Q: key will not turn in ignition. steering wheel is locked. do I call mechanic or locksmith

asked by on December 15, 2016

key will not turn in ignition. At present, the steering wheel is locked. This has been happening randomly but mostly in the cold. Do I need a mechanic or a locksmith?

My car has 130000 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

Hi there:

Thanks for writing into YourMechanic.com. The truth is that you should always defer to a professional mobile mechanic to inspect and repair your ignition lock cylinder issue. However, before you begin to worry that something may be faulty or broken, here are some simple checks you can perform:

Check the key position: On the ignition switch, check to make sure that they key is in the lock position. As cylinders age, it gets easier to turn them beyond that point. This is especially true if the key has been attached to a variety of heavy objects, which gradually put added pressure on the cylinder and promote excessive wear.

Move the steering wheel: Try to move the steering wheel back and forth while gently removing the key from the lock position. Sometimes the steering wheel will lock, and when this happens, the ignition switch will keep your key locked in place until the steering system is unlocked. Don’t pull hard on the key at all. Just focus on getting movement from the steering wheel.

Test the parking position: Sometimes your car won’t lock into the park position. If you can still move the gearshift lever out of park after turning the vehicle off, your linkage may be out of adjustment or worn out. The shifter must always be locked in park to remove the key.

Check for a dead battery: Did the dashboard light up when the key was in the ‘on’ position? For many modern cars, a dead battery will keep you from removing the key since the chip in your key can’t be correctly identified by your vehicle’s theft-deterrent system.

If you try all of these and still can’t get the key to move; please contact one of our mobile mechanics to complete a key is stuck in ignition inspection; so they can determine what’s wrong and make the right repairs.

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