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My Key won’t turn in the ignition

Updated: Mar 11


The ignition as the main component in your car, a problem with it might get you frustrated. While you might try to come up with ways to solve a car lockout, a problem with your ignition locks you out of any DIYs. It is even more frustrating when the key won’t turn in the ignition. Issues with your key and ignition, are common and can be fixed easily. With simple troubleshooting and quick fixes, you can start your car and drive safely.


Below are some of the problems that will help you diagnose why your ignition key won’t turn? The most common reasons include a locked steering wheel, bent, worn-out or damaged car keys, and a problem with the ignition lock cylinder.


A Locked Steering wheel and gear selector.


These components are inter-related to your car’s ignition system. There is a higher chance that a problem with either of them; the key will not turn in the ignition. However, you can easily spot the issue and fix it.


I have a locked steering wheel.


For most vehicles, when you turn off the engine and remove the key, it will lock the steering wheel. If you turn it without the key and hear a click, the lock mechanism has been activated. When locked, you cannot turn it, and the key won’t turn in the ignition.

If you try to turn the steering wheel, you feel it is harder to turn than usual. If you want the lock to release the key, you will have to jiggle the steering wheel on either side, while also trying to turn the key simultaneously. This is an easy task and will relieve the pressure on the steering wheel. Consequently, the key will turn, and start your car without damaging the cylinder lock.


The Gear Selector.


If you are driving a car with an automatic transmission, the car will not turn if the gear is not in Park or Neutral. If the gear is in Park position and the key won’t turn, try to shake the shifter to get it in the exact position. You should now be able to turn the key in the ignition.

There are also instances when the key will turn, but the car won’t start. The chances are that the gear is in Drive position. You will have to shift it to Neutral or Park (recommended) for the key to turn.


If these two components are in the right position, but the key won’t turn in the ignition, then the chances are that the battery is dead. However, for high-end car models with complex ignitions, you will have to call an automotive locksmith in San Jose. They can identify the problem and provide a viable solution.


A problem with the key.


This is one of the common reasons why the key won’t turn the ignition. There is also a possible reason you are using the wrong key.


For a visually-bent key, you can gently hammer the key to straighten it. When straightened, try to start your car.


It could be a worn-out key. This is a common problem for older vehicles, such that the cut on your key will not line up with the pins on the cylinder. In this case, you will have to use your other spare key, or get a new one. An expert car locksmith in San Jose should be able to cut a new key, duplicate a new key, program a new key FOB and so much more.

It is advisable to clean your car keys if they are dirty, oily, or have debris on them.


A problem with the ignition lock cylinder.


One of the common problems in the lock cylinder is debris built up in the ignition lock cylinder. Broken metal pieces in the cylinder will obstruct the key and prevent the ignition from turning. Since this component is delicate, always ask a professional locksmith to extract broken parts, or further re-key the lock cylinder.


Another problem is an issue with the ignition pins and springs within the lock cylinder. If one of the pins or spring is jammed, the key will not turn. One of the best solutions is to tap your car key while in the ignition gently. The vibration from the tap should loosen the springs or stuck pins. Be careful not to hit harder.


Well, these are some of the reasons and solutions to why the key will not turn in the ignition. If neither works, contact a car locksmith in San Jose for help.

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