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Old 09-24-2009, 01:14 AM
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Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Calgary, Alberta, CANADA
Posts: 28
W124 - This Ignition Switch is driving me nuts.. Please Help

I have read everything I can find but am at a dead end.

The ignition key wouldn't turn on my 1993 400E.

So I pulled the cluster, removed the lower panel and dropped the steering wheel. All attempts to turn the key have failed so I used a Dremel with cut-off wheels and removed the tumbler cover - but the tumbler will not come out. I have broken of the front of the tumbler trying. There seems to be some movement but something is still locking it in place.

In desperation I used the Dremel again to grind away the pawl and was surprised to have the whole switch out of the column in about 1/2 an hour.

NOW, if I could just unplug the electrical plug???? It appears that I also need to turn the key to remove that??

What are my options? Cut further? turn the tumbler by force?

Does anybody know why I can't remove the tumbler at this point?

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Old 09-24-2009, 01:26 AM
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Cape Cod Massachusetts
Posts: 1,427
Can't help you with the tumbler issue at this point! But you can get the electrical portion of the ignition switch seperated. There are three screws under the electrical connector, with one of the flat 1" diameter abrasive wheels in the Dremel tool you can just below the parting line of the electrical switch section, use it to cut the three screw shafts. With these screws cut the switch section will seperate from the locking section, you can then use a screwdriver to turn the ignition switch, with the switch turned to the first indent you can pull the connector off the rear of the switch. With the connector of you can remove the cut off screw heads, and then put the connector back on the switch and use a screwdriver to turn the switch to start and stop the engine while you figure out what to do about a locking mechanism
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Old 09-24-2009, 09:34 AM
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Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: So Cal, No. Orange county
Posts: 108
It's one of those anti- theft features, aint it great
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Old 09-24-2009, 09:40 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Hampton Roads
Posts: 567
There's a DIY article on replacing the ignition tumbler (after the key won't turn) on a W201 chassis. It might not be exactly the same as with the W124, but, it'll definitely be similar.

Here's the link:

I just did my ignition tumbler. It started to hint at the tumbler not turning...and that was enough for me to change it. Much, much less work.

Good luck
1982 240D, sold 9/17/2008
1987 300D Turbo
W124.133 - 603.960, 722.317 - Smoke Silver Metallic / Medium Red (702/177), acquired 8/15/2009
262,715 and counting
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Old 09-24-2009, 10:04 AM
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Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: So Cal, No. Orange county
Posts: 108
All kidding aside, you will want to replace the tumbler set, the electrical portion and the steering lock. Older cars are a bit more brittle and subject to cracking in the dash area. Doing the repair for clients is always tougher as they don't want any extra damages to their car even though it's older than dirt.
I use a high speed dremel with a carbuerundum ball bit to remove the locking stud and when possible a cutting wheel in the same tool to slice the screws off. Once that's done the rest is pretty simple. The link provided is pretty much how it goes on all these older models...... with exception of the 140.
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Old 09-24-2009, 06:17 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Calgary, Alberta, CANADA
Posts: 28
Finally got the tumbler out. It has a separate locking tab. Use the same wire tool but I found two seperate wires worked better.

Took about 1/2 hour - for some reason it wouldn't release then suddenly it fell out into my hand. There is only one catch on the tumbler itself and it is on the side away from the column. Funnily enough I was fiddling with the other side when it fell out. So maybe I was pushing the tumbler over - taking up the slack? The locking tab is smaller than the pics I have seen and it is black plastic, half way along the tumbler. This may help anyone else having this problem.

But the saga continues...

I ordered the parts and then starting putting things back together. The little clips that hold the cover were kind of loose so I had removed then so as not to lose them. They have a little tiny spring that tips them out and locks the cover. Well small as it is, sprooong and away it flies!! You know that little gap between the centre console, the carpet and the main dash? Just has a couple of cables in it? Well it didn't even touch the sides! A couple of little tinkles and rattles tells me that I better go back and order up a new switch body. lol

Here is a pic of my tumbler with my pin in it. The black piece is the locking tab.

If your pin is too thin try bending it a little and then rotate it to press the tab completely in.

A couple of other things...

DON'T remove the carpet - the '93 400E has an electic speedo.

DO remove the cluster and drop the steering wheel - gives you much better access and you can do most of this sitting in the driver's seat.

If you think you might have this problem and are ready to fix it, then every time you park your car extend the steering wheel fully and move the driver's seat back before turning off the ignition. And if you're in a garage, make sure your wheels are straight!

Seems like all these cars are a little different so if anyone needs more detail email more or reply to this post. Be glad to help if I can.
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