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Can’t turn your car keys? Common ignition problems and solutions

Sales Galmier - Monday, October 01, 2018

We’ve talked about the signs of a faulty ignition chamber.

Of course, if you’re struggling with your car keys or ignition, knowing the causes is cold comfort - it’s not helping you get back in, after all!

That doesn’t mean you’re helpless. In fact, there are handful of things you can do to make your life easier - and if all else fails, you can always rely on an emergency auto locksmith!


A quick recap of car ignition issues

The ignition car cylinder serves as a power starter of a vehicle. It turns your engine on and off.

Naturally, a faulty ignition lock cylinder can lead to:

  • Cars not starting
  • Power issues
  • Stuck car keys

While the causes of ignition problems are many, there are a couple that pop up all the time.

 

Worn out keys

In our experience, old and worn out keys are the most common car ignition problems.

That’s because in most cases, your keys are the weakest link. Unlike the lock, your keys aren’t protected by your dashboard and the grooves can wear down with time. Not to mention, they can bend if you use too much force.

Speaking of which...

 

Bent key

If your key doesn’t fit in the ignition in the first place, you’re not going anywhere!

Maybe you start your car up with a bit more force than necessary. Alternatively, your keys might bend if they come under accidental duress.

Either way, the result is the same: a key with a prominent bend in the middle.

When this happens, we don’t recommend trying to correct it yourself in case you make things worse. Instead, get a professional to do it for you!

 

Ignition problems

In other cases, the problem may lie with your ignition chamber itself.

Perhaps the pins are misaligned, or it’s a fault in the electrical circuit that links the ignition chamber and car battery.

It could even be something as simple as debris blocking your ignition chamber!

 

You’ve got the wrong keys

We know, it sounds silly. Of course you have the right keys. But people do silly things when they’re sleep deprived, in a rush, or not paying attention - it doesn’t hurt to check!


What can you do if your car keys aren’t turning in the ignition?

We generally advise waiting for an auto locksmith to get you out of your predicament and to not do anything rash, lest you make things worse.

As you wait though, there are a few things you might like to check.

 

Try moving the steering wheel

In many cases, your ignition chamber could be locked in place because you’ve accidentally activated your steering wheel lock.

If you’re the type of person who uses the steering wheel to lift yourself out of your car seat, you may have accidentally triggered it.

In these cases, you can deactivate the lock and get your keys to work again by turning your steering wheel.

  1. Turning your steering wheel left and right
  2. Note which side isn’t turning
  3. Hold your steering wheel in the direction it is turning
  4. Turn the key while holding your steering wheel
  5. Jiggle the wheel and keys if needed

The unlocking procedure varies from car to car. Check your owners manual for operation.

 

Oil up your lock

In some cases, your key won’t turn because the ignition is a little bit jammed up. In these cases, a bit of oil might be all it takes to get it working again.

When lubricating an ignition chamber, it’s important to choose the right lubricant. You might have a can of WD40 on hand - while the formula behind WD40 is a closely-guarded secret, what we do know is that it has a tendency to gunking up your ignition further as the lubricant solidifies.

Make sure you use a lubricant that doesn’t:

  • Solidify over time
  • Collect dust and dirt
  • Carry an electric current

There’s a lot of controversy over which lubricant is safest. If you’re having trouble figuring out which type is safe to use, we recommend not taking the risk!

And even if you find the right lubricant, please note this is only a short-term solution. For a permanent fix, talk to your auto locksmith.

 

Get your keys replaced

Like we mentioned above, many ignition problems are the result of problems with your keys such as a bend, the teeth wearing out, or even a straight-up snap!

Sometimes, your best course of action is to get your key replaced.

In some cases of slight bends, you can get a key straightened out and repaired. For more severe bends however, this can leave your key brittle and weak.

And for a broken key… well, that’s self-explanatory!

Luckily you have several options. If you’re close to a shopping centre or strip of shops, you might be able to find a key cutter who can cut you a new set.

If you’re stuck on the side of the road however, this can be a tad difficult.

Not to mention, not all key cutters will be able to create a replacement key for you if your original key is broken. Their ability to program transponder keys for you isn’t guaranteed either!

In these cases, you’re better off getting in touch with an emergency auto locksmith.

 

Need an emergency auto locksmith in Oakleigh?

Galmier Locksmiths provides emergency auto locksmith services all over Melbourne, from our home in Cheltenham to as far as Tullamarine Airport.

Our expert auto locksmiths come to your aid immediately and fix your car key problems on the spot.

Do you need help:

  • Removing stuck keys?
  • Creating replacement keys?
  • Removing broken keys from your ignition?
  • Programming transponder keys?

Save our phone number - that’s 0407 022 234. You never know when you might need urgent help getting back on the road- fast!