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What to do about car key stuck in ignition

Yes, it happens to the best of us! You hop in your car and plan on driving somewhere; it may be to work or to a nice planned dinner. Your mind is on your destination and what you will do once you get there. Alas; it is not to be! At least not this time, anyway! This is because your ignition key wouldn't turn, or even come back out! It's a frightening feeling knowing that you can't start your car or even leave it and lock it! How can you? If you can't remove the ignition key, how can you lock the door? Should you try and apply more pressure? If you apply just a little too much, your key might break off and then you've got more problems, like key extraction, new keys duplicated and programmed, and the all the time and expense those tasks bring you. Now you've got a headache!

It's bad enough if the above scenario happens at home, but what if you are not at home? What then? It's not like you can drive home and figure it all out; remember; you can't even lock the car up! Our Dorchester Locksmith pros get calls like these all the time. Sure, you can call our technicians but what if you don't live in the metro Dorchester, Massachusetts area? What then? Here's what you do. Read this entire post and then just follow our advice! Can it be that simple? It sure is.

Start with these two steps

Don't get too excited; we are not quite to the point where we get that key released! You may or may not need a locksmith but for sure you need to follow these next two steps. Here they are: 1) Relax and take a deep breath. By doing so, you will start to calm down a bit. It's hard to do anything while being so wound up and stressed. Not only do you not think clearly, but you could make the situation worse by making irrational or wrong decisions. A clear head is needed right now and one easy way to attain this is to relax and take a few deep breaths. 2) You'll want to apply the parking brake as soon as possible. At first thought, you are not going anywhere if the ignition key won't turn or come out, so why on earth would you need to apply the parking brake? Here's why. You will be trying a couple of things to see what the problem is and you don't want the car rolling forward or backward during this time. The simple act of applying the parking brake can prevent accidents and even deaths so take that breath and put on that brake!

Now for the good stuff!

Are you ready to release that key? Try this first. Move the key back and forth gently to see if that releases it. If not, don't force it! Try checking your gears and make double sure that you are in PARK and no other gear! Your car has a built-in safety mechanism that prevents the ignition key from being released if your car is not in the right gear. In this case, “almost” is not good enough! You have to be in PARK and not in NEUTRAL or DRIVE. Check now and see. (You did put the parking brake on, didn't you?). Next....

Did that work? Is your ignition key released? If so, happy driving! If not, we need to move on to the next step. Try moving your steering wheel back and forth. Many times, steering wheels will lock up if too much pressure is applied to them. It's so easy to lean a little too hard on the steering wheel while getting in or out of your car. This may cause the steering wheel to lock up and if it does, it also locks up the ignition, including the key. Many times our automotive locksmiths have been called for this very thing. Across the nation, AAA gets calls for ignition key/steering wheel lock ups all the time. Just apply a little pressure on the steering wheel and it will unlock. Be firm and move that steering wheel back and forth.

Battery check

Did that work? If not, your next step is to do a simple battery check. If your battery is drained, there won't be sufficient power to allow the whole transponder key signal process to take place and neither your ignition nor your transponder key will work. Do a simple check to see if your headlights, radio or windshield wipers work. If they do, your battery is fine, if not, you've found your culprit.

Make sure you didn't use the wrong key!

At first, it seems ridiculous that this might even occur. How could you even insert the wrong key to begin with? Actually, it happens. If you live or work in a location where others also use transponder keys, it's easy to grab the wrong one by mistake and often, these keys will enter the ignition cylinder just fine. They do get stuck on occasion and you can often dislodge them by tapping them on the top of the key with a hard, flat surface. Be careful though; too hard a whack and you'll drive the key in further. Use good judgement.

Spray it!

That's right; spray your key loose! Spray your ignition lock with some electrical contact cleaner. Follow this with some silicon lock lubricant. Together, these two sprays act to clean and lubricate your ignition lock and this is often enough to release that stubborn transponder key!

Last, but not least!

Okay, you just may have to call a locksmith! Sometimes, there's no getting around it; a licensed, bonded and insured automotive lock professional is worth it when you need their services. You don't have to use our shop, but do try and find one that offers 24-hour emergency service and same day appointments. Insist on affordability, fast response times and free, honestly given price quotes and you'll be fine!

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