Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

Q: Key will insert and remove but won't turn. Already eliminated steering wheel lock by wiggling and turning key.

asked by on

Upon trying to start my 06 scion XA today my key would not turn. I wiggled it, wiggled steering wheel to ensure it was not steering locked. It finally became unstuck and started fine. Turned car off. Attempted again. Was fine a few times them wouldn't budge again. Repeated this a few times. Picked up some electric cleaner hoping maybe it was just stuck with gunk. Returned home. Sprayed it. It started. Then is stuck again once I turned off, removed key, reinserted. The steering wheel is locked. Key won't turn. Can only be put into ignition and pulled out. Have wiggled and turned to no avail. The only significant things that have happened since yesterday before this occurred is the following:

1) I have one key, its fairly worn. Got a spare made. Used the spare all day with no troubles. 2) I had battery neg terminal unhooked, ecu out and u plugged, cleaning my blower motor and filter. Returned everything to its place and car ran and started fine

No problems until this.

My car has 130000 miles.
My car has a manual transmission.

A: Hi there. It sounds like the ignition cylin...

Hi there. It sounds like the ignition cylinder may be worn. The cylinder can become worn just as the key. Over time, the metal inside the cylinder of the tumblers can become worn and stick or not provide the correct depth for the key to make proper contact. The tumblers inside the cylinder are moved upwards by the key to predetermined points that allow the cylinder to rotate; if any of these do not move enough, the cylinder will not turn. When you wiggled the key, all of the tumblers were eventually "bumped" into position that allowed the cylinder to turn. It sounds like there is sufficient wear in the cylinder to the point that bumping no longer works. I suggest having a qualified technician perform an inspection to avoid replacing unnecessary parts. Your Mechanic has several technicians available that can assist you with a key does not turn in the ignition inspection.

Was this answer helpful?

Need advice from certified mechanic? Get help now!

Over 1000 mechanics are ready to answer your question.
The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Ask a Mechanic
(100% Free)

Have a car question? Get free advice from our top-rated mechanics.

Ask A Mechanic
Over 10,000 questions answered!

Get an instant quote for your car

Our certified mechanics come to you ・Backed by 12-month, 12,000-mile guarantee・Fair and transparent pricing

Get a quote

What others are asking

Q: Engine noise at idling, Check Engine Light on

Hello. It is common for these cars to have problems with the camshaft gears making noise and causing the Engine Light to come on. If the problem persists, then damage to the motor is possible. It would be a good...

Q: Car Won't Start

I would first recommend determining what trouble codes are stored in your vehicles computer. This may help to determine while your vehicle is not starting. It is also possible that you could have a faulty starter. Many times when the...

Q: Loud humming sound

Hello. Yes, from what you described, it does sound like this is an issue with the wheel bearings. You can find instructions for replacing the wheel bearings on this page. If the problem persists after you have had this repaired,...

Related articles

What are the Car Pool Rules in Hawaii?
Hawaii is widely regarded as a land of vacation and relaxation, and as such, its scenic roads and routes are far better known than the state’s freeways. But, as with all...
P2428 OBD-II Trouble Code: Exhaust Gas Temperature Too High Bank 1
P2428 code definition A P2428 trouble code signifies that the PCM has detected a problem in the exhaust gas temperature sensor circuit in bank 1, which subsequently contains the number one...
How Much Does a Mechanic Make in Vermont?
Automotive technician jobs in Vermont have an average mechanic salary of $37k, with some mechanics earning a salary of $53k.