August 23rd, 2021 by Fix Auto USA
If your key won’t turn in the ignition, you may still be able to pull it out. But, if your key won’t come out of the ignition easily, don’t force the issue. Otherwise, your key could break off.
My Key Is Stuck In The Ignition: What Should I Do Next?
Here are three things you should do if your key is locked in the ignition:
1. Unlock The Steering Wheel
Many cars have a locking mechanism that gets activated when the steering wheel is turned too far to the left or right. The mechanism also prevents you from removing your key. To release the locking mechanism, turn your wheel in the opposite direction and try turning your key once you feel that the wheel is no longer locked in position.
2. Jiggle Your Key
Use your left index finger to push down on your key cylinder. At the same time, jiggle your key with your right hand. This can loosen springs and pins inside the cylinder to the point where you can slide your key out of it.
3. Shake The Gear Selector
Your car must be set in park or neutral before you can remove your key. Yet, there may be times when your car doesn’t recognize the fact that you’re parked or in neutral. In these instances, gently shake the gear selector. Alternatively, try resetting your gear into the parking position.
If these methods don’t work, call a professional locksmith.
Why Does My Key Get Stuck In The Ignition?
There are many reasons why your key can get stuck in your ignition, including:
1. Your Car Is Not In Park Or Neutral.
If your car’s parking gear is not set properly, you might not be able to get your key out of the ignition. In a car with an automatic transmission, the vehicle must be set to the park position before you can remove your key from the ignition. If you drive a car with a manual transmission and have trouble getting your key out of the ignition, move your shifter to neutral. At this point, you may be able to turn your key and slide it out of the ignition.
2. Your Car’s Running In Accessory Mode.
Most cars with a hard key have an accessory mode that lets you activate the radio, power windows, and other features without turning your vehicle on. The feature is usually activated by turning your key one “click” past the Off position.
3. Your Battery Is Dead.
If you turn your key and repeatedly hear a “clicking” sound, your battery may be dead. This can hamper your ability to remove your key.
4. There Is Debris On Your Key.
Debris can collect on your key that prevents it from turning in the ignition cylinder. If you had a key replacement made, minor imperfections can cause it to get stuck in the ignition.
Your Ignition Cylinder Is Defective.
Ignition cylinders are prone to wear and tear. As they age, their internal mechanisms can fail. If your ignition cylinder is defective, you may not be able to remove your key from it.
What To Do If Your Key Breaks In The Ignition
A broken key in the ignition is the worst-case scenario. If your key breaks, you have two options: use a key extractor tool or hire a professional locksmith.
You can use a key extractor tool to remove the piece of broken key stuck in the ignition. Comparatively, working with a professional locksmith ensures your broken key is properly removed.
Finally, look at your key before you put it in the ignition. If your key is damaged or dirty, it becomes increasingly likely that it can break off inside the ignition.
This blog post was contributed by Fix Auto Orangevale, a leading industry expert and collision repair shop servicing the Sacramento area including Folsom, Fair Oaks, and Roseville.