The mechanical key and lock cylinder switch is located in the steering column on the right-hand side, just below the steering wheel.
Two main types of steering columns can be found on the W-Body vehicles covered by this guide. One type uses upper and lower plastic shrouds to cover the upper steering column assembly and its internal components. The other type uses just a bowl-like cover and sleeve assembly under the steering wheel to house the turn signal switch and ignition key lock cylinder. There are also some differences between columns used in floor-shift vehicles and those found in column-shift vehicles, although the differences are mostly in the shift interlock system.
REMOVAL & INSTALLATION
Shroud-Type Steering Column
While is may be possible to service the ignition switch and lock cylinder with the steering column in the vehicle, on some vehicles, the column may have to be removed so the plastic column shrouds can be disassembled to expose the upper steering column. Look the job over carefully to determine if the ignition lock cylinder can be serviced on your vehicle with the column in place.
If the steering column must be removed, use great care handling the column since the column is extremely susceptible to damage. Remember that the steering column is designed to collapse in a collision. Dropping the steering column assembly on its end could collapse the steering shaft or loosen the plastic injections which maintain column rigidity. Leaning on the column could cause the jacket to bend or deform. Never place the column directly in a vise. GM recommends their holding fixture which is basically just a piece of steel angle. One end of the angle is clamped in the vise. The column then bolts to the other angle, using the column's original mounting bracket. A similar holding tool could be shop-made. Under no conditions should the end of the shaft be hammered on as hammering could loosen the plastic injections which maintain steering column rigidity.
- Disconnect the negative battery cable.
- Disable the SIR (air bag) system using the procedures found in .
- Locate the bolts that secure the steering column jacket assembly to the instrument panel subframe. The column will tend to drop towards the seat as the bolts are loosened. Use care handling the column. In many cases, simply lowering the column allows enough room for service work.
- If it is necessary to remove the column from the vehicle, at the bottom of the column, remove the pinch bolt from the intermediate steering shaft assembly universal joint. The intermediate steering shaft is the shaft that goes through the floor/cowl, connecting the steering column to the rack and pinion steering gear assembly. Carefully work the column free of the intermediate steering shaft joint and remove the column from the vehicle.
- If it was necessary to remove the column from the vehicle, secure the steering column so it won't be damaged. Never place the column directly in a vise. GM recommends their holding fixture which is basically just a piece of steel angle. One end of the angle is clamped in the vise. The column then bolts to the other angle, using the column's original mounting bracket. A similar holding tool could be shop-made.
- If the column is still in the vehicle, and if necessary, the tilt lever can be removed. The tilt lever simply snaps in place. Carefully rock the lever back and forth while pulling it from the steering column
- Remove the two screws from the lower shroud and remove the lower shroud. It may be helpful to tilt the shroud down and slide it back to disengage the locking tabs.
- Locate and remove the two screws retaining the upper shroud. If the column is still in the vehicle, the upper shroud likely won't remove all the way since the plastic shroud surrounds the lock cylinder. Just lift the upper shroud enough to gain access to the lock cylinder release hole.
Remove the lock cylinder using the following procedure:
- If the column is still in the vehicle, verify that the negative battery cable has been disconnected.
- Hold the key in the START position.
- Using a 1 / 16 inch Allen® wrench push down on the lock cylinder retaining pin.
- Release the key to the RUN position and pull the steering column lock cylinder set from the lock module assembly.
Position the upper shroud and steering column lock cylinder set observing the following:
- Place the key in the lock cylinder and in the RUN position.
- Make sure the sector gear in the lock module assembly is in the RUN position.
- Position the lock cylinder to the upper steering column shroud.
- Line up the locking tabs and positioning tab with the slots in the lock module assembly and push the cylinder into position.
- Position the upper shroud and install the two retaining screws.
- Install the lower shroud taking care to align the slots on the lower shroud with the tabs on the upper shroud. Tilt the lower shroud up and snap the two shrouds together. Secure with the retaining screws.
- Position the shift lever seal and multifunction lever seal into position.
- Install the tilt lever to the steering column by snapping into place.
- Install the steering column (or raise back into place, if there was enough room to perform this procedure by simply lowering the column). Install the retaining bolts. Carefully torque to 35 ft. lbs. (47 Nm).
- If all other service procedures have been performed, enable the SIR system using the procedures found in .
The electrical switching portion of the assembly is separate from the key and lock cylinder and mounts lower down on the steering column. When you turn the ignition key, you are turning the lock cylinder which turns a small 'pinion' gear. The pinion gear engages a small flat toothed piece called a 'rack.' The rack, in turn, works the ignition switch by pushing or pulling a short metal actuator rod connected to the ignition switch
- Position the steering wheel so the front tires are pointed straight ahead. This is to protect the SIR coil inside the steering column.
- Disconnect the negative battery cable.
- Disable the SIR (air bag) system using the procedures in .
