The Keys to Success with a Saturn Ion

It’s Saturday afternoon, on a sweltering summer day in the Capital District.  I’ve been traveling around the area with my camera, taking advantage of a rare day off.  I also had plans to go with a good friend to the Saratoga Race Course on Sunday, so I needed to get my Saturn Ion Cardachrome cleaned out and neatened up.

I stuck my key in the car’s ignition.  Let’s Go, Cardachrome – next stop… wait… the key’s not turning in the ignition.

I’ve had this problem before.  I jiggle the key up and down, in and out, and then it turns over.

But this time I couldn’t get the key to twist in the ignition.  It was almost as if my car was saying, “Chuck, this key doesn’t feel right, so I’m not starting.”

It was at that point that I examined my car key.  The nubs along the key were worn down.  Worn down to the point where it wouldn’t properly catch in the ignition tumblers.  Oh, I could start the car, but what if I had to get some place important and the key wouldn’t work – especially if I had a passenger in the car?  Oh that would be a disaster.

I finally got the car started.  I knew I had to get a new ignition key – and fast.

So I drove over to Home Depot, where I knew they had the ability to cut a new set of keys.

The worker at the Home Depot key station took my key and stuck it in a series of blade frames, to match up with the proper blank for cutting.  Apparently my Saturn takes an Axxess 28 blank key blade.

He then looked at the rack of keys.  “Sorry, sir, we don’t have a blank for that key.”

“Okay,” I replied.  “Who does?”

“No,” he repeated.  “We – as in Home Depot – don’t have it.  None of us do.  We have a 27 blade and a 31 blade, but no 28.  Nobody carries a 28.  And I don’t think Wal-Mart or Lowes or any other place has one.”

Great.  Just great.

I was only a few blocks away from an Advance Auto Parts store, so I was able to nurse Cardachrome over there.

“Hi,” I said to the counter worker.  “I’d like to get a duplicate key made for this car.”

“I’m sorry, sir,” the counter worker said.  “We don’t have a key cutting machine here.”

Blood pressure’s starting to percolate.  “Okay, what do I do?  Who can I go to to get this key made?”

“You can go to Ye Olde Locksmith.”

I thought the guy was putting me on.  Right, Ye Olde Locksmith, where is he, under the spreading chestnut tree next door to the village smithy?

No.  Apparently there is a business called Ye Olde Locksmith, it’s on Central Avenue at the intersection of Central and Route 155 in Colonie.

With great patience, I was able to get the key into the ignition and make my way to Ye Olde Locksmith.  And inside, there were more keys and locks than anyone could ever imagine.  Success.

I handed the store owner my ignition key.  “I need a replacement made for this key,” he said.  “Can you do it?”



“No,” he said.  “This key’s too worn down.  You need to go to a GM dealership and have them create a new key for you.  You’ll need to go there with your title and registration and driver’s license, and they have to access the GM database to make sure that they can get the right key code for you.”

Oh man oh man oh man.

Luckily for me, Otto Cadillac was only a quarter of a mile away from Ye Olde Locksmith.  I walked over there, my car registration and title papers in my hand.

“Can I help you?” a salesman at Otto Cadillac asked.

I explained my dilemma.

“Right this way,” he said.  “We can help you.”

And at Otto’s parts department, a worker took down all the information he could – he photocopied my title papers, my registration papers, my driver’s license, took down my name and address and phone number, my Saturn’s license plate number, and then said, “We’ll take care of this for you.”

Fifteen minutes later, I had a new car key.  “Make sure you keep an eye on your ignition,” he said.  “Sometimes when the key wears down, the cylinder wears down as well.  You may need to replace the ignition cylinder at some point, especially with a six-year-old car.”

I thanked him, paid for the key replacement, and then went back to Ye Olde Locksmith.

“Did they replace your key?” the proprietor asked.

“Yes they did, thank you for suggesting them,” I replied.  While I was there, I purchased some items – a new keychain (they had a Pontiac 6000 keychain, OMG) and some other tchochkes.

And then, the moment of truth.  Ignition key in the cylinder.

Let’s Go, Cardachrome – VROOMMMM!!!!!

Back to life.  Back to reality.  Just like a Soul II Soul hit.

And now, it’s time to get my car cleaned out.  No soda bottles, no food wrappers, no film boxes, no nothing.  And I’ve got a new car key – and my Saturn has a new lease on life.