Key Stuck In Ignition – What To Do?

If you're like most car owners, you probably take for granted that your key will start the engine when you turn it. But what do you do if it gets stuck in the ignition? You might even feel trapped and can't go anywhere. But don't worry, we did our research and we wrote so you'll know what to do.

There are a few things you can do to remove your key that is stuck in the ignition:

  • Jiggle the ignition
  • Check the safety switch and push key
  • Check for debris in the ignition port
  • Use the override function to remove the key from the ignition
  • Charge the car battery
  • Ensure the shifter is in the park position
  • Unlock the steering wheel
  • Spray lubricant into the lock 
  • Physically remove the key from the ignition cylinder 

In this article post, we'll outline some of the best methods for getting your key unstuck. We'll also give you some tips on how to get your key out - and how to avoid this problem from happening in the first place. So read on to learn more! 

A key stuck on the ignition switch, Key Stuck In Ignition - What To Do?

Reasons Your Key Gets Stucked in The Ignition

Debris in Your Car Key or in the Cylinder Ignition

If you use your keys to open boxes or cut packaging, some dirt might get stuck on them. Keys will not work if any debris or dirt stuck to the key is keeping it from moving smoothly.

Dead Battery

The ignition system will not work if there is no power from the battery. Once your car's battery dies, your ignition system is designed to lock. When this happens, you might have to jump-start your car or install a new battery to get your key out of the ignition. 

Worn or Damaged Key

Over the years, your car key might get worn or damaged. Keeping them in your pocket along with hard materials such as coins can also damage them. Bending and small cracks in the key can also result from getting thrown. This damage can also make your key get stuck in the ignition. 

How To Remove a Key Stuck in the Ignition?

Key stuck on the ignition switch

Jiggle the Ignition

This may seem like an obvious solution, but sometimes the key just needs a little wiggle to get it out.

Check the Safety Switch and Push Key

Make sure that the safety switch of your car is turned off. The safety switch is usually located near the ignition, and it might be preventing the key from being removed.

Use the Override Function to Remove the Key From the Ignition

Key inserted on the ignition

There is an override function that can be used to remove the key. First, locate the override button. This is usually located near the bottom of the steering column. Once you have found the override button, press it in and hold it.

While holding the override button, turn the key to the "off" position; by now, you should be able to remove it from the ignition.

Charge the Car Battery

You can do this by jump-startings the car or charging the car battery with a charger. Charging your car battery will take around 10 to 24 hours. However charging it for two to four hours is enough to give it a little boost. 

The Shifter is Not in the Park Position

The key can only be removed from the ignition when the shifter is in park or in neutral. If your shifter is not in park, first try moving it to park and see if that frees up your key.

However, sometimes your car may not recognize that your car is already parked or in neutral. Gently shake your gear selector and see if you can finally pull your key from the ignition. 

Unlock the Steering Wheel

A locked steering wheel activates a mechanism in your car preventing you from pulling your key off the ignition. To release the locking mechanism, turn your wheel to the opposite direction. Afterwhich, check if you can remove the key from the ignition. 

Spray Lubricant Into the Lock 

If you have a handy spray lubricant with you, you can try lubricating the ignition cylinder. Use a spray bottle with pipe to make it easier. After a while, try turning the key and see if this fixes the problem. You can also do this periodically as normal maintenance. 

Check out 3-IN-ONE Lock Dry Lube on Amazon.

Can You Use WD-40 On Your Lock?

You can use small amounts of WD-40. WD-40 is considered a solvent and not a lubricant. That's why it is not recommended to use it in your ignition cylinder. One reason is because it can turn to goo when dry and it mightcause the tumblers in the ignition to get stuck. 

Physically remove the key from the ignition cylinder

If your car does not have an override function, you can insert a small tool, like a paperclip, into the hole next to the key. This will release the locking mechanism and allow you to remove the key. You can also use a screwdriver to remove the key. Before doing any of this, be sure to turn off the engine. 

Remove The Battery Cable

Try removing the battery cable to remove the key. But this should only serve as your last resort as it will disable your car. 

If these tips do not solve your problem, you can either ask a mechanic or a locksmith to investigate what is preventing your key from exiting the ignition. Not only can a professional diagnose the problem, but will likely have the tools needed to repair it.

How To Prevent Your Key From Getting Stuck in the Ignition?

A key inserted on the ignition switch

Remember, prevention is always better than cure. Here are handy tips to prevent your key from getting stuck in the ignition:

  1. Always clean your car to prevent debris from getting into the ignition cylinder.
  2. Do not put too much pressure on your keys when inserting them into the ignition cylinder. 
  3. Lubricate your cylinder ignition regularly.

Frequently Asked Questions

Car key in ignition lock

What Should You Do if You Broke Your Key in the Ignition?

First, try to remove the broken key from the ignition. Having a spare key you can use to start your car might also help. If you can't do that, then you may need to call a tow truck or a locksmith. You can also use a key extractor, jigsaw blade or even tweezers to remove the broken key. 

Check out this Terminal Extractor Removal Kit on Amazon

How Do You Replace Your Car Keys?

If you need to replace your car keys, then you have a few options. You can either go to a dealership, a locksmith, or you can do it yourself. This may cost you around $100 up to $600.

If you go to a dealership, then they will likely have to order a new key from the manufacturer. This can take a few days and it can be quite expensive. If you go to a locksmith, they will be able to make you a new key on the spot. 

How To Replace an Ignition Cylinder? 

If your key is stuck in the ignition, it might be because the ignition cylinder is damaged and needs to be replaced. Depending on the make and model of your car, replacing the ignition cylinder can cost about $200 to $400. Make sure to know your car's VIN number so you can have the correct part.

If you want to do it on your own, here is a list of the process:

  1. Start by removing the key from the ignition. If it's stuck, you may need to use a small tool to pry it out.
  2. Once the key is out, locate the screws that hold the ignition cylinder in place. There are usually two or three screws.
  3. Use a screwdriver to remove the screws and then pull the ignition cylinder out of the dashboard.
  4. Take the new ignition cylinder and insert it into the dashboard. Make sure that it's seated properly and then replace the screws.
  5. Try inserting the key to make sure that it fits properly. If it doesn't, you may need to have the new ignition cylinder rekeyed to match your car's key.

Replacing an ignition cylinder is a pretty easy process, but it's always best to have it done by a professional. This way you can be sure that everything is installed properly and that there won't be any issues with your car's ignition in the future.

Final Thoughts

A key stuck on the ignition switch

Getting your keys stuck in the ignition can be a real hassle. But by now, you'll know how to prevent it and how to troubleshoot it. Feel free to share this article to your family and friends.

You might also want to read on:

Truck Won't Start Just Clicks-What Could Be Wrong? [6 Reasons Explored]

Ignition Key Hot When Removed - Should I Do Anything About It?

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One comment

  1. My key is stuck in ignition after I drive it. I need to find another way to disconnect key rather than disconnecting battery terminal each time.

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