One common call locksmiths often field is “my steering wheel is locked and my key wont turn.” If your steering wheel is locked your ignition may not be broken. Your problem might actually just be that your steering wheel is locked up and stopping the ignition from turning. We get this call all the time, try this before you call anyone. Good Luck!
How to release the steering column lock
- Fully insert the correct key into the ignition
- Check car is in “Park”
- With one hand turn the steering wheel against the spring pressure and hold it in place.
- With your free hand turn your key
- If it doesn’t work you can try once more while pulling the wheel harder, and/or turn the wheel the other direction.
- If it still fails you likely have another problem
What is the column lock for?
The steering wheel lock is a anti-theft device that prevents a thief from simply “hot-wiring” you car and driving away. Instead of just using the electronic switch screwed to the back of the ignition, a thief is forced to defeat the ignition. Your car wont steer until the ignition cylinder is turned, when your ignition is turned it retracts the lock bolt that locks your steering wheel.
My steering wheel has never locked up before, why now?
Parking differently is the only common reason I’ve heard of. If the weigh of your vehicle wants to turn your wheels a little bit because of how you parked (maybe on a hill) than some of the vehicles weight is binding the steering wheel lock bolt to the lock plate it rest in. The steering wheel lock bolt is trapped by the weight. Pulling the wheel removes enough of that pressure to permit the lock to turn.