08 Reasons Your Car Key Stuck In Ignition

Car Key Stuck In Ignition

“My Car Key Stuck In Ignition. I don’t know what to do” if you are a car owner, this phrase will be one of the rarest moments you might have to find a solution.  But, you might not like to take a chance even for that. A stuck car key in the ignition is a rare thing, but you may still find plenty of answers for that. Also, it is vital to know that how such things occur while using the car. This article will let you have the complete guide on working in a key stuck in ignition.

How can Car Key Stuck In Ignition happen?

There are many ways to have a key stuck in ignition. Some of them can be due to the lack of knowledge, not having the basics in driving, lack of mechanical knowledge, poor maintenance, electrical issues, security protocols, and so many other things. You might be happy to know that some of the reasons will neither cost money nor money. Also, the rest will cost you enough money if you don’t have the exact idea of what to do as well. 

If you understand the reason to have a key stuck in ignition, then the next steps will be much easy for sure. These 08 reasons must help you when identifying the cause to have a car key stuck in ignition and minimizing the damage.

Not Setting the Parking Gear!!

Parking Gear
Parking Gear

As one of the simplest reasons to cause unable to take the key out of the ignition is not setting the parking gear. Although this is not a protocol for manual cars, a car owner needs to know the basics at least. Unless you set the parking gear, the car will not think that you are going to stop the car and take the key out of the ignition. If you have driven manual cars, this will have to be the very first thing regarding the auto gear cars. It is not like stopping the car after setting the neutral.

Also, the latest manual cars ask the driver to set the gear to neutral when taking the key out of the ignition. People who have driven manual cars for a long time have used to stop the car in a gear according to the slope of the gear. They have the idea that it will be an extra safety measure to the car in addition to the hand brakes. At present, some manufactures insist their vehicles follow parking and stopping procedures.

You may use the digital screen to observe if the transmission is set to the parking mode. Even if it is not, you may follow the lights on the transmission. If the light is not showing “P”, you will go for other conclusions.

Steering Wheel Lock

When it comes to having the key stuck in the ignition, a steering wheel lock can be considered as the healthiest way to cause this situation. If you are unable to take the key after rotating the steering wheel before stopping the car, the steering wheel lock might have applied on the ignition. Also, if you accidentally rotate the steering wheel after stopping the car, the same things will happen. This option is available for the safety of the car owner. Since the front wheels cannot be turned from the outside in a theft, your vehicle will get the highest safety.

Also, as a possible way to avoid accidents of children, the steering wheel lock option has been introduced for the latest cars.

The process of locking the ignition cylinder is also indicating through the ignition key lock system. If you have a steering wheel lock activated due to rotating the steering wheel after the car, it means that you have both locked the ignition cylinder and the lock at the same time.

You may unlock both the ignition cylinder and the key at the same time by rotating both the steering wheel and the key at the same time. If you are not doing well, a wiggling steering wheel while rotating the ignition key will do the work. If you have to keep trying more and more, you will have to find another cause.

Car Key with Lots and lots of Debris

Car Key with Debris
Car Key with Debris

Most people use the car key not only as a tool to unlock the car but as a key tag for other keys as well. If there is a key stuck in ignition, you will be responsible for depositing debris on the car key. Opening boxes, carrying equipment, working in the backyard, sticky tapes on the key and there are so many ways to get debris on the car key. Also, if you work carelessly, there are accelerating ways to increase the amount of debris. When the key is inserted into the ignition, the key will not enter the ignition cylinder’s pins. Although the process was hardly managed, the key won’t come out of ignition.

 Although the debris can grow along with time, you may clean them regularly. Especially if you are a worker with sticky materials, you may use a hanger for the car on your belt. Also, you must remember not to use sharpening or metallic tools to clean the car key. Because scraping or hard removal of the debris may damage that car key. Rubbing alcohol, cotton swabs, and clean cloth will be enough.

