It can be a stressful feeling to have your car key get stuck in the ignition of your vehicle. You may panic and try to get it out, but it simply will not come out. Do not attempt to force the key out because you could end up breaking it off completely. Then you will have a real problem on your hands. Any car key in an ignition should easily slide out after you have completely rotated it counterclockwise. If it doesn’t, then you need to understand the possible causes of this problem.
The Top 5 Causes
There are a variety of reasons as to why your car key could get stuck. Some of these reasons may pertain to a unique problem in a specific make and model vehicle. However, most causes of key sticking are universal and can happen in any make and model vehicle. You just need to understand these causes so that you can figure out the solution to the problem.
Read also: 5 Tips to Jump a Car Battery Properly
Below are the top 5 causes of a key getting stuck in the ignition.
1. Parking Gear Not Set – The gear of the transmission must always be set to park before attempting to remove a car key from the ignition. If the gear is set to drive, neutral, or any other available gear, then the key will not come out. Sometimes people may attempt to change the gear to park, but the gear doesn’t get set all the way over to it. If your vehicle has a digital screen which displays the gear settings, check that to ensure the “P” is highlighted.
2. Steering Wheel Lock – If you turn off your vehicle while moving the steering wheel just a little bit, the steering wheel lock will activate. Not only will this prevent you from turning the steering wheel, you won’t be able to pull out the key from the ignition either. This is due to the ignition cylinder locking at the same time as the steering wheel lock. To release both locks at the same time, try turning the key while wiggling the steering wheel around. You should be able to take the key out now or start the engine.
3. Debris on Key – Some people like to open boxes and packages with their car key. While this might be effective at tearing through the box tape, it could also cause pieces of the tape to stick to the key. If you were to then place the key into the ignition of your vehicle while the tape is still stuck to it, then it will be harder for the key to engage the ignition cylinder’s pins.
4. Dead Battery – The ignition system depends on power from the battery to function properly. If the battery dies, it will likely cause the ignition system to lock up. Then you won’t be able to get the key out of the ignition. The best thing you can do here is to wait for a jump start or new battery to be installed. Either that or use a tack hammer and gently tap the cylinder with it.
5. Damaged Key – Car keys can take a lot of abuse over the years. Each time you put the key in the ignition and turn, it wears the key just a little bit. When you are not using your car key, you may keep it in your pocket or toss it onto a hard-surfaced desk. This kind of abuse will slowly damage your car key. If it ever bends or forms a small crack somewhere, then it will be tougher to remove it from the ignition. Replace the key immediately if you start noticing this damage.