car ignition

What To Do If Your Key Gets Stuck In The Ignition?

Before getting into what to do when the keys get stuck in the ignition, the causes for such an incident to occur in the first place must be discussed.

This is what causes the key lock:

All cars come with an additional safety feature of a steering lock. The lock when activated prevents the steering wheel from turning. The most common cause of keys getting stuck is the unfavorable positioning of the steering wheel when locked. In order to release the keys, assuming that the steering lock is the culprit, unlock the steering to free the keys.

In cases when the steering wheel is turning, the keys may get jammed in the ignition when there is high dirt accumulation. When debris and lint block the ignition cylinder, the car will not start.

There is a third possibility which could cause the keys to get stuck in the ignition. It is the case of a bent key. Should this be the cause, the keys can be released with relative ease. If you’re having a hard time getting the keys out, hire a locksmith.

The last cause of a key lock is a malfunctioning lock cylinder of the ignition. The longevity of most ignition lock cylinders is up to 60,000 miles, beyond which they need replacement.

What to do when the keys get stuck in the ignition?


When the keys get stuck, try and figure out what is causing the keys to jam in the first place. A bent key or steering lock can be easily rectified. Here are the steps that you must take when the keys get stuck:

  • Firstly, ensure that the keys are in the off position. This is a very important step that is often overlooked. There are times when the keys get stuck because the car isn’t completely off. If the ignition is off but the radio is still playing, the keys will not come out. Also, most automatic cars do not release the keys till the car is on park mode.
  • Move the steering wheel left and right while trying to retrieve the keys. If the culprit is a locked steering, the keys will be released when the lock is opened.
  • In a few cars, the keys getting stuck in an indication of a dead battery. So have the battery checked if the first two steps do not work.
  • You can always try retrieving the keys by force, but ensure that you do not damage the locking system while trying to do so.
  • If all your efforts of retrieving the keys are futile, call a locksmith.
high tech car key

Lose A High-Tech Car Key? Call Your Locksmith!

Back in the day, getting a key replaced from a local hardware store cost a few dollars. Now, lost means cost.

Car key types:

There are four types of car keys:

  1. Smart Keys: These keys transmit a wireless signal to the cars ECU with security codes that start the key independent of insertion. Most cars that use a smart key also have an emergency manual spare key. If you were to lose both, a replacement is available at the dealership for $200- $400.
  2. Transponder Keys: These keys contain a hidden chip under the plastic outer covering. On turning the ignition on, a signal from the vehicle is sent to the key. If the signal transmitted is not answered by the chip in the key, the car does not start. The cost of replacement for such keys is $40- $400.
  3. Laser cut Keys: These are also known as sidewinder keys. Unlike conventional keys, laser cut keys have lesser number of grooves with shanks that are thicker. The cost of replacement for such keys is $150-$250.
  4. Electronic Key Fobs: These are fobs that are fixed on to the key rings containing buttons specific for different functions. Electronic key fobs are the most common key type. The cost of replacement for such ranges from $50-$100.

Independent locksmiths for key replacement:

The obvious course of action when you lose your car keys is to visit the dealership and spend an obscene amount for a spare key. What if you could get a replacement key for a fraction of the price? An independent auto locksmith offers the same standard of service for a fraction of the price. Auto locksmiths are legitimate, trustworthy and efficient locksmiths who are proficient at recoding and cutting modern keys.

Apart from low pricing, another advantage of hiring an independent auto locksmith is that they come to you rather than you going to a dealership seeking their services. They are capable of coding a new set of keys on spot. They offer two types of keys- one which is identical to the lost set and stock after market keys. These look radically different from the showroom keys and carry the same functionality and efficiency.

Most people refrain from getting in touch with an independent locksmith as the car manual specifies that in the event of loss, the customer must seek help from the dealership and not from an external source. Auto locksmiths refute this statement saying that the services offered by these agents are at par with the dealership.

If you ever lose your car keys, call for an auto locksmith instead of running to the dealership. There is no key type that the locksmith can’t duplicate.

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