How to Change the Ignition Cylinder on Vehicles

by Contributing Writer; Updated June 12, 2017

The ignition lock cylinder is the device you turn the ignition key in. If you change an ignition cylinder, you will be changing the ignition key as well because every cylinder requires its own key. A replacement cylinder Vehicles a specific model, such as a Vehicles will include a key that will work with that cylinder. Changing an ignition cylinder on a Vehicles is slightly easier than changing other manufacturers' models because Vehicles models don't have an extra wire connecting the cylinder to the system.

Under The Hood:

 How to Change the Ignition Cylinder on a Ford Focus

Disconnect the ground cable from the battery's negative terminal. Set it aside where it can't accidentally snap back onto the terminal.

Remove the lower panel of the dashboard below the steering column by removing its screws and releasing the fastener. Disconnect the upper shroud of the steering column by releasing the clips on each side with a thin flathead screwdriver.

Detach the audio control switch from the column if one is equipped. This is a small remote control-like device sticking out of the column. Use the screwdriver to release the switch's plastic locking tang at the bottom and then unplug the electrical connector.

Release the locking lever on the steering column so the column is loose. Remove the screws for the lower shroud on the column and remove the shroud.

Insert the key into the ignition switch and turn it to the left so it is in position one--the accessory position. Depress the detent spring (inside the small hole at the top of the cylinder) with the screwdriver and remove the cylinder and key.

Place the key for the new cylinder within the cylinder. Insert the cylinder into place within the steering column, lining it up so it will be in the accessory position. Make sure the detent locks into place. Turn the key so the cylinder is in the off position and remove the key.

Replace the lower and upper shrouds to the steering column, reconnecting the audio control switch in between if needed. Put the dashboard's lower panel back in place with the fastener and replace the screws. Reconnect the ground (negative) battery cable.

Items you will need

  • Phillips screwdriver

  • Thin flathead screwdriver

  • Replacement lock cylinder with key

 How Do I Change the Ignition Cylinder in a 2005 GMC Sierra Truck?

Loosen the cable clamp for the battery's black cable using an insulated wrench and disconnect the cable from the negative battery terminal.

Unscrew, separate and remove the two trim covers on the steering column in the truck using a screwdriver, followed by the knee bolster panel below the column.

Insert the ignition key into the lock cylinder and turn it to the "Run" position, the cylinder/switch's starting position before you would turn it further to crank the engine (do not crank the engine now).

Press a thin screwdriver or similar pointed tool into the small hole in the top of the lock cylinder's housing that contains the retaining pin; this will unseat the cylinder from the steering column. Pull the key and cylinder out of the column.

Insert the ignition key for the replacement ignition cylinder into the cylinder. Insert the cylinder into the steering column, lining up the cylinder's retaining pin so it will seat into the housing's retaining slot; the cylinder should line up so it is in the "Run" position.

Turn the cylinder so it is in the "Off/Lock" position and remove the key.

Reconnect the trim panels around and under the steering column.

Connect the negative battery cable.

Items you will need

  • Wrench

  • Screwdrivers

  • Replacement ignition cylinder and key

 How to Change an Ignition Cylinder in a GMC

Disconnect the vehicle's negative battery cable; it is usually clamped into place, so you must loosen the clamp nut with a wrench.

Detach the trim covers on the steering column by removing the screws on the lower cover with a screwdriver. Remove the driver's side knee bolster by removing its screws.

Insert the ignition key into the lock cylinder and turn it to the "Run" or "Start" position.

Push a small Phillips head screwdriver or similar tool into the retaining hole at the top of the lock cylinder housing. Pull the ignition key and lock cylinder out of the housing together.

Install the replacement cylinder with its key inserted into the housing, making sure its retainer aligns with the retainer slot in the housing; the cylinder needs to be installed in the "Start/Run" position. Push in the cylinder so the retainer snaps into position.

Turn the cylinder into the "Lock" position and remove the key.

Reconnect the trim covers and the negative battery cable.

Items you will need

  • Wrench

  • Phillips head screwdriver

  • Replacement lock cylinder