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Thread: Sticking Key - much more information

  1. #1
    Sport Button On - DSC Off
    Join Date
    May 2019

    Sticking Key - much more information

    The ignition key in my Z8 has been sticking since I aquired the car. I posted about it back in July and the consensus was basically try some lubricant in the key barrel or save up for the inevitable flatbed to the dealer for an expensive part replacement. I don't know about you, but I get a little hesitant to drive a car when it's really a crap shoot on whether the car will start again. So I've been worrying about it. This is a bit of a long post, so to cut to the chase, it all seems to be working correctly now (no sticking key) and I'm not sure why.

    In researching the problem of the sticking key, I found this TIS article which explains the the startup sequence:

    In short, as I understand it:

    When a key is inserted, it is recognized at insertion and the steering lock is released at that point. You should hear a sound like closing the bolt on a rifle (thanks to Matt Carver at Peter Pan for that description). A signal is sent out on the K-bus to release the turn inhibitor on the key barrel. This was not happening on my car (no rifle bolt sound) - on my car the steering lock never engaged - steering was free to turn at all times, car locked or unlocked.

    If the car is asleep or does not electronically recognize the key at insertion, key rotation is noticed by a Hall sensor as the key moves 10 degrees toward the accessory position. Key rotation is blocked at 10 degrees until a signal is received from the K-bus recognizing the key. Key rotation is blocked for 700ms waiting for a signal from the K-bus. This is what was happening with my car. This is what feels like the key is sticking. It's an error message to the user that there is a K-bus problem! To the user, it seems like wiggling the key moves it past the sticking point - but really the system is waiting 3/4 of a second for a signal.

    After the 700ms time out, the rotation block on the key barrel is released and the car decides to trust the key. Otherwise the K-bus error/problem would immobilize the car.

    Anyway, that is what causes the "sticking" key.

    My car reliably worked this way for months. Turn the key halfway to accessory, pause for a count, and then continue. Worked every time. So what changed?

    As I mentioned before, I don't really know. Here's my solution sequence - it is long, but it did work in my case:

    - Start the car (turn key, pause, finish turning key)

    - Back out of garage

    - Wash car

    - Pause and appreciate just how pretty a black Z8 is when clean

    - Hop in the car to move back into garage

    - Discover the key won't turn past 10 degrees. Stuck. Try multiple times. Sigh deeply. Enjoy multiple emotions - sadness that it's broken - gladness that it broke at home - relief that now it's broken it will have to go to the dealer for some resolution.

    And of course, resignation - after discovering that you can't push the car on your own and will have to explain to your wife that she will have to assist with pushing the expensive paper weight into the garage.- Once your wife is in attendance and has finished laughing, try the key again. This time it will work as before - turn, stick, pause, and it turns to the On position. Before the car changes it's mind, startup and pull into the garage.

    - Get the car settled, finish the door jams, etc.

    - Try the key again - stuck. And the stuck condition continues. Pulling into the garage was the last gift from the automotive gods for that day.

    - Now the car is dead in the water. Key won't turn past 10 degrees. What could have changed? No obvious water in the cabin, all electrics working normally. When the key turned to the sticking point, after the pause I'd hear tic tic tic. I assume that was the barrel lock trying to release. I couldn't think of anyway to help it release.

    - I decided to check for blown fuses, specifically the ones involved in the steering lock and startup sequence. Maybe wash water shorted something. I check 16,17, and 27 in the passenger foot well. Removed those three to check, all looked good. No corrosion or obvious problems with the contacts. Retried the key, no change - stuck at the 10 degree point. Gave up at that point - or rather, retreated to consider my options.

    - Next day, after remembering a post about this problem where disconnecting/reconnecting the battery would allow one startup, I returned to the problem. Tried the key before doing anything. Heard the rifle bolt sound for the first time ever. Key turned freely. And this situation has persisted for ten days.

    So back to the TIS article - apparently whatever K-bus problem was afflicting the car magically resolved itself. The only thing I did was swing the fuse box down and look at a few fuses. And after a day long wait, not immediately, everything in the key startup sequence began to work as designed - which I had never experienced in my four months with the car. It's not a very satisfying solution at this point, but I'm still happy it's working!

  2. #2
    Team Z8 Z8DinanS2's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Thank you for sharing this information. Notes taken!

  3. #3
    Z8 Millennial Monster 2112's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    +1 nice write up.
    2000 Red over black
    heavily modified for performance. Although, not to the level of GM's car

  4. #4
    Z8 Novice
    Join Date
    Oct 2018
    My Alpina is currently in the dealer with similar starting issue. Several of the “tricks” mentioned in various posts on this issue worked, but as noted, not reliably. I was also getting afraid to drive it anywhere.
    Sometimes the key would not engage the mechanism when inserted therefore not allowing it to turn completely. Like MauiMike notes, no rifle bolt action noise. Several tries would sometimes work, otherwise it was disconnecting the battery to reset the electronics which most of the times worked. Not a battery issue, although I could see how it be a problem.
    Other times the key would engage, and the dreadful “click” happens. Most of the time the trick of holding down the starter button for 3-5 seconds works, but again not always. Disconnecting the battery for a reset usually works if repeated tries does not.
    Very frustrating.
    At the same time, my convertible top started acting up. Sometimes it would not open, other times not open all the way, and other times not close. Again, resetting the battery usually fixes it, temporarily.
    Neither problem has stranded me, but I’ve had to unload groceries and golf clubs on to the parking lot to reset the battery, twice. I’ve also driven home holding down the convertible top because it wouldn’t open or close, until I pulled into the garage where it worked fine.
    This is an Alpina with over 70,000 miles. Never an issue up to about a month ago. Different starter motor than the Z8, different computer module. Automatic, so nothing to do with depressing the clutch. I’ve never had an issue with my 8,000 mile Z8, only the Alpina.
    Fortunately (?) when I brought the car into the dealer the car repeated the problems so the mechanic could see them first hand.
    Somewhat embarrassing to pull into a large dealer with a bunch of people gathering around to see it, and it’s dead in its tracks with a convertible top stuck halfway up in the air. (Everybody still admires it!!)
    We’ll see what the dealer finds...

  5. #5
    Exactly the same thing happened to me on Tuesday. Never happened before. I'll be watching this thread!Phil

  6. #6
    Z8 Novice tonchum's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    For all concerned on this thread, having lived this nightmare before, you may want to refer to a previous thread in Problems & Solutions (Ignition Lock?) where solutions were discussed. I assure you that most bus or fuse solutions will only be temporary. I finally solved this by replacing the steering lock. (not cheap...)
    Good luck.
    Denis Hébert
    2003 Stratus // Crema/Black

  7. #7
    Sport Button On - DSC Off
    Join Date
    May 2019
    Thanks Denis - I studied that earlier thread when initially researching the problem and did conclude my future held a dealer trip to get those components replaced. Based on that, I proactively ordered the steering lock and the steering lock/ignition assemblies. If/when my times comes, I won't have to wait for parts from Germany.

  8. #8
    Sport Button On - DSC Off
    Join Date
    May 2019
    Just a quick update - it's been over six months and I have been daily driving the Z8 when the weather is nice. It's northern CA, so a lot of winter days are sunny and a little cold - perfect top down weather. Anyway, probably well over 100 key start sequences since the startup sequence started working correctly. So far, no further problems. And I probably just jinxed the whole thing by announcing that it is still working fine.

  9. #9
    Team Z8 jawz's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    FWIW - I've only experienced this problem when the battery was dead or nearly so. Once I replaced the battery, no more issues.
    ALPINA #480/555
    Jet Black/Crema-Black

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