Car Key Won’t Turn In Ignition : Causes & How To Fix It

Key in ignition

The key won’t turn in the ignition, there is an ignition-related problem in vehicles. Due to this problem, the key in the vehicle’s ignition switch system does not turn, and the ignition system is unable to turn on. In many cases, the steering wheel stops locking or may get stuck in the locking position. As a result, it becomes impossible to drive the vehicle.

In fact, there can be many reasons why a key won’t turn in the ignition. After checking these reasons, work should be done to solve this problem. In this post, we will discuss in detail the causes and fixes for keys that won’t turn in the ignition.

Why Won’t My Key Turn in Ignition – Causes

If the car key won’t turn in the ignition, common causes are a damaged or mismatched key, a seized steering lock, a jammed ignition cylinder, or debris in the ignition lock.

Let us know in detail the reasons for the key not turning in the ignition, so that you can make possible efforts to fix it.

1. Bent or Worn Key

Often, vehicles’ ignition switches and keys wear out over time with constant use, causing the key to become bent or worn, rendering the ignition lock unable to function efficiently. Because a worn key may not engage properly with the teeth of the ignition lock, the key may stop moving or get stuck in the ignition.

2. Dirt or Debris in Ignition Switch

Often, when the ignition switch of a vehicle is used for a long time, dirt and debris accumulate in it, causing the ignition lock switch to jam. This causes the key not to turn in the ignition or to get stuck. However, metal shavings from rubbing the teeth of the ignition switch and key can also cause the key to not turn in the ignition.

3. Lack of Lubrication

Sometimes in vehicles, the ignition lock switch can corrode when debris or water enters it, and there is a lack of lubrication between the teeth of the lock and the key, causing the key to not engage properly with the ignition lock. This can result in the key not turning in the ignition or the key becoming hard to turn and getting stuck.

4. Ignition Switch Lock Failure

The ignition switch consists of a cylinder that is rotated by the key. The teeth in the ignition switch cylinder correspond to the teeth of the key, so that the ignition switch lock is operated only by the selected key. But many times the teeth of the ignition switch cylinder get worn or there is an internal fault in it, due to which the key does not move in the ignition or gets stuck.

5. Engaged Steering Lock

Often, in vehicles, the key will not turn in the ignition even when the steering lock is engaged. Because of the position of the steering wheel lock, the ignition lock is stuck, and the steering wheel maintains constant pressure on the lock, resulting in the key not turning in the ignition. If the key is turned with excessive force in this position, the key and ignition switch lock may also be damaged.

6. Use Mismatched Keys

In many cases, an unseen or mismatched key is placed in the ignition switch when there is more than one key in the keychain. For this reason, the unmatched key does not engage with the ignition switch lock, and the key does not move in the ignition. In most cases, a misplaced key will not enter the ignition switch, even if a worn key goes into the ignition switch lock, the key cannot turn the ignition.

7. Gear Shifter Not in Neutral or Parked Mode

Often, in vehicles with an automatic transmission, the gear shift lever is not in the parked mode or neutral position, even if the key does not move in the ignition. This is done for the purpose of security in automatic transmission vehicles.

What To Do When Key Won’t Turn in Ignition?

When your key will not turn in the ignition, try turning the steering wheel slightly while attempting to turn the key. Because the steering wheel may be locked, preventing the key from turning in the ignition. Also ensure that the vehicle is in park or neutral mode and that the clutch for a manual transmission is properly engaged.

If this problem persists, lubricate the ignition lock cylinder and turn the key. If you do not get success even after all these processes, then contact a professional locksmith or mechanic so that this problem can be solved properly.

How To Fix An Ignition Key That Won’t Turn

If your key is not turning in the ignition of your vehicle, there are a few solutions and tests you can try to fix it.

1. Check The Key

If your vehicle’s key will not turn in the ignition, inspect the key for signs of damage, such as bends or excessive wear. If the key is damaged, you must obtain a replacement key from your vehicle manufacturer.

2. Lubricate The Ignition Cylinder

Over time, water and debris can build up or dry out in the ignition cylinder, making it difficult to turn the key. So on a regular basis, apply a small amount of lubrication to the key, insert it into the ignition, and turn the key back and forth slowly.

3. Unlock Steering Wheel Lock

Sometimes, the steering wheel may lock up, leaving the key unable to turn. In this case, try turning the steering wheel in both directions while you try to turn the key. This action will relieve pressure on the steering wheel lock mechanism and allow the key to turn.

4. Check Battery & Electrical Issue

In some cases, electrical issues or a weak battery can disrupt the functioning of the ignition system. So in this case, make sure that the battery is fully charged and the wiring connections are secure. If the battery is in good condition but the key is still unable to turn in the ignition, you should have a professional inspect the electrical system.

5. Ignition Switch Problems

In many cases, the key is fine, but the ignition switch itself may be faulty or damaged. If you have tried all other procedures and the key still will not turn, the ignition switch should be diagnosed and repaired by a qualified mechanic or locksmith.

6. Shake Gear Shifter Lever

Often, in automatic transmission vehicles, the gear shifter lever is not in PARK or NEUTRAL mode, and the key will not turn in the ignition. so you should shake the gear shifter selector in an effort to turn the key.

Steering Wheel Not Locked But Key Won’t Turn

If your vehicle’s steering wheel is not locked but the key still won’t turn, gently turn the steering wheel left and right while attempting to turn the key. Sometimes, the steering wheel can put pressure on the ignition lock, making it difficult to turn the key. If the key still won’t turn, your vehicle’s ignition cylinder or key may be damaged, so contact a professional or locksmith to diagnose and fix the problem.


Q. How to Remove Key Stuck in Ignition?

If the key is stuck in your vehicle’s ignition, you should try to slowly turn the steering wheel in either direction to release it, allowing you to remove the key from the ignition.

Q. What to do when the battery is dead and the key is stuck in the ignition?

In this case, you should try to jump-start your vehicle with a different battery. With this, you should use the manual release feature. If the key is still not releasing from the ignition, then you should contact the roadside helpline or call a locksmith.

Q. Why Won’t My Key Turn in The Ignition?

In most cases, the key won’t turn in ignition can also be caused by the gear shifter lever not being in the park or neutral position.

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