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My Car Key Won’t Turn in Ignition – 5 Causes & Fixes

Fact checked by Teddy B.Miller

my car key won't turn in ignition

To address the issue of “my car key won’t turn in ignition”, try gently wiggling the key inside the lock to assist the current flow.

If the battery runs out, the ignition not turning can automatically be cut off. The key will then be unable to be removed from the ignition. In this circumstance, the optimal course of action is to wait for the battery to self-activate or install a new one.

Common Reasons for Not Turning Ignition Key

You might be wondering, “why is my ignition locked”, problems with your car’s when the key won’t turn in car ignition can aggravate, particularly if the key will not turn. Understanding the prevalent causes of this issue will save you time, money, and tension.

1. The Steering Wheel is Locked


When the ignition key is removed, the steering wheel is now locked, and the key won’t turn. The locking mechanism engages when the steering wheel is rotated sharply to one side or the other while the ignition key won’t turn.

This mechanism serves as a protective measure for your vehicle as it effectively disables the steering column.

When attempting to initiate the ignition process in this circumstance, the key becomes unyielding and refuses to move.

2. The Ignition Wafers Might Be Damaged


Damaged ignition wafers may cause your car key won’t turn to the off position. gnition wafers are small, flat metal pieces that are designed to align with corresponding grooves on the key. This allows the wafers to move freely, enabling the functioning of the ignition system.

Unfortunately, ignition wafers can become worn out, bent, or damaged over time, making them no longer align properly with the grooves on the key. As a result, when you attempt to turn the key to the off position, it may encounter resistance or become completely stuck.

3. It is Not in a Park or Neutral Position


A mechanism stops the ignition from turning on when the gear shifter is not in the Park or Neutral position. This keeps the car from moving by mistake. This is a safety measure to keep accidents or damage from happening.

But if you drive a car with manual gear, you don’t have to worry about this. There isn’t the same safety feature on manual transmissions, so the key can still turn or unlock ignition no matter where the gear shifter is.

4. There is a Damaged Ignition Lock Cylinder


When the key is not turning in a car, one possible explanation is the ignition switch won’t turn or the cylinder is broken. This can happen when something is in the keyway that keeps the teeth from lining up right.

If the issue persists, professional help may be needed to remove the ignition cylinder to inspect for damage. Prompt attention is essential for proper ignition functionality.

5. A Key Problem


One reason why the ignition won’t turn is if the key is old, broken, or worn out. When a key gets bent or twisted, the pins in the cylinder may not line up right. If this happens, the key may not be recognized when it is put in.

Sometimes, a worn-out key might still look like the original, making it hard to figure out what’s wrong. Also, dirt or other things on the key can make it hard for the cylinder to recognize it. This is especially true if the key is kept in a pocket or bag, where dust and dirt can gather. In these situations, it’s important to check the state of the key.

How to Fix It  

We’ll discuss how to fix a car key that won’t start. We’ll walk you through fixing a broken key, ignition lock cylinder, or any other common issue.

1. Turn Your Steering Wheel


When you can’t turn the key in ignition in any car variety like honda, toyota, volkswagen, it might be that the steering wheels are locked, keeping them in place.

First, turn your steering wheel gently left and right while applying slight pressure on the key. Sometimes, the steering wheel lock can create resistance, preventing the key from turning.

2. Try Lubricating the Lock


Another method is to try lubricating the lock cylinder. Apply a small amount of graphite lubricant or a silicone-based spray to the lock. This can help loosen any debris or sticking components within the lock mechanism, allowing the key to turn more easily.

If this does not resolve the issue, there are additional steps to investigate, so do not worry. Let’s discover the next troubleshooting strategies to resolve this critical issue.

3. Inspect the Battery or Gear Shift


It’s important to inspect the battery and gear shift. Ensure that your vehicle’s battery is charged and in good condition, as a weak battery can sometimes cause ignition which won’t turn over. If your car has an automatic transmission, make sure it is fully in the “Park” or “Neutral” position before attempting to turn the key.

Your ignition problem may be solved by inspecting the gear change and battery. Your car’s potential is not locked, you can troubleshoot it.


What is the main reason that an ignition is locked up?

A dead battery can be the main reason. The battery powers the device that makes the car start. If the battery dies, the key will not turn in the engine. Then you won’t be able to take the key out of the ignition.

Other common reasons might be a faulty ignition switch, ignition cylinder or damaged key. A locked position can lead to fatal situations, so you should always check for any strange sign with your car to prevent such cases.

Can I try a different key to see if that works?

Yes, if you have an extra key, you can try to use it to find out if the problem is with the key itself. If the spare key starts the car, the problem may be with the first key.


When my car key won’t turn in ignition, it is annoying. But if you know how to fix the problem and have the right information, you can get past this problem quickly and get back on the road.

Remember to try turning the steering wheel, greasing the lock, checking the gear shift or battery, and if that doesn’t work, call a professional. By fixing these common problems, your chances of turning the key and getting your car to start will increase.

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