- Remove the steering wheel using the procedures in this section.
- Remove the SIR coil retaining ring from the upper steering shaft. Lift out the SIR coil and let it hang freely. There should be a wave washer under the coil which should be removed and retained.
- Remove the lockplate retaining ring using special tool J 23653-SIR or equivalent lockplate compressor tool to push down on the lock plate. The retaining ring is likely just a wire retaining ring which should be replaced with a new part at assembly. Lift out the lockplate.
- Remove the turn signal cancel cam and the upper bearing under it.
- Remove the upper bearing inner race seat and inner bearing race.
Remove the multifunction lever, as follows:
- Make sure the multifunction (turn signal, headlamp dimmer, cruise control, windshield washer and wiper) lever is in the OFF position.
- Detach the electrical connection behind the lever.
- Remove the lever by pulling straight out.
- Remove the housing cover end cap by using your fingers to pry up and out. Tilt the end cap away from the lock housing (bowl) and remove.
Locate and remove the pivot and pulse-dimmer switch assembly retainer screw. Lift out the switch assembly and let the switch hang freely if removal is not needed. To remove the switch:
- Remove the wiring.
- Detach the dimmer switch from the bowl.
- Using a long prytool, pry on the upper and lower wings of the switch body.
- Detach the wiring harness clamp from the tab inside the housing and gently pull the wire harness from the column.
- Remove the hazard warning switch knob by prying with a small blade prytool.
Move the turn signal to the RIGHT TURN (up) position. Remove the three turn signal switch retaining screws and lift the switch from the bowl. Let the switch hang freely, if removal is not needed. If the turn signal switch needs to be replaced:
- Detach the turn signal switch electrical connector.
- Remove the wiring protector.
- Gently pull the wire harness through the column.
- Remove the key from the lock cylinder.
- Remove the buzzer switch assembly.
- Reinsert the key in the lock cylinder and place the key in the LOCK position.
- Remove the lock cylinder retaining screw.
Remove the lock cylinder and Pass Key harness, as follows:
- Note the positioning and routing of the Pass Key wire harness. At installation, it must be installed in the same manner. Failure to route and secure the wire as originally installed may result in component damage and malfunction of the ignition lock set.
- Disconnect the terminal of the Pass Key harness from the vehicle wire harness.
- If not already removed, remove the U-shaped wiring protector.
- Attach a length of thin, flexible wire to the Pass Key wire terminal to act as a pull wire to aid in reassembly.
- Remove the lock cylinder and retaining clip from the lock housing bowl and gently pull the wire harness through the column.
- Route the wire from the Pass Key lock cylinder (ignition lock), routing it in the same position as originally installed. Snap the retaining clip back into the opening in the bowl. Failure to route and secure the wire as originally installed may result in component damage and malfunction of the ignition lock set.
- Install the ignition lock set cylinder into the steering column bowl and snap the retaining clip into the opening in the bowl. Install the lock cylinder retaining screw and snug up to 22 inch lbs. (2.5 Nm). Do not overtighten.
- Install the buzzer switch assembly.
- Reinstall the key in the lock cylinder set. Turn the key to the OFF-LOCK position.
- Install the turn signal switch into the bowl, using care to route the wiring as originally installed. Attach the switch connector and verify a good connection.
- Install the SIR coil assembly.
- Install the pivot pulse-dimmer switch assembly, using care to route the wiring as originally installed. Verify the electrical connection is secure and that the dimmer switch is properly installed in the bowl.
- Install the plastic housing cover end cap.
- Install the multifunction lever by installing the lever in the OFF position and lining up the aligning tab. Push straight in. If the tilt lever was removed, (it just unsnaps) install by snapping the lever back into the column.
- Install the hazard warning switch knob by positioning it through the opening in the bowl and snapping into place.
- Install the upper column bearing inner race and the spring.
- Install the turn signal canceling cam.
- Install the lockplate and compress using tool J 23653-SIR, or equivalent lockplate compressor. Note that the inner block tooth of the lockplate must be aligned with the block tooth of the race and upper shaft assembly. When the lockplate has been compressed properly, install a new retaining ring. Verify that the ring is properly and firmly seated in the groove in the upper steering shaft before releasing pressure on the lockplate.
- Install the wave washer and set the SIR coil into place. Align the opening in the coil with the horn tower and "locating bump" between the two tabs on the bowl. Install the retaining ring, making sure it is properly and firmly seated in the groove in the upper steering shaft. New service replacement SIR coils come pre-centered with a disposable tab to hold it in place until after installation. Use care when routing the SIR coil wires. They should be kept tight with no slack or the wires could become kinked and cut when the steering wheel is turned.
- Install the wiring protector and any wire ties that need to be installed. Make sure the wiring has no kinks.
- Install the steering wheel using the procedures found in this section.
- Enable the air bag system, as outlined in .