Key Stuck In Ignition? Here’s How To Remove It

A car key stuck in ignition or when your car key doesn’t turn when it is in the ignition is a problem that can easily be fixed.

If you find yourself in this situation, DO NOT try to use brute force to get your car key out of the ignition, as this could result in the key breaking off completely. And this is a much bigger problem to deal with.

Continue reading as we cover the most common reasons why your car key is stuck in the ignition and possible fixes to each of them.

Reasons Why Car Key Gets Stuck ignition?

Listed below are some of the most common reasons you may encounter a key stuck in ignition, and they are also relatively easy to fix. The most common reasons include:

1. You Didn’t Actually Turn The Car Off

Key-Stuck-In-Ignition

The majority of vehicles with hard keys come with an accessory mode. This is a switch located on the same level as the ignition controls. When the car is in accessory mode, you can use basic functions such as turning up or down the radio volume, using the dial pad and powering up power windows without turning the car on.

To remove your car key from the ignition, The key should be turned clockwise to do one click to turn it off, just in case you missed it.

2. The Car Isn’t In Park

When you have an automatic transmission in your car, and the vehicle is not in Park, you may have you key stuck in ignition. A manual transmission vehicle that is not in a Neutral mode will result in the same problem.

There is a possibility that the rubber or the plastic transmission gear track could get tangled up on older vehicles.

You may also find it difficult to shift correctly into a Parking mode if debris has found its way onto all the transmission gear sidewalls.

3. There’s a Problem With the Battery

For the ignition system to operate properly, the battery must be charged. So with a dead battery, you may be unable to remove the key from the ignition.

If your battery is dead, you will hear some clicking noises when trying to turn the key. If this is happening to your vehicle, jump-start it. Also, check the battery if this clicking noise persists because it might mean it is time to change your battery.

Solving this issue is an easy process that you should be able to carry out at home with only a new battery required which can cost from about $50 to $100.

4. Locked Steering Wheel

An additional safety feature in cars is the wheel lock, but it can easily make the car key stuck in ignition. This usually happens after the engine has been shut down, and then the wheels are applied with pressure.

The role of the wheel lock is to prevent the car from moving in the absence of a key.

If this problem occurs, simply apply slight pressure on both sides of the wheel to turn the key and wheel simultaneously.

Turn the steering anticlockwise to get the key removed from the ignition. Do not twist the key many times, or you risk breaking the key off.

5. Bad Ignition Cylinder

It is possible you might find yourself with a defective ignition cylinder if your key is stuck in ignition. Over time, ignition circuits could be affected by wear and tear, thereby causing some parts inside the car to start failing.

It can be difficult to get your key out if this should happen while the car is on or in gear or the engine is running.

The ignition cylinder, also called an ignition lock, can be changed for prices between $70 and $250.

A great way to make sure your car’s ignition cylinder is a long-lasting part of your car’s engine is to remove unnecessary items from the key rings. Because they sway around and can lead to aging and you may have you key stuck in ignition.

6. The Key Has Debris on It

Another reason why you may encounter a key stuck in ignition problem is that Debris could have become lodged in the key, making it impossible to turn on the ignition cylinder or take it off.

The keys to our cars are an indispensable tool, regardless of whether we choose to accept or deny it. They are good for scratching, digging, opening mailboxes, or opening bottles.

This could all cause debris to build upon the key. Simply rub some alcohol and then scrub the key a little to get the dirt out of your key.

7. The Key Is Worn

Lastly, if your key is stuck in ignition, it may simply be that your key is damaged. When keys are used on other things like doors, boxes, or bottles, this can cause them to wear and even break. So be vigilant on the possible signs of wear and tear on your car keys.

Whenever you see cracks in your ignition cylinder, watch out, as you do not want your keys falling off. Contact your local car parts store to get a new key made using the VIN.

Also Read: Car Shakes When Braking – Why & How To Fix

Listed below are some other tips that can be helpful if you have your key stuck in ignition or if inserting and removing the key is proving difficult.

1. Set the Parking Gear

Suppose your car key is stuck in ignition. In that case, It’s likely that your parking brake isn’t disengaging, and you’ll need to verify that the car’s transmission is taken up the “P” or “Park” position in automatic cars. Still, if it has a manual transmission, you should ensure that the shifter is engaged in ‘Neutral.’

2. Jiggle Your Steering Wheel

Try jiggling your car’s steering wheel gently while pulling to try and remove the key. Most times, when the steering column of a car locks, it will apply extra pressure to the ignition lock mechanism, and As a result, you may have your key stuck in ignition. You can release the key if you move the steering wheel forward slightly.

3. Spray WD-40

Spray a little quantity of WD-40 to the ignition lock. Most times, adding extra lubrication will make it easier to remove a car key stuck in ignition by just wiggling it slightly.

If WD-40 is not able to do the trick and you have tried all of the other ways of fixing it, your ignition lock might be at fault. To be sure, you should get in contact with a mechanic or a locksmith. Nevertheless, it may be possible to replace the ignition lock.

Watch this video to know how to remove a key stuck in ignition

How To Remove Broken Key Stuck In Ignition

It’s unlikely that a broken key will get stuck in the ignition, but it is possible. One way this might occur is if you apply too much force trying to remove a key stuck in ignition. Here are a few ways to get your key out of the ignition:

Note: Do not try to insert the broken top half back into the key. You’ll only push the broken part deeper into the ignition, making it more difficult to remove.

1. Use A Key Extractor

When attempting to remove a stuck key stuck in ignition, you can use a key extraction device tool. Key extraction devices are like mini-tools used by professional locksmiths and are mostly less expensive compared to actually calling a locksmith.

2. Use Tweezers / Needle Nose Pliers

You can use Tweezers and needle-nose pliers to release any key stuck in ignition. But if the key gets stuck in the car’s ignition lock, you can’t use these tools to remove them.

3. Use a Jigsaw Blade

Jigsaw blades can be an excellent choice for emergencies when one needs to remove a key from a lock. Insert your blade just next to the ignition key since it’s very tiny, then slightly turn until the side notches around the blade grips on the key. Then you slowly pull your blade out.

4. Call A Locksmith

The best way to ensure that the job is done correctly is to call a locksmith if all other options have failed or you want to make certain it is rightly done. Though it might be a bit on the expensive side paying upfront, they will certainly do a good job.

How Much Does It Cost To Remove A Car Key Stuck In Ignition?

The estimated cost for removing a regular key stuck in an ignition can be anywhere from $100 to $150; this depends on the severity of the damage done. The price will vary from case to case.

Also Read: Power Steering Fluid Leak – Signs, Causes & Repair

Conclusion

When trying to access your car and the key gets stuck, you’re not alone. Follow the steps listed above as they usually work with helping you remove your car key stuck in the ignition, but if they don’t work, you may have to contact a locksmith who will come help you remove the key.

These locksmiths have undergone training and are experienced professionals, so they will be able to handle this type of situation. Nevertheless, it is important that you stay calm in these situations.

Scott Greene is a seasoned automotive technician for over 5 years and has been deep into advanced automotive diagnostics for a couple of years. He Loves writing about Automotive Diagnostics and Repair, Trouble codes, Buyer guides for various car parts and accessories, and lots more. 

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