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Did Your Car Key Get Stuck In The Ignition? Don't Be Upset. Here's What To Do!

If your car key is stuck in your ignition cylinder, it’s certainly bad news. If your car key just won’t budge, then you aren’t going anywhere. But don’t let it stress you out! The good news is, there’s plenty you can do.

Some common reasons you’re in this lousy situation:

  • You may have put the wrong key in the ignition cylinder. Maybe it looked like the right one, but now you realize you can’t get it out.
  • Your battery may be dead. With most cars nowadays, if the battery dies, the car key will stick in the ignition.
  • The car key may be bent or otherwise damaged.
  • your car is not in park. Even if your gearshift lever looks like it’s in park, the car’s shift lock solenoid, or another essential mechanism, may need replacement.
  • Did you force your key in the lock? It may be stuck in the mechanism at the wrong angle, ever so slightly, preventing the key’s removal.
  • The transmission could be failing, making it impossible for you to put your automobile into park. It’s likely that if you cycle the transmission a few times, you will find that you are able to pull out the key.
  • There may be a bit of grime, dirt, or tiny object on your key, which is catching on the inside of the ignition cylinder.
  • A sensor in the transmission could be malfunctioning, and thus not sending the correct signal to the column lock. This causes the car key to stick inside.
  • There might be internal damage. A tumbler can bind inside the ignition cylinder so the springs won’t push it back out.
  • Maybe your wheel lock cylinder is too worn. If so, it’s time to install a new one.
  • Possibly a cable came loose, either behind the ignition or inside the dashboard. It’s likely you’ll need to replace the cable.
  • Your column lock mechanism (an anti-theft device) could be faulty. If so, you truly won’t be able to remove the key.
  • Did your key break off inside the lock cylinder? Then, clearly, it’s not coming out.

Don’t despair! The above is a list of ordinary possibilities, but there are solutions ~ measures you can take to get yourself out of this jam.

You don’t want the car to roll away while you're trying to pull out your car key! So before you attempt any of these things (listed below), check to make sure your parking brake’s on!

1. Look at the car key’s position. Make sure your car key is in the locked position on the ignition switch. As a cylinder gets worn, what happens is that you may find it easier to turn it beyond the correct point. This is often the case if your car key has been attached to some heavy objects on your key chain, causing excessive gradual wear from continued extra pressure on the cylinder. Try pushing your key in, and rotating it forward, very slightly. Sometimes, this will effectively lock your ignition into place, and you’ll be able to pull the key out.

2. Is your battery is dead? Did your dashboard light up with your transponder key in the “on” position? Depending on the make and model of your vehicle, a dead battery can stop you from removing a transponder key, because the chip can’t be accurately identified by your car’s computerized theft-deterrent system.

3. Take a look at the steering wheel. Sometimes your steering wheel will lock. When it’s locked, the ignition switch will hold your key in one place until the steering system unlocks. Don’t pull too hard on the key! Take it gently! First, concentrate on getting a bit of movement from the steering wheel. Place your left hand on the steering wheel, as you try to delicately rotate the key forward. Move the wheel slightly to one side. Listen for a click. If you don't hear one, turn the wheel, softly now, the other direction. As soon as you hear a click, try taking the key out. If you’re successful, then for sure you’ll know that there’s pressure coming from the steering wheel.

4. Test the park position. If you want to remove the car key, your shifter has to be locked in the park position. Sometimes, your car simply won’t properly lock into the park position. If you are still able to move the gearshift lever out of park after turning the motor off, then your linkage might be out of adjustment, or it’s worn out.

5. Lubricate the key. Try spraying a tiny bit of electrical cleaner between your key and the ignition. Add a quick spray of silicone, or a drop or two of liquid graphite. Be very careful! Don’t drip on the upholstery. You must keep the car doors open so you won’t be harmed by the fumes. Avoid any spark or open flame. You may have to lubricate another time. Try turning the key a fraction of an inch, exerting only minimum pressure, and you will probably be able to get it out.

Is your car key still stuck? If so, don’t waste any time worrying. It’s time to find a trustworthy professional with the experience and knowhow necessary to thoroughly inspect your vehicle’s ignition switch, gearshift lever, battery, and so forth. A highly qualified automotive locksmith will easily determine exactly what’s wrong, and bring you the right solution.

If you’re stranded anywhere in Evanston, Illinois, you may want to consider hiring Locksmith Pro Evanston, whose mobile automotive locksmith specialists on staff work 24/7, always ready to come to your rescue.

While you’re waiting for help to arrive:

  • Keep your vehicle secure. Use a spare key to manually lock your car.
  • If possible, put the car key in, at least into the lock position, which will prevent the battery from running down.