How To Fix An Ignition Key That Doesn’t Turn


How To Fix An Ignition Key That Doesn’t Turn

You can pretty much get through your day running errands with a few car mishaps like a broken bumper. Or even a broken side mirror, there are literally cars you’ll see in Nairobi with an actual mirror improvisation to act as a side mirror.

But you can’t do anything with your car if the key won’t turn in the ignition. Right? 

Let’s take a look at the 5 most common causes of this and give you some quick fixes so you won’t get stuck. 

1. Locked steering wheel 

This is a very common problem, caused by turning the wheel after the key has been removed. This locks the ignition cylinder and the wheel lock simultaneously.

The main reason for this feature is to reduce the risk of car theft in the event of hot wiring.


  • Simply turn the wheel in both directions, left and right 
  • Note which direction the wheel is moving more towards and focus on turning it that way severally 
  • Focus on turning it to that given direction severally until you are ready to now unlock it 
  • Use one hand to turn the key 
  • Use the other hand to turn the wheel in the direction it moved more easily in
  • Simultaneously wiggling the wheel left and right should help unlock both locks and you’ll be on your way 

If this doesn’t work, then you probably have a bigger underlying issue that needs our professional help.

2. Debris / worn out or damaged car keys 

This can be caused by many things including misuse of the key, for example using it to open or scrap something off a surface. In addition, car keys get damaged and worn out each time you put it in the ignition, the friction slowly starts to wear the key out. Prolonged friction makes the key to no longer interlock perfectly with the ignition cylinder pins.


  •  If the key is bent then try flattening it back to shape by hammering on it very gently 
  • You might also want to try polishing the key with a lubricant, sometimes dirt and rust can cause the key to get stuck in the ignition or not enter all together 

Car key care is important, especially with programmable keys, you should consider paying Carkey Masters a visit for car key polishing or duplication services, after all, prevention is better than cure and cheaper also. We shall also provide you with ideas to up your key security features.

If you notice distortion on the key then that means you have no choice but to get yourself a key replacement.

CarKey Masters key tips, always have a spare key with you. Among the benefits of this being, when one gets damaged you may use the other without having to cut your trip short to first make a quick run to a locksmith for another key. Having a spare key also helps you prolong the lifespan of each key given you’re interchanging them thus less likely to wear off sooner. Car key duplication in most cases costs less than originating a key. So take advantage of that.

3. Damaged ignition cylinder 

The lock cylinder houses spring-loaded pins that are made to perfectly match up with your car key. If the pins are slightly out of place, then the cylinder is no longer compatible with the key and thus you cannot insert the key or take it out in the event that it is stuck. 

The most common cause of this problem, just like the key wears out from constant use, so does the ignition cylinder. It can also be caused by other underlying problems but the good news is just like the key, the cylinder too can be replaced by us without breaking your bank. A short term solution you can however be to try first using canned air to clean out any dirt that might be clogging it.

4. Lack of lubrication

This is another maintenance problem that happens gradually until it finally catches up with you. It usually starts with the turning of the key needing a little extra nudge. This is because the grease in the cylinder will wear off over time, just like most metals your car key or the ignition can be rusty and this can subsequently make it harder to get the key in. In such a case what you need to do is use a lubricant on the key, or disintegrating the tumbler assembly from the lock, lubricating it and putting it back in. But for the latter, we advise having the Carkey Masters team handle it. 

A good locally available lubricant can be WD40 which is effective in removing rust from metals.

5. Dead battery

Certain advanced car models will not allow the key to turn the ignition if the battery is dead.  The easiest way to check if this is the problem is to try turning your car lights on or the radio. If it doesn’t turn, then you might need to charge your battery.

We hope these tips will come in handy in case you get stuck. If you need professional help, give us a call for quick service. CarKey Masters offers professional car key duplication, replacement and new car key programming services at very affordable rates. Get a quote or schedule an appointment today.

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