Can’t Remove Key From Ignition: What You Should Do When Key Is Stuck In The Ignition
If you are a driver or you own a car, one common shared dread you are likely to encounter someday is having yourself stuck behind the steering. Situations when you try to remove your car key from the ignition and it just refuses to come out. At that time, there is a high tendency for you to start panicking and asking “can’t remove key from ignition; what could possibly be the cause?”
Well, there are many reasons this can happen. From having a broken key to having a problem with the ignition system or having a dead battery, having your key stuck in the ignition is obviously not a fun scene. And so could cause you to have a really bad day.
However, regardless of what caused the problem, the good news is that when you have your key trapped in the ignition, there are simple ways it can be removed, especially when you have a profession around to help handle the situation and save the day. That doesn’t mean you can’t handle the situation if you also have the right skill and knowledge.
In this article, I will be showing you some quick ways you can get your stuck key out of the ignition when it refuses to come out without having to lose your peace. However, before we move into that, I think it will be wise we intimate ourselves with some of the reasons you may be having this situation in your hand in the first place.
WHAT ARE SOME REASONS MY KEY WON’T REMOVE FROM THE IGNITION?
While there are several reasons you may be having a bad day because your key won’t come out from your ignition, below are some common ones you should know:
#1: When You Have A Broken Key In The Ignition
This is usually one of the major reasons keys often get stuck in the ignition and refuse to come out. Obviously, when a key is broken in the ignition, it becomes impossible to remove the car key. This may be because you used an already damaged key to operate the vehicle or you got the key broken when trying to remove it. This means that your key will break in a way that leaves a piece of the key in the ignition.
What this means is that you are apparently faced with a key stuck in the ignition. Well, this is something you can fix yourself or you use the help of a professional locksmith, depending on the severity of the broken key. If you are able to successfully take out the broken part of the key that was stuck in the ignition, it is advisable that you have the ignition cylinder examined by a locksmith.
In addition, it is worth mentioning that there are drivers with the bad practice of neglecting the general appearance and maintenance of their car keys. In most cases, they use keys that are bent out of alignment, and this may be a possible reason for the car key being stuck in the ignition.
#2: When Your Car Is Not Properly Turned Off
No doubt, several ideas rush through the mind whenever one is faced with car ignition challenges. But before taking any rash or hasty decision, one smart thing you should first do is to check if the car is properly turned off.
While trying to meet up with an appointment or rushing to get to the office on time, it is possible that you may forget to completely rotate the ignition cylinder when turning off your vehicle. What this automatically means is that your car is still on, and so you may be unable to remove your key from the ignition.
So whenever you notice that you are unable to remove your key from the ignition, the point where you need to begin your journey is finding out if the car is well turned off. It is important to note that vehicles that use keyless push button ignitions in addition to key fobs are less likely to encounter this problem.
If after ensuring the vehicle’s lock status is not the cause of the problem, then it must be as a result of other issues, so lets’ continue to other factors that may cause you to be asking “can’t remove key from ignition; what should I do.”
#3: Dead Battery
Remember that for the ignition system to function properly, it needs enough power supply from the battery. So, if the battery is weak or dead, it may result in a situation where the ignition system locks up. In that case, you won’t be able to remove the key from the ignition.
So if you have been noticing your battery misbehaving for days without replacement, you should be prepared for a situation where you will be unable to remove your key from the ignition soon. Always make sure your battery is supplying enough power to every part of your car, including the ignition. And whenever you notice the battery is weak or dead, get it replaced as soon as you can so it doesn’t cause problems for you during times of emergencies.
#4: When Your Steering Wheel Is Locked In Place
Don’t always assume that something really serious is wrong with your vehicle whenever you are faced with the car key in ignition issues. Also, you shouldn’t focus all your attention on the key and ignition.
Car key stuck in the ignition can also result from the malfunctioning of other parts of the vehicle. In most cases, the steering wheel, which controls the direction of your car can be the reason why your key is stuck in the ignition, especially if it is locked.
Locking the steering wheel is sometimes deliberately done as a form of car security. Therefore, when the key is stuck in the ignition, the steering wheel has to be unlocked.
