Reasons Your Car Key is Stuck in the Ignition

Car keys are designed to slide from the ignition cylinder. It requires a complete anti-clockwise turn or a push to the release button in select car models. Imagine the pain that drivers bear when the key is stuck in the ignition. You are late for work or an appointment or in a foreign location, yet you cannot leave the car unlocked. A stuck key is an indication of a deeper problem. As a driver, you have a dilemma. Breaking the ignition translates to additional repair costs. What causes the key to stick in the ignition? How do you resolve the issue once and for all?

Failing to engage the parking gear

It is mandatory to push the gear to "park" before removing the key from the ignition. Automatic transmission vehicles restrict the removal of the car key before engaging the parking gear. The same applies to manual transmission cars. The key remains stuck as long as the gear is not in neutral. There are instances when drivers engage the parking gear but fail to set it in the appropriate position. It will cause problems when trying to remove the key from the ignition.

Worn out key

Car keys survive several years in service. During service, the key undergoes significant wear and tear. Its durability is also subject to proper care by the driver. Dropping the key on hard-packed surfaces causes gradual damage to the key. Cracks and bends will ultimately cause difficulty when attempting to unplug it from the ignition. The solution to aging or cracking car keys is replacement as soon as signs of damage manifest.

Steering wheel lock

Attempting to remove a car key while twisting the steering wheel a little activates the wheel lock in many vehicles. It makes it impossible to eject the key from the ignition cylinder. It also stiffens the steering wheel, making it unresponsive to turning. To resolve this, try to wag the steering wheel and key. Deactivating the wheel lock should permit you to remove the stuck key.

Dirt on the surface of the key

It may sound like an absurd reason for the key to get stuck in the ignition. Some drivers use car keys for virtually any activity. Prick a fruit, unwrap boxes, tear papers, etc. It leaves debris stuck on hollow sections of the key. You may succeed in plugging the key into the ignition. However, when attempting to remove it, the key gets erratic. It cannot effectively engage ignition cylinder locks. Avoid sticking the car key to surfaces that leave debris or dirt on the surface.

Faulty battery

A dead battery will cause problems. Once the battery dies, the ignition system gets locked up. That makes it impossible to remove keys from the ignition cylinder. The remedy- jump-start the car or install a new battery.

Faulty ignition cylinder

The ignition cylinder has spring-loaded pins that align to the shape of the key. When the cylinder begins failing, the springs lose their elasticity and lock the pins in awkward positions. That way, it restricts the removal of the key. 

Manufacturing defects

There are few vehicles depicting ignition cylinder-related issues straight from manufacturing. These manufacturing defects restrict the removal of car keys from the ignition.

Summing Up

Removing a stuck car key requires simple to complex interventions. Think of jiggling the steering wheel, setting the gear to parking or jump-starting a dead battery. It gets complicated if the key breaks off in the ignition. You will require the services of a locksmith, extraction tools or a tweezer. Ensure proper care of car keys.


Why is my car key not coming out of the ignition?

It is a sign that the locking mechanism is faulty, the right gear is not engaged, or the battery is dead. 

How can I remove a key stuck in the ignition?

Do not use force when this happens. Try wiggling the steering wheel. If the problem persists, engage a professional mechanic.