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Ignition cylinder question


February 15, 2020
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Year, Model & Trim Level
2000 mercury mountaineer
I have a 2000 Mercury Mountaineer AWD V8 that has intermittent no start no crank that started two days ago. The starter, alternator, and battery (power and wires) have all checked out. The mechanic said that if he moves the key just a tad towards him after putting it on Ignition all the way it always turns on, so he thinks the ignition 'switch' might be going out. He said he checked the voltage and it's only sending 8v out of 12v needed to send a signal to the starter. But while he was saying all this, he was pointing to the key in the ignition cylinder.

As a single mom on a small income, I want to see if I can do this myself, but he said that I would likely have to have a shop that has a PATS machine and software handy to "hold the key codes" while the old cylinder is being removed and then add them back in after the cylinder is replaced. But he also called this part the ignition switch, so I'm wondering if he used the words interchangeably, and now I'm confused. He gave me a printout outlining how to disable the auto-lock, and removal and installation of the 'ignition switch' which match the directions for removing the ignition switch listed on my haynes repair manual, not the ignition cylinder.

So my questions are:

If I install a new ignition switch (the part under the steering column on the left hand side of the column) then do I have to mess with code/reset software and still go to the dealer or a shop that has the ford software?


If I actually have to replace the ignition cylinder, then, I have read that you can have a locksmith key a new ignition cylinder to the existing chip keys (I have the two programmed keys), so that the old keys still work. Am I right in assuming that if I go this route, I don't have to bother with the PATS system/software at all? Since I'm not messing with the PATS transceiver (the ring that goes around the key hole), unless this part comes as part of the new cylinder, then I'm assuming the codes remain untouched? I can't seem to find a definitive answer on this.

Any help is appreciated.

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If jiggling the key makes it start then yes, you appear to have a bad ignition switch OR the mechanical interface piece from the lock cylinder to the switch has broken or worn away. You won't know which it is until the cylinder is pulled out and the end that interfaces the switch, examined for damage. That end may be a separate piece, I thought it was but could be wrong.

This will not affect the PATS security at all. There is no need for any machine to interface it, no need to "hold the key codes" or anything like that. As long as you continue to use the same keys the PATS will work once the repair is done.

Now if you ended up having a damaged lock cylinder itself, not the mechanical interface or switch mechanism and tried to go the cheaper route of putting in a replacement cylinder that wasn't keyed the same (and were too cheap to pay for a complete kit to DIY re-key it or have a locksmith do that), resulting in needing a new key that has a yet unknown security code, THEN you would need a PATS capable interface tool to program in the new key. This isn't likely to be necessary, and there is even a way around that too, by prying up the plastic plug in the old key, to get the microchip-vial out of it, and swapping it into the new key.

You already wrote most of that, but I will add that the PATS transceiver itself has no coding to the keys. You can replace that too and it will not require reprogramming the PATS as the transceiver is just a sort of (electromagnetic coil based) power source for the key chip and a "dumb" antenna to receive the signal the key sends.

Thank you, J_C, that answered my question. I live in a rural area, so finding a shop/dealership with a PATS tool is a bigger pain than finding a locksmith that may be able to re-key it. I know my limitations though and re-keying it myself might be beyond me, so I'd go the locksmith route to avoid the PATS stuff. I will start with the ignition switch since that seems pretty straightforward to do and relatively cheap, then if that doesn't fix it I will move on to exploring the mechanical interface between that and the cylinder and going from there.

Thanks again, I'm very grateful to have found this forum!

Rekeying a new cylinder is very easy. Just seeing what you know about these vehicles—you have the requisite intellect and mechanical skill.

Rekeying a new cylinder is very easy. Just seeing what you know about these vehicles—you have the requisite intellect and mechanical skill.

Thanks for the vote of confidence, C420. If I do decide to re-key it, what's a good source for a kit? I've never done this before and have no idea what to look for...thank you!

When I did mine, I bought the Ford/Motorcraft kit. Wasn’t expensive. Can’t remember if I got it from the dealer or not. It came with the cylinder and all the tumblers necessary for keying it yourself.

I seem to remember there being a tutorial on here or YouTube.

Only gotcha I remember is that there are little springs that hold the tumblers in. If you aren’t careful, you can drop one and lose it. Recommend doing it in a cardboard box or similar just in case you drop something, it doesn’t roll away and vanish.

That is just the cylinder though, not the electrical ignition switch. They are separate parts.

Strattec is a well known brand that many locksmiths use.

In theory you might be able to pull the pins out of the old lock cylinder to reuse on the new one, "IF" It needs a lock cylinder at all.

It might even be that all you need to do is pull the cylinder to get access to the ignition switch, spray a good squirt of contact cleaner in and use the cylinder to rotate the switch back and forth while the contact cleaner is wet to clean it off. After you get the cylinder out, if the end of it is worn, it needs replaced rather than bothering to try contact cleaner.

Here is a topic showing the cylinder end piece that broke off for the person posting the picture, and the same topic, another post with the part # for the Ford kit that includes all parts needed to re-key one, part SW-6383 (AKA) 1L3Z-11582-A

How to: - Ignition Lock broken, How to fix lock to use original keys

Lastly, it may even be possible to disassemble and clean out the ignition switch itself. Like many Ford switch assemblies, it appears to be held together with springy plastic tabs, so the challenge is to bend those tabs outwards without cracking them off and it may be easier with the switch warmed up (hairdryer or heat gun at a distance) to soften the plastic, then use something like a cotton swab with metal polish on it (brasso, etc) to clean the metal contacts. It could easily be that the switch housing breaks too much trying to get it apart, but if you're about to buy a new one anyway, it's nothing lost if it is destroyed trying to open it. These switches are not very expensive, even the Motorcraft is only $17 on Rockauto.