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Old 09-15-2001, 11:06 AM
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300E Ignition Switch

My car is an '88 300E. I can fully insert the key, however, can not turn to the right. The steering initially would not lock, however, now has locked. Any ideas on how to engage the key? btw - windows and sunroof are currently open. A work around to get them up would be appreciated.
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Old 09-15-2001, 07:40 PM
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I recommend you contact a dealer and order a new ignition lock cylinder at your earliest opportunity. The dealer will get the correct cylinder based on your vin. In the interim, you will have to wiggle the key as best you can and try to get the lock to turn. If you can't get the lock to position 2, you are in a world of hurt. The cylinder comes out fairly easily when the switch is in position 2, otherwise, you may have to drill the lock out. I would personally leave the car parked if you can't get the key to turn except with much "finesse-ing" of the key. Try holding the key up towards the top of the cylider, that works for my aging 1980 300D usually.

A chassis manual will detail how to get the cylinder out. You can fabricate your own tool for the job as described in the manual, just make sure you use the strongest wire you can find. I used a heavy duty paper clip but a dealer friend showed me the real tool and it's very stout wire.


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Old 09-15-2001, 08:20 PM
engatwork's Avatar
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Soperton, Ga. USA
Posts: 11,232
Do a search on "tumbler". I went through a similar situation awhile back on my 300D. You have GOT to try to "work" the steering wheel back and forth until you can get the key to turn. Once you get it to turn - do not turn it back. Make sure you have the large paper clip or the proper tool, remove the tumbler and then be prepared to replace the steering lock.
You can put a drill bit to that hole where the key goes and it will not even scratch it.
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Old 09-15-2001, 09:35 PM
Glen's Avatar enthusiast
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: Carlsbad, CA USA
Posts: 1,185
You might try turning the steering wheel while turning the key. Sometimes if the wheels are turned and the steering wheel lock engages the tension in the steering system is enough to keep the lock engaged.
Glen Tokuhara
Beauty & the Beast and the wagon that could!
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Old 09-16-2001, 12:35 AM
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simple solution

I had the same problem is my mazda protege. I took off the ignition switch and put a new one but that didnt work, no change. Then i just sprayed the lock with wd 40 spray and everything is great now, no more problems. Just spray inside the lock.
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Old 09-16-2001, 08:42 PM
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I would politely disagree with the advice to just spray wd40 inside the lock. The ignition locks on MBs are well known to give problems as they age. Ignore the problem or try to temporarily resolve it with spray lube in the cylinder and you may find how painful it is to extract an inoperable lock cylinder. Most archives will have references to this problem.

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Old 09-17-2001, 02:59 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: Colorado
Posts: 40

I went through this very problem with my '88 300E just last week. First order a new coded ignition switch and master key. Then you have to get the key to turn to the first position. My mechanic advised me to move the key in and out quickly or push/pull quickly since it's probably stuck in there, and I was able to get mine to turn that way. If you don't feel up to sticking pins into the switch to remove it take it to your mechanic and it will take him 15 minutes to R&R. Lube wont help.

I got my key to the fist position and left it there till the parts came in. I then drove straight to the shop and DON'T turn it off as you may lock the steering again out of habit. Your on borrowed time and if the steering gets locked your into big $$$.

Good luck.
2000 E55 AMG
1988 300E
1970 280 SEL (for sell cheap)
1959 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider Veloce
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Old 09-25-2001, 09:08 PM
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After several hours (spread over a couple of weekends) some powdered graphite and no luck, I went outside this evening for one last try. After 15 minutes of jiggling at every angle known to man, the ignition finally turned. I've left the key engaged and have disconnected the battery. Will be ordering the tumbler tommorrow. Thanks all for the advice. I'll do a search for installation expertise. Thanks again!!
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