Key Stuck in Ignition: Why It Happens and What You Should (and Shouldn’t) Do

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Starting a car with a key is something that most drivers do without much thought. It’s a simple process of inserting the key into the ignition, turning it, and driving away. However, this unremarkable process can become a major problem if something goes wrong—like the key getting stuck in the ignition. Imagine the frustration of realizing that your key won’t come out of ignition and you can’t remove it.

While this scenario may seem unlikely, it happens to countless drivers each year, and it can be a real headache. Unfortunately, no car with a standard key ignition is immune to this type of issue.

Dealing with a stuck key requires understanding the cause of the problem and taking appropriate action. So, while starting a car with a key may seem like a simple task, it’s important to be aware of potential issues and know how to handle them.

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5 Reasons Why My Key Is Stuck in the Ignition

If you’re panicking and thinking that “Oh no, my key is stuck in the ignition! What should I do?” Don’t fret! Before you come up with a solution, you must assess the root of the problem first. There could be various reasons why you have keys stuck in ignition. Some of these reasons may be more complicated than others. However, by identifying these possible causes, you can usually resolve the issue quickly.

Here are the answers to your question, “Why can’t i pull my key out of the ignition?”:

1. Not in Park Mode

Most modern automobiles will not let you remove your key from the ignition unless the gearbox is in park. This is a safety precaution used to prevent a vehicle from rolling away.

2. Locked Steering Wheel

Many automobiles’ steering wheels will lock in place if cranked too far in one direction while the ignition is switched off. Unfortunately, this also disables the ignition cylinder.

3. Dirt and Grime Buildup

The ignition cylinder of a car is prone to dirt and grime buildup over time. This can cause the tumblers of an ignition cylinder to become stuck, making it difficult to remove your key.

4. Broken Key

A broken key can also clog the tumblers of an ignition cylinder, making key extraction difficult. This is especially true if a key’s teeth become deformed or damaged.

5. Failed Ignition Cylinder

The ignition cylinder of a car, like any mechanical component, is prone to failure with age and wear. Individual tumblers in an ignition cylinder can collapse and trap a key.

How To Fix a Stuck Car Key

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There are various methods for removing a jammed key from your vehicle’s ignition. Choosing the best of these approaches for your specific scenario is typically the key to success. The following are some of the simplest methods for removing a jammed key from a vehicle’s ignition cylinder.

1. Jiggle the key.

A worn ignition cylinder cap often traps a key, preventing it from being taken out. A quick jiggle of your key is sometimes all that is necessary to free it. However, make sure to do it gently to prevent breaking the key.

2. Remove the rubbish.

A key can become trapped in a vehicle’s ignition cylinder owing to a buildup of grime and debris in some situations. A little squirt of penetrating oil or a spray of compressed air may typically remove this buildup.

3. Unlock the steering wheel.

Many automobiles’ steering wheels lock in place if they are rotated too far in one direction after being switched off. This security feature, unfortunately, traps the key in the ignition. To disengage the locking mechanism, just switch the ignition back to the “on” position and turn the steering wheel.

4. Shake the gear selector.

Certain automobiles will not let you recover a key unless the gearbox is in park. As a result, it may be required to jiggle a vehicle’s gear selector slightly in order to extricate a key from the ignition.

If this does not work, try turning the ignition to “on” while depressing the brake pedal and then reversing the vehicle’s gear selection.

What You Shouldn’t Do

It is important to avoid forcefully pulling on a stuck key in your vehicle’s ignition without any proper plan. This may result in the key breaking off, making the situation worse.

However, keep in mind that in most cases, you can still start your vehicle even if the key is stuck in the ignition. Therefore, the situation may not be as urgent as it seems.

If you are not comfortable trying the methods to remove the key on your own, it is best to seek help from a reputable automotive service center or locksmith. The cost of getting professional assistance is likely much less than the potential damage caused by frustration and incorrect handling of the situation.

What if the key breaks off?

When a key is broken off in a vehicle’s ignition, removing it becomes much more difficult. In actuality, you only have two feasible possibilities. The following are your best choices for recovering a broken key:

1. Try to remove the broken piece on your own using a pair of pliers.

In certain circumstances, pliers or vice-grips can be used to extract a broken key. This may only be tried if enough of the key’s neck protrudes from the ignition cylinder for a firm grasp.

2. Contact a locksmith.

If your key has been broken off flush with the face of the ignition cylinder or pliers have proven unsuccessful, you will need to contact a locksmith.

Someone with this experience, like a locksmith, will most likely be able to utilize specialized equipment to extract your car’s damaged key and can frequently produce a new key for your vehicle on the spot. In many circumstances, a locksmith can also diagnose the problem with your vehicle’s ignition cylinder.

Key Takeaway

An automobile key stuck in ignition may cause panic and an avenue for poor judgments. In fact, your day can even be ruined if you leave the key in the ignition. Fortunately, the majority of problems you may be experiencing are pretty simple to deal with and overcome. Several of them are as simple as adjusting the selection, wheel, or key. You can wiggle the key to check if it becomes loose.

When your key won’t come out of ignition, you need to figure out if it’s a long-term problem. If it wasn’t a fluke, you should address the underlying issue before you can’t get the key out at all. If you delay, you may find yourself in an even worse situation, prompting you to call a locksmith for aid.

Get in touch with us if you have a car key stuck in the ignition!

If you’re facing a key stuck in the ignition situation, it’s essential to know what to do to prevent further damage to your vehicle. Alexius Denver’s Locksmiths’ team of experts can provide valuable insights into the most common reasons for a key stuck in ignition and how to resolve it.

Don’t let this frustrating situation ruin your day! Contact us for all your locksmith needs, and our experts will provide you with fast and reliable automotive locksmith services in Aurora, CO. Our team of experienced professionals is dedicated to offering top-notch services to ensure your complete satisfaction, whether it’s to fix a key stuck in the ignition or replace a lost car key. You can trust us to get your vehicle back on the road in no time!

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