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How to start engine when ignition key won't turn?

Help, Advice, Owners' Discussion and DIY Tutorials on S40 and V40. In this forum you'll find S40/V40-specific owners asking and answering questions on maintenance, ownership, repairs, tutorials and almost every do-it-yourself thing you can do to save money owning these Volvos.

1996 - 2004 S40
1996 - 2004 V40

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How to start engine when ignition key won't turn?

Post by xeyone » Sat Jul 30, 2016 11:26 am

Symptom: Ignition key cannot be turned from position I to position II or III to start the engine. Happens on my S40 Year 2003 with immobilizer key at 150,000 km, after 13 years.

I provide here a temporary fix so that you can start your engine. You can use this 4 steps temporary fix if you do not want to tow your car, or waited too long for spare parts to come but you want to use your car.

1. Check that when the key is turned to position I, you can still turn the steering and the gear as they will be in unlocked state in position I. If so, proceed to the next step.
2. Remove the steering cover. It’s pretty simple - unscrew 3 screws at the bottom of the cover. Look up from the bottom and you should see Picture 1.
3. Remove the screw indicated in Picture 1 and detach the part labelled A. After that, notice that part A is a round knob that can be turned into position I,II,III. Whenever the key is turned, this knob turns as well.
4. Use a screwdriver to turn the knob to start the engine. We are effectively bypassing the key to start the engine.
Safety: This method is safe because we are not touching any wires. We are just disassembling screws. The ignition wires are well protected and not exposed.
Cause: This problem is caused by some small loose metal broken in the lock housing (part B). Not the key lock (part C), not the knob (part A). Spraying WD-40 won’t fix the problem.
Note: If your key is an immobilizer key, the key must always be inserted into part C (the place where you always insert your key) before you turn the screwdriver.
The construction of the key lock mechanism
The key mechanism can be decomposed into 3 parts.
  • Part label A: IGNITION SWITCH: has a knob that can be turned to 4 positions 0,I,II,III. The knob can be turned using a flat screwdriver. Part #:3345561, Price: USD47
    connects between the switch and the key. Controls steering & gear lock.
    Part #:30887387, Price: USD132
  • Part label C: IGNITION LOCK CYL & KEYS. Part #:30803270, Price: USD81

How did I fix the problem permanently?

For this problem, you only need to change part B. To save money, actually my Volvo mechanic recommended me to his familiar locksmith. The locksmith repair part B so that I don’t need to change to a new part. I don’t know exactly how it is repaired, but I will tell you my observation.
The locksmith inserted the key into the ignition. He uses lockpicking tool (thin and sharp needle) to poke and probe in part B. He did this without disassembling part B from the steering wheel. Once unstucked, he easily just pull out the key, and the key cylinder (part C) got detached from part B together with the key.
Next, he uses something like a “wood sharpening tool” to insert into part B to pull out the rounded metal shown in the picture. Note the half oblong shape of the rounded metal (circled in red). A flat screwdriver is not able to hold the metal tightly so that the metal can be pulled out. The “wood sharpening tool” has a thicker end so the tool can hold the metal tightly and pull the metal out.
Next, just use a long screwdriver to take out a very small piece of metal inside part B. This metal is the cause of the key jam. Reassemble back the parts. The locksmith said the key jam problem is guaranteed not to happen again. There is no more metal to obstruct the key turning.
I was told most locksmith don’t know how to fix this problem.
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Re: How to start engine when ignition key won't turn?

Post by VFLXC90 » Fri Jan 25, 2019 5:42 am

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Re: How to start engine when ignition key won't turn?

Post by RickHaleParker » Fri Jan 25, 2019 9:06 am

I have a 2003 S40 with the same problem.

My temporary solution, until warmer weather gets here, is: Wire a normally open push button switch across the White and Green wire to the ignition switch. After that, turn key on, push the button switch to crank and start.

I just push the leads from the button switch up into the connector then taped them to keep them in place, no cutting, no wrapping, no soldering.
Platform: P80 1998 C70, B5234T3, 16T, AW50-42, Bosch Motronic 4.4, Special Edition package, Plant: Uddevalla Sweden.

Platform: X40 (Nedcar) 2003 S40, B4204T3, 14T twin scroll AW55-50/51SN, Siemens EMS 2000. Plant: Born Netherlands.

Platform P2 2005 XC90 T6 Executive, B6294T, 4T65 AWD, Bosch Motronic 7.0,
Plant Torslanda Sweden.
1997 S90, B6304S, AW30-42, Bosch Motronic 4.4 - Sold

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