#5: When Your Key is Worn Out or Damaged
Your car keys can be effective for a long period of time. However, each time you put your car key into the ignition and turn it, there is always the possibility of the key getting a bit weaker.
Once this continues, coupled with rough/careless handling of your car key, it is most obvious that one day it will get broken and stuck in the ignition.
When your key got broken, it oftentimes refuses to come out from the ignition and may require the service of a professional to get it out. So a worn or damaged key is one of the reasons you may be experiencing such a situation as a car key not coming out from the ignition.
#6: When You Are Having a Blocked Keyway
A blocked keyway may just be another reason why you can’t remove your key from the ignition.
In order to avoid this, you should make a conscious effort to keep your automobiles free of dirt and debris. As harmless as it may seem, such particles could be responsible for obstructions that may hinder the smooth functioning of your car ignition cylinder.
Over time, dirt buildup may cause blockage in the keyway, hence resulting in the car key been broken when it is being forced in such ignition.
#7: Something May Be Wrong With the Ignition Cylinder
Out of the many points we already discussed above, the most challenging part is being able to detect if the ignition cylinder has developed any faults. When faced with a car key stuck in ignition issues, you may have to find out if the problem is coming from the car key or the ignition itself.
For a key that got broken and part of it slides out of the ignition, it’s easy to assume that the problem is from the key itself without knowing that the root cause of the problem is that the key got broken as a result of a broken ignition cylinder.
One of the toughest ways to know what is the cause of your car key being stuck in the ignition is in trying to diagnose what is wrong with the ignition cylinder. Like you can rightly tell, this is even more challenging when compared with other ways earlier mentioned.
Secondly, if the key is broken and a part of it slides out of the ignition, then you will know that the problem is probably from the key.
#8: Manufacturer Recall or TSB
Sometimes, car key stuck in the ignition occurs due to the brand and model of certain vehicles.
Although this is usually rare, your car could be affected by its year, the make and model which makes it subject to recall or what is known as Technical Service Bulletin (TSB), and this is directly related to the ignition lock cylinder.
To find out if your car key is stuck in the ignition as a result of this, enter the VIN number of your car in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) website, and you will easily get to know this.
What Should You Do When Your Car Key Got Stuck In Ignition And Won’t Come Out?
It is very important that you calm yourself down in this situation so you can think straight and detect what the cause of the problem is. When you are able to detect what the cause is, it will be easier to figure out what the best way to solve it is. That way, the problem-solving method becomes less confusing and convenient.
If you are presently in an ignition mess where your key won’t come out of the ignition, below are some possible solutions to help you resolve the problem.
Lubricate the Car Key
Lubrication is a simple solution that you can try out if your key is stuck in the ignition. Easily obtained solutions such as WD-40 or Tri-Flow are helpful in lubricating your car key.
Lubrication enhances an easy sliding out of the key, especially in a situation where the key has been stuck due to hindrances in the ignition, which hence makes it difficult to easily use the keyway.
Even after this solution has worked out, you should still ensure to clean out your ignition and adopt some key maintenance practices in order to guide against the reoccurrence of this situation.
In addition, you should consult an expert that will be able to properly examine your ignition to check if there are any other undermining problems that you need to know about.
Rub Alcohol or Adhesive Remover
If you noticed the key is not damaged but there are some dirt blocking the keyway, try using WD-40 or Tri-Flow (as stated above) to remove the debris or dirt and then get the key out. However, if this seems not to be working, you can try rubbing adhesive remover or alcohol on the key to thoroughly clean the keyway and get the key out.
Use a Jigsaw Blade
This is often used to remove a broken key from the ignition when it refuses to come out. Because of the thin nature of the jigsaw blade, it is easy to fit it right alongside the key within the ignition pathway. When you have inserted the jigsaw blade, slightly turn it over so the notches of the blade could grab the broken key, and then gently pull the key out.
Use Needle Nose Pliers or Tweezers
This is also great for removing broken keys from ignitions. If you can see any part of the key outside the ignition, using needle nose pliers or tweezers can come handy to easily get the key out. However, if the broken key is completely in the lock and no part is protruding out, you may not be able to get anything done with these tools because they will be too thick to get inside the ignition lock. So you may need to look into other solutions to rescue yourself from the situation.
