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Answered 2012-06-14 15:07:24

There is a solenoid & plunger next to the ignition switch inside the steering column that stops functioning. The plunger must be retracted in order for the switch to turn all the way so the key can be removed. I manually inserted the plunger and took out the key.

This part failed in my 2001 Grand Prix GT as well about a year ago. My local mechanic explained the part and what it does to me and recommended to just remove it and not reinstall a new one.

As it was explained to me, this interlock makes sure that the car is in PARK before allowing key removal. Note that without it, the ingnition can be switched off and the key can be removed while the car is moving (a dirty trick, which will lock the steering wheel). Also, without it, you might accidentally shut the car off and remove the key while parking without actually putting it in PARK.

Probably a nice interlock to have.

OR - You have the vehicle in gear. Shift to park and remove.

I thought the solenoid/plunger was the problem with our 01 Grand Prix GT as well (couldn't remove key and the steering wheel didn't lock) but the GM service shop told me the problem was the solenoid(?) at the base of the shift lever on the center console. Required replacement of the entire shift lever assembly as can't replace the solenoid part only. Total bill was $821.67 parts & labor. Bit of a shocker! Am wondering if I was taken!?

Let me put my 2 cents in, I have been dealing with the same problem for about 2 years. My work around is to tilt the sterring wheel up and reach under the column and press up on the solenoid while I turn the key out of the lock. A lot cheaoer than a repair.

~

Session09 Adds:

I just had to deal with a somewhat similar situation. I have an '03 GTP, coming home from work when I would go to use my directional the engine would shut down, every freaking light on the dash would begin to flash like a bad Las Vegas sign. The key wouldn't come out as well.

I got the car home and started checking the harnes for breaks. Everything was fine, good continuity on all the wires (combination switch, ignition switch, series II and leads to keyed tumbler). After doing some reading and talking with a fantastic non-GM mechanic I replaced the ignition switch itself.

Everything previously mentioned goes through the ignition switch and reports to the security system and, as far as my experience goes, grabs your key and holds it. Also, the book says you don't have to have power on to reset the ignition tumblers - BALOGNEY! If the battery isn't connected, the ignition won't cycle properly allowing the tumblers to seat correctly and the plunger to release your key! $94.00 cost for the new ignition switch purchased at an aftermarket parts shop. :)

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