Key won’t turn in ignition – what do I do?
Hopping into your car, putting the key into the ignition, only to find that the key isn't turning, can always cause a few moments of panic - oh, oh what is going on?
This has probably happened to most of us, yet the quickest and easiest thing to do is to turn the steering wheel until the key does turn. Try turning the steering wheel to the left and/or to the right while also trying to turn the key at the same time. In most instances, this will allow the key to turn. Some cars might require you to depress the brake pedal and/or the clutch pedal in order to start the car. Also, check your gear shift. Some cars with automatic transmissions might require the car to be in Park before the car will start. Cars with manual shifting might require the car to be in neutral before the car can start.
Be careful about applying too much force the key to turn - it can create much more headaches. Gently keep trying to turn the key while you turn the steering wheel - both directions. If turning the wheel works and you can turn the key in the ignition it means the steering lock was engaged, which is there to prevent steering of the car in case somebody hot wired it and stole your car.
If the key doesn't turn at all, no matter what, again, don't force it. There may be other reasons why the key won't budge. Make sure you have the right key for your car. It is possible, for example, that a Ford key that belongs to another car might actually fit in your Ford's car ignition, but the key won't turn. A bad copy of a key could also be at fault. Sometimes when you get a key copied, it just plain old won't work. That one is easy. However, it is also possible that you got a key copied that barely worked in the beginning, but over time the key becomes slightly worn and one day will no longer work. If you have additional copies of your ignition key, try one of those.
The key barrel may be busted, which means it will need to be replaced, or there may be something jammed. First, you might try jiggling the key by moving it in and out, ever so slightly while also trying to turn the key. If this does not work, unfortunately both of these scenarios mean that you - or your mechanic - has to open the steering column. Once you remove the trim you will see the column and the ignition and try to figure out what is jammed. Sometimes it might be less expensive to simply replace the ignition switch rather than fussing with it and attempting to trouble shoot it. Typically the trim surrounding the steering column is held by fasteners or you may need some tools. You may also need to take out the steering wheel. If all of this is way beyond what you feel comfortable doing you probably need to get a mechanic to diagnose and fix the problem.
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