You might have come across a situation where, before starting on a trip, you realise that the key won’t turn in ignition switch. Sometimes it happens that you manage to turn it after all, but when you arrive at your destination you aren’t able to remove it from the switch. In this article, we look at the reasons why it gets stuck and suggest the simplest methods for fixing the problem.
- 1 10 reasons why the ignition key won’t come out of the ignition switch
- 1.1 Your steering wheel is locked
- 1.2 The key is deformed
- 1.3 The door lock is frozen
- 1.4 The car battery is flat
- 1.5 The key teeth are worn
- 1.6 The switch cylinder is defective
- 1.7 The switch cylinder and key are dirty
- 1.8 Wrong gear selection
- 1.9 The key hasn’t been put into the proper position
- 1.10 The component is broken
10 reasons why the ignition key won’t come out of the ignition switch
Your steering wheel is locked
Almost all modern cars are equipped with a protective anti-theft system. In certain cases, it locks the steering wheel and ignition switch to prevent intruders from driving your car. Locking is triggered when you rotate the steering wheel with no key in the ignition switch, or when you attempt to use another or severely worn key. Sometimes the problem is caused by an attempt to rotate a key that isn’t fully inserted in the cylinder. In addition, the protective system can be triggered when the wheels of the car are fully turned to one side, for example when you park it on a steep incline, or if the front wheels are resting against the curb or some other obstacle. Usually when the locking function is switched on you can hear a distinctive click, and cannot get the key out of the ignition switch at all.
The key is deformed
If you carry it in your pocket or wallet, or use it for other purposes, it may bend. Sometimes this means the key won’t turn or come out of the ignition, or cannot even be inserted.
The door lock is frozen
This can happen if it’s cold outside, and water has accumulated in the lock cylinder.
The car battery is flat
In some cars, when the battery is discharged, the key is locked in the ignition switch.
The key teeth are worn
Low quality products made of non-durable materials suffer from abrasive wear rather quickly. The key becomes loose in the switch, and cannot properly interact with the movable parts of the ignition switch cylinder.
The switch cylinder is defective
It also wears over time. This can happen even faster due to many drivers’ habit of attaching heavy keyrings and other ornaments to the keys. When the car is moving, they create an additional load on the parts of the mechanism.
The switch cylinder and key are dirty
Using the wrong lubricant results in dirt accumulating inside the mechanism, and it may become stuck over time. Usually, the notches of the key get dirty if it is used other than as intended, for example for tearing off packaging tape when opening parcels.
Wrong gear selection
In cars with automatic transmission, the key will be locked in the ignition switch until you put the selector lever into Park. To unlock the switch in vehicles with a manual gearbox, the gear shift lever should be in neutral.
The key hasn’t been put into the proper position
Sometimes drivers forget to turn the key into the “lock” position.
The component is broken
Applying too much force when trying to turn the key in the ignition switch can cause it to break. It’s difficult to extract the part of the key left in the mechanism.
In spite of its simple design, the ignition key is a very important item and requires the proper attention from the driver. A car can only be started if this component is in good working order. If your key is stuck in the ignition switch, follow our tips.