Make Sure That Your Car Is In The “Neutral” Or “Park” Position
Another good solution to help you get your key out of the ignition cylinder is to ensure that your car’s gear is not set at Drive. Remember, your key will only come out of the ignition when your car is properly parked. So check well and be sure your gear is not still at the “Drive set”. If the gear is set at Drive, you may need to move it down and set it to “Neutral” in a manual transmission or “P” on an automatic transmission.
If the car is not in the right parking mode, you will be unable to remove your key from the ignition.
Use Broken Key Extraction Tool
In situations where the car key is stuck in ignition due to a broken car key, you have to decide whether to remove it by yourself or seek the service of a locksmith.
However, you have to bear in mind that if the process of removing the key is not well carried out, it could lead to more complications, especially when trying to do it yourself.
In a bid to avoid the cost implications of getting to hire a professional locksmith to help remove the stuck key from the ignition, many people prefer to have it done by themselves. In case you are thinking in this direction, you should be reminded that the cost is not limited to monetary value but also includes security vulnerability and more cost could be incurred.
However, if you decide to do it on your own, you can use a broken key extractor tool to remove the broken key as well as its pieces from inside the ignition cylinder. These are the instrument a professional locksmith will use if you also call them – just that they may be more experienced than you are. Nevertheless, having a broken key means you will have to get a replacement, either a new one or a duplicate car key. But if you have a spare at home, that process may not be required.
Ignition Cylinder Repair or Replacement
As mentioned earlier, when your key got stuck in the ignition, it is not always as a result of a problem with the key but could also be a problem happening within the ignition cylinder.
In such situations, the best suggestion is that you get the service of a professional locksmith for replacement or repair rather than trying to do it yourself.
Why a locksmith, you may ask? This is because an expert locksmith will be able to accurately diagnose the cause of the ignition cylinder issues and provide the best way to go about solving it. Also, a professional locksmith will be able to proffer expert advice on whether you need to replace or repair the ignition cylinder.
Slightly Jiggle The Steering Wheel
In cases where you have correctly set the gear, and yet the key still won’t come out, try jiggling the steering wheel back and forth slowly while you gently try to remove the key. Sometimes when the steering column locks, it exerts more pressure on the ignition lock mechanism, therefore making it difficult for the key to come out.
In such an instance, what you need to do in order to get the key out is to slightly move the steering wheel. When you do that, it removes the pressure on the lock and the key would easily slide out.
Assess Additional Component
Your focus on an affected vehicle should not only be on particular components while you neglect other parts. When some components in a car have issues, it may result in the key becoming difficult to remove from the ignition. So whenever you are being faced with a situation that involves the key not coming out from the ignition, endeavor to check some additional components like the battery. Remember that a dead or weak battery can also be the reason why your key is stuck in the ignition.
The possible solution in this situation is to disregard the car key and ignition and channel your attention to getting the battery to function perfectly again. Ignition problems that are associated with batteries are usually easily solved once the battery is replaced or repaired. The problem in situations like this, however, is impatience.
If you continue to make an effort to get the problem solved through crooked means, there is the possibility that more damages will be caused to the car. So, stay calm and don’t panic while you figure out the best way to get a solution to the problem.
Having a car key stuck in the ignition and hence making it super hard to remove is not an uncommon situation. It happens every time, and most drivers have at one point in their lives experience it. So it is never the time to start worrying or panicking up and down. You simply need to calm yourself down and figure out what the best solution could be.
However, any problem you may encounter around your car key and the ignition should not be handled with levity, although it is important to calm yourself knowing fully well that there is no problem without a solution.
Exercising enough patience and time to have these issues properly addressed will help you keep the cost of any repairs minimal, and it will ensure that you are back on the road again in no time.
Rather than trying to solve your car ignition issues through crook means, consulting a locksmith whenever your key can’t come out of the ignition is always the best solution. But if you are confident in handling the situation all by yourself, then get on it, and good luck on your quest.
Now that you know what the possible cause and solutions to this problem is, you should be able to take full control of the situation when such arises. However, remember that if you are not sure you can handle things down there, your best option is to look for a reliable locksmith near you and commit the job into his hands.