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1997 AWD GMC Safari
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848 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
A few times in 2021 the van would randomly not start when I spun the key, when I tried again it would work though.

Last week, it happened a couple of times to my wife, but she figured out just the right way to hold the key when turning it to get it to start. Jiggling it doesn't work, it has to be in juuuust in this one position to catch it seems. She can start it consistently like this. I tried to move it yesterday and couldn't start it without using her technique.

Who knows when it suddenly won't go and the van will be stranded, so I've got to get this fixed.

I know there has got to be more about this issue on the forum, but I couldn't find much beyond some stuff in Leeann's threads.

It seems like there are a few main things in the column that are involved with starting- ignition switch, the key cylinder, and the housing - plus the key of course.

Using the other key doesn't change things, and I would think that it's not the ignition switch since it seems like a mechanical problem, not electrical (I could very well be wrong on that).

So, in my mind, that leaves the key cylinder and the housing as top on the list of culprits. Seems like a doable job (thanks to Leeann for documenting - Pics of the 'new' '99 Safari XLE AWD)

Anyone think they know what is causing the issue and can chime in? This seems like a specific symptom, so hopefully someone else has had the same thing.
 

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1998 LS AWD Forest Green metallic
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1,240 Posts
I would begin by having a new key cut from the factory code. It is not a duplicate of the worn ones you have. It definitely solved the issue I had, with intermittent start, and it is not expensive ( <$12 a few years ago)
Rod J
 

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1997 AWD GMC Safari
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I would begin by having a new key cut from the factory code. It is not a duplicate of the worn ones you have. It definitely solved the issue I had, with intermittent start, and it is not expensive ( <$12 a few years ago)
Rod J
Is this a dealer only thing Rod?

What exactly is it doing when it's not starting? What is the security light doing?
Whoops, duh. When it doesn't start, it clicks and nothing happens. Pretty much exactly what happens when the battery is super dead. No security light that I see. Here is a pic of the dash one of the times I turned the key and it did nothing (taken while still holding the key in start)
Speedometer Motor vehicle Vehicle Gauge Automotive design
 

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05 Astro AWD
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14,155 Posts
That's what happened with the '99. Turned the key and...nothing. Mostly, it was the key cylinder, but the housing's plastic gears were also worn and there were chafed wires.

Most of it was the key cylinder, which I also had to replace in the '05. I bought a factory part on eBay for the '05 - it was a Strattec (I think that's it) with matching keys and the key code to put away. On the '99, I had 3 keys (1 almost new OEM, 1 newish aftermarket and 1 worn OEM) and none of the keys worked after a certain point. On the '05, I had to insert the key the right way - because the wrong way wouldn't even turn the cylinder - and be rather gentle.

The key cylinder alone is pretty easy. Nothing like the teardown on the '99. The pics are from the '99 and '00, but there is a step-by-step in the '05 thread, starting about halfway down this page:
 

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1998 LS AWD Forest Green metallic
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1,240 Posts
Is this a dealer only thing Rod?


Whoops, duh. When it doesn't start, it clicks and nothing happens. Pretty much exactly what happens when the battery is super dead. No security light that I see. Here is a pic of the dash one of the times I turned the key and it did nothing (taken while still holding the key in start)
View attachment 282515
I cannot say for sure if it is a dealer only.item I think others have mentioned large lockmith shops can also do it with the factory VIN and required proof of ownership. In my case. I went to the local Chevy dealership, and it was a simple quick task. I think it was $10 or $11 plus sales tax. That was three years ago. Then I was at another key shop later, and had them duplicate the 'new' key for me.
Rod J
 

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1997 AWD GMC Safari
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848 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Alright, I'll try a new key and lock lube in the cylinder and see what happens.
 

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1997 AWD GMC Safari
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Well, it kind of stopped happening the last few weeks - but I did get the factory code from the dealer (free somehow) and got a new key cut for it and put it in the cupholder.
Soooooo.....
If it acts up again, can just try the new cut key and see if it fixes it - if not, I'll be ordering a new ignition cylinder, which I can get on Amazon in 2 days for $20, which isn't too shabby.
 
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