Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

Q: Why is my key not coming out of the ignition unless I disconnect the battery?

asked by on

Why is my key not coming out of the ignition unless I disconnect the battery?

My car has 120000 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

Your issue is very likely related to a component called a "shift lock". It’s a switch placed by the shift lever that only allows the key to be removed if the car is in park or neutral. This switch has to detect the shift lever is in one of those positions, and obviously is detecting otherwise. You will want to track down what is causing the miscommunication.

The first place to start is by checking the fuse box. You will have one or possibly two fuses related to this circuit. If both of those test good, the switch itself may need to be replaced.

One other issue that affect these switches is a physical obstruction. This can be caused by dirt, debris, or an object stuck in the area of the switch. The other way the switch can be physically obstructed is with a bent shift lever.

If you need some assistance with this repair, consider YourMechanic, as a certified technician can help diagnose the issue with your stuck key and help you make the necessary repairs.

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
  1. Home
  2. Questions
  3. Why is my key not coming out of the ignition unless I disconnect the battery?

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: Car misses

If you have went as far to do compression and leak down, I’ll assume the problem is not obvious. After those tests, you can be almost sure the mechanical components of the engine are good. Is it a random misfire...

Q: Air conditioning blowing warm air suddenly.

Hello, thank you for writing in. An air conditioner that is blowing warm is typically an issue with low refrigerant pressure. This can be due to a sudden leak, or it can be due to a failed A/C compressor. The...

Q: will a water pump fail without the temperature light showing?

When a water pump fails, it usually fails by seizing up. It is possible for a water pump to seize up without having any warning lights illuminated. Many times the water pump will make a noise because the bully is...

Related articles

What Causes Hoses to Leak?
While the largest part of your engine is mechanical, hydraulics plays a significant role. You’ll find fluids at work in a number of different areas. Your car's fluids include: Engine oil Transmission...
How Long Does a Heater Control Valve Last?
Keeping the right amount of coolant in a car is essential in keeping the engine at the right temperature. Failing to have the right amount of coolant or even bad elements...
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...