How To Fix A Locked Ignition Switch

Ignition Unlocking in Arizona

A locked ignition switch is one of the most common issues you will encounter with your car; and it is also one of the most frustrating. There are several reasons why your ignition will become locked, and if you want to fix it without calling a professional, you will have to troubleshoot the problem.

Ignition unlocking is not easy, but with some persistence and by following the guidelines in the step by step checklist below, you may be able to unlock your ignition without experiencing too many problems.

Your Locked Ignition Switch Checklist


Before you try to unlock your ignition, it is very important that you make sure that your parking brake is on, as you don’t want your car to roll away while you are working on it.

Below is a 7-point checklist to help you successfully unlock your ignition:

  1. Make Sure The Car Is In Park

If your car is an automatic transmission, make sure that the selector is in “park” because most automatic cars will not unlock the steering column, or start, unless the selector is in “park”.

  1. Check The Key

Check the key to make sure that it is not damaged in some way. If your key is bent, or simply worn down through wear and tear, then you may be in need of a new key. A good way to test whether the problem lies with your key and not your ignition is to first try to unlock the ignition with a spare key. If this does not work, then you know that the problem lies with the ignition lock.

  1. Unlock The Steering Wheel

A jammed steering column may be the cause of your locked ignition. By inserting the key in the ignition and turning it, whilst at the same time turning the steering wheel from left to right, you can unlock the steering column; if this is the problem then a few minutes of turning it to and fro and trying the lock, can unlock it.

  1. Lubricate And Clean The Lock

Sometimes all that is required for successful ignition unlocking issome routine maintenance. It is important to clean away any dirt and grime that may have collected on the ignition switch or steering lock. You can safely clean your ignition with electrical contact cleaner and you can use WD40 to lubricate the lock.

  1. Tap The Ignition

Sometimes a tumbler in the lock might be stuck and a light tap with a small hammer (like a tack hammer) can do the trick of releasing the stuck tumbler. This can however be risky, because if you are not careful and hit the ignition too hard you will cause damage and need to replace your ignition altogether; so be careful!

  1. Tap The Key

Another “trick” that often works is to insert the key into the ignition and tap the end of the key, whilst turning the key in the ignition. This can sometimes work, but again, if you hit the key too hard you will have to deal with a broken key stuck in your ignition.

Call A Professional

Ignition unlocking is an art and a science, and if you find that you are still not able to unlock your ignition, then it is time to call in the professionals. Your local Locksmith in Scottsadale is trained for this type of emergency, and often it is better to call a professional who will not only save you time, but will also ensure that no addition damage is caused to your car.

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