My Key Won’t Come Out Of Ignition:Why?

Have you ever been in a frustrating situation where the key won’t come out of ignition? If you have never been, imagine how annoying and stressful that can be! You will end up panicking most probably since you can’t just leave the car that way with the key just hanging out in the ignition.

Just remember to not apply force on your stuck keys to get them out of the ignition. This article discusses the reasons why your car keys can get stuck in ignition so read on!

What Are The Reasons Why My Key Won’t Come Out Of Ignition?

There are a variety of reasons why your car keys decide to stay stuck in the ignition. Some issues may be unique to the make and model of your car while some can happen to any vehicle. Knowing the different reasons that cause such a situation can come in handy to help you take the necessary steps to handle them so read on!

1. Parking Gear Not Set

Your car key won’t come out of ignition if your car’s transmission is not set in “Park”. Thus if your car is not in “Park” mode, attempting to take the car keys out of the ignition may be in vain. In Automatic Transmission, the car keys refuse to come out of ignition if the gear is set to drive, neutral or any other available gears. In Manual Transmission the car keys won’t come out unless the gear shifter is in neutral. Some vehicles show the sign ‘P’ when your car is in “Park” mode and only then should you attempt to remove the keys from the ignition.

2. Steering Wheel Lock

If you switch off your vehicle while moving the steering wheel even slightly, the steering wheel lock will get activated. This not only won’t allow you to move your steering wheel but also won’t let you pull the keys out of your ignition.

This happens because the ignition cylinder locks at the same time as the steering wheel lock. You may be successful in opening the lock if you try turning the ignition along with wiggling the steering wheel around. This may either let you take the key out or start your car’s engine.

3. Debris On The Key

Many people use their car keys to open sealed boxes and such. They may help you serve as a good tool to open them easily but this can make some pieces, dust or other debris get stuck in your car keys. If you are someone who belongs to such a category and if you did something like that before putting your car inside the ignition switch, then chances are there is tape or something similar stuck on your car key. This can make your keys stuck inside the ignition.

4. Dead Battery

Your car, especially the ignition, relies on your car battery to help it start your car. However, if your car has battery problems and doesn’t provide enough current for the ignition to trigger the engine to start, it may result in the locking of the ignition system. In such a situation the key won’t come out of ignition. If you are in such a situation it is best to maybe try and jump start your car or wait for your car battery to be replaced. You can also try using a tack hammer and gently tapping the cylinder with it.

5. Worn Or Damaged Key

Car keys can be damaged or worn out with time. Car keys are exposed to continuous wearing as you put the key inside the ignition and turn it. Other than that too, your car can be continuously in contact with other items in your pockets or bags when the key is not in use. All this will wear your Ignition keys and may eventually cause the issue key won’t come out of ignition.

Sometimes your car keys may bend or lead to the formation of small cracks. This would make them get stuck inside the ignition in such a way that it would be hard to remove them. If you notice that your keys are worn or damaged, it is best to replace them immediately.

6. Damaged Ignition Cylinder

If your car has an ignition cylinder that is damaged or on the verge of damaging, it can prevent the key from coming out of the ignition. This is mostly because several spring loaded pins inside the cylinder match with your key when inserted inside the ignition. If these pins are even slightly misaligned, it can prevent you from removing the key from the ignition.

7. Manufacturer Recall Or TSB

Problems like your car keys getting stuck in the car can be unique for some models of cars. So if you face such an issue, it can also be because of the model or make of your car. Your car can be subject to a recall or technical service bulletin (TSB) which is directly linked to the ignition lock cylinder. You can check if your vehicle is affected by such an issue by entering your VIN on the NHTSA or National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website. Even if it gives you the result that your car is not, it is a good idea to check to get the status of any other outstanding recalls or TSBs.

How To Get A Stuck Key Out Of Ignition?

Getting to remove the stuck key from ignition varies from situation to situation. It also depends on how much time it has happened. Is it the first time that your car keys are getting stuck in the ignition? Have you tried getting your stuck key outside the ignition before? Here are some things you can do if your keys get stuck inside the ignition.

1. Set Parking Gear

Since your car not being in the park gear is one of the main reasons why the key gets stuck in the ignition, try and set the car in parking gear in automatic transmission and neutral in Manual Transmission and then try removing the key.

2. Jiggling Steering Wheel

Another method you can try is trying to remove the key from the ignition while jiggling the steering wheel. You can use this technique when the steering wheel is locked and the key is stuck inside the ignition.

3. Rubbing Alcohol/ Adhesive Remover

If your key gets stuck in ignition because of the presence of debris in the key, rubbing alcohol or adhesive remover in the key and the ignition switch may help remove the key easily.


Having the key stuck in the ignition especially when you are outside somewhere is not at all a desired situation to be in. This article discussed the different reasons why such a situation can arise, hope you found it helpful.

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