It’s never fun when your car key gets stuck in the ignition, but don’t panic – there are several easy fixes that you can try before assuming a larger mechanical problem. Check out some tips for fixing a stuck ignition key from your friendly neighborhood auto junkyard, U Wrench It.
Evaluate the key position.
Is the key in the locked position? You may be able to see if the key has been turned too far, which is a common problem as ignition cylinders age. If you have a lot of heavy keys or keychains, their weight could be pulling on the cylinder and causing more than the usual wear and tear.
Unlock the steering wheel.
Sometimes it’s actually a locked steering wheel causing a stuck ignition key. If the steering wheel locks up, it can cause the ignition switch to hold your key in place until the steering wheel is unlocked. Try moving the wheel side to side while gently turning the key. Do not force the key or you could end up breaking it off in the ignition!
Make sure the vehicle is actually in park.
If you’re able to move the gearshift out of park after the car is off, you may have a problem with your gearshift linkage. If the car is not locked into the park position, you won’t be able to remove the key.
Check the battery.
In today’s computerized cars, a dead battery can be the cause of a locked ignition key. If the lights won’t come on, your battery is likely dead and your car’s theft-deterrent features are kicking in because it can’t verify the chip in your key.
If you still can’t get the key out, even after jumping or replacing the battery, you may need a more extensive repair, like replacing a worn out wheel lock cylinder. Check our inventory of used auto parts online, or come visit us to find the right part for your DIY auto repairs.