What to do when your car key won’t turn

Encountering a situation where your car key refuses to turn in the ignition can be immensely frustrating. Yet, before succumbing to panic or immediately calling for assistance, it’s crucial to grasp the potential reasons behind this issue and explore feasible solutions. This comprehensive guide outlines common causes for a malfunctioning car key and provides detailed steps to troubleshoot and resolve the problem effectively.

Check for damage to your car key

Begin by thoroughly examining your car key for any visible signs of damage, such as bends, cracks, or significant wear and tear. If any damage is detected, consider using a spare key if available. It’s crucial to avoid using a damaged key, as it may hinder proper engagement with the ignition cylinder, exacerbating the issue.

Unlocking the steering wheel

Sometimes, the steering wheel may become locked, hindering the turning of the key. To address this, gently attempt to turn the steering wheel left and right while simultaneously trying to turn the key in the ignition. Once the steering wheel is successfully unlocked, the key should turn smoothly.

Check gear position

Ensure that your vehicle is in the correct gear position, typically Park or Neutral, before attempting to start the engine. For manual transmission vehicles, ensure that the transmission is in neutral, and fully engage the clutch.

Battery inspection

A weak or dead battery can also impede the key from turning in the ignition. Utilise a multimeter to check the battery voltage, or seek professional assistance if you suspect battery-related issues. Jump-starting the vehicle or replacing the battery may be necessary to resolve the problem.

Address ignition cylinder problems

Over time, the ignition cylinder may become worn or damaged, causing difficulties in key turning. Apply a graphite-based lubricant to the key and insert it into the ignition cylinder. Gently wiggle and turn the key to distribute the lubricant effectively. If lubrication fails to rectify the issue, it may be necessary to have the ignition cylinder inspected and repaired by a qualified mechanic.

Resolve anti-theft system activation

Some vehicles are equipped with an anti-theft system that can prevent the key from turning if it detects unauthorised access attempts. Consult your vehicle’s owner’s manual for instructions on resetting or bypassing the anti-theft system. If necessary, contact your car manufacturer or a professional locksmith for assistance with reprogramming the system.

Seek professional assistance

If none of the above solutions prove effective, or if you’re uncertain about performing troubleshooting steps yourself, seek help from a certified automotive technician or auto locksmith. Here at Carsmth Midlands, we possess the expertise and tools necessary to diagnose and rectify the issue. Call us now to arrange for our local auto locksmith to travel to your vehicles location and get you back on the road in no time.