No one can understand the pain of key stuck in the ignition until they experience themselves. This will be more frustrating when you have to urgently move out of the car but you can’t leave the key in the ignition keeping the doors open. In such a frightening situation, you will probably adopt a lot of juggles to get the key out of the ignition but whatever you do, NEVER APPLY FORCE to get it out otherwise you will end up with a broken lock and an open car. It will create a mess then. Unfortunately, if you are stuck in such an ill-timed situation, here are some of the workarounds you should approach.
Position of Your Car in “Park” or “Neutral” State
Modern cars are automated which makes life easy but sometimes technology sucks. Here it can be the same case. There is a safety trait in the automatic vehicles which locks the ignition of the car if the driver forgets to keep the shifter in either of the ‘P’ or ‘N’ positions. This has to be done before the driver takes out the key. In the absence of this safety feature, the car will auto turn off.
So, the person in the driving seat makes sure that the car must be in the right position, which is either of the two – “Park” or “Neutral” position. So, if your car key is stuck in the ignition, correct the position, if not and then remove the keys.
Have You Turned Off Your Car in the Right Way?
As being said, modern cars are automated. Today’s cars are so designed to react to the action of the driver. If you have ever noticed the car’s ignition area, there are different sections marked there. Unlike earlier models, nowadays there is no ‘Off’ label given, instead, you will find the ‘Lock’ label on the ignition section. Almost all the automobile manufacturers keep the ‘LOCK’ label at the last of the ignition circle.
So, when you are supposed to turn off the car and want to take the keys out, you should rotate the key till the last label, i.e. the ‘Lock’ label. If the key hangs somewhere in the middle, the car system will think that the car is not turned off and hence will not allow you to take the key out. Although, it seems a lame cause of the key stuck in the ignition but most of the drivers experience this. So, before you call the mechanic or start a panic, check if the key is on the ‘Lock’ label.
Also read our guide on How To Remove Deep Scratch From Car.
Status of Steering Wheel
If the steering wheel of your car will be locked, you won’t be able to take out the key. So, if you have checked that the position of the car is right and also the key is rotated till the ‘LOCK’ label but still the problem persists, then check the status of the steering wheel.
To check the status of the steering wheel, tilt the wheel left and right. If it moves, the steering wheel is unlocked and if not, the steering wheel is locked! This is a safety feature added by the manufacturers to prevent the movement of the vehicle when there is no key in the ignition or if the wrong key is inserted. Now, when the steering wheel is locked, you can’t take the key out of the ignition. If your steering wheel is locked for whatever reason, you should try to unlock it by simply rotating it left and right. While you are moving the wheel, put some force on the key in order to remove it. This might help!
If There is Any Obstruction in the Keyway
The proper functioning of the ignition depends on how obstruction-free it is. Many times, people ignore to keep it clean and dust-free in the hassle of reaching the destination. As a result, dust, debris, and other micro small particles pile up in the keyway, blocking the way to insert the key.
It might be possible that at the time of inserting the key there occurs no problem but when you want to take out the key, the dust and debris in the keyway blocks your way. In such a case, you have to do the same thing that usually people do, i.e., turning and rotating the key left and right in order to force out the blocking material in the ignition.
If that doesn’t help, there are certain lubricants in the market like WD40 spray, that you can spray in the keyhole. Alternatively, you can also remove the blockage by pouring some compressed air with pressure. If that even doesn’t work, the last resort is to contact a good locksmith to get your keys out.
Also read our guide on remove window tint quickly.
Broken Key in the Ignition
This is a very unfortunate situation when your car keys break inside the key way. This happens generally in the case of using duplicates. Duplicate keys are often made up of less robust materials and are not as tough as that of original key material. They are prone to damage easily when force is applied or a key if wrongly inserted. In fact, original car keys are also likely to get damaged if too old.
If you are not able to take out your key from the keyway, this could be a possible reason that your key is already damaged or got broken inside the keyway. It is difficult to remove the broken key yourself, still, you can try using a broken key extractor tool. If not, eventually you have to see a good locksmith remove the key for you.
The Battery is Dead or Alive
The latest car designs and the system are fully automated and this sometimes creates trouble for you. Modern cars have an integrated system of auto lock the car when it doesn’t receive the required power from the battery. The purpose of installing this system in the car is to make sure that no one drives it for malicious intentions.
So, a dead battery can also be a cause for a key stuck in the ignition system. The remaining energy of the battery can be checked with the help of Voltmeter. If the voltmeter is not readily available with you, the ultimate way to check the battery level is to turn on headlights and backlights of the car. If they do not light up or appear dim, you can assume that the battery is low.
Eventually either you have to find a good locksmith or wait for the angel to come and save you. You should then replace your car battery as soon as possible.
Manufacturer Recall or TSB
This is however rare but a possible cause for the key stuck in the ignition. TSB stands for technical service bulletin which is related to the ignition lock cylinder. This creates a problem when a particular car model or year of manufacturing is subject to recall or TSB.
But how would you check this? Here it is. Go to the website of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and enter the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) there. You will get all the essential information. Even if it is not responsible for the key being stuck, you will be able to get useful information about your vehicle.
The Problem Lies in the Ignition Cylinder
If you have tried all the workarounds mentioned above but still nothing changes, you may safely assume that the problem is much more technical than the anticipation. It is possible that the problem lies in the ignition cylinder. If that’s the case, it requires a professional and technical approach to deal with it. A good car mechanic can only fix it.
Dealing with a key stuck in ignition is an extremely madden job. It is really hapless to be stuck in such a situation, especially in the middle of your journey. When everything given above fails, the last option is to call a locksmith to take you out of trouble. To scape yourself from such an unpleasant state, the above given possible causes and resolutions will prepare you to deal with it. It is always better to have solutions before the circumstances occur.