I understand how angry it can make you. Imagine that you drive to your office and find that the key is stuck in the hole where it goes into the ignition. This is a really bad situation. You can’t just leave your car unlocked and go on with your day. Don’t worry, we’ll do what we can to help:
How to get the key out?
Ensure gear in parking position for automatic transmission
If you’re driving an automatic car, make sure the drive selector is in “park” or “neutral.”
Almost all modern cars have a safety feature that locks the key in the ignition if the shifter is not in the P or N position. It keeps things from going wrong if the car is left unattended on a slope or ramp. A car that isn’t being driven and rolls into traffic can do a lot of damage to people on foot and on the road.
I’m sure that when you park, you usually slide the shifter into P. But in today’s fast-paced world, it’s easy to miss this small but important step.
Get the steering wheel unlocked
The steering lock is another thing on cars that makes them harder to steal. If you try to turn the wheel when the key is not in the ignition position, the steering rack will lock. And if you leave the key in the ignition, it will also lock itself inside.
Before you can take the key out, you have to unlock the steering mechanism. You do this by pressing clockwise on the key that’s been inserted and jiggling the steering wheel in both clockwise and counterclockwise directions. You’ll find the point where the steering lock will unlock, letting you take the key out of the ignition.
Check for dead battery
Modern cars use batteries to power different parts. For the ignition system to work, it also needs electricity. If your car’s battery starts to die while the key is in the ignition, it might get stuck.
To get the key out, you would need to jump-start the car or get a new battery. You can also try to get the key out by tapping the ignition cylinder lightly with a small hammer.
Lubricate the ignition lock cylinder
The ignition cylinder is a piece of machinery, so it needs to be oiled every so often. The pins inside the locking mechanism slide over the key to tell if it’s the right key. This sliding of metal on metal can wear out both the key and the pins.
A dry graphite lube is the best thing to use to grease locks. Most locksmiths will tell you to do that. Dirt can also sometimes start to build up in the ignition cylinder. This acts like sandpaper and speeds up the wear.
This can be cleaned up well with WD-40 spray. Just put this straw of WD-40 into the keyhole and give it two or three quick sprays to get rid of all the dirt. This also keeps metal from getting rusty.
If the key is stuck, spray WD-40 into the hole and try to move the key around. If you add more oil to the ignition lock mechanism, it will work better.
If you try all this and still can’t get the key out of the ignition, please call a professional locksmith.
For now, you can lock the car with the spare key.
Common causes of stuck key in ignition hole
Excessive wear due to heavy key chain
We all like it when our keys are on keychains. But keychains that are too heavy can wear out the key cylinders. While you’re driving, the key always stays in the key hole.
But the keychain hanging from it acts like a pendulum and pulls on the key. Then, the key keeps rubbing against the pins in the ignition cylinder. Wear and tear will happen over time because of the constant grinding. So always choose a keychain that is simple.
Dirt and grime on the key
Dirt and grime can keep building up on car keys over time. We’ve dropped it a lot, used it to open Amazon packages, and dirt and grime keep getting on it. Because of this, the key doesn’t fit perfectly into the lock set. Over time, the pins can get out of place if you force a dirty key in and out. And one day, the pin gets stuck because it slips past the key. A dirty key can be cleaned with rubbing alcohol or alcohol sanitizer. A cotton swab can come in handy when you need to clean.
Corrosion inside ignition lock
The key and the mechanism that starts the car are both made of metal. Corrosion can damage the lock set over time. This is another good reason to spray WD-40 into the key hole every so often.
Damaged Ignition cylinder
Metal is bendable, and wear and tear do affect how well the Ignition mechanism works.
The tiny pins that move over the key when you push it in are the key’s main function. Since the pins are fragile, you have to be careful not to break them. Using dry graphite to lubricate the mechanism will help it last longer.
Worn out key
The key gets used a lot. If the key’s teeth are starting to look worn, you should get a new one before it gets stuck in the ignition.
Preventative steps to keep lock set in good condition
Make sure to spray WD-40 into the key hole every 6 months. Dry graphite lube also makes it easier for the lockset to work.
Don’t use your car key to cut courier packages’ packing tape. Turn the key inside the ignition slowly and not too hard.
But even if you do all this, you might still have trouble with your locks. So keep the number of a good locksmith on hand in case of an emergency. What to do if the engine turns over but the car won’t start?