Why can’t I turn my ignition key?

Diagnosing the Downside

In case your automobile key doesn’t flip within the ignition, don’t fret. There’s all the time a motive for the problem. No doubt, it’s irritating, however the excellent news is that the majority difficulties are frequent. They’re often simple to repair as nicely.

You possibly can diagnose the issue to know methods to deal with it.

There are three essential elements to contemplate when figuring out why the important thing refuses to show:

1. Parts

The ignition has totally different elements and at the very least one in every of them may very well be the perpetrator. In such a case, it’s often simple to repair.

The strategy of restore is dependent upon what you’re coping with:

  • Steering wheel: Most autos lock the steering wheel when the secret is faraway from the ignition. It’s why the steering wheel will get caught, which suggests your automobile won’t budge.
  • Gear selector: It’s attainable that you’ve got a automobile that doesn’t enable motion when it’s in park or impartial.
  • Battery: One other part that impacts whether or not or not the ignition will flip is the automobile battery. The car won’t transfer, and the important thing received’t flip if the battery is useless.

2. Keys

Your key may very well be the precise drawback of why the ignition isn’t turning. It may very well be bent, worn out, or it’s not the proper key in your automobile. To study extra about automobile keys, please learn our blog post on car keys, locks and responders.

3. Ignition Lock Cylinder

You might know this a part of the automobile as the important thing cylinder. It could be the explanation why you’re having points with the ignition and key. Verify that there aren’t any obstructions and caught springs. These two main causes can cease the important thing from turning.

Like anything, you can not merely appropriate the issue together with your automobile key and ignition should you have no idea the foundation trigger. Diagnosing the problem first will make it easier to slim down the options that you could attempt to repair this irritating drawback.

5. Change the Key

The most simple fix when there is something wrong

The most straightforward repair when there’s something mistaken together with your automobile secret’s to simply exchange the important thing. There’s all the time a approach to copy a broken key. Irrespective of how the secret is damaged, or whether or not that is one thing you do your self or a process that you just contract out, there’s a answer.

There are a number of methods to strategy this course of:

  1. Discover an aftermarket electronic car key and select a approach to have it minimize, and maybe have a transponder chip programmed.
  2. Purchase your provides and get your service on the lock and key section of your local hardware store.
  3. Contact a locksmith.
  4. Contact your automobile dealership.

When it comes to how much it costs for car key duplication, the quantity will go up or down relying on how a lot you do your self. Contacting your dealership being the costliest possibility as it’s the obvious and requires no analysis. Contacting a locksmith being the center floor when it comes to value, and dealing with all of the work your self being the most cost effective possibility.

Suggestions for changing your key:

  • The extra work you do your self, the much less cash it’s a must to pay for labor.
  • Locksmiths can exchange automobile keys cheaper than the dealership.
  • Transponder keys and remotes will should be programmed as soon as they’re changed.


What are the frequent causes of a jammed ignition key?

Your automobile isn’t really switched off

Threat stage – Low

What to do – Verify the place of the important thing within the ignition.

That is so easy, however it occurs. In the event you don’t totally flip the important thing to the off place, the cylinder received’t launch it. Give it a fast wiggle and ensure it’s turned all the way in which earlier than calling a locksmith or the restoration providers—you’ll save your self a whole lot of embarrassment!

The ignition cylinder is broken

Threat stage – Low

What to do – Have it checked or changed on the first signal of bother.

You insert and switch your automobile key within the ignition cylinder each time you drive your automobile; that’s hundreds of operations over their lifespan. Over time, each elements will endure indicators of damage and ultimately cease working as they need to.

The bottom line is worn, broken or soiled

Threat stage – Low

What to do – Preserve it clear and verify for injury—exchange when essential.

If there are any indicators of injury in your key—if it’s bent, cracked or dented—then that’s going to cease it turning as cleanly because it ought to within the ignition.

The steering wheel lock is on

Threat stage – Low

What to do – Flippantly transfer the steering wheel and your key on the identical time.

The steering wheel lock is designed to stop undesirable motion whereas parked. If the lock engages earlier than you’ve eliminated your key, this might entice it in place. Delicately turning the important thing and the steering wheel on the identical time ought to free the caught key.

Your computerized isn’t in ‘Park’

Threat stage – Low

What to do – Verify your transmission choice.

Some automatics received’t allow you to take away the important thing if the automobile isn’t in ‘Park’. To take away the important thing, be sure to’ve chosen the right possibility—you would possibly want to use a bit of motion if some particles has change into trapped in there, however it ought to ease in pretty simply.

Your battery is flat

Threat stage – Low

What to do – Verify your battery.

Your ignition relies on electrical energy, and a few techniques, when the battery is totally flat, will forestall you from eradicating the important thing. Charging the battery ought to repair the issue; to keep away from additional cases, you’ll want to switch a defective battery if it’s on its means out.

Every part You’ll Want To Restore An Ignition

It doesn’t take a lot to restore an ignition swap, however the few instruments and components which can be required are extraordinarily essential. You too can rely on a visit to your native vendor or service store for a alternative key if the one you’re working with is worn or broken.

