My Subaru Outback Key Is Stuck In The Ignition – What To Do?

You have been enjoying your Subaru Outback because it is dependable, reliable, and safe to drive. But, the unthinkable happens; your car key gets stuck in the ignition. You, too, are stuck and can’t go anywhere. What do you do in such a scenario? We researched to provide the following answers.

Below are some of the ways you can remove your stuck key out of the ignition:

  • Joggle the key
  • Use an extractor
  • Spray lubricant on the ignition lock
  • Unlock the steering wheel
  • Shake the gear selector
  • Replace the battery
  • Re-align pins on the ignition cylinder
  • Check if your car is on recall

In this post, we shall provide a few solutions on what you can do to remove the key from the ignition and the reasons it got stuck in the first place. We will also show you how to prevent this from happening. In addition, learn what to do when the key breaks, the cost of replacing one, and how to replace it. 

Subaru Outback,close-up of the dashboard, speedometer, tachometer and steering wheel. modern car interior, My Subaru Outback Key Is Stuck In The Ignition - What To Do?

How To Remove Your Key Stuck In The Ignition 

shot of car key in ignition

If you cannot remove the key out of the ignition, don’t use too much force trying to remove it. You might end up breaking it, creating a much bigger problem. 

Typically, you should be able to slide out the key. If it doesn’t you need to identify what’s causing this problem and then fix it. You can try one or more of the following solutions to remove your key from its ignition:

Joggle The Key

You can joggle the key as you try to pull it out. It may look simple, but it may work the first time you try to. 

Use An Extractor

If your Subaru Outback is manual, you could try to withdraw the key from its ignition. Take a small tool like a paperclip and insert it into the hole next to the key. Now, try pulling out the key, but turn off your engine before trying this.  

Spray Lubricant On The Ignition Lock

Have a look at this lubricant on Amazon.

How about spraying the ignition lock with a lubricant like WD-40? It comes with a thin straw that you insert between the ignition lock and key. Wriggle the key gently and try to pull it out. 

Unlock The Steering Wheel

Turning off your car while moving the steering wheel just a little will lock the steering wheel. Your key also gets stuck in the process, and you cannot pull it out. This happens because the ignition cylinder locks simultaneously with the steering wheel lock. To release both, turn the key as you jiggle the steering wheel around. You should then be able to take your key out.  

Shake The Gear Selector

If your Subaru is automatic, move your gear to the parking position and gently shake the selector to release your key. You can do the same if your car is manual, but put your gear on neutral.

Replace The Battery

Your car battery powers the ignition system. But, this system can lock up when the battery starts to die, and you will not be able to remove your key. 

To solve this problem, jump-start, charge, or replace your battery with a new one. Alternatively, you can tap the ignition lightly with a tack hammer.

Re-Align Pins On Ignition Cylinder

Your key will get stuck if the spring-loaded pins inside the ignition cylinder are out of alignment. You will have to either repair or replace it. 

Check If Your Car Is On Recall

This is rare, but there could be a possibility that your car is on recall due to a problem with the ignition lock cylinder. Check with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to verify if your car is affected. 

How To Prevent Your Key From Getting Stuck In The Ignition

Woman hand put key into the ignition and starts the car engine

It can be frustrating when you can’t pull out your key from its ignition. Don’t wait until your key is stuck to take action. Prevent it from happening in the first place by following the few tips below:

Remove Debris From Your Key

Are you one of the people who like to open packages and boxes with your car key? Tiny pieces of tape may accumulate in the crevices of your key, causing it to get stuck in the ignition. Also, clean your car regularly to prevent dirt from finding its way into the ignition.

Turn Off Your Car Correctly

Sometimes, especially when you are in a rush, you could skip a crucial step when turning off your car. Your automatic car has a safety feature that prevents you from removing the key from the ignition if it is not in neutral or parking. Before removing the key, ensure your shifter is in either one of these positions.

Another possible reason your key is not coming out is if you do not turn your key completely to the lock position. If this is so, turn it until it locks.

Ensure Your Key Is In Good State

Your key goes through friction each time you put it in the ignition. The key will slowly wear out and bend, crack, or go through some damage, causing your key to get stuck. That is why you need to replace your key with a new one as soon as you notice some wear and tear. 

Use The Correct Key

If you have more than one car, you may confuse the keys and use the wrong one. Try and pick the correct key each time you want to drive. 

How To Remove A Broken Key From The Ignition

Other problems could happen to your key and ignition. In the unfortunate event your car key breaks while it’s in the ignition, you may follow the steps below to remove it:

  1. First, ensure the remaining key fragment is not wholly inside the ignition.
  2. If the above is true, grip the part protruding using tools like a broken-key extractor, tweezers, needle nose pliers, or similar tools. 
  3. If the fragment does not protrude, you can use an alternative method. Use a mini hacksaw blade or any thin tool with an edge that can grab onto the grooves of the key. Afterward, wedge and slide it until you can get the key out. 
  4. If it's too difficult, call a locksmith.

Check out this car key extractor on Amazon.

View this nose needle pliers on Amazon.

How To Replace Your Car Keys

Black car key and remote on white background

After your car key breaks, you need to replace it. Even though you have one key remaining, you still need a spare key. There are a few ways to go about this.

You can go to a locksmith, order from your dealer, or make it yourself. A locksmith can make you a new key immediately after you order one. Your dealer will do so on your behalf from the manufacturer. It can be costly and may take a few days before you can receive it.

While it may be cheaper to make the key yourself, don’t attempt to make one if you don’t have the skills. As a novice, you might spend more than you budgeted.

Cost Of Replacing A Subaru Outback Key

Locksmith cutting car key with his machine

The cost of replacing your Subaru Outback key is between $130 and $400. If you have one of the latest models, it will be more expensive than the older ones, starting from $250 onwards.  

Car dealers tend to charge 10% to 15% less than a locksmith would. However, since you have to tow your car to your dealer, you will probably spend the same price here as you would the locksmith. 

In Closing

Your key getting stuck and being unable to remove it from the ignition can be frustrating, to mention the least. Despite putting you in disarray, don’t fret because there are ways of solving this situation.

In addition, your key can break while in the ignition, making it harder to remove it. There are special tools you can use to wedge and slide it out.Don’t wait until your key is stuck; there are several tips to follow to prevent it from happening.

Man is starting his car; he is turning the ignition key under the wheel

If you enjoyed reading this post, below are two others that you may like:

Is there anything you can do if your key gets hot when you remove it from the ignition? Click here for more: "Ignition Key Hot When Removed"

Learn a thing or two about the latest Subaru Outback models by clicking here: "Does Subaru Outback Have Apple Carplay"

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