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Why Won’t My Car Key Turn? 8 Solutions to Try

The Ignition Lock Cylinder: Core of the Issue

If you're wondering, why won't my car key turn? Your key won't turn if you have a problem with the safety features, broken wafers, or a bad key. Here are the eight potential solutions to try:

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  1. Try wiggling the steering wheel
  2. Inspect the gear shift
  3. Check the battery
  4. Test a spare key
  5. Try a silicone-based spray
  6. Try jiggling the key in the ignition
  7. Resolve any jamming
  8. Hire a professional

One of the many frustrating situations you might run through is when you insert the key in the ignition switch and realize it's not turning at all! You probably tried jiggling it and doing all you needed, but nothing happened, unfortunately!

Many reasons could get your key to stop and not turn it all as you insert it into the ignition. The key cylinders have many wafers, which can get damaged or break or probably bend, preventing your key from turning properly.

Being proactive about the situation is very important and learning about possible methods to get you out of this problem is extremely important.

In this article, we will walk you through eight potential solutions you could try whenever you keep getting stuck and whenever you wonder, why won't my car key turn?

Car Key Won't Turn In Ignition

Why won't my car key turn? The causes

When you tried turning the key in the ignition switch and realized that it's stuck or it's not turning, then we're dealing with one of the following problems:

1.    Issues with the safety features

The first and most common cause for your key not turning is an issue with your safety features. This issue is most likely associated with modern cars that are equipped with systems that prevent the key from turning whenever there is a safety issue here


You probably tried turning the key in a way your vehicle considered as a sign of risk, which is why it decided to lock the system. Also, the problem could be related to the safety system itself and might require a consultation with your mechanic.

2.    Problems with the key

If your problem with the key does not have to do with the safety system, then it could be an issue with the key itself. For example, you might have a broken key or key might get them because of whatever reason, and that could prevent it from doing its job and cause you to wonder, why won't my car key turn?

In that case, you're always watching would be to replace the current key and buy a better one that will work just fine.

3.    Damages in the wafers

Finally, if you confirm that your system is working fine and your key is in your condition, your problem could be related to the ignition system itself.

The ignition system has lots of wafers inside, many of which could be bent or damaged, leading the situations where you wonder, why won't my car key turn?

In that case, your situation is a bit more complicated and requires a detailed inspection from your mechanic to determine what exactly is going on and decide on the next steps.

Key Won’t Turn in Ignition

Why won't my car key turn? 8 solutions to try

Although your vehicle's key is a minor component, it can give you a bunch of headaches if you deal with problems where you turn the key in the ignition, and it doesn't turn.

There are many potential reasons for this situation, and it's very common to deal with this issue between now and then as you own your vehicle and during its lifespan.

Automotive experts put together eight potential solutions that you could try. However, there are some instances where you're only resort is to reach out to a mechanic to fix the problem because it could be beyond your ability to fix it.

Let's take a look at some of the expert's recommendations column

1.    Try wiggling the steering wheel

The first and easiest thing you might want to try is jiggling the steering wheel. Yes! The steering wheel is linked somehow; in many instances, the problem could be related to the steering wheel itself, not the ignition system or the key.

The ignition might get locked because you remove the key. In that case, jiggling the steering wheel should resolve your issue. However, if you still have problems turning the key in the ignition switch, you might want to try the other mentioned solutions in this list.

2.    Inspect the gear shift

If you were not able to fix the problem by jiggling the steering wheel, the next step is to take a look at the gear shift. If you're driving a vehicle equipped with an automatic transmission, it is common sense that you don't want to turn the key in the ignition unless the vehicle is set to park or neutral.

However, the system might get stuck, and one way to get it unstuck is by jiggling the gear shift and trying to turn the key afterward. Again, if this didn't work well, then look at the other potential solutions below.

3.    Check the battery

Did you know that sometimes if you're having a problem turning the key in the ignition switch, your issue could be related to a dead battery?

