What to Do When a Car Key is Stuck in Ignition

For the most part, you will seldom have any issues with your car’s locks and keys. They are designed to maximize your automotive security, with newest technologies continuously working to meet the most current protection demands of all vehicle owners. Unfortunately, nothing in this world is ever fully immune of damage. Sometimes, the most common automotive hitches can spring up on you unexpectedly – and this quite common in the case of a key that is stuck in ignition.

A key may become stuck after your ignition cylinder has become worn and torn inside. This could be because of aging, or simply due to an unnecessary amount of stress – heavy keyrings can actually accelerate this process. With a key that is difficult to insert and extract comes power interference, which could eventually lead to your key no longer being able to fit inside the cylinder at all.

So you got into your car, tried to turn the key and it simply won’t budge. Now what? That’s what we hope to shed some light unto today.

Your best resort is always to contact a qualified professional. Replacing an ignition cylinder or trying to force the key out will likely lead to a lot of damage. Not an ideal scenario when an expensive vehicle is at the fore of your worries. Besides, a stuck key could be a sign of even bigger problems than you imagined – you could be dealing with a broken key that needs to be extracted, for instance, or a cylinder that needs to be fully replaced.

If you are reasonably savvy with DIY fixes, there are a few quick checks you can do before calling a locksmith. But only proceed with the following steps if you feel confident about your abilities to do so without incurring any damage. Otherwise, get in touch with an automotive lock and key services provider in your area, pronto!

Basic checks you can do before hiring a locksmith

Make sure your key is turned to the “off” position

In the simplest of cases, all you need to do when a key is stuck in your ignition is check its positioning. It’s quite common for people who are rushing to get somewhere to forget to take the key out of the “on” position before trying to remove it. Try turning the key and, if doesn’t budge, proceed to the next step.

Check if you can move the steering wheel

You won’t be able to remove your key from the ignition if the steering wheel is in lock position. Try moving the wheel from side to side, gently attempting to move the key at the same time. Be really careful when doing this – tugging at the key too tightly will cause it to break inside.

Is your battery working? 

If you were able to turn the ignition, but the car wouldn’t start, then you might be dealing with a dead battery. In this situation, it’s likely you won’t be able to disengage the key until the battery has been replaced.

One thing to keep in mind: Faulty anti-theft devices can cause ignition cylinder problems too. If you can see the anti-theft lights flashing, that’s where your issues lie.  If in doubt, ask a locksmith.

Try jacking up the car

But only do this if you have the tools, the experience, and a safe enough spot to perform the task at hand. Hoist the car just until the wheels are off the ground, to enable you to move the steering wheel around more easily. Now, repeat the steering wheel movement mentioned in the second point above, with the car elevated, and see if that allows you to wriggle the key out of the ignition.

Are you at home? Try these quick hacks

If you have a hairdryer and a bag of ice, you could try these final fixes. First, the bag of ice trick: press it against the key for a few minutes – the idea is that the metal will contract, allowing you to dislodge the key from its position. Didn’t work? Then try the hairdryer: in theory, getting some heat onto the ignition cylinder should make the metal expand – after applying the warm air for a few minutes, gently try to remove the key.   

If none of the above has helped thus far, you definitely need the help of an automotive locksmith.

So how do I hire the right locksmith for the job?

The first thing to remember is that locksmiths come in many variations. Some exclusively focus on automotive matters, others may choose to specialize in home security, and a fair few may opt to go on the all-inclusive route. If you’re not sure your chosen professional offers the services you are looking for, just ask – free consultations are a standard procedure for these types of businesses anyway, they’re more than happy to answer customer queries.
For your peace of mind, plan in advance. Get a few recommendations for companies in your area (locksmiths outside your vicinity will you charge extra for mileage), and do some background checking on these as well. Things to check and inquire closely about include local client references (locksmiths shouldn’t balk at the idea of providing you with these), licensing and insurance information, and how long the business has been operating in the area. If you have the time to spare, read online reviews on your chosen lock and key services providers as well.

Always get a full price quote for the services you are looking for, and don’t be afraid to shop around. Make sure to ask about their rates for after-hours services, as many locksmiths charge more for this. Be wary of businesses who change their price quote upon arrival and never hire a professional you can’t trace a physical address back to.

Mableton Locksmith GA is always at the disposal of car owners in the Mableton, GA area. If your key is stuck in the ignition and none of the checks above worked, we will gladly inspect your issues for you. Call us to inquire about our services, and we’ll go from there.

We hope this blog post has helped all car owners understand what to do when a key is stuck in ignition. If in doubt, get in touch with an auto locksmith in your vicinity.