This article describes the steps taken to repair the ignition switch on a Honda Accord that would not turn.

Here is a list of other Honda vehicles this repair applies to:

  • Honda Accord
  • Honda Element
  • Honda Civic
  • Honda Cross Tour
  • Honda Fit
  • Honda Insight
  • Honda Odyssey

If you’re in a hurry and don’t have time to read all the details, the easiest fix is to replace the lock cylinder assembly! Okay, now for the details….

If you have an ignition that just clicks or gives an electrical buzzing sound, check out the fix to this common problem.

Diagnosing a Key that Won’t Turn in the Ignition

The ignition switch on my 2004 Honda Accord developed a problem. The key simply would not turn in the ignition! I was finally able to get it to turn one day after I jammed one of the keys into the ignition to get it to turn. But unfortunately, after that, the key would not turn in the ignition!

Ignition Won’t Turn – Steering Wheel Lock

Just for clarification, this was not a steering wheel lock issue, where the key won’t turn if the steering wheel is locked. The steering wheel was free, but the key just would not turn.

As a note to others who may be experiencing this problem. One thing that can happen is that if the key is out of the ignition, and you turn the steering wheel, at some point the steering wheel will ‘lock’ in place. This is a safety feature of some sort. The problem is that if the wheels are turned all the way in one direction, or if the wheels are butted up against something (like a curb), then it can be very difficult to release the locking mechanism, even with the key is in the ignition. The usual solution to this is to wiggle the steering wheel while trying to turn the key. If the wheels are jammed, you may need to wiggle pretty hard!

But for purposes of clarification, this was not my problem!

Ignition Won’t Turn – Stuck Lock Wafers

Occasionally I could get the ignition with the key in it to turn, after jamming the key into the slot and simultaneously turning it. I tried multiple keys, but no key worked every time, and usually the key would go in fine, but not be able to actually turn the ignition in order to start the car!

It turns out, one of the wafers in the lock cylinder was sticking up and catching on something, causing the lock assembly not to turn.

The solution was that I took apart the lock cylinder and removed all but the last key wafer. This fixed the problem, and it is working every time now!

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After searching for a solution for a long time, it seems to be a common problem, so I hope this post can help someone out.

Honda Ignition Switch Locked Up

If you don’t want to mess around with removing wafers, and disassembling the lock, you can just replace the whole thing. They actually sell the entire genuine Honda assembly (35100-SDA-A71) on Amazon, here’s the link:

2004 Honda Accord Ignition Switch (35100-SDA-A71)

The easiest and most economical option is to simply replace the lock cylinder. This is the same assemble for the Honda Accord, Element, Civic, CrossTour, Fit, Insight, and Odyssey. Here is the link for the lock cylinder and 2 replacement keys to go with it:

Honda Lock Cylinder Replacement (with 2 keys)

And if you just need a new set of key blanks, these are the ones you need:

Honda Accord Key Blanks (qty 2)

Transponder “Chip”

There is one thing to be aware of, and that is when you replace the factory key with a different one, you will need to salvage the old immobilizer chip or reprogram the transponder chip in the key. The dealership will want about $150-$200 for this service (hint: call around to different dealerships, I’ve heard some will do this for as little as $35).

That being said, you have options here.

  1. You can just carry the old key around with you on your keychain.
  2. You can attach the old key somewhere under the steering column so that it is always there.
  3. Or you can salvage the transponder chip from the old key by removing it and putting it inside your new key (the replacement keys have a compartment to hold the chip). Another method.

I just removed the bad lock wafers from the lock cylinder. If you want to try what I did, read on…

How to Free a Stuck Ignition Switch – Step by Step

  1. Remove the negative battery terminal, so airbags do not accidentally inflate, and wait about 10 minutes.
  2. Remove the plastic housing around the steering column. You have to remove about 3 screws, then pry the two plastic halves open with a screwdriver.
  3. Unplug all the electrical plugs, there are 3…
  4. Remove 3 gold screws.
  5. Remove 2 large screws with no heads… These ones are a bit tricky. The 2 screws on top have to be removed with a hammer and chisel….
    • Angle a chisel or large flat-bladed screwdriver, so that it is digging into the screw-head, then tap the end of the chisel or screwdriver with a hammer to slowly turn the screw.
    • Note: The screws turn counterclockwise to remove. {Not visible in this photo, already removed…} I have read somewhere that these screws have reverse threads, but that was not the case for this vehicle (2004 Accord), so you might want to watch for this on yours.

Honda Accord Starter Switch Replacement

Honda ignition assembly.

Remove plastic covers, 4 screws or so…

Honda ignition assembly complete

This next part is tricky, you have to get this tiny “hollow dowel pin” out in order to remove the lock cylinder assembly. Once this pin is out, then the cylinder will slide out.

I had to drill out this pin to get the ignition cylinder out. Choose a small drill bit, small enough to fit into the center of the dowel pin. Drill into the pin (it has a hollow core), then it will adhere to the drill bit, and you can pull it out. It will come out pretty easily using this method.

Note: DO NOT BREAK off the drill bit while doing this! It is easy to do!

Slide the lock cylinder out. Then remove the worn wafers. These were the issue for me. One or more of them was sticking up, just slightly, enough that the cylinder couldn’t turn.

Remember to remove the tiny springs as well. I wasn’t sure exactly which wafer was the problem, so I took them all out, except I left the last wafer in (the one furthest from the plastic part of the key) … This way the key won’t fall out while you’re driving.

ignition cylinder honda accord

You want to be careful about the grease you use for the lock cylinder. If you go with something too heavy, like a silicone-based grease it will harden and make the key gummy. You also don’t want to go with something too light like WD-40, that will dry everything out. This is some good lithium grease for this job.


Use a lithium grease; others can either dry out or gum up.

Honda ignition lubrication

Put it back together and reinstall…

Now the key turns every time! What a relief this was for me!

I hope this obscure post can be helpful for you, if you find yourself in a similar situation! Looking back, another solution would have been to replace the lock cylinder for about $25. That would have been an easy and relatively inexpensive solution, but it was a great learning opportunity!

Anyway, I hope this post helps someone.

For more information on Honda Accord maintenance, check out these articles:
Maintenance Articles on Honda Accords