Key Won’t Turn To Lock Position [4 Reasons & Solutions]

Key won’t turn to lock position due to a damaged shift lock cable, lost brace screw, and defective ignition cylinder. If you address and solve these culprits, you can easily bring the key back into its lock position. Fortunately, we will break down everything to let the key turn. So, stay with us till the end. 

Key won’t turn to lock position due to a damaged shift lock cable, lost brace screw, and defective ignition cylinder. If you address and solve these culprits, you can easily bring the key back into its lock position. Fortunately, we will break down everything to let the key turn. So, stay with us till the end. 

Key Won’t Turn To Lock Position [4 Reasons & Solutions]

In this chapter, we will disclose the culprits that cause your key to not turn into the lock position. 

Note: You can also read how to fix No Check engine light when key is in on position.

1. A Worn-out Shift Lock Cable

You can find a cable running from the shifter to the ignition switch. If the cable gets worn out or disconnected in your efforts, it fails to push the lock into place. Consequently, you can’t turn the key to the lock position. 

2. Brace Screw Gets Lost

The shift-lock cable that goes into the ignition switch has a brace with a screw. It secures the cable into its place. If the brace screws get lost somehow, the cable will come out and it will not function properly. In other words, it will not push the lock into its place. As a result, it will be impossible to turn the key to the lock position. 

3. Bad Ignition Lock Cylinder

A faulty ignition lock cylinder is another caveat that makes it difficult for the key to go into the lock position. If you fail to turn the key to the lock position, it’s either the ignition switch or the ignition lock cylinder. 

Generally, your car key slides into the ignition lock cylinder. These two car elements mate together and become one. If these two components break, it will affect both. Plus, you can find many other small moving parts inside the steering column that get activated when you insert the key and turn it. These parts can also be the culprit. 

4. Locking Pin On The Top of The Cylinder Gets Locked 

Most often we overlook the locking pin on top of the cylinder as it’s less susceptible. 

When the key won’t turn to the lock position, everyone seeks the lock-out system in all steering columns. This system prevents you from pulling out the key and locks the steering wheel while your car is in motion.  

You can find a secondary button or switch to release the key if you have a manual transmission vehicle. On the other hand, if you have a car with automatic transmission, you need to have your car in park to release the key. 

If the cable running from the automatic shifter to the steering column gets disconnected, you can never turn the key back to the lock position. 

Yes, this is the logical reason. But what about the locking pin on the top of the cylinder? This top pin secures the cylinder into its housing. If this pin somehow gets locked up, you can’t get the key to the lock position. 

What To Do If The Key Won’t Go To Lock Position

Above, we described and traced out the reasons that cause your car key to not go to the lock position. In this chapter, we will elaborate on how to solve those issues to get your key back to the lock position again. 

1. Replace The Damaged Shift-Lock Cable

Start with removing the shift cover to inspect its operation. If you find the shift cable comes loose, you must tighten it up. On the other hand, if the cable gets worn out or damaged, you must replace it. The following tutorial will help you learn how to change the shift cable. 

2. Back The Brace Screw On 

Sometimes the brace for the cable going into the ignition switch may lose the screw that holds the cable secure. Just grab the same size screw and back the screw on. We hope your cable will now work properly and fix your car key issue. 

3. Fix The Ignition Lock Cylinder Issue

You must disassemble the steering column to see what parts get broken. Once you inspect those parts, you must replace them with new ones.  Alternatively, you can hire a professional mechanic to do this task if you are not mechanically inclined.

Finally, inspect the ignition lock cylinder for damage. If it gets defective, replace it. To do this work, we recommend you hire a car mechanic. 

4. Remove The Locking Pin 

As we mentioned in the previous chapter, sometimes the locking pin on the top of the cylinder may somehow lock up. What you need to do is- just remove the locking pin from the top of the cylinder. It will solve the problem. 

Key Won’t Turn In Ignition Steering Wheel Not Locked

It’s a common car issue. Generally, defective lock system and transmission shift interlock cable not in the full park are two culprits responsible for this vehicle problem. 

Every car has a lock mechanism that is operated by the key that interferes with a pawl on the steering shaft. We suspect the wafer or key cylinder tumblers come out of place. Consequently, you fail to turn the key in the ignition while the steering wheel is not locked. 

To fix the lock issue, we recommend you hire an automotive locksmith to inspect the locking mechanism. In some cases, the ignition lock is required to drill out and replace. 

When it comes to the interlock cable, we prefer you inspect the transmission shift lever physically to see whether it’s in Park or not. Adjust the lever and you can find the key is turning. 

What Do I Do If My Key Won’t Turn In The Ignition?

Do the following things if the key won’t turn on the ignition. 

Unlock The Steering Wheel By Wiggling It

The steering wheel may go into the lock-in position. To unlock the wheel steering, wiggle the steering while gently turning the key to check whether the key turns or not. 

Jiggle The Gear Shift

Cars with automatic transmission will never allow the key to turning the ignition if your vehicle is not in park or neutral mode. We recommend you wiggle the gear shift into position. And then, attempt to turn your car key. 

Lubricate The Locking System

Sometimes the keyway of the ignition cylinder may get jammed up. That’s why the key won’t turn. Lubricating the lock will be an easy fix if the keyway gets jammed up. We recommend you use silicone or graphite-based lubricant. Once you get your lubricant, spray it into the keyway of the ignition cylinder. Don’t forget to wipe away the lubricant that leaks from the keyhole. Then, insert your car key and try to turn it. If needed, jiggle the key. 

Replace The Faulty Ignition Cylinder

A defective ignition cylinder is also a culprit responsible for not turning the key. In this case, replacing the ignition cylinder will fix the problem. We suggest hiring a professional to change the ignition cylinder. 

FAQs:

Why is my key not twisting?

Your key will not twist if you try to use a key for a different car. Similarly, you can’t turn the key when the steering wheel is locked. Just use the key that comes with your car. Second, unlock the steering wheel. In this case, turn the steering wheel from side to side while continuously turning on the ignition key. 

How do you turn a key that won’t turn?

You can easily turn a key that won’t turn by wiggling the steering wheel back & forth while you gently turn the key. On the other hand, if you have a car with automatic transmissions, you should try to jiggle the gear shift. Then, try to turn the key. Alternatively, you can hire an automotive locksmith to fix this issue.  

What happens when you turn the key to the on position?

When you turn the key to the on position, it will start your car engine. If you continue to hold the key in the on position after starting the car, it will energize the starter. But the current draw will be low, and the motor will move or spin freely. 

Will leaving my key in the ignition drain battery?

No, it doesn’t drain the battery if you leave your car key in the ignition. However, it’s a bad habit as a thief can easily take your car if you leave the key in the ignition. 

How long can you leave your car on but not running?

You can leave your car on for up to two weeks without running it. However, how long you can leave your car on will depend on multiple factors. If you preserve the battery life, we recommend you do not leave your car on. 

What is the difference between ignition 1 and ignition 2?

Ignition 1 means when your car key is in the start position. On the other hand, Ignition 2 means when your vehicle key is in the run or on position.

Conclusion

Key won’t turn to the lock position due to a worn-out shift lock cable, a defective ignition cylinder, and more. Fixing those problems will help you turn the key to the lock position again. Fortunately, we broke down everything related to this. So, follow the steps we mentioned above to solve the key turning issue. Additionally, we also described some alternative ways you can follow if the key won’t turn in the ignition. 

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