What To Do If My Car Key Won’t Come Out Of Ignition?

Car keys are basically the access code of the owner to his car, but sometimes, this small thing can be a source of real frustration and embarrassment. Imagine planning to go out with your friends and the car keys get stuck in the barrel! The car key won’t come out of ignition is a very common problem that everyone has had faced at least once with their cars. 

Factually speaking, this problem is not that complex or serious, it is a general maintenance item that goes through wear and tear cycles. Let us understand the problem in a simpler way.

What Causes Key Won’t Come Out Of Ignition Situation?

The key barrel of the car is a simple yet mechanical device that can fail like any other mechanical part of the car. The main reasons for the key barrel getting stuck are as follows-

1. Gear Lever Not In Park Position

One of the common causes key won’t come out of ignition is that the gear lever of the car is not in the parking position. In most modern cars, the gear lever needs to be in a particular position, which can be neutral or park. If you have forgotten to switch the gear position into neutral or park before shutting down the car, the car’s ignition system will not let you withdraw because the key can only move in the correct position. This is a safety feature that provides accidentally rolling of the car.

2. Bad Steering Wheel Lock

Steering Wheel lock can also cause the key to be stuck in the ignition barrel. It is a  mechanical system, it can so happen that the mechanical system has failed due to lack of lubrication or due to poor manufacturing quality and as a result, the key may that stuck into the barrel. 

3. Dirty Ignition Barrel

The ignition barrel could gather dirt, dust, and oil throughout his life, and as a result, sometimes the key gets stuck into this sludge-like dirt and it can become a very sticky situation. Normally, penetrating fluid is used to withdraw the key and it is a very easy job to do. 

4. Damaged Key

If the key is damaged, then it can lodge itself into the ignition barrel and can refuse to simply come out. Keys go through a lot of mechanical friction throughout their life and can at some point in time, fail and permanently stuck into the ignition back. 

How To Fix Stuck Key Problem?

Fixing the key that won’t come out of the ignition problem is very easy than you thought it to be. A key barrel is a simple mechanical device and it can be repaired easily. Here are the ways to fix the problem-

1. Move Gear Lever Into Park

If key won’t come out of ignition due to the gear lever, not in the proper position then you must, before shutting down the car, move the gear lever into a park or neutral position. It might sometimes happen that the gear lever has malfunctioned and is refusing to move into the park or neutral position, in that case, the manufacturers have provided an emergency override and it can be accessed through the side of the gear lever. by overriding the locking mechanism you can easily move the gear lever into neutral or park and give the key. 

2. Cleaning The Barrel

If the key has stuck due to the dirt or oil into the ignition barrel, then the easiest way to fix this problem is to use plenty of penetrating fluid, that has some solvent into it and it will dislodge all the dirt and gum inside the key barrel. Care must be taken that you should not get very forceful with the key while removing using the penetrating fluid. Because the key can be easily broken into two pieces and if that happens then the whole thing that has to be changed.

3. Check Electrical System

Battery issues or electrical issues can also freeze the key. In most modern cars, electric components play an important role in most of the systems. The key barrels have electric solenoids built into them to release the key. If the module of the car has gone bad or the battery is weak, then that would not provide the trigger solenoid and the key will not move. You should get the electrical system checked in order to solve the problem.

4. Cold Weather

Cold weather can also come sometimes cause the key to be stuck in the ignition barrel. In such a situation, slightly warm water for a hairdryer can be used to warm up the inners of the barrel in order to reach the key. 

5. Bad Key Barrel


The key may itself broke in the ignition barrel or the barrel has been damaged due to wear and tear. Then there is no other option than to replace them. There are many options for rebuild through third-party rebuilding vendors. They can repair your ignition barrel. But since it’s a very delicate and critical component of the car, it is recommended that you get it replaced. Anyway, it comes very cheaply. 

How Much Does It Cost To Get Key Out Of Ignition?

Fixing key won’t come out of ignition problem is very simple and cheap. since the major component that fails in this problem is the ignition barrel itself, it can be replaced between 50-200$. Sometimes the whole keyset has to be replaced. If the key barrel runs the immobilizer system too, in that case, it can cost up to 500$. The problem can simply be due to dirt or dust, then it can be solved as cheaply as 10$. The module can also needs to be changed, then it will cost 500$. 


The problem of the key getting stuck in the ignition barrel is not that complex. All it takes is to just yank the key with some twisting motion. However, care must be taken to go gentle. The key itself may break into two pieces. if you still have any queries, then comment down below.

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