A frozen or hard-to-turn ignition key is more than just a nuisance. It could mean a serious repair is in your future if you ignore the symptoms.
How this system works:
A car's ignition switch serves two purposes. First, it controls the power to many of the car's accessories, such as the radio, preventing them from running down the car's battery when the vehicle is parked for prolonged periods of time. More importantly, the ignition bridges the gap between the starter and the battery, so the battery can send a powerful surge of electricity to the starter to “start” the car. If your ignition key doesn't turn, you can't start the car, and thus, you can’t drive anywhere.
Common reasons for this to happen:
Locked steering wheel
Most modern vehicles have built-in theft-protection features that “lock” the steering wheel when you remove the key from the ignition. Thieves aren't able to steal a car if they can't drive it away. Some steering columns lock in such a way that requires you to first “unlock” them before you can turn the ignition key.
Debris jammed in the ignition switch
An ignition can be extremely fragile. Dirt, lint, or other debris from your pocket or purse might become stuck to the key and, thus, pushed down into the ignition lock cylinder, causing it to seize or get jammed.
Worn, damaged, or bent key
Car keys are pretty durable, but they are not indestructible. If the key doesn’t sit firmly into the locking cylinder, or if the ridges of the key have worn down with age, the tumblers inside the lock cylinder may not unlock or turn.
Worn, damaged or failed ignition lock cylinder
This is one of your car's primary security features and the place where you insert the key to start the vehicle. It is connected to the ignition lock electrical assembly/ignition switch. A worn lock cylinder may prevent the key from being fully inserted, or make the key difficult to remove.
What to expect:
A top-rated mobile mechanic will come to your home or office to determine the cause of the ignition system issue, and will then provide a detailed inspection report that includes the scope and cost of the necessary repairs.
How important is this service?
Many ignition problems are easily remedied. Should a more involved service be necessary, it may be the difference between being able to reliably start your engine or being stuck with an inoperable car. Book a mechanic for a thorough inspection as soon as possible.