver
small screwdriver (I used a small torx screwdriver)
utility knife
putty knife
small flathead screwdriver
small paper-clip
clamp or vise
needle-nose pliers
clean, light-coloured work surface

magnifying glass
snap-ring pliers (might make the job easier, but I did it without them)
power drill and grinding bit

replacement lock cylinder (comes with 2 chipped keys)

vaughnam2 months ago

This is a great Instructable. You can buy the Strattec replacement cylinders on line, already keyed to your vehicle just by emailing a picture of the key. I ordered one for $35 (delivered and keyed) from Fradon Locksmith in Syracuse, NY. It arrived with a key (which will open the door but not start the car--I still have my 2 original keys, which fit it perfectly). I had my local guy, One Locksmithing, install it here in Loveland, CO, which took about 20 minutes. $125 total and I didn't have to do the work--I was prepared to though! Local Ford dealer wanted $360 for the repair/replace AFTER towing it there--crazy! Thanks for all the great info!

nidhy3 months ago

Thank you for sharing this information. It was helpful to me

Mine was different key so it was little different than what you suggested.

I used your information and some information from this article to repair the Ford lock

Thank You once again


I wish I'd seen this earlier! This problem I had with a Ford Falcon. It was going to cost $400 AUD to fix it. Got rid of the car!

sprice169 months ago
Thank you SOOOOOO MUCH! Very good instructable that I'll be using closely this next week
jptrsn (author)  monkeysandllamas1 year ago
I would guess that the parts would be similar. I found the information on a ford focus owner's forum online, and just documented how I did the repair.

As long as the problem is the same, the solution is probably similar. If the key won't turn, it could be a problem like this one. If the key turns but the engine doesn't want to start, then look elsewhere for the problem.

Good luck with your repair!
bknow133 years ago
The new replacement cylinder from Ford [I work at a dealer] is a kit. They "get all the money" but you can code it to your old key. A little tedious but rather simple. The instructions require the key code, getting it is worse than pulling teeth, but if you don't destroy the old cylinder taking it out the plungers are numbered. So you could just copy it. It needs to be done before the cylinder is totally stuck or you will destroy it trying to take it apart.

There's a special tool to fit the cap but all it does is peen over the edges nice and neatly. If you take care on a clean surface you can do a nice job with the end of a screwdriver.

I haven't checked [hey, I sell the Ford stuff!] but I bet there's a more reasonably priced aftermarket option.
jptrsn (author) 3 years ago
This fix worked for a while, but through some significant abuse, it eventually failed as well. The new part that I got was different from the other cylinder: it had a press-fit steel cap, so my technique would not work!

I ended up with two sets of keys - one for the doors (that were programmed to start the ignition, but wouldn't turn the key), and one for the ignition (that would turn the lock, but not start the car because the chip wasn't programmed)! If you have 2 working keys, you can add more by inserting one functional key, turning it to ON for one second, removing it and putting in the second functional key, turning it to ON for one second, then removing it and putting in the new key, turning it to ON for one second. (If that's not a good explanation, search for "Program a PATS key").

To program the new keys, I removed the ignition switch from the opposite side of the column, and used a screwdriver to turn the ignition with the various keys in the lock. Worked like a charm!

Okay, so I'm left with two different keys for one car, but I fixed it myself and it was much cheaper than getting the dealer to do it.