There are many frustrating ways to find yourself locked out. At the top of the list is a common complaint for many drivers: their vehicle key becomes stuck in the ignition. Any issue with your vehicle can mean hours lost on a busy workday, missed appointments and deadlines, and unnecessary exposure to inclement weather.
The first instinct of most people who experience problems with their ignition keys is to call a locksmith. But there are a few steps that can be taken on your own to help you troubleshoot, and even solve issues that may arise with your ignition key. Thanks to the guys at www.losangeleslocksmithpros.com, here are some valuable information on the subject.
What Causes Ignition Key Problems
There are actually several possible causes of issues with a vehicle’s ignition key. These can include:
– Loose wires somewhere inside the ignition mechanism
– A lock cylinder that has become jammed
– A shift interlock that has become out of order
– An issue with the cable in the steering column
What to Do If Your Ignition Key Gets Stuck
The most important thing anyone can do when an issue with the ignition has been discovered is not to panic. Panic can make a situation much worse than it actually is.
For a key that is stuck in the ignition, the first thing you might wish to try is to turn the steering wheel to the left, and then to the right. Then, try removing the key. If you were successful, then your problem has been resolved, and you can store this solution away in the event that it happens again.
If turning the steering wheel did not work, this could indicate damage to the wheel locking system. If this is the case, usually turning the steering wheel in a direction that’s opposite of the wheel position will help. This is because many times, the key can become stuck in the ignition when the car has been turned off with the wheels turned. Pressure builds in the steering column, causing the key to become stuck. However, once that pressure has been released, you will usually hear a click and be able to release the key.
If you find that your ignition key is stuck and you are not able to lock your vehicle, this may require more immediate attention. When this happens, it can commonly be attributed to the mechanism of the shifter. Issues with the shifter can also mean an out-of-order shift interlock, which may cause the airbags in your vehicle to deploy unexpectedly and cause you serious injury.
Some say that using lubricant spray can help your ignition key from becoming stuck. This can be sprayed on the car key itself. Another potential solution is white graphite powder, which can be used on the key as well. This will repel any dirt and debris from getting on the key, and ultimately into your ignition mechanism.
Although this may not go for everyone, it’s important to only use your ignition key in the ignition of your vehicle. Avoid using your key to open cans, as a screwdriver or as some other tool. This can damage the teeth on the key, causing future sticking problems.
Whatever you do, do not force-turn the key while it is in the ignition. Keys are made with soft metal, which means if you use tools to force the key to turn, the key can easily break off in the ignition-a much more complex and expensive problem than you originally started with. You can usually fix the problem in a few minutes of less by completing a few simple steps.
Problem: Your steering column lock may be applying pressure to the ignition mechanism, prohibiting it from turning.
Solution: First, you will need to try to find a position where your key is able to turn in the ignition. Apply pressure to the key, as if you were going to start you vehicle, and gently turn the wheel from left to right until the key is able to turn.
Problem: The car is in the wrong position.
Solution: Many vehicles will not let you start the engine if the car is not in “park” or “neutral.” Check to make sure your car is in park, then try to turn the ignition.
Problem: The lock cylinder is dirty.
Solution: Dirt and grime can prohibit your lock cylinder from functioning properly. Use electrical contact cleaner to remove the dirt from the mechanism. Then add a small drop of graphite lubricant. Do not use oil on the lock cylinder. Dust and dirt are attracted to oil. As the cylinders get dirtier, the tumblers will be prevented from moving, which means they will have trouble unlocking. Acceptable lubricants include graphite and silicone. Be sure to leave your car door open when cleaning the cylinder, as the fumes from the cleaner can be hazardous.
Problem: The tumbler is locked.
Solution: Tumblers (included on some lock cylinders) can get stuck in a locked position. Try tapping the lock cylinder with a tack hammer, which can cause the springs in the tumbler to release it from the locked position.
Problem: Your key is bent.
Solution: While this is not the most common problem, your key can become bent, which will prevent it from fitting correctly in the ignition, and turning. Your key may not be visibly crooked, so lay it on a flat surface to see if the key is bent. If your key is bent, use a wooden block (or similar tool) to gently tap it back into its original shape (while it is laying on a flat surface). Again, do not use a metal hammer or similar object to bend your key, as keys are made with soft metal and can break easily.