Instrument Record 

  • Screwdriver set with varied flathead and Phillips head screwdrivers
  • Pliers
  • Automobile service or upkeep guide

Components Record

  • Alternative key
  • Alternative ignition swap
Changing the ignition and key are the easiest way out of this mess., DepositPhotos

Organizing your instruments and kit so the whole lot is well reachable will save valuable minutes ready in your handy-dandy little one or four-legged helper to carry you the sandpaper or blowtorch. (You will not want a blowtorch for this job. Please don’t have your child hand you a blowtorch—Ed.)

You’ll additionally want a flat workspace, comparable to a storage ground, driveway, or road parking. Verify your native legal guidelines to be sure to’re not violating any codes when utilizing the road as a result of we aren’t getting your trip out of the clink.

Why Gained’t My Ignition Flip?

A Security Function of the Automobile is Stopping the Key from Turning

As automobiles change into extra digital and sophisticated, a slew of security options have been put in that may forestall the important thing from turning the ignition. We’ll cowl the most typical ones under.

Your Wafers are Broken And the Ignition is Now “Frozen” and Gained’t Flip

Damaged Wafers
Broken Wafers

In contrast to normal locks, which use spherical, cylindrical pins; auto locks use a wafer primarily based system. The wafer is often cut up down the middle to accommodate the important thing when it slides in.

Ignition wafers could be one piece or two items (a cut up wafer). A two piece wafer is similar to that proven besides it’s cut up down the center. Break up wafers are inclined to jamming within the cylinder. Over time both of the wafer types can change into broken.

Our Tempe Locksmith technicians see this so much as a result of it’s a university city. Older automobiles and aggressive turning of the ignition result in the wafers changing into broken and the important thing received’t flip.

Professional Tip from an Phoenix Automotive Locksmith: If you’re somebody that carries round a big, heavy key ring, don’t. The load of that key ring is continually pulling on the wafers within the ignition as you drive, day after day, 12 months after 12 months. Lighten the important thing ring will prolong the lifetime of your ignition wafers.

Performing an Ignition Repair
Performing an Ignition Restore

Your Secret is Worn so Not Placing the Ignition Wafers in the proper spot

One other frequent motive a key received’t flip an ignition will not be as a result of ignition in any respect. It’s as a result of key being worn out. It’s the edges of the automobile key that get worn.

With each flip of the ignition the perimeters of the automobile key are beneath power to get the wafers to align accurately. Over time this thins out the sting and wears it down till in the future it should not flip the ignition. New keys minimize by code have sharp crisp edges, whereas outdated keys have delicate, rounded edges.

Professional Tip Automotive: If you’re down to 1 automobile key. Get a backup key made as quickly as attainable. Irrespective of how costly a backup secret’s, it should all the time value extra to an originate a key (make a key when no current secret’s accessible) than to repeat an current key. When a spare key will not be used typically, it won’t put on down so you’ll have a backup key.


Lock Cylinder Points

Whereas on the lookout for methods to start out the automobile, you will have encountered sources saying that it’s best to faucet the important thing with a tough object, comparable to a hammer, whereas it’s nonetheless within the ignition. We don’t suggest that you just do that due to the danger of breaking the important thing and the cylinder as nicely. In the event you do, a bit of the important thing may very well be left contained in the cylinder, which is much more damaging.

In some instances, the important thing doesn’t flip due to the ignition lock cylinder itself:

1. There’s an Obstruction Contained in the Key Cylinder

In such a case, it’s virtually inconceivable to show the important thing accurately. Use a flashlight and look contained in the cylinder. Discover any apparent obstruction, comparable to steel particles. Clear the cylinder however make certain to guard your eyes from flying particles. You should utilize acceptable cleansing merchandise, comparable to compressed air. At all times learn the directions earlier than you try and proceed. The realm also needs to be well-ventilated. At instances, you will have to spray greater than as soon as. After eradicating the particles, you’ll find that the important thing will slide in easily.

2. The Springs Are Caught

The pins and is derived within the cylinder adapt to the form of the automobile key. If it doesn’t flip, it may very well be as a result of pins or springs which will have been caught. Utilizing a small tack hammer, knock the important thing ignition, which is able to assist loosen the pins. Be sure you hit gently. Your intention is to not jumble the elements inside however solely to provide vibrations that encourage the springs to maneuver. As soon as they’re free, you possibly can insert the important thing once more and switch it.

Broken/Worn Out Key or Ignition Cylinder

When it comes right down to it, your automobile is a mechanical system and mechanical issues have a tendency to interrupt or put on down over time. That is true for each mechanical keys and key cylinders. After inserting and eradicating your ignition key hundreds of instances over years, issues could be worn out and confused.

After a while, the important thing could fail to show or fall out of the cylinder fully. Flip to knowledgeable to exchange your broken components. Broken keys could be simply changed by utilizing knowledgeable like Low-cost Lock & Key to chop a brand new one. Broken ignition cylinders can want alternative and also needs to be completed so by a certified skilled, comparable to us.

When changing your mechanical techniques, you will need to get a newly matched lockset that features each the door and trunk cylinders.

