Why Won’t My Car Key Turn on the Ignition?

It’s a scenario we dread: you’re ready to drive, you insert your car key into the ignition, but it won’t turn. Why does this happen? Let’s delve deep into the reasons and the solutions.

1. Steering Wheel Lock

  • Description: This is a safety mechanism that might accidentally engage. When the wheel locks, it can prevent the key from turning.
  • Solution: Gently jiggle the steering wheel left and right while trying to turn the key.

2. Worn-out Key

Description: Over time, keys wear down, losing their precision shape.


  • Compare with a spare key.
  • If the spare works, replace the worn-out key.

3. Faulty Ignition Cylinder

Description: Like keys, ignition cylinders wear out with repeated use.


  • Use a graphite lubricant spray to loosen any sticky tumblers.
  • If the problem persists, seek professional help.

4. Debris in Ignition

Description: Foreign objects or built-up dirt can block the keyway.


  • Use compressed air to clear out any debris.
  • Ensure no foreign objects are lodged inside.

5. Damaged Transponder Chip

Description: Modern keys have a chip that communicates with the car for added security.


  • Ensure the key’s battery isn’t dead.
  • Re-program or replace the key if necessary.

6. Cold Weather Effects

Frozen Locks

Description: In colder climates, it’s possible for the car’s ignition lock to freeze. This makes it extremely challenging for the key to turn.


  • Use a lock de-icer. These are available at most auto parts stores.
  • Warm up the key before inserting it into the ignition by holding it in your hand or placing it near a heat source.

Thickened Lubricants

Description: The lubricants in the ignition can thicken in cold conditions, causing resistance.


  • Inserting the key multiple times can help warm up the lock.
  • Avoid water-based lubricants as they can freeze.

7. Misalignment Issues

Tumbler Misalignment

Description: The tumblers inside the ignition cylinder might misalign, preventing the key from turning smoothly.


  • Apply a small amount of lubricant and insert the key a few times to realign the tumblers.
  • If the issue persists, you might need a locksmith to adjust or replace the tumblers.

Table: Quick Troubleshooting Guide

Problem Quick Fix
Steering Wheel Lock
Jiggle the steering wheel
Worn-out Key
Use spare key
Faulty Ignition Cylinder
Use graphite lubricant
Debris in Ignition
Use compressed air
Damaged Transponder Chip
Check key battery or re-program the key

What To Do Next?

When you’ve exhausted these methods, and the key still won’t turn, it might be time to call in the experts.

Seek Professional Help

Before forcing the key or trying DIY hacks from the internet, consult a locksmith. They have the expertise to diagnose and fix the issue without causing further damage.

Why Choose Pro Keys Locksmith, Cherry Hill, NJ?

At Pro Keys Locksmith, we’ve seen it all. From simple key replacements to complex ignition repairs, we’re equipped to handle any situation. Here’s why Cherry Hill residents trust us:

  • Experienced Technicians: We have a team of experts who know the ins and outs of car ignitions.
  • Prompt Response: We understand the urgency and ensure swift solutions.
  • Quality Service: Your car’s safety is our top priority.

When you’re stuck, remember we’re just a call away. Let us restore peace of mind and get you back on the road.

General Advice: Preventive Measures

It’s always better to prevent a problem than to solve one. To avoid finding yourself unable to turn your car key in the ignition:

  • Regular Maintenance: Schedule routine check-ups of your car’s ignition system. Over time, even small issues can escalate if left unattended.
  • Quality Keys: Invest in high-quality keys and get them replaced at the first sign of wear and tear.
  • Avoid Force: Never force a key to turn. Doing so could break the key, leaving a piece inside the ignition.

The Assurance of Professional Care

With the complexities of modern cars, it’s essential to stay informed. While understanding common problems helps, there’s no substitute for professional expertise. Ignition issues might seem trivial but, if handled incorrectly, can lead to significant expenses.

Pro Keys Locksmith: Beyond Just Solutions

At Pro Keys Locksmith in Cherry Hill, NJ, we believe in more than just fixing problems. We believe in establishing relationships based on trust. Our team doesn’t just provide solutions; we ensure you understand the issue, guiding you through the process, and offering advice to avoid future problems.

When in doubt, always reach out. We’re here, not just as service providers, but as your trusted partners on the road.

Contact Us