How To Correct an Ignition Key That Won’t Turn
It is incredibly frustrating when you insert your car keys into the car’s ignition, and lo-behold refuses to turn. And now, the mind goes to think of all the possibilities of what could have gone wrong.
It should come as good news that most ignition key issues are not only quick to fix but also commonly faced.
By all accords, three major factors are responsible for this irritating problem, and with a basic amount of troubleshooting, the following tips can help you get started and drive off safely.
The three primary reasons are:
- Problems with any related components
- Key itself being problematic
- Problems with the ignition lock cylinder
Problems with any related components
A common culprit are the different elements that are related to the ignition system that affects the ability of a car in turning on the ignition. Although, the good part is that, it is easier to identify and fix. These are the components one should be aware of:
In a lot of vehicles, removing your car’s key locks the vehicle’s steering wheel from turning. Sometimes, because of the lock, the steering wheel gets stuck, and in turn, the vehicle’s key also gets stuck and thus, is unable to move for releasing it.
“Jiggling” the car’s steering wheel from one side to the other while attempting to turn the car keys can cause the lock pressure to be relieved and allows the key leeway to turn.”
With the advance in vehicles, there are some vehicles that don’t allow the car keys to turn till the vehicle is either in neutral or park. This is an issue commonly faced with vehicles that have Automatic Transmission. If the vehicle is at the park, shake the gear shifter slightly for ensuring the right position and then try again for turning the key.
If the car’s battery is being problematic or dead, there is a higher chance of noticing that they car key doesn’t turn. This is not unusual in high-end vehicles that use an overly complex ignition systems.
Key itself being problematic
For a lot of cases, the problem isn’t with the car’s related components, rather, with the car key. These factors will help explain why the car key is unable to turn itself in the ignition.
Bent keys at times do enter the ignition cylinder, but once it is inside, it doesn’t line up correctly for allowing the car to start. If the car keys look bent, then one can make use of a non-metal hammer for correctly and carefully flattening the key. The aim should be to use an equipment that doesn’t damage the key, so in an ideal scenario, try using rubber or wood.
A person can also make use of a piece of wood to act as the cushion for the blow by placing the key on the piece of the wood. Then, carefully tap the key till it is straight and then attempt to start your car again.
Worn Out Key
Keys worn out in a lot of cases and especially on older vehicles. If the vehicle keys are worn out, then the pins inside the cylinder won’t be able to drop correctly for the car to start. However, if there is a spare key, use it first.
In the event of you don’t have a spare key, write down the car’s Vehicle Identification Number(VIN). A vehicle’s VIN can be found on the windshield of the driver’s side or inside the car door jamb. You can then contact the vehicle dealership for getting a new key made.
Otherwise, some of the newer cars have their key codes attached to them. If they key is worn out, and there is a need for new one, the key can be given to the car dealership instead of the VIN, for getting the car made.
An honest and a simple mistake, at times, the wrong key ends up being inserted into the cylinder. This usually happens when someone has keys of multiple keys on the key ring and end up being making the wrong choice subconsciously. Quite a few car keys are of the same make and hence look alike. For this, a solution is to double check the correct key that is to be used for starting the vehicle.
If the car key is dirty, clean it and that might help as well. In all hindsight, cleaning a car is easy. One can use rubbing alcohol(nail polish remover) and a cotton swab for removing any foreign particle stuck to the car keys. Post that, you can make an attempt to start the car. You can then attempt to start the car again.
Some resources do recommend tapping the key using a hammer, or any other object like that while the car is in the ignition. HOWEVER, it is NOT RECOMMENDED owing to the higher risk associated with breaking either the key or the ignition cylinder. This can also trap a piece of the car key within the cylinder and cause more damage.
Problems With The Ignition Lock Cylinder
The ignition key cylinder is additionally known as the ignition lock cylinder and is one more area that is possibly causing issues with the vehicle key not turning over. These are the problems usually associated with the key not turning or the ignition lock cylinder.
Any obstruction within the ignition lock cylinder won’t allow the key to turn the ignition properly. One can attempt to look inside the key cylinder using a flashlight. Usually, one should ideally look for any blatantly obvious obstruction. But, if the key cylinder is completely damaged, one will be able to see metal debris inside.
When attempting to clear the ignition lock cylinder, use safety glasses for protecting the eyes in case there is any flying debris. For cleaning, use either compressed air or electrical cleaner as well as follow the necessary instructions and precautions. Also, make it imperative that the work area is ventilated properly. If the debris is removed successfully, then the key should slide easily.
The springs and pins inside of the key cylinder have to conform uniquely to the car key that you have for turning the ignition cylinder. There can be problems associated with turning the key due to the pins or the springs.
When this happens, make use of a tack hammer for gently tapping on the key ignition. This might help loosen any stuck springs or pins. Though, don’t hit the equipment too hard as the aim is to use the vibration for loosening the pins and springs, and not the brute force. Once the pins and springs are free, one can attempt inserting the key inside and turning it.