Key Cylinder lock issue? | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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Key Cylinder lock issue?


June 7, 2008
Reaction score
City, State
Orland Park IL
Year, Model & Trim Level
1996 XLT
How can one tell if a key cylinder has gone bad on a 2001 Mountaineer. I am stuck with no crank, no anything. PATS theft light blinks erratically, and all dash lights stay on even while lock cylinder is out of column. Fob doesn't work. Tried cycling the key as described, 5-times and 8-times. Starter relay and column ignition switch are new. Need some help bad. HELP.

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try pulling out the relays in the power distribution box one at a time and see if pulling one will make your dash lights go off. then switch that relay with another similar one (most of them are interchangeable) and see if the dash lights stay off. it might be that you have a faulty/sticking relay which is back-feeding power into your electrical system. if so, you problem has nothing to do with you key-lock or ignition switch.

i don't know if your issue is electrical or mechanical. in case you're not aware of how the key, lock and ignition switch interact with each other: your key has an RF chip inside of it. the steering column has a transceiver which reads the key's chip and the PCM checks the key's code to see if it's recognized. the key-lock connects to a socket in the steering column, when the key is turned the socket is rotated and pulls on a rod/linage that connects to the ignition switch, moving the electrical contacts in the switch from OFF to ON to START (or ACC).

Hey Koda. Thanks for the rsvp. I did flip the starter and blower relays and nothing changed. I tried some other tests and think I'm narrowing it down. Will try yours next and let you know what happens. Be back as soon as I can.

So here's what I know. With key out of ignition, all dash lights and interior power says on. I cleaned the ground from neg battery to chassis near battery. All fuses are good. I added a new starter relay and new column ignition switch and nothing changed. Checked the column slide rod and it appears to work fine. When I unplug the wire bundle from the ignition switch dash lights go off.

I also pulled leads from PATS module and nothing changed. Per your suggestion, I just pulled each relay one at a time and no change. Pulled each fuse and no change.... except when I pulled the 60A, then all power off.

What do you think?

when you pull the mega-fuse you're basically cutting power to the truck. if i believe your ignition switch is working as it's supposed to, then i think power is back-feeding through the electrical system from somewhere. do i understand that you removed all the distribution box relays one at a time and the dash lights never went off? if so have you tried unplugging your alternator? i don't think your issue has anything to do with PATS or the key-lock, therefore it must be electrical. perhaps a problem in the alternator or its voltage regulator.

Correct. Pulled each relay and each maxi fuse one at a time, and the PATS plugs, and the key cyclinder one at a time and the lights never went off. Lights went off only when I pulled the ignition switch bundle and the 60A fuse.

My alternator has been a question for me because my battery charges at only 12V and the battery (new last year) didn't hold a charge very well last winter. Been thinking of replacing before this winter. Will check the alternator and get back to you.

Hi again. I disconnected all leads from alternator and lights are still on with key off. Running out of ideas about where the dash power is coming from.

Koda2000..... "the key-lock connects to a socket in the steering column, when the key is turned the socket is rotated and pulls on a rod/linage that connects to the ignition switch, moving the electrical contacts in the switch from OFF to ON to START (or ACC). "

Thought about the linkage last night and realized when I tested the slide mechanics of the link I realized I didn't match it up with the resistance I felt when I turned the key. The key seemed too easy to it wasn't doing anything but turning. Today I dropped the switch, turned the key on and manually moved the switch rod to off and the dash lights went off for the first time. Then I moved the switch to start and guess did. So my problem is the linkage must be broke in the column at the key turn shaft. Now my problem will be to fix or replace the linkage. Don't know if I can handle that too, but sure as hell gonna try.

Thanks much for your input on that possibility. Will let you know what happens.

I checked out your links and a couple others. Seems that rather than anything breaking it could be that the pin that connects the arm and slide might have come out. Also that getting at the beast may require removing the column. Since it may be only a pin connection problem, I'll hope I can get at the pin without tearing everything down. Going to start on the beast soon. Will let you know what happens.

Maybe you should start a new thread specifcally about the rod. Im sure some one has dealt with it.

Good idea. Will do. Thanks for the help.