Car key stuck in ignition; what to do!
“The best laid plans often go awry” at least that’s what the quote from Robert Burns says. This is especially true when it comes to stuck ignition key problems! We innocently hop into our cars with plans set in our minds as to where we are about to go. It might be the grocery store or to dinner. We may be leaving for work or to take the kids to school. Our minds are thinking of our plans and our destination; not having to deal with a stuck key. Nothing is wrong until the ignition key is turned and then…nothing! The key won’t turn and it won’t come back out. Sometimes the ignition works but the key is still stuck. Other times, the key goes in and comes out but the car won’t start. Before you panic; there are some simple and free ways to often fix the problem. Read on and see.
Now, you’re stuck!
Your first thought might be to take the car to some repair place. But how can you; it won’t run! You might be thinking of locking the car up and calling someone for help. How can you do that when the ignition/door key is stuck and won’t come back out? You can’t even leave the car alone without abandoning your key and the vehicle, as the two are inseparable now. It’s a true dilemma and it is usually compounded by stress and emotion. You panic; then feel fear, and maybe even anger. What did you do wrong? How much is all this going to cost? Are you in danger now? Is your schedule ruined for the day? Who can you call? A million thoughts go through your head, seemingly all at once.
Do this first
Our Augusta Locksmith crew gets stuck ignition key calls from time to time. Of course you are always welcome to call us but there are simple and free “tricks” that you can do that can often solve the problem with no need for any kind of service call. Start by calming yourself. This works whether you are here in Augusta, GA or anywhere else in the world. Just take a few deep breaths and try and clear your mind of any worries, anger or fear. You are not dying; just inconvenienced! Becoming more relaxed allows you to think methodically and prevents you from calling the first repairman you find on your phone.
Next, apply your parking brake. You will be testing a few mechanisms on your car and the last thing you want is for it to roll forward or backward. Every year people are needlessly injured and even killed when the car hits them because it rolled onto them because the brake was not set; don’t be one of those.
Now, loosen the key if you can!
Apply some pressure and see if you can move the ignition key back and forth a little. Your goal is not to force the key; only to loosen it. Try not to break it; you’ll have another problem, then. Just wiggle the key back and forth and see if this movement is enough to loosen it up enough to remove it. Next, you’ll want to check your gear settings. PARK is the only choice you have. Not DRIVE, not NEUTRAL or anything in between; just PARK! There is a built-in mechanism that acts as a safety feature that will NOT let you start your car unless you are in the correct gear.
Are you ready to give up and call AAA? Don’t! If the above actions didn’t free your ignition key there are still some options open to you. Try moving your steering wheel back and forth. Is it seemingly stuck in place? Just add some more pressure until you get it to move back and forth. It’s a little known fact but sometimes steering wheels lock up if leaned upon or twisted with extra force. A locked steering wheel will also lock up your ignition and prevent you from turning or even removing your ignition key.
A low battery can also affect your ignition. Your transponder key sends a signal to your car’s on board computer telling it that it’s okay to start the engine. If the battery is low, the signal can be too weak to transmit correctly and your ignition system won’t work right. Test your battery by seeing if the headlights work. You can also try your dashboard lights, radio, windshield wipers, car seats and power windows.
Wrong key used
Another little known reason for not being able to release your ignition key is that it’s the wrong one! Yes, that really happens! If you live and work around others that also have transponder keys, it’s easy to grab the wrong one and mistake it for yours. Just because the key goes in, doesn’t mean that it will work or even come back out; often, they don’t! No need to panic; just spray your key loose. Use some electrical contact cleaner; it comes in spray form. Give your stuck key a spritz of it and then follow up with a light spray of lock lubricant (silicon variety). The combination effect of these two sprays results in lock cleaning and lubrication. Usually it’s enough to get your key out.
Resist the urge to force it
This one is harder than it seems; resist the urge to just force your key out. It will break before you can force it out of the ignition. Now, your problems are multiplied as you still can’t drive your car but you also have to deal with key extraction and new transponder key duplication and programming!
Make that call!
f you’ve exhausted all of the above options, it’s time to call in the pros. You don’t have to use our locksmith shop but do select one in your area that offers 24-hour emergency service, fast response times and licensed, bonded and insured automotive technicians. Most of the time though; your ignition key will become unstuck by using our helpful tips!