- Locksmith & Home Security Technician
- Getting a career diploma in as little as 5 months.
- Gain experience with practical exercises and interactive assignments.
- Learn how to identify, create, and duplicate keys.
- Learn to work with several types of locks including safes, valuts, and auto.
- and more...
When your key is stuck in the ignition, your initial reaction is to panic and figure out how to remove it.
Never use force no matter what you do because this could break the key.
Then you’ll end up with a bigger problem.
Remember that any key in the ignition will slip after you revolve it counterclockwise.
If it doesn’t, you have to understand the cause to figure out the best steps to take next.
There are many reasons why your car key will not come out.
These reasons could be a unique problem for a specific vehicle model.
But, most of the causes are universal and can happen to any vehicle model.
While many new vehicles advanced past the need for a physical key, many of us hold onto the classic model vehicle using keys.
Understand that when the ignition key wears down, the car system starts to malfunction.
Your instinct will tell you to grab a screwdriver to start the car immediately.
The worst thing that could happen is finding that the key was stuck in the switch.
If and when this happens, you need to repair your ignition switch.
Know that this will involve removing the key, changing the ignition switch, and replacing the key.
Fixing the ignition switch is easy if done by a professional automobile locksmith.
Table of Contents
- Diagnose Your Problem
- What If Your Car Key Will Not Come out of the Ignition?
Diagnose Your Problem
It’s frustrating when the key won’t budge no matter how you twist and turn it.
More often than not, it is not the ignition key that is at fault when you have this issue.
Before you start worrying, here are some simple checks you can do.
Ensure that the ignition switch’s key is in the lock position.
Move the steering wheel and gently remove the key from the lock position.
When the steering wheel locks, it will keep your key in place until you unlock the steering wheel system.
Focus on the steering wheel movement, and neve pull hard on the key.
Check if your car is in the park position.
Keep in mind that the shifter must always be locked in the park to remove the key.
Is the battery dead? When your key was in the ‘on’ position, did the dashboard light up?
In many modern cars, you cannot remove the battery if the battery is dead.
Call an automobile locksmith for a thorough diagnosis.
In the meantime, use your spare key to manually lock the car.
Leave the key in the lock position to keep the battery from depleting.
Is Your Car In Park Or Neutral?
If, for any reason, your car key is stuck in the ignition, don’t panic.
If you do not turn off your car correctly, you will not get your key out.
An automatic transmission car has a safety measure feature that locks the vehicle to protect you and the vehicle.
The car will automatically lock if you don’t put the vehicle in neutral or park to remind you that the vehicle is still in drive.
This is a fantastic safety mechanism; otherwise, the car to roll away.
So, you must set it to a park position before removing the key.
When the car is still in gear, it is impossible to remove the key.
If your car has a manual transmission, move your shifter to neutral if you have a problem getting your key out.
When the gearshift lever seems to be in the park, you have to replace the shift lock solenoid.
Is Your Car Properly Turned Off?
Perhaps one of the causes of a stuck ignition key is the steering wheel locking mechanism because it will lock when the car is parked.
That is an excellent feature to prevent theft, but it can also prevent you from removing the key from the ignition switch.
However, the vehicle or the ignition is not the problem in some cases.
It could be a worn key lodged in the ignition switch.
Believe me, yanking or pulling the key can cause severe damage to the ignition.
Keep reading if you’re unsure whether the ignition itself is the problem.
The answer may seem obvious, but make sure you turn your car off, or your key ignition will lock.
If this happens, check your car’s ignition, and you will see variously labeled sections.
Notice that there is no off selection because this function replaces it.
Turn the key towards the bottom to signal the lock section when you turn the engine off.
This safety feature ensures your safety and protects the car from damage.
Don’t panic if your key is stuck in the ignition.
Check if it is in the lock position.
If it isn’t, place it in the correct position and pull the key out.
Steering Wheel Locked in Place?
When you turn off the engine while the steering wheel is still moving, this will activate the steering wheel lock.
If this happens, you can’t remove your key from the ignition.
This is because of the simultaneous ignition cylinder locking and steering wheel lock.
While the vehicle is in Park, wiggle the steering and turns the key to release both locks simultaneously.
Once the wheel unlocks, you can remove your key or start the engine.
Let’s take a look at another safety feature.
The steering wheel will lock if you apply force while turning the engine off to prevent movement when there is no key.
Thankfully, this is easy to fix.
Apply light pressure to the key and simultaneously turn the steering wheel.
If you don’t hear a clicking sound, try the other direction.
Don’t turn the key too hard, or you might break it.
Key Broken in the Ignition
The other likelihood is that the key itself is worn out or damaged.
Many of us use our keys to fix all solutions for situations not involving starting a car.
That can cause damage, so look out for any signs of wear.
Look for cracks.
You don’t want your key to break while inside the ignition, do you?
Call an automobile locksmith and ask them to make a new one for you.
Know that if your ignition lock cylinder fails, it can prevent you from getting your key out of the ignition cylinder.
You cannot remove or insert your key when these pins are slightly misaligned.
Take note that it wears a little bit when you put the key in the ignition and turn it.
And, when you’re not using your car key, you put it with hard objects or your pocket that slowly damage your keys.
Whenever you notice any damage, replace the key immediately.
Something Wrong with the Ignition Cylinder
Ignition cylinders age, as with most car parts, which can cause internal mechanism failure.