A dead battery is also a reason for Car Key Stuck In Ignition

As you already know the ignition system depends on the power supply. When there is not enough power on the supply to keep the ignition going on, the entire ignition system will lock. Having a dead battery is the best example of this situation. You need to know that having a key stuck in an ignition is not the worst thing that can happen. It means that the car will not be able to start and function along with the stuck key.

There are plenty of ways to have a dead battery. Having a failed alternator, broken cable, a short in the electrical system and an expired battery are a few of the causes to have a dead battery. As the warning signs, you may see that the Battery Icon is either blinking or appearing on the dashboard. It is vital to take those signs seriously as delaying such warnings could end up as having a key stuck in the ignition. Also, sticking the key in the ignition is not the worst thing.

You will have to bear the extra expenditure for other broken parts such as the alternator, cables, battery, and plugs.  You have to wait for a jump start or a new battery to take the key out of the ignition. Since the battery has suddenly stopped working, a scanning will have to be conducted to program the car as well.

Worn Car Key

If you get a key stuck in the ignition, a worn car key will be one of the reasons. When you insert the key into the ignition, there will not be enough grip in the lock. If you are struggling to insert the car key and turn the ignition, you will see difficulties in the process.

After those signs, you will get a key stuck in ignition. It is normal to get the key worn as the key is made of nickel silver and it is still metal. If you have a worn car key, it means that you have got full use of the key. But, accelerating the key wearing is a matter you need to bother. Because a worn car key is an incident that can happen after decades.

Losing its shape, wearing the edges, having rounded shapes in corners, and some broken edges might cause fatal errors in the need. You should not wait until the car key stops working and replace the lock system to avoid further expenses. The best thing you may afford is duplicating the key before it sucks in the ignition. Although most car owners use remote unlocking systems, old car owners might have to unlock the car manually. But, you may still install a remote car unlock system for your old car.

Wrong Key

When it comes to the silliest reason to have a key stuck in ignition, is having the wrong key to unlock the vehicle. If you are reading this article with the given issue, you will not be the first to have this cause.  As the car owner, you should be able to identify its shape and nature under low light. If you are truly a car lover, having touched the key will be quite enough to say the key is for your car.

You should note that you can damage the ignition cylinder in two ways, inserting the wrong key and taking it out of the cylinders. Since you have already inserted the wrong key and damaged the alignment, you might think that everything has happened. But, you may still damage it by pulling the car key forcibly. The best thing is to know if it is due to a wrong car key. You may launch a search to get the real key.

After the confirmation has been made that the wrong key is stuck in the ignition, you may try wiggling the key and pull the key gently. Then you may try rotating the key to taking it out of the ignition. Also, you must always remember not to put extra pressure on the ignition when pulling out the key as the key can split into parts in the ignition cylinder. If the problem remains, you will have to call for a key Smith to fix the issue.

Jammed Ignition Cylinder

You must have the idea that both cylinder and the key are related to each other. When having a troubled ignition cylinder, the key will not come out of the ignition.  If you use a worn, misshaped, or wrong key in the cylinder, the cylinder will change its original shape. This is caused by misaligned wafers in the ignition.

Although you try to rotate the key or take the key out of the ignition, difficulties will arise. Even if it is you who manage to insert and take the key out of the ignition earlier, you will get a stuck key in the ignition in the end. Although you managed to clean the key by removing the debris, the ignition cylinder remains the same. What you have to do is to replace the ignition cylinder along with its parts.

If you have a registered vehicle dealer in the area, you will be able to create a new key by showing your ID. You will start the car with a new mechanical key. If you still keep getting the difficulties,   WD40 will have to be sprayed into the ignition cylinder. Bumping the ignition cylinder while jiggling the key is a good way to take the key out of a stuck ignition cylinder.

Not Turning-Off The Car Properly

As one of the basic rules for any car, you must have turned off the car before taking the switch off the ignition.  Although it seems impossible, some of the car drivers find themselves frustrated with a key stuck in ignition due to this simple reason.

As a driver, you should remember that you must rotate the key to the right position to take the key out of the ignition. Sometimes you receive a call from your home or get to do a task inside the car regarding the office work. In this situation, drivers forget at which stage they fell back to work.

