Not being able to turn the key in the ignition is a worrying moment, but there could be a simple explanation – and solution – for it, which means you might not have an expensive day.
One of the most panic-inducing moments for many drivers occurs when you do to turn the key in the ignition, but it refuses to budge. Sod’s law will say this happens when you are in a hurry to be somewhere, but what causes the problem? And how easy is it to fix? Follow our tips to diagnose the problem – and the next steps to take.
When the key won’t turn, often the first assumption is that there is a problem with the ignition switch or the ignition cylinder, but this might not be the case – and it could be something much simpler. Perhaps something so simple it is easily missed.
So before you call an auto locksmith, check the steering wheel – it could be that the steering wheel lock is on.
Steering column locks
Steering column locks have been a feature of cars for decades now and was one of the earliest anti-theft devices to be included as standard (after door locks – see our previous blog on that) on cars. The steering column lock is designed to immobilise a car unless the correct key is used in the ignition. Basically, the code in the key has to match the code in the security module or the car isn’t going anywhere.
However, the steering column lock can be engaged if the engine is turned off when the steering wheel has been turned – i.e. the wheels aren’t pointing forwards – or the wheel has been turned after the engine was switched off.
Don’t use brute force!
In situations like this, it is important not to try and force the ignition, key or steering wheel. Trying to use brute force to turn the key could well lead to breaking the key, which will lead to several other problems. If the key breaks, not only will you need a new key, but you will also need to get the broken key extracted from the ignition.
Both of these jobs would require the services of an auto locksmith, and this means expense. If you live in the East Midlands, Keyworx Auto Locksmiths can assist. Our experienced locksmiths can quickly extract a broken key from an ignition using specialist equipment that they carry on their vans. They can also cut and program a replacement key while you wait. For more information and a no-obligation quote that is competitive with any other auto locksmith in the East Midlands, call our friendly team on … or email …
Easy ways to free a steering wheel
However, if the problem is that the steering wheel has locked, there are some easy ways to free it up that don’t require you to ring for an auto locksmith.
Firstly, turning the wheel left and right can free up the ignition cylinder. If that doesn’t work, try rocking the steering wheel as you try to turn the key in the ignition – or try jiggling the key in the ignition while rocking the steering if that has no effect. Finally, try keeping the steering wheel turned in whichever direction its in as you try to turn the key.
But when do you this, it is important to remember to stop when you feel resistance from the steering wheel. Keeping on going when the wheel is resisting could cause other problems.
Mix up those methods if needs be, but whatever you do be patient because in most cases the steering will free up quickly and you should be able to start the car and get on your way.
Call an auto locksmith
If the above tips don’t work, then it is time to call an auto locksmith in. Don’t be tempted to try and fix the potential problem yourself as, unless you have some knowledge of car mechanics, you could end up causing more problems than you solve. However, an auto locksmith will be able to come out to wherever you are – in less than an hour in an emergency – and should be able to diagnose the problem quickly.
There could be one of several reasons why the key won’t move. It could be that there is a problem with the ignition itself or the barrel. It could also mean that the steering column lock has developed a fault or may need to be replaced. However, the auto locksmith will be able to tell you and either fix the problem there and then or advise you to seek help from a garage or dealership.
Key damage and spares
If you do accidentally damage your key due to the steering lock being on, then an auto locksmith will be able to cut and programme a new key while you wait – all locksmiths carry with them key cutting tools on their vans, as well as a range of blank keys, which means they can replace any key for any vehicle on the UK roads today, no matter how old it is or is marque or model.
However, it is always worth keeping a spare car key, just in case your main one breaks. Again, an auto locksmith will be happy to cut a spare key for you for a reasonable price – and more than likely cheaper than a main dealer would.
Whether you have a problem with the ignition, need a new or spare key cutting – or any other vehicle key-based problem – then give Keyworx Auto Lockmiths a call. One of our qualified technicians will be able to come out to you wherever you are in the East Midlands, day or night, and will usually be able to fix the problem while you wait.
Keyworx Auto Locksmiths’ prices are competitive with any other auto locksmiths in the East Midlands, so for more information, and a no-obligation quote, call one of our friendly yet professional team