In many new cars, there is no longer a need for a physical key. With proximity-based entry systems, turning the key is no longer necessary. However, some of us still drive classic models that still need a key to crank. The car keys can sometimes get stuck in the ignition. Being in a scenario like this might be really terrifying.
Most of the time, you can still plug out a key that’s stuck in the ignition if you’ve got the right tool. But don’t try to force it out if it doesn’t come out easily. If you do, you might break it. After that, you’ll have to deal with a much worse problem. Read on to find out what to do in this case.
Reasons Why Your Car Key Gets Stuck in the Ignition
There are several reasons why your car key won’t come out. Some of these reasons might be related to a problem that only a certain make and model of car has. However, the majority of key sticking causes are universal and can occur in any make or model vehicle. The common cause is always the easiest to fix. You simply need to understand the problem to solve it. The following are the common causes of a key stuck in the ignition.
The Car is Not in Park
People sometimes try to put the car in park, but the gear doesn’t go all the way to that position. If your car has a digital screen that shows how to change gears, check that the “P” is highlighted.
There are many safety features built into vehicles. In an automatic transmission, the car key won’t come out if the car isn’t in the “park” position. In the same way, you have to move the gear lever to neutral before taking the key out of a car with a manual transmission. This is something you should already know if you own a car, whether it has a manual or automatic transmission.
The steering lock is enabled
The wheel lock is another safety feature that might keep your key from coming out of the ignition. When you turn off your car in the middle, the steering lock is turned on. You won’t be able to turn the wheel, but you also won’t be able to take the key out. The wheel lock is meant to stop the wheel from turning when there is no key, but it’s easy to fix. Try turning the key while jiggling the steering wheel to open both locks at the same time. You should be able to take the key out or start the engine now.
The car battery is dead
Your ignition system needs the power to work, and if the battery is completely dead, you might not be able to take the key out. If you turn the key and hear a clicking sound over and over, it’s likely that your battery is dead or that the battery terminals are corroded. The best thing to do in this situation is to wait for a jump start or a new battery. Either that or gently tap the cylinder with a tack hammer. Even though a dead battery can keep you from taking the key out of the ignition, it rarely happens. It could also be because the starter motor is broken.
Accessory mode is on
The majority of vehicles that employ standard keys also provide an additional key position within the vehicle. After the off mode, you can reach the accessory mode with just one click. It gives drivers the ability to operate some automotive amenities without having to turn on their vehicle’s engine. Among these amenities are a power lock for the windows and a radio. You might have been in a hurry and not noticed. To your relief, all that is required of you is to rotate the key counterclockwise for one click.
Dirt or Debris on key
The keys of a car are sensitive to any kind of imperfection. If there is dirt or dust on the car key, it may not be able to turn the ignition on or off. Most of us have used our car keys more than once as penknife. To dig things out, open boxes or mail, and scratch things, just to name a few things. Any of these things can make the car key dirty. If you’ve ever had to get a new key made, you know how sensitive they are to flaws. The key might not turn on the ignition cylinder because it has dirt on it, which is a good thing because this issue can be resolved in no time.
Worn out key
Each time the key is turned in the ignition, it becomes slightly more worn. People usually put their car keys in their pockets or throw them on a hard surface when they don’t need them. As was already said, a lot of us use our car keys for things other than starting the car. These will make the key wear out faster. If it ever breaks or gets bent, it will be hard to get it out of the ignition. If you see this damage, you should get a new key as soon as you can. Car keys are made so that they can be used to lock and unlock doors and start the car. Don’t use your car keys for anything else. Your car key will deteriorate over time if you treat it like this.
Faulty Ignition cylinder
The ignition lock cylinder breaks down over time, just like most electrical and mechanical parts in a car. But what if it doesn’t work when the car key is put in? You’ll find that the key is stuck in whatever position it was in before the ignition cylinder broke. If your ignition lock cylinder is about to break, it could stop your key from coming out. This is because the ignition lock has many rows of spring-loaded pins that match the shape of your key when they are inserted. If these pins are slightly out of place, you might not be able to take the key out or even put it in.
What to do when the car key gets stuck?
There are a number of reasons why a car key might get stuck in the ignition. There are also a number of ways to get the key out. How to get your car key out of the ignition depends on the situation. Here are the things you should do in each case.
Change the Gear level to park
When the key gets stuck in the ignition, it’s often because the car key was taken out without the gear lever being in the Park position. Make sure your car is in neutral or park before you take the key out.
If this is the case, make sure the shifter is in Park by moving it back and forth between Park and neutral while pressing the brake pedal, turning the key backward, and taking the key out.
Disable Steering Lock
A wheel lock is a safety mechanism that, when the key is taken from the ignition, stops the steering wheel from turning, preventing the driver from losing control of the vehicle. It might help to wiggle it back and forth while you carefully remove the key from the ignition. When the steering wheel is turned excessively to the left or right of the center position, the locking mechanism that is present in many automobiles is activated.
Lubricate the ignition cylinder
If the key is stuck because of dirt, use any spray lubricant to grease the lock. This can be hard because the key keeps the lock from opening. To do this, you’ll need a spray lubricant straw. WD-40 is a good example of this kind of lubricant. You can also clean the key very well with rubbing alcohol or an adhesive remover.
Recharge the dead battery
If a car key gets stuck in the ignition because the battery is dead, you can get the key out by charging the battery. If you think the battery has low voltage or you hear a clicking sound when you turn the key, charge the battery to see if it is low voltage. You can use another battery or another car to jump-start the car.
Car key break off in the ignition?
Before you put your key in the ignition, take a look at it. If your key is dirty or broken, it is more likely that it will break off in the ignition. If your key breaks, you can either use a tool to get the broken piece out or call a locksmith. You can get the piece of broken key stuck in the ignition out with a key extractor. Working with a professional locksmith, on the other hand, makes sure that your broken key is taken out correctly. Take a look at this video if you want to remove the broken key from the ignition by yourself.
Even though having a key stuck in the ignition is not ideal, it is important to remember that there is always a way out. Whether it’s a friend giving your car a jump start, a key extractor tool, or WD40, putting more pressure on a key that is stuck in the ignition will never help. This will only cause it to break, so you’ll have to call a locksmith or use a special tool to dig it out. Instead, take a moment to make sure your car is in Park, the steering wheel lock isn’t on, and you aren’t in accessory mode. If none of these methods work, or if your key breaks and you need a new one, you should call a locksmith.