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

asked by on October 13, 2016

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.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

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

What others are asking

INDICATOR LIGHT (EXCLAMATION POINT) BLINKING

The exclamation point with a gear around indicates a transmission fault, which requires a professional scan tool to read and evaluate the codes. The fact that it resets every time makes me believe it is an electrical fault, but without...

Lights, radio, windows not working, SRS light on, car runs very rough

This is likely either a dead battery or a battery connection problem. Try checking the battery ground (black cable opposite end of the battery connection) to be sure is properly connected to the chassis of the car. An intermittent ground...

Vehicle does not start.

Hello, your car need three things to start: power, spark, and fuel. I would first and the battery cables cleaned to make sure that there is power getting to the ignition. A technician from YourMechanic can help you with this....

Electrical problems, now car won't start.

Consider yourself lucky that you made it home! Most stories like this end on the back of a tow truck, after a few hours waiting on the side of the road. Now, the good news is the symptoms you describe...

Car won't start.

Hello. The key you put in the ignition is a code key and may be defective. Try a different key if you have one. If this works, then you need to get extra keys made. If it still does the...

Can you put spark plugs and fuel injectors from a 1998 4.6L Expedition into a 2001 4.6L Expedition? (an auto parts store associate told me I could)

The spark plugs will not make any difference with the engine performance, however, the fuel injectors are different and will cause the computer to not operate the injectors properly. This is why the engine light came on with all of...

Occasional shaking and loss of engine power

Unfortunately, I don't have repair information for this vehicle yet. I've seen online that other people have experienced a similar problem accompanied by a Check Engine Light and code P0606, which stands for Fuel Pump Control Module. The solution is...

Car will not crank or turnover

Check for continuity in the fuse block that is adjacent to the positive battery terminal. The block will sometimes corrode (due to its proximity to the battery) causing a no start condition. The blocks are replaceable as a unit. Once...

Car radio randomly turns off by itself

Great question. A battery cell problem can't cause the radio to develop a problem, but a radio issue can certainly kill the battery. It sounds like your Sonic has something called parasitic battery drain. The radio may have been part...

Related articles

How Can I Prevent My Car Battery From Dying?
Your Your car battery is one of the most important parts of your car’s electrical system. Without the battery, your car simply isn’t going to work. Your battery works hard, and eventually, it’s going to wear out. So, how long...
Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Ignition Switch
If your car cannot start, starts but quickly dies, or has electrical components that stopped working, you may have to replace the ignition switch.
Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Battery Cable
If you experience problems starting and powering the car or find corrosion on the battery terminals, you may need to replace a battery cable.