How to unlock your locked steering wheel

Steering Wheel

How to unlock your locked steering wheel

Your steering wheel is locked and you double-parked behind a car on the busy city street. The lady parked in front of you is impatient. Now what? This is a very common problem, caused by turning the wheel after the key has been removed. Consequently, the ignition cylinder and wheel lock simultaneously.

The main reason for this feature is to reduce the risk of car theft in the event of hot wiring. In some cars it is also a safety measure e.g. on Hondas, if you are packed on an in grade or a degrade, you can turn the wheels on the side against the curb securing the car,  in case the breaks fail the car doesn’t roll down. A locked steering wheel is also one of the main reasons that your key won’t turn in the ignition, read more about this topic in our previous post. 

If your wheel won’t turn, the key isn’t the problem, so never force it; you might break it, which will be an even bigger problem. Instead, follow these simple steps;


  1. Put the key in  the ignition and turn it to the on position 
  2. Turn the wheel in both directions, left and right to relieve the pressure
  3. Note which direction the wheel is moving more towards and focus on turning it that way severally 
  4. Focus on turning it in that direction severally as soon as you are ready to now unlock it 
  5. Use one hand to now turn the key and 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. You should hear a little click sound, that tells you the steering is now unlocked.

But what if the steering wheel is locked and you don’t have the key? Maybe you’ve lost it and need to move the vehicle. Here are the simple steps you should follow;

  1. Start by removing the club, a car theft prevention device. Conventionally unlocked by inserting the right key. 
  2. To remove the curb, try using a flat screwdriver. Insert the screwdriver into the lock, where you’d conventionally insert the key. Hammer on the screwdriver lightly to push it further into the lock until it breaks the gears of the lock cylinder. 
  3. Once the lock breaks, wiggle the steering wheel both directions until it unlocks.

This will give you back control of the car.

If this doesn’t work, consult a locksmith.  

CarKey Masters Tip; To avoid all of this, in terms of efforts as well as costs, because you are ultimately going to have to replace the lock and get another key, always ensure that you have a spare key. Contact us for a key duplication quote. Having a spare key is as important as having a spare wheel in your trunk. You never know when you’ll need one. 

In the event that your steering wheel locks up when driving, It could be as a result of 3 things, a problem with the steering pump, if the engine gets cut off while you are driving, so does the pump. Another reason is sharp turns; abrupt turns can cause your power steering to get stuck. Always negotiate turns slowly and this ought to reduce the chances of the wheel locking when driving.

Lastly, you might be using the wrong key, or have a key that has some debris. We recommend getting in touch with us for all your key-related problems, we will examine the key and if need be help you replace it and you will be good to go. Remember, if your wheel occasionally gets stuck while driving, you should consult a professional because that isn’t how the locking car feature is designed to work.

A locked wheel while driving can put you and others at risk while you are on the road, so get that looked at. Always take your car in for regular maintenance and fixes, that way problems can be detected early on and fixed before they can pose serious inconvenience or harm to you and others. 

We hope these tips are helpful. Contact us if you have any questions or want to book an appointment.

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