Problems with the battery can impact the ignition switch, mostly in modern vehicles. These vehicles are designed so that if your vehicle's battery is dead, you can turn the key in the ignition switch, and you might not be able to take it out at all.

Take all that your battery and see if running a quick jumpstart would resolve your issue or not. Otherwise, you might need to check on something else.

4.    Test a spare key

In many instances, the problem you're dealing with could be just related to your key. For example, the key might have some bent locations or some broken areas that do not allow it to turn properly in the ignition switch.

In that case, you might need to replace this key and buy one that will work for you. Before you move this way and decide on purchasing a new one, try testing using a spare key or borrowing a key from someone else. Mechanic shop and see if this is resolved they should.

Best ideas, then you'll most likely need to buy a new key to resolve your problem for the future and prevent dealing with situations where you wonder, why won't my car key turn?

Duplicate Car Keys With Chips

5.    Try a silicone-based spray

Another potential reason for your key not turning in the ignition switch is problems with lubrication. Sometimes you might be dealing with some degree of contaminants inside the ignition system, so you won't be able to turn the key.

In that case, you might want to try a silicone-based spray and spray it inside the ignition. This way, you then try turning the key and see if it resolves your issue.

Keep in mind that you don't want to try any oil-based products because it will cause some residue and make the problem even more complicated than that gets to significant components in your ignition system, which means thousands of dollars on repair.

6.    Try jiggling the key in the ignition

If the previous methods did not solve your problem and you still wonder, why won't my car key turn? Then try jiggling the key inside the ignition.

Sometimes the ignition system might be stuck or jammed because, for whatever reason, and by jiggling the key inside it, you allow it to unjam, and you resolve the issue. If you're dealing with minor jamming, your problem should be resolved immediately after jiggling the key. However, if things do not work, you might need to be a bit more aggressive and try other methods.

7.    Resolve any jamming

One of the other methods that you can try is what's referred to as hitting the ignition. In this case, you might want to insert the key inside the ignition, use a bag of a screwdriver or probably a small hammer, and then try hitting the key with medium force. You don't want to hit it so hard, so it causes some other problems that you don't want to deal with here

Try then trying the key and see if this resolves your issue.

8.    Hire a professional

Unfortunately, if you got to this point and still have an issue with your ignition that makes you wonder, why won't my car key turn? Then you only want a solution to consult a professional.

There are many professionals just specified in specialized in key problems. You don't need to go to a mechanic because any professional who works with keys can resolve your problem.

However, in some severe scenarios, your problem might be related to major internal issues in the ignition system. You must consult your mechanic and have him perform a thorough inspection to determine what exactly is going on.

After this inspection, your mechanic should recommend that you perform some repairs or install some new components, impacting your final repair bill. Your repair costs might pile up to the point where it might not make sense for you to fix this vehicle, and instead, you should be selling it rather than wasting your time, effort, and money.

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How much does it cost to fix a car key not turning?

It all depends. Depending on the root problem, your repair cost will differ significantly. For example, if your problem has to do with a bad key, you will need to buy a new one, which means repair costs between $150 and $600 depending on your vehicle side and the type of keyword buying.

On the other hand, if there are significant problems in the ignition system wafers, we're talking about a totally different problem that requires advanced mechanical skill system viewers. However, repair costs are still not too bad, and they could range from $70 to $300. However, in some severe scenarios where you are driving a low-grade car that is very expensive, repair costs can climb up significantly.

Final thoughts

Have you ever wondered why won't my car key turn? This is a very common problem that many drivers can deal with for various reasons.

The good thing is that there are many approaches that you can try and resolve the problem yourself without needing a professional. This article highlighted some methods like jiggling the key, jiggling the steering wheel, and other approaches to help you immediately get out of the problem.

However, if all the mentioned methods did not resolve your issue, we recommend that you should consult a professional who could help you.

As we highlighted before, some recommendations might require you to install major components, which could be beyond your budget to repair this vehicle. If you have other major problems, you might want to consider selling your vehicle instead.

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