How to Repair a Stuck Ignition Switch

Step 1 - All vehicles have a steering wheel lockout safety device that will not allow the steering wheel to turn when the key is in the "OFF" position.

ignition key

Step 2 - Vehicles equipped with power steering utilize a pump which maintains pressure while the engine is running. If the front wheels are turned when the engine is shut off, the system loses pressure and forces the steering against the lockout pin.

wheels turned

Step 3 - In this case grasp the steering wheel and apply pressure in the same direction as the wheels are turned, the lock pin will be relieved allowing the ignition key to be turned.

turn wheel key

Step 4 - Dirt and debris inside the key lock can cause the tumbler assembly to stick and jam, not allowing one or more of the key followers to operate. To service a key lock tumbler, spray pressurized air along with an aerosol cleaner into the lock assembly, once clean apply a light lubricant like liquid graphite or WD40 this can help the lock tumbler release inside the lock cylinder.

ignition key wont turn

Step 5 - Though is it difficult for us to recommend, but using a mallet and striking the ignition key multiple times can help loosen the tumbler and allow the key to turn. (used caution as not the break the key off in the lock). See The Video

hammer ignition key

Step 6 - Due to the nature of a lock, internal components can wear causing the lock to stop operating. In this case the ignition lock must be replaced.

ignition switch

Step 7 - In extreme conditions such as high mileage or a key chain adorned with many ornaments can wear the tumbler which causes the key not to work. If the door key is same as the ignition key, the door tumbler can be removed and a key made if no security chip is installed, (older cars).

weighted key chain

Step 8 - Most worn key problems will need a key ordered from the dealer using the vehicles VIN number.

vin number

Step 9 - Most vehicles with an automatic transmission utilize an interlock cable that prevents the transmission to be moved from the park position. If the gear shift selector is not completely in park it can cause the ignition switch to jam due to interlock misalignment. To fix simply move the gear shifter from park to drive then back into park again.

gear selector


Our certified technicians are ready to answer ignition switch questions for free. We hope you saved money and learned from this guide. We are creating a full set of car repair guides. Please subscribe to our 2CarPros YouTube channel and check back often for new videos which are uploaded regularly.

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