Ignition key not needed to start motor

57 Handyman

Feb 6, 2017
I own an 87 El Camino and the above issue recently arose. The key and lock cylinder were installed about 4-5 years ago when I purchased the vehicle at an abandoned car auction. When I bought the vehicle there were no keys, so I simply removed the steering wheel to gain access to the ignition switch and swapped out the lock tumbler. I can't recall the brand of the part I installed; it may be from NAPA. Regardless, I am hoping someone can advise me if this problem is related to the key and tumblers or whether I need to replace the whole ignition switch.

Thank you in advance.

oldsmobile joe

Royal Smart Person
Nov 12, 2015
Ignition/lock cylinder is bad and should be replaced.
  • Agree
Reactions: 1 user


Master Mechanic
Supporting Member
May 23, 2022
SW Arizona
It's a common problem with the cylinder. I had several cars that you could just turn cylinder without key. My 79 Chevette just used a screwdriver.

If you still have the correct key, try some electric clean or wd40 and work it back and forth with the key, your tumblers are stuck.

If you have the VAT key, don't use wd40 as it can block the electrical connections needed to read the resistor.

If you can't get it to work right after your efforts, just replace the cylinder.

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