When the ignition cylinder is faulty, you will not remove the key when you insert it.
Ignition cylinder replacement ranges from $70 – $250.
One of the best ways to guarantee that your ignition cylinder lasts longer is to reduce the items you put on your key ring.
The motion of these items swaying back and forth is one of the reasons for premature aging, which increases the chance of your key getting stuck in the ignition.
If you manage to get the key out, spray with WD-40, then reinsert the key and lightly jiggle it around a bit to lubricate the internal mechanism.
One of the issues causing your key to staying stuck in the ignition cylinder is an obstruction in the keyway.
Unfortunately, a lot of stuff can get stuck in the keyway, such as dirt or dust.
If there is way too much dirt in the keyway, it can obstruct the keys.
You can still insert the key, but the problem is when you try to take it out.
This is a big issue when the debris gets stuck in the ignition mechanism.
If you, it is a good idea to keep the keyway clean all the time because accumulated dirt can cause issues.
You need to turn it gently back and forth to get your key out to break up the debris and dirt that blocks the keyway.
If it doesn’t work, spray some DW-40 on the keyway or call a locksmith to help you.
What If Your Car Key Will Not Come out of the Ignition?
Let’s suppose you still haven’t figured out why your key is stuck in your ignition.
One of the worst cases is that you broke your key in the ignition.
This is usually the case when drivers use duplicate keys.
These are not as good as the original key the manufacturer gave.
Broken Key Extraction
More often than not, the materials used for duplicate keys are not as strong as the original because it is difficult to duplicate the same key with the exact same materials.
This duplicate makes it easier to damage, break or deform over time.
If you notice that your key is damaged, don’t use it because it could break inside the ignition.
This is a much-complicated issue to fix.
But, you can try a broken essential extractor to pull the key out.
If this tool can’t remove it, you must call an automotive locksmith to remove it for you.
Moving forward, do not make key duplicates on your own.
Inquire from the manufacturer if they can make duplicate keys for you.
If they can’t, use the original key.
Ignition Cylinder Repair or Replacement
When there is an issue with the ignition system, the lock cylinder is at fault.
The first sign of failure and the most common one is a car that will not start or the key is stuck in the ignition.
The ignition cylinder repair or replacements needs a key to start the engine.
It’s a security device to keep the car from going without a key.
Here we will discuss the ignition lock cylinder where you insert the key to turn it on unless you’re using a keyless system.
Depending on your vehicle, the cylinder is separate from the ignition switch, but they are one single unit.
When you turn your key inside the ignition chamber, you have a bad switch, and your engine does not start.
The ignition lock cylinder also switches the engine, lights, and internal purposes on and off.
Inside the ignition cylinder are breakers that start with the precise keys.
But, even with the precise key, the ignition lock may not go.
Your Battery Is Dead
Your car ignition system depends on the power of your battery to operate correctly.
It is out of juice, the ignition system will lock up, and you won’t be able to remove your key.
When your battery dies, the ignition system will lock up.
It will be impossible for you to get the key out of the ignition.
One of the most common problems when your key is stuck in the ignition, one of the most common problems is that your battery is either low on voltage or dead.
A low voltage battery will lock the ignition and not release the key.
An excellent way to check if the battery is dead is when you repeatedly hear that clicking sound every time you turn your key.
When the battery has some charge, and you can start the engine to build a little juice, you can remove the key.
Do not use force to remove the key, or it will break.
Try to jump-start your car before attempting to remove the key.
If you still hear the clicking noise, replace the battery.
Luckily, you can do this at home and only need to pay for a new battery between $50-$120.
Call roadside assistance or an automobile locksmith.
Lubricate the Car Key
If the key is stuck, lubricate it using WD-40 in the keyhole and wiggle it.
Mechanical car components like the ignition cylinder need a little bit of lubricant now and then.
The pins inside the locking system slide over the correct key.
This metal-on-metal sliding can wear out the pins and keys.
Graphite lube is the best lubricant and the most recommended by locksmiths.
Dirt can also start to deposit in the ignition cylinder and act as an abrasive to further increase the wear.
WD-40 is great at cleaning this out.
Attach the straw to the sprayer.
This straw should fit the space between the ignition cylinder and your key.
Insert the straw at the keyhole and give it a quick spray to wash out the debris and protect the metal from corrosion.
Wait for two minutes and remove the key.
Once you remove the key, check for any damage.
If you see any cracks, get yourself a new key.
Call a locksmith if you need help.
When it comes to the key takeaways, from all that we have said, we can conclude that you should not try to force the ignition key when you see that the car key will not come out.
Take the time to assess the reasons for this and then decide on the course of the procedure.
This can be a locksmith call or an attempt at a stand-alone procedure to help you get the key out.
Pay attention to the other components around starting your car.
These include your steering wheel, gearbox (especially for automatic cars), and your car battery, to name a few.
Furthermore, it is a fact that your car key is stuck in the ignition because of the ignition cylinder problem
These are usually more difficult to diagnose and deal with without professional help.
Ensure that this is the reason why your car key is stuck, make sure you stop mixing it right away and call a locksmith to help.
If you believe the key is stuck due to an acute obstruction, lubricate the key and the ignition cylinder.
Then use a broken wrench tool to pull out the wrench gently.
If this method is successful, you need to make sure that you then clean the ignition key.