How To Replace Ignition Cylinder On Toyota 85-94 (Lost Key or Broken Key)

This is a quick guide on how to remove your ignition cylinder from your Toyota 85-94. I did this on a 1993 Toyota Truck, but the same principles apply to pretty much any car. I am sure with newer cars there are new security features to make this harder to do, but once you understand how these locking mechanisms work it makes replacing them pretty straight forward.

Here is what I was facing on a 1993 Toyota Pick Up Truck. The ignition key had been lost, and there were zero spares. We ordered a new ignition lock cylinder (the part where the key goes into) and now had to remove the old one and get the new one in.

The normal way to do this if you still have the old working key is to put the key in the ignition and on a Toyota turn it to the “ACC” position. Next, you find the pin on the bottom of the ignition lock cylinder and push up with a pick or screwdriver while wiggling the ignition cylinder from the key. After some jiggling, it should slide out. Next, you take your new ignition lock cylinder and put it to “ACC” with the key that fits it. Slide it in and you are set to go!

That is IF you have the old key to turn the ignition to the “ACC” position. But what if you lost the keys? They were stolen? Or maybe your key broke off in the ignition switch and it is stuck on the lock position?

If you are replacing the ignition cylinder on a car and you do NOT have the old key the easiest way to do it is to drill out the pin on the bottom of the old ignition cylinder. Use good quality drill bits, lubricant, and slowly drill the pin until the old ignition cylinder slides out easily. Check periodically while drilling to see how much further you have to go. Once you have the old ignition assembly out, take a flat blade screwdriver or long needle nose pliers and move the part at the back of the ignition hub (where you slid the old ignition cylinder out from) to the ACC position. You want to line up your new ignition cylinders slot to the part in the back of the truck. Now slide in your new ignition cylinder and test it out! 

Steps to Replacing Your Ignition Cylinder Toyota 85-94 With No Key:

  1. Disconnect negative battery terminal before starting
  2. Remove all panels needed to access the lower pin in the ignition cylinder.
  3. Grab a drill bit that is the correct size to drill the pin out. I broke like 3 drill bits doing this and had to battle to get them out, so please use quality drill bits or take it VERY slowly.
  4. Lubricate the drill bit as you drill the pin out.
  5. Go slowly and check your work, the ignition cylinder should start to wiggle and show it is getting looser.
  6. At a certain point, you will have drilled the pin flush to the ignition cylinder and the part where you put the key in will slide out when you pull on it (you may need to wiggle and pull pretty hard)
  7. With your new ignition assembly put it in the “ACC” position.
  8. Align the part that is in the back of the hole that you now have since you took out your ignition cylinder to line up with the new one going back in. I.e., they both need to be in the “ACC” position to slide together. If you do not do this the ignition cylinder will never slide all the way in, because the truck is still in the “lock” position.
  9. Reinstall all panels you had to take off in order to get access to the ignition assembly.
  10. It should only take about 10 minutes or less with the right drill bits to drill out the ignition cylinder locking pin. Once that is free it should take 2 minutes to swap out the ignition cylinders and have a new ignition with a new key.

With more general instructions so you can understand how these ignition cylinders work and how to get around them without a key:

Photos with instructions:

Just so we are on the same page. Ignition cylinder is where you put the key and turn. The ignition housing is the red bit that holds the ignition cylinder. Here you see the two separated either from drilling or from putting the key to “ACC” and then removing the lock cylinder. If you lost the key or have no key, you will need to drill out the pin on the bottom of the ignition cylinder so it releases from the ignition housing!
Another view of the pin that holds the ignition cylinder into the ignition housing. If it is drilled out it is the same as if the key is in the “ACC” position and it just slides out easily. The hardest part is being good at drilling so that you don’t break drill bits off in the pin. I broke 3 drill bits, but I was using cheap bits not made for metal drilling.
Here is the ignition cylinder (a much cheaper and easier part to replace) than the entire ignition housing. Another view of the pin that needs to be drilled out to release the ignition cylinder from the housing if you lost the key (or broke it inside the ignition cylinder).


  1. If you lost the key the easiest way is to drill out the pin on the bottom of the ignition cylinder.
  2. If you still have the key, or can get the ignition cylinder to move, put it in the ACC position and wiggle it out of the ignition housing.
  3. Once you have the ignition cylinder removed to replace it with the new one (just use needle nose pliers to move the back of the ignition housing to the “ACC” position so that it lines up with the new ignition cylinder– THIS STEP IS ONLY IF YOU HAD TO DRILL OUT THE OLD IGNITION CYLINDER. 
  4. If you are confused about this step, try to put the new ignition cylinder in– it won’t slide all the way back. This is because the truck is essentially in the lock position while the new ignition cylinder must be in the ACC position in order for the pin to slide into the ignition housing. You’ll never get the new ignition cylinder to mate with the ignition housing UNLESS you rotate the back of the ignition housing to match the back of the new ignition cylinder. I wish I had good photos, but once you battle this for a second you will understand what I am saying.
  5. Remember to change the door locks and gas lock if you lost all keys.

What kind of drill bits work best for drilling out the pin? Any high-quality drill bit set made for metal should work. Keep it lubricated as you drill and take breaks and tap the ignition cylinder with a rubber mallet to make the metal shavings fall. If you do break off a bit, go very slowly with a new bit and when you feel it bite the old bit try to pull it out. You want all the old pieces of any drill bits out as they will keep you from drilling the cylinder out properly.

Drilling anything out takes some finesse. The most important thing is to not push too hard and try to keep the drill bit straight.

These are some of my favorite Cobalt bits great for metal drilling. You can also grab an entire set of Cobalt drill bits on Amazon for a great deal here.


If you are still confused on the terminology here are some Amazon searches that should help you understand the two separate parts.

  1. Ignition Cylinder Alone (The part where your key turns and goes in and out– this slides in and out of the ignition housing)
  2. Ignition Cylinder + Housing 

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