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Most people have no clue that their car key can get stuck in their ignition lock—until the frustrating situation occurs, often with no warning signs. Even if you’ve noticed your key sticking here and there in your ignition lock, you probably didn’t pay much attention, too busy with other concerns. Having your car key get stuck in your ignition lock can be frustrating enough to make you want to tear your hair out. You wonder how you’re going to resolve the situation and who to turn to so that the problem is fixed quickly without draining your wallet. We’ve compiled a list of tips to help you through this stressful situation.
A few words of caution before you proceed. First, ensure that your vehicle’s parking brake is set. This is to prevent your vehicle from moving if you do end up rapidly turning your key in the ignition lock while attempting to free it. It’s not worth it to have your car hit another if you’re in a parking lot, for example. Second, take a deep breath and keep calm. It’s natural for people to get anxious when faced with an unexpected locksmith emergency, but giving in to that tendency and allowing it to carry you into panic. This will not only cause you to become needlessly upset, but may encourage you to act in a manner that is not in your best interest. Instead, take a few deep breaths and center yourself before proceeding.
Using a flashlight or the light from your phone, investigate the lock closely. You probably won’t be able to see much from the outside, but you may be able to identify if there’s any dirt or dust wedged inside the key. It’s important to keep your key clean and never use it for anything other than its intended purpose, or this can transfer grime to the interior of your lock cylinder. You can clean your lock cylinder of such obstructions using a can of compressed air. Never use a damaged key in the lock, as this can ruin the pins inside of the lock and necessitate an ignition lock replacement. If your key is stuck due to such an obstruction or damage, you probably won’t be able to free it without the help of a professional with the right tools.
Generally, most models of vehicles have numerous safety features you may not be aware of, including a measure that prevents you from removing your key from the ignition lock when the key is engaged. If your vehicle is older and your steering wheel is beginning to show signs of wear and tear, the setting for your ignition may actually become touchier and you may need to ensure that your transmission is set exactly to park and not in between settings at all. Check to ensure that your transmission is actually in park. You may have to fiddle with the settings a little bit. This may be enough to free your key. If you do identify a problem with your ignition cylinder, such as signs of wear and tear, have them checked out by a locksmith or a mechanic as soon as possible to prevent a more serious issue.
Another safety feature along the same lines as the one listed above is for your key to become locked in place when the steering wheel is engaged. If, when you shut your vehicle off, you were applying a fair amount of pressure to your steering wheel, the pin inside maybe never have disengaged. This safety feature may seem like a nuisance, but it keeps your vehicle from moving at the wrong time and causing an accident. If you want to check to see if this is the issue, use one hand to put a moderate amount of pressure on the key and use your other hand to rock the steering wheel from side to side. If you feel any give during this process, leverage it to your advantage to push both the steering wheel and the key a little further over a few minutes. The steering wheel may kick loose and free the key, if this is the problem. If not, proceed to the next step.
This last step you can take before involving a professional. It’s important to note that you want to use moderate force and not too much, because that can cause your key to snap in two, leaving the metal part still stuck in your ignition lock. If you have a pair of pliers or a similar tool handy, use that to get a good grip on the key. Otherwise, you can just use your hand. Grip the key as firmly as possible at the base of the fob and push it forward as far as you can before pulling it backward. Alternate attempts to push and pull the key with significant pressure between attempts to wiggle it rapidly, which can help disengage the key from whatever is holding it still. You can attempt this for a while as it may take a few minutes to take effect.
A professional automotive locksmith company, such as Locksmith Tucker LLC, of Tucker, Georgia, can come directly to your location to assist you with issues such as your key getting stuck in your ignition cylinder. Most automotive locksmiths are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in order to assist you with emergencies such as these, and there’s no cause for towing or other obstructions to get you the service you need to use your vehicle again. If it turns out that the problem is caused by a damaged ignition cylinder, a qualified automotive locksmith will be able to change out your ignition cylinder on site for a relatively low price.