Purpose 2 of three: Points with the important thing itself

Oftentimes, the problem is not with the related co

Oftentimes, the issue will not be with the associated elements of the automobile, however with the car key itself. The next three elements could clarify why your secret’s unable to show within the ignition:

Issue 1: Bent key. Bent keys can generally enter the ignition cylinder, however as soon as inside won’t line up accurately to permit the automobile to start out. In case your key appears to be like visually bent, you need to use a non-metal hammer to fastidiously flatten the important thing down. Your objective is to make use of one thing that won’t injury the important thing, so ideally this may be fabricated from rubber or wooden. You too can place the important thing on a bit of wooden to cushion the blow. Then, very fastidiously, faucet the important thing till it’s straight and try to start out the automobile once more.

Factor 2: Worn out key. Keys that are worn out are

Issue 2: Worn out key. Keys which can be worn out are literally quite common, notably on older autos. In case your car secret’s worn out, this won’t enable the pins inside the cylinder to drop accurately and begin the automobile. If in case you have a spare key, attempt to use that first. If you don’t, you possibly can receive a spare key by writing down your automobile’s Automobile Identification Quantity (VIN), which is discovered on the motive force’s aspect windshield or contained in the door jamb. You’ll then wish to contact your dealership to get a brand new key made.

  • Some newer automobiles have key codes connected to a set of keys. In case your secret’s worn out and also you want a brand new one, you can provide this code to your dealership as a substitute of the VIN.

Issue 3: Incorrect key. Typically it is a easy mistake, and the mistaken secret’s inserted into the cylinder. This occurs most frequently when somebody has multiple automobile key on their key ring. Many keys look related, particularly if they’re from the identical make. So double verify the right secret’s getting used to attempt to begin the car.

  • In the event you see that your secret’s soiled, cleansing it will probably additionally assist. Cleansing the important thing itself can also be very simple. Use a cotton swab and rubbing alcohol to take away any international materials that could be caught to the important thing. You possibly can then try to start out the automobile once more.

  • Some sources suggest tapping the important thing with a hammer, or different object, whereas it’s within the ignition, however it isn’t advisable as a result of excessive danger of not solely breaking the cylinder but additionally breaking the important thing. This could entice a bit of the important thing contained in the cylinder, inflicting extra injury.

Locked Steering Wheel/Ignition Key What You Can Do to Unlock Them

Locking your steering wheel can simply occur and is well fastened. The ignition is mechanically related to your steering wheel lock. That is for security causes, ought to a thief attempt to steer the automobile with out the important thing.

When an individual turns their automobile off with the steering wheel turned, or tries to show the wheel after the automobile has been turned off, the wheel and the ignition key can lock up.

To unlock them, merely reinsert your key and slowly flip it within the course you usually would to start out the automobile, whereas slowly turning the wheel in the one course it should enable you. This can sometimes unlock the steering wheel.

Professional Suggestions To Restore An Ignition

Through the years, The Drive’s editors have completed all types of jobs and even seen a number of caught keys in our time. Listed below are our professional ideas for repairing your ignition. 

  • In the event you’re not listening to any noise from the starter motor whenever you flip the important thing, the problem could be beneath the hood and never within the ignition swap. 
  • Ensure the important thing isn’t the issue earlier than you begin disassembling your automobile’s steering column.
  • Don’t wait to restore a failing ignition. If the swap begins inflicting issues whilst you’re driving down the street, the steering wheel may lock, the automobile may shut off, and any variety of different unhealthy issues can befall you whereas the automobile is in movement.

3. Rapping the Key

Past lubrication, you would possibly must attempt one thing extra extreme to unjam your lock. It’s true that bump keys do not work on cars, however by utilizing a hammer or a vibrating mechanism and your key that received’t flip within the automobile, you would possibly be capable of remedy your difficulty. This “rapping”, if you’ll, is supposed to shake inner elements within the lock into the right place.

Springs can get misplaced, or different small components of the within of the lock can get caught. The place lubrication can fail to unstick or get issues to maneuver correctly, you possibly can shake issues quickly into positions, simply in time to show the important thing correctly.

The software that you just use doesn’t should be a hammer. It may be something that may create a noticeable vibration that may be utilized to the important thing and/or the cylinder. The concept is simply to get the within of the lock to maneuver greater than you might by shaking your key, automobile, or dashboard.

  1. Place your automobile key within the automobile’s ignition.
  2. Collect a hammer or different software strike or vibrate the important thing.
  3. Use your software on the important thing whereas making an attempt to show the important thing.
  4. If this doesn’t work, attempt to use your software on the ignition cylinder.

Simply be very diligent concerning the quantity of power you utilize on this course of, as you might injury your key, the ignition, and so forth. If you’re making an attempt to hit your key hard enough to break a locking mechanism, function with excessive warning as your want to interrupt issues could be extra profitable than you plan.

Suggestions for rapping the important thing:

  • Strike the important thing with the identical power to knock silently on a door.
  • Be sure to are usually not hitting anything throughout this course of.
  • Don’t try to interrupt the lock.

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