My Chevy Malibu Key Is Stuck In The Ignition – What To Do?

It's nice to drive again with your Chevy Malibu. But what if the key gets stuck in the ignition? What should you do? How to get the key out quickly? Just relax! We've researched the steps to pull the key out of the ignition.

The key can get stuck in the ignition for several reasons, including a drained battery or rusting. If your key gets stuck, you can try these methods to get it out:

  1. Check if the battery has a charge.
  2. Inspect the shifter.
  3. Lubricate the key.
  4. Replace the ignition lock cylinder.

In this article, we'll learn how a key could get stuck in the ignition and what to do when it happens. We'll cover other topics too, such as how to program your Chevy key fob. Keep reading to learn more!

technician during repair key or switch engine start of sedan car. shifter on car. mans hand on the keys. testing car battery. My Chevy Malibu Key Is Stuck In The Ignition - What To Do

Ways to Remove a Key Stuck in the Ignition

A key that gets stuck in the ignition is a major headache. You may be tempted to panic if this happens, but if you keep calm and follow our advice, everything will be alright.

starting the car, fokus trough the car well of the starter key

Simply use these techniques to diagnose and fix your key woes.

1.Check the Battery

The ignition may not release the key if it detects a low battery. The battery is the initial source of energy before the fuel transmits power to the engine. Also, the ignition relies on the battery so that it can heat up the motors and the engine.

Car battery under the hood.

You can check the current performance of the battery with a tester. Simply read the instructions indicated on the product.

See this battery tester on Amazon.

However, you can follow these steps to manually check if the battery is in good condition:

  1. Check if the batter has a burnt smell or if the wires are corroded.
  2. If the battery seems normal, then it's safe to test it by turning the headlights on.
  3. Crank the battery to see if the lights will blink. This can tell if the wires are loose.
  4. Check if the positive and negative ports are properly attached. They are associated with plus and minus signs, respectively.
  5. Listen if the battery is making an unusual noise. If you hear a sound, then it's possible that the battery is empty and needs replacement.

You may ask a mechanic to inspect your battery. You might need a replacement or further assessment. But if the battery appears to be okay, you can consider the other possible issues below.

2. Examine the Shifter

Before you insert the key into the ignition, your car should be in P (park). For many automatic transmission vehicles, the ignition will only start in P or N. If it is still in gear, it may not let you release your key.

shifter of an automatic transmission car, leather trims

Also, check if the shifter is loose. It may not stay in the selected position when loose. If this is the case, you should see a mechanic, as it's quite dangerous to drive with a broken shifter.

3. Lubricate the Key

In case the battery and shifter are working fine, you can lubricate the key to slip it out of the ignition. The key or ignition block may have developed rust, preventing it from turning the lock.

To remove the key with a lubricant, simply follow these steps:

  1. Apply a small amount of lubricant around the key.
  2. Turn and move the key repeatedly until it slips out.
  3. Upon removing the key, apply another lubricant to the keyhole.
  4. Wipe the key and keyhole with a dry cloth.
  5. Test the key again, but you can let a locksmith authorized by the car manufacturer check or replace your key.

4. Change the Ignition Lock Cylinder

Probably the last option you have is to replace the ignition lock cylinder. It might take some time to replace the cylinder by yourself. It's best to leave it to a mechanic, but you can try the following steps on your own.

  1. Turn off the engine and detach the battery from the terminals.
  2. Remove the steering wheel. Refer to the user's manual on how to remove it, as the instructions may vary on the model.
  3. Since the key is stuck, use a screwdriver to turn and detach the cylinder from the bottom.
  4. Slide the cylinder out. To remove the key, poke it from the bottom.
  5. Bring the cycle to the car manufacturer and request a repair or replacement. But if there's a replacement available on hand, simply insert the key into the cylinder.
  6. Push the cylinder down to attach it to the ignition until you hear it click.
  7. Reconnect the battery and test the ignition. If the engine starts, you can now turn it off and detach the battery again. You must do so in order to avoid an electric shock when you replace the steering wheel.
  8. Reassemble the steering wheel and attach the battery again to its terminals.

car keys on the key fob, chrome finished car interior

Why Is the Ignition Key Stuck?

You need to take care of your key aside from other accessories in your car. Refer to the list below for common reasons why a key will likely get stuck in the ignition.

Old tractor key close-up


You should check that the key is free of rust. Otherwise, it will get stuck easily and be quite hard to pull off.

However, there's a cleaning method to help you remove the rust from your key.

You'll need:

  • Vinegar
  • A brush
  • Gloves
  • A pot
  • A bowl

Now for the steps, simply do the following:

  1. Boil at least a cup of vinegar, then pour it into a container.
  2. Submerge the rusted key in it and wait for at least 30 minutes.
  3. While wearing gloves, brush the key until the rust comes off.
  4. Dry the key with a cloth.
  5. Test the key.

See this vinegar on Amazon.

Uneven Pattern

Another reason why the key gets stuck is its uneven pattern. The key might have a dent that makes the pattern difficult to fit in. You will need a replacement key or the help of a locksmith to bring it back to its shape.

Also, dropping the key may ruin the pattern. Remember to keep the key in a dry place and away from the reach of children. It's recommended to have the duplicate key in cases like this.

Can Ignition Start On A Drained Battery?

young man is fixing his car

The ignition won't start on a drained battery, as this is the initial source of power. Also, it's harmful for the car to drive without a battery. The engine may malfunction by sucking off energy.

However, you can replace a drained battery. Simply prepare these tools you'll need.

Car Battery

It's recommended to ask your car manufacturer about specific types of batteries suitable for your car.


Do not work without gloves, as the corrosion from the battery may irritate your skin.

See this gloves set on Amazon.


You need a wrench to unlock the battery.

See this wrench on Amazon.

Cable Ties

Prepare cable ties for the terminals.

See these cable ties on Amazon.

If you have the tools, you can now proceed to the following steps:

  1. Turn off your car engine.
  2. While wearing your gloves, disconnect the negative terminal first with a wrench. Use a cable tie to secure the wires. Repeat for the positive terminal.
  3. Pull out the battery. Clean the terminals by wiping them with an old cloth.
  4. Install the new battery, starting from the positive terminal first, then the negative terminal.
  5. Secure the lock with a wrench, then test your car.

How to Program a Chevy Malibu Key Fob

Car key and remote central locking

A key fob is an automatic key that looks like a remote with buttons for different functions, like locking the door.

The key fob is programmed with a sensor to activate car features by pressing the buttons from a distance. We'll show you how to program the Chevy key fob in the instructions below.

  1. Inside the car, press and hold the unlock button on the door while inserting the key in the ignition.
  2. Turn the key on but don't start the engine.
  3. Do a sequence of "On" and "Off" with the key until the door reacts to the locking pattern from the ignition.
  4. Pull the key out to test the lock function.
  5. Insert the key again to complete the programming process.


In this article, we've seen the most common reasons for a key to get stuck in your vehicle and some solutions you can try when it happens.

We also learned about programming a key fob and briefly explained its purpose.

Remember to always keep a spare key handy and, of course, always drive safely.

Do you want to learn more? Check out these articles:

How To Put A Chevy Malibu In Neutral

How To Unlock A Chevy Malibu Without Keys

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