Cannot Remove Jeep Ignition Key

Probably a bit of background is in order. I bought this Jeep used on-line and sunk a ton of parts into it to save it from the auction. According to the sticker it was originally sold at some Fairway dealership in Kissimmee St. Cloud. I assume the original owner towed a boat which was too ^)(*&)(*ing heavy for it because the springs still need to be replaced. They put a K&N air intake and some kind of performance exhaust on. I’m not certain they didn’t chip the motor too because it seems to run different than most other Jeeps I know with the same 4.7 HO engine.

Some time last summer it started having an intermittent problem when it came to getting the key out of the ignition. Seemed to happen more when it was cold. Would happen 3-4 times in a row then not have any trouble for months. I developed a ritual mating dance as it were of softly moving the gear shift from N to P with foot on brake and key in run position and it seemed like it worked. I asked my local mechanic and family friend and he said he looked into it but it seemed like a lot of work for a minor problem. That’s generally how he phrases “I don’t want to do it.”

For the past two days I haven’t been able to get the key out. Even though it is now winter in IL I decided I had to tackle this problem before the weather got worse. Man, I gotta say, there are a lot of different instructions for getting that center console out and they all seem to leave one or two critical steps out. I fought for about an hour to get it out. Then I got really honked off, because there is no need to do it.

Here is the “Adjustment Procedure” you will find posted in many places.

ADJUSTMENT PROCEDURE

(1) Remove floor console as necessary for access to
the brake transmission shift interlock cable. (Refer to
23 – BODY/INTERIOR/FLOOR CONSOLE –
REMOVAL)
(2) Shift the transmission into the PARK position.
(3) Turn ignition switch to LOCK position.

Be sure ignition key cylinder is in the LOCK position.
Cable will not adjust correctly in any
other position.

(4) Pull cable lock button up to release cable (Fig.
58).
(5) Ensure that the cable is free to self-adjust by
pushing cable rearward and releasing.

(6) Push lock button down until it snaps in place.

Step 4 in the adjustment procedure made little sense to me. Perhaps because (Fig. 58) wasn’t included __anywhere__? I don’t know. While working the cable back and forth it came out and I put it back in pressing down.

I mentioned the previous owner earlier because they must have had a pack of dogs living in the Jeep most of the time they owned it. Under that center console was a mass of fine brown dog hair. Now I see what the detailer was complaining about. Seeing no way to “adjust” the cable, I managed to replicate the problem.

jeep park brake interlock image

The problem was the plunger rod on the blue plastic arm was sticking. I dug out a can of Lucas Chain Lube.

I then lubed the connection, where the rod went into the cylinder, the metal cable just in front of the black plastic sleeve and the pivot point on the side and center of the blue thing. I worked things back and forth while I sprayed. It started working like a dream.

The only thing I couldn’t have lubed without taking the console out was the side pivot point. I took this shot when the console was almost back in.

So, all you really need to do is take out that front pan. Just pop up the padded cover, remove two screws then gently pry out the pan with a trim tool or putty knife. It has two large tabs towards the shifter. You have to move it forward to get those out then lift the pan out.

Jeeps don’t exist in a vacuum so I expect this same solution will work for a wide variety of older vehicles. This Jeep is a 2002 so whatever factory lube this system had most likely dried up long ago. All of that dog hair didn’t help either.

 

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