How To Turn a Stuck Ignition Key

It can be frustrating when you sit down in the drivers seat of your car, place your key into the ignition, and it will not turn. The first thing you want to check is your ignition key to ensure that it is flat. To do this, set your key against a smooth flat surface, if you see any bowing, this could be the reason why your key does not turn.

  • To fix a key that is bowed, you want to set your key with the bowed side up onto a smooth flat surface. Next you will take a solid piece of wood, place it over your key, and push it against your key while applying firm even pressure. Now examine your key again for flatness, if you can still see bowing, gently push with your fingers against the key on the wood or concrete, at the location where you still seen bowing. Once the bowing is corrected, retry your key.
  • If you have a spare key, insert your spare key into the ignition switch and try to turn it. If your spare key fails to turn as well, try rotating your steering wheel to the right and left to locate a position that will free up your key, enabling it to turn. Steering wheels lock into place once the car is shut off, and it is probable that it is in a position that is binding, not allowing your key to turn freely.
  • If your car has a tilt steering wheel, try repositioning your steering wheel up and down one position at a time while turning your key. If your steering wheel column is sloppy, meaning you are able to move it up and down without using the tilt lever, this can cause ignition key problems.
  • If your key still will not turn, check your gear shift to ensure it is properly seated in the park position. Many times if a gear shift is not properly seated in the park position, your key will not turn. You can also try to turn your key with the gear shift in neutral.
  • Some vehicles are equipped with a safety feature in which you cannot turn your key to start your car without stepping on the brake first. This can occur if you are borrowing the car from a friend or relative, and they did not explain this safety feature to you.

If you still cannot turn your key after trying the above steps, try spraying a lubricant into the key ignition switch. Be sure you are using the proper lubricant that is designed for automotive electrical switches and contacts. If you are still unable to turn your key, the problem may be your key ignition switch itself, and your car may require a replacement key ignition switch.


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