This is a normal situation for those who have a bit old cars. When it comes to the latest automobiles, they have got the Push Start feature which allows the driver to start the car without putting the key into the ignition. You should remember as the owner that these small incidents can damage the ignition cylinder by damaging its inside parts as well. If you find that “The Car That Has Not Been Turned Off” is not responsible for not having a key stuck in ignition, you will have to refer to the rest of the 08 reasons your car key stuck in ignition and how to resolve it.

How To Remove The key stuck in the ignition

You need to remember that the way to get into the work is relative according to the situation you have faced. Even if you have identified the reason to have a key stuck in the ignition, you must wait until a keysmith inspects the reason and confirms it. Below tips that will help you to manage things.

Do The Basics

There are small things that you can try as the first steps. Jiggling the key in the cylinder, checking if the parking is set in the transmission, checking if it is the right key in the ignition cylinder, and jiggling the steering wheel are a few of the basics to fix a key stuck in ignition. Also, you need to remember that these are the best options for a person who is experiencing a stuck key for the first time as well. If it is a repeated thing, you will have to try other options.

WD – 40 Spray

It is one of the most effective things against a sticky key inside the hole. You may find a smart straw most of the time which helps you to send the spray efficiently. You should manage to direct the liquid into the space between the key and the ignition cylinder to lubricate the key properly. After lubricating sufficiently you must try pulling the key with a slight wiggling and rotating force. If the key has enough debris to block the way out, WD – 40 spray will fix it. If this doesn’t work either, you will have to turn in other complicated steps as well.

Rubbing Alcohol Is Also An Option

As a person who has been in a rush, you might not be able to find the recommended WD – 40 spray. But, you will be happy to know that Rubbing Alcohol is such a solution for a stuck key in the ignition system. Also, the surgical spirit is useful instead of the mentioned liquids.

Checks and Fixes

As a person with a bit of experience, you should be able to check few things if needed when fixing a stuck key in the ignition. As the very first thing to check out of the cabin, you should check the battery. Since you are not able to check the battery status properly (You can still turn on the cabin light to check if the battery is dead), you will have to diagnose the car battery. Also, lose wire connections will not allow the ignition to work.

In addition to the battery, the car’s computer box, ignition system, cables, and wiring are the next things you need to check as the main factors to cause this issue.

Note : Broken Car Keys Are More Common than You can Imagine

You are not the first person to have a broken key inside the car’s keyhole. There are many ways to take the rest of the key out of the cylinder ignition. But, to do that you should be aware of the best tools according to the situation. Also, it is vital to remember that you must not insert the upper half of the broken key to take the other part out. What you about to do will make things worse by sending the broken part further into the hole.

Key Extractor

As the most eligible tool, you may use this tool to drag the rest of the key. As a professional tool, there will be minimal damage to the cylinder. Also, you will not need a mechanic if it is available for your work.

Jigsaw Blade

Since jigsaw blades are a thing and adaptive to small spaces, you will be able to take the key stuck in ignition cylinder pretty smartly. You should turn the inserted blade after the insertion of the blade so that it will find the broken key.

Needle Nose Pliers

These types of pliers are the easiest to find for a person who is in a rush. You mustn’t get many results if the broken key is completely in the ignition cylinder in the ignition mode. Since the pliers can’t do much work in the cylinder, you should not rotate the key unnecessarily when not coming out easily. What you miss is an easy chance to get the keys out.


A stuck key in the ignition is neither a rare incident nor a miracle to show off. You must act smartly after confirming it has stuck in the cylinder.  What you do soon after the key is stuck in the ignition will define whether you are going to spend minutes or hours on this task. Finding the reasons for having a key stuck in an ignition is not more important than working on the stuck key. This is the first and most important thing you should remember as a car owner in a similar situation.  Although it is a Toyota, Honda, Rolls Royce, or a Subaru key that has stuck in ignition, these factors are important for you to note. It means that your car is not the one who defines the errors but you as the car owner.

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