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
- Part label B: IGNITION STEERING LOCK HOUSING
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.