The Steering Wheel is Not Locked But the Key Wont Turn

Have you been in situation that steering wheel is not locked but the key wont turn?

One of the first automobile anti-theft features is the steering lock. The steering relies on the presence of the key by integrating the ignition lock into the steering column. It’s a relatively easy yet brilliant method to provide a car with an extra layer of defense.[1]

Cars, especially those with manual transmissions, would be incredibly simple to steal without the steering lock. A burglar would only need to shatter a window, hook a towing wire to another vehicle, and tow the stolen car away. The steering wheel lock therefore is a crucial anti-theft device.

Steering Wheel is Not Locked But the Key Wont Turn


You expect that your car will start once you insert the key into the ignition. But occasionally, you might discover that turning your key in the ignition doesn’t work. As a result, you might be at a loss for making your key functional again.

Most of us have had trouble getting the car key to turn in the ignition [2]. And it always seems to occur when you least expect it, like when you are in a rush. So what is the right course of action?

It can be quite frustrating, especially given that there frequently seems to be no obvious issue. If you find yourself in this situation, you should attempt to take a few different actions to get your key to function.

You might be tempted to panic when you initially realize that your car key won’t turn in the ignition yet the steering wheel isn’t locked. However, you should know that this specific issue isn’t all that unusual. Many people have ignition problems with their vehicles, particularly with older cars. So you shouldn’t worry too much about it.

However, you ought to move quickly and try to identify the cause of this problem. It could be caused by something quite simple, like your steering wheel locking up.

Or it could be caused by something more complicated, like a faulty ignition cylinder. Either way, you can figure out what’s happening and get your car key to function normally again.

If you do not understand the underlying cause, you cannot simply fix the issue with your car’s key and ignition. However, you can narrow down the potential solutions to this aggravating issue by first diagnosing the problem.

Possible problems


  1. Faulty Components

There are several parts to the ignition, and at least one might be at fault when the key fails to turn [3]. It’s normally simple to solve in such a situation. The technique used in solving the problem will depend on the component to be repaired.

Most cars have steering wheels that lock when the key is removed from the ignition. It is the cause of the steering wheel becoming stuck, which makes your car immobile.

There could also be issues with the gear selector where your vehicle is stuck in park or neutral. The car battery is another element that influences whether or not the ignition will turn. if the battery is dead, the key won’t turn and thus the car won’t move.

  1. Issues with the Car Key

Issues with your key could also be preventing the ignition from turning. It might not be the proper key for your automobile, or it can be worn out or bent. A key that is bent might fit into the cylinder. Once inside, though, it might not be properly oriented. In such a case, no matter how often you turn the key, the vehicle will not start.[4]

  1. Faulty Ignition Cylinder

Also known as the key cylinder, the ignition cylinder can be the main issue if the car won’t start. Over time, a lot of trash can accumulate inside the vehicle. These specks may get up into the ignition, making it difficult to turn the key.

Check inside the ignition cylinder to see if there is any visible debris. Verify that there are no obstacles or springs that are stuck. The key may not turn due to these two main factors. [5].

Your car is a mechanical system. Mechanical components eventually wear out or break. Both mechanical keys and key cylinders fall within this category. They can become worn out after years of thousands of times inserting and removing your ignition key. The key may eventually stop turning or come unhinged from the cylinder.

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Possible solutions

The issues described above could cause the car key not to turn in the ignition. However, many of these problems are common and may be fixed in your driveway. Some, though, are unique to particular vehicle years, makes, or models.

There are a few options you can explore. While some might not work at all, some of them might get your car ignition working again. If you’re prepared to put in enough effort, you might find a way to make your car key function as it should. The following are some suggestions that should help you in getting your car in order:

  1. Turn the steering wheel

Your automobile will lock up on you if the steering wheel is ever moved after the ignition key has been removed. Unfortunately, many unintentionally do this when getting out of their cars and then wonder why their car keys won’t turn. To get your car key riding in the ignition, you should attempt moving your steering wheel as soon as you discover that it isn’t shifting [6].

To do this, you must first turn your steering wheel to the left and right to determine which side has a little bit of give. Then, while attempting to turn the key, turn the steering wheel in that direction and hold it there.

This should turn your car key with a little lock, though you might need to move the steering wheel slightly to make it turn. Just be careful not to force the key to turn, as it can lead to more serious issues.

  1. Fix the Key

You can use a hammer to flatten it if you notice that it is bent. To avoid damaging the key, ensure that you use non-metallic block. Pick a hammer made of wood or rubber. Even resting the key on a piece of wood will soften the impact . Carefully work it until you can see that it is straight. After that, you can restart your vehicle.

Your key may be damaged if your vehicle is older. This is the most frequent cause of car keys that won’t turn in the ignition. If the pins inside the cylinder do not drop properly, you cannot start the car.

Use the spare key first if you have one. Also, consider contacting your dealership to order a replacement key if you don’t have a spare one.

Unfortunately, people frequently make the error of using the wrong key. Even if you’ve been driving for a while, it’s still possible to accidentally insert the incorrect key into the cylinder by grabbing it off the table or keyring. Since some keys resemble one another, anyone might make this error. You should therefore double check the key you are using before attempting to start the vehicle.

Even simply cleaning the key might have a significant impact. To remove foreign objects from the surface, use a cotton swab and rubbing alcohol.

  1. Clean the Ignition Cylinder

It is not easy to spin the key in the proper direction if there is an obstruction within the key cylinder. Take a look inside the cylinder with a flashlight. Look for any visible obstacles, like metal scraps. While cleaning the cylinder, keep flying debris out of your eyes. You can use the proper cleaning supplies, including compressed air [8]. Always read the instruction manual before moving forward. You might need to spray more than once at times. The key will easily slip in once the debris has been removed.

The cylinder’s pins and springs conform to the contours of the car key. If it doesn’t turn, it can be because the pins or springs become jammed. Knock the ignition cylinder with a little tack hammer to assist in dislodging the corks.

Always strike lightly. Your goal is to create vibrations that urge the springs to move, not to mix up the internal parts. You can then re-insert the key and turn it in once they are free.

To clean it up, you might also need to lubricate the cylinder. You must use extreme caution whenever you add oil to an ignition cylinder. You risk making matters worse if you choose the wrong lubricant.

You might even damage it and be forced to get a new ignition cylinder. Instead, apply a silicone-based oil, let it air dry, and then wipe away any extra grease.

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The easiest method to start addressing the problem is to identify why your automobile key won’t turn in the ignition. All the techniques mentioned above are guaranteed to work, depending on why the key won’t move. The best approach is to contact the experts if you cannot identify the issue with your car.

The simplest method is to call a locksmith. Depending on your knowledge and circumstances, the other simple solutions may become more difficult. Contact a more experienced expert before a simple fix becomes expensive.

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