When Car Key Won’t Turn

Can you think of the worst scenario that can possibly take place when you are headed out to your car to go out? There is a lot that can go wrong, but what takes the cake is when you put your car key inside, and it won’t turn the ignition.

Even though these don’t happen with a warning sign attached to your car, however, it does show symptoms, but most people ignore it till it is too late. Have you thought about the methods you can try to get it working? Well, we have it! Let’s see what to do when the car key won’t turn!

What to Do When Car Key Won’t Turn:

Turn the Steering Wheel:

One of the very big reasons for the car key to not turn is if the steering wheel is locked. This occurs when the steering wheel has not been moved prior to the removal of the key from the ignition cylinder. There are ways you can prevent it, which include:

  • Turn the wheel to both rights and left
  • Observe and note the direction where the wheel cannot be turned to and also the direction it has given.
  • Next step is to pull the steering wheel in that direction and keep it just there
  • It is essential to keep the key towards the accessory position while the steering wheel is turned in a direction.
  • Even then if it does not work, try rocking the wheel simultaneously as you turn the key
  • If nothing gives, you can provide one last try by steering the wheel while jiggling the key in the ignition.

You can combine your methods of turning the wheel and moving the key as long as it does give in. However, if it does, it will result in an unlocked steering wheel, consequently starting the car.

Lubricate the lock:

A widespread cause of this problem is the jammed-up keyway of the ignition cylinder. This can be easily taken care of by just lubricating the lock. The most recommended lubricant to use for this scenario is a lubricant consisting of silicon or graphite.

It is important to know that basically, you are looking for something which is beneficial for jamming the lock’s internals greatly. There is always a way to do things right. The order here is as follows:

  • Get your lubricant, key, and cloth
  • Spray the lubricant in the keyway
  • Clean away any form of leakage or extra liquid from the keyhole
  • Try inserting the key or jiggling it till it works
  • Trying adding extra lubricant if it does not work

However, the lubricant is not the answer to every serious ignition failure.

Rapping the key:

When you observe and note that the situation cannot be solved by merely using lubricant to unjam your lock, you may have to take severe measures. Rapping means shaking or whacking the internal components in the lock into an accurate position.

You do not necessarily need to use a hammer for it to work. Any tool which can stimulate vibration will work to be able to move the insides of your lock easily without shaking your key and car.

  • Insert the car key in the car’s ignition
  • Use the tool of your choice whilst turning the key
  • If this does not work out, you may use your tool on the ignition cylinder

This process is a little sensitive as if the right amount of force is not implemented, it could just backfire and damage your key or ignition instead.

Fix the key:

Sometimes the key may just be the sole cause of why your key won’t turn the ignition. Hence addressing this particular problem can just provide the right solution. For all, you know you could just be using a faulty or broken key.

It can, however, be fixed for some cases depending on the severity of the damage.  One of the essential first steps in this process is to assess why the key is not working.

  • Try using a spare key
  • Compare and analyze the differences with the key that won’t work
  • Look for any kind of wear of the key
  • Observe any twists or bends

Fixing keys is easy; the hard part is to note down the problem of the key to be solved. Hence the problem or issue should be transparent enough to be able to work out.

Replace the key:

The easiest way to deal with a problem with your key is to get it replaced with a new one. However, the cost of the key may vary. There are many methods to copy a broken or damaged key.

Replace the Ignition cylinder:

A faulty or damaged ignition cylinder is often something to worry about when your key is not the core reason for your car key to not turn in the ignition. Replacing the cylinder does not necessarily mean replacing the entire thing.

Purchasing the right cylinder for your vehicle is of paramount importance. This process may, however, demand to rekey to fix the problem as it will provide a unique ignition key.


So whenever you are confused as to “why my key won’t turn in the ignition?” these are the simple methods you can try to fix your problem and ensure the smooth running of your vehicle. The best way to deal with a problem is to keep it simple.

Hence these are some of the simplest methods that one can go through before resorting to any other complicated methods. So no more scratching your heads over “What to do when car key won’t turn?” readers!

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