Are you in a panic situation where you have cant remove the car key from the ignition? That is probably why you are here.
It can be scary to be in such a situation as there is always a fear of breaking the key in the ignition which can become a headache and can also cost a lot more than expected to get it fixed.
Before panicking and calling for help, there are a few things you can check to make sure that those aren’t the factors keeping your key inside and not allowing you to take it out or turn it.
How to Get Stuck Key Out of Ignition
Total Time: 10 minutes
Charge the car battery
A common problem when your key is stuck in the ignition is that the car battery is dead or low on voltage. Charge your car battery for some time with a car battery charger to see if it’s a low voltage problem. Low voltage can cause the ignition lock not to release the key. You can also take jump cables from another car if you are in a hurry and feel comfortable doing it.
Shifter in Park Position
If you have an automatic car, you most likely need to have your shifter in the parking position to get the key out from the ignition. This can also be caused by a faulty shifter switch in the shifter, where the car thinks that the shifter is in a different position than it’s actually in. Try to jiggle it back and forward between the park and neutral position while pressing the brake pedal and trying to turn the ignition switch one more step back, and removing the key.
Unlock the Steering Wheel
A lot of cars have a feature of a steering wheel lock. This feature can prevent you from turning the ignition switch one more step back to remove the key. Turn the key to ignition again, move the steering wheel, and then try to remove the key again. You can also try to jiggle the steering wheel backward and forward while trying to remove the key.
Spray lubricant into the lock
If you have any sort of spray lubricant close to you, you can try lubricating the lock. Often if the key or the ignition lock is worn, it can be enough to spray any oil inside of the ignition lock. This can be pretty tricky because the key is blocking the way, but with a spray bottle with a pipe, it’s possible.
Jiggle the Ignition
It is now time to try literally everything. Jiggle the key forward to ignition position and back hundreds of times, while you are pressing the brake pedal and moving the gearstick from position to neutral if you have an automatic transmission. If you are lucky it might suddenly pop out.
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Read the trouble codes
If you have an OBD2 scanner at home, you can try to read the trouble codes from all different control units to check for any related problem with the shifter or any fuse that may cause this problem. You often need to have a more advanced diagnostic scanner to read the trouble codes from the immobilizer and the ignition switch.
Check the safety switch and push key
Many American and Japanese cars have an extra lock switch inside of the ignition where you have to press in the key together with a button to rotate it further to remove the key. Check your car manual to make sure you are doing it the right way.
In some cars, you also have to push the key while turning it, to remove it.
Call a mechanic workshop
If you have tried everything above, you do not have many choices left other than calling your local mechanic workshop and letting them take a look. In many cases, it’s the ignition lock that is failing, and it has to be replaced. In some cases, the immobilizer is integrated with the ignition switch, and you have to reprogram this after a replacement.
- Car Battery Charger
Hi, I’m Magnus, the owner and the writer of Mechanic Base. I have been working with cars for 10 years, specialized in diagnostics and troubleshooting. I created this blog because I was tired of finding false information on the web while looking for repair information. I hope you enjoy my content!