There are many things that can go wrong with your car, but one of the most annoying is when you can’t get your key out of the ignition. This can be a real pain, especially if your battery is dead and you can’t start your car. This can stop you from even opening the boot to get some jumper cables. But don’t worry, there are a few ways to get that key out.
In this article, we’ll show you how to get your key out of the ignition with a dead battery, and hopefully, by the time you’re done, you’ll be on your way to getting your car started again.
How Do I Get My Key Out of the Ignition with Dead Battery?
There are a few ways that you can get your key out of the ignition with a dead battery. One way is to use a screwdriver to pry the key out. Another way is to use a wire hanger to push the button on the side of the ignition. Finally, you can use a pair of pliers to pull the key out. Whichever method you choose, these can cause immense damage to the ignition, lock cylinder, and key itself.
Not to worry, below are some more technical and less destructive ways to remove your key from the ignition with a dead battery.
How to Get a Stuck Key Out of the Ignition?
The following are some methods that you can use to try and remove a key that is stuck in the ignition of your car.
1. Charge the car battery
Sometimes a car battery will go completely dead and as a safety feature, the ignition lock will not release the key. The reason behind this is to prevent people from attempting to start the car with a dead battery causing unnecessary strain on the vehicle’s engine.
If this is the case, you will need to charge the battery in order to get the key out of the ignition. This can be done with a portable car battery charger or by jumping the car using another vehicle. Once the battery is charged, try to remove the key from the ignition.
2. Set the shifter in the park position
If the above circumstances do not match your situation, then it is likely that the shifter is not in the correct position. If your vehicle has an automatic transmission, the shifter must be in the “Park” or “P” position in order for the key to be removed from the ignition. If your car has a manual transmission, the shifter must be in the “Neutral” or “N” position.
Try shifting it back and forth between Park/Neutral a few times for the signal or mechanism to register and see if that releases the key. Additionally pressing the brake pedal and trying to turn the ignition switch one more step back in conjunction can also help.
Also Read: Car Won’t Go in Reverse but Drives Fine
3. Unlock the steering wheel
The steering wheel lock is a safety feature in your car that engages when the key is removed from the ignition. This is to prevent anyone from driving away with your car without the key. Sometimes the steering wheel lock can become engaged even when the key is in the ignition and this will prevent you from removing the key.
In order to unlock the steering wheel, you will need to insert the key into the ignition and turn it to the “On” position. Now once again try to remove the key from the ignition. Sometimes jiggling the key and steering wheel back and forth will also help to disengage the lock.
4. Apply lubricant to the lock
Overlooked by many, a potential reason as to why your key is stuck in the ignition could be because of dust or debris build-up preventing the tumblers from working properly. In this case, you can try spraying some lubricant such as WD-40 into the keyhole and wiggling the key around to see if that helps release it.
Once applied, try to remove the key as you would normally. If it still doesn’t come out, then you can try using a small wire brush or toothpick to remove any debris that might be clogging up the lock.
5. Jiggle the ignition
Fairly obvious but still extremely useful, sometimes all you need to do is give the ignition a good wiggle with the key in order to release it. This is usually caused by loose wiring or a faulty ignition switch. Although this can damage the ignition, it is still worth a try if you are desperate to remove the key.
Try jiggling from side to side, up and down, and even back and forth to see if one direction is more successful than the other. A 360-degree rotation can also help to loosen up the ignition.
6. Read the trouble codes
If you notice that the key is stuck in the ignition and the “Check Engine” light is on, then there might be an issue with the engine control module. In this case, you will need to have the car scanned for trouble codes in order to diagnose the problem.
If the code reader shows that there is an issue with the engine control module, then you will need to take the car to a mechanic or dealership to have it repaired or clear the codes. Additionally, if there are any other codes that pop up, you will also need to have those repaired in order to get the key out of the ignition.
7. Check the safety switch and push key
Many cars nowadays have a safety switch or an extra lock switch inside of the ignition where you have to press the key together with a button to rotate it further. If this is the case, then you will need to press in the key and try to rotate it back and forth.
The safety switch is usually located on the side or bottom of the ignition. Once you find it, press in the key and try to rotate it back and forth to see if that releases the key.
8. Call a mechanic
Lastly, if you have tried all of the above and still can’t get the key out of the ignition, then your best bet is to call a mechanic or tow truck to take a look at it. There could be an issue with the ignition switch, wiring or even the battery itself that is preventing the key from being removed.
A professional will be able to diagnose the problem and get the key out of the ignition without causing any further damage. They will also be able to make any necessary repairs so that you don’t have this issue in the future.
5 Common Causes of Stuck Key in Ignition
Some of the most common reasons that a key may become stuck in the ignition are:
1. Heavy key chain
If the keychain is too heavy, it can bind up the tumblers inside the lock cylinder, making it difficult to remove the key. The weight of the keychain pulls down on the key, which puts pressure on the tumblers and makes it harder to turn. The lock cylinder may also be damaged if the keychain is too heavy due to the angle at which the key is inserted into the lock.
2. Dirty key
A dirty or greasy key can also cause the lock cylinder to bind up. When the key is inserted into the lock, the dirt and grease can get on the tumblers and make it difficult to turn.
Over time, this can also damage the lock cylinder. Eventually, the dirt and grime will build-up to the point where the key cannot be removed and as a hindrance as the loose debris can fall into the lock and further jam it.
3. Corrosion inside the ignition lock
With repetitive use and normal wear and tear, the ignition lock can start to corrode. This corrosion can create a build-up of material that can bind up the tumblers and make it difficult to remove the key. The corrosion may also damage the lock cylinder, making it difficult or impossible to turn the key.
Corrosion is caused by a number of environmental factors, such as salt water, humidity, and rain. If the keys, when inserted are wet or damp, this can also lead to increased corrosion.
4. Damaged ignition cylinder
An ignition cylinder’s job is to provide a smooth surface for the key to slide into and turn. Over time, the cylinder can become damaged from wear and tear. This can cause the tumblers to bind up, making it difficult or impossible to remove the key.
The damage may also make it difficult to turn the key, which can cause the car to stall or not start. In some cases, the damage may be severe enough that the key will break off in the ignition lock.
5. Worn out key
More than often, the problem with getting the key out of the ignition is due to a worn-out key. The grooves on the key get worn down or become jagged over time and no longer provide enough of a grip for the tumblers or become angled and stuck inside the lock cylinder.
The key may also become brittle and break off inside the ignition. If this happens, it will be necessary to have a locksmith remove the key from the lock or replace the ignition lock cylinder.
There you have it! If you find yourself in a situation where you can’t get the key out of the ignition, use these tips to try and release it. If all else fails, call a professional to take a look at it. They will be able to diagnose the problem and get the key out without causing any further damage.
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