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My Key Won’t Turn in The Ignition and the Steering Wheel is Locked – Having your key stuck in the ignition with a locked steering wheel can be a annoying at the inconvenient situation. This common automotive problem can be caused by various factors, ranging from a simple misalignment of the steering wheel to more complex issues within the ignition system. Moreover, in this content, we will explore the possible reasons behind this dilemma and provide you the step-by-step instructions on how to troubleshoot and resolve the issue.
There are many reasons that can influence the change in the hardness of your car’s steering wheel, although the most common is a lack of power steering fluid in the circuit. Sometimes this can happen either because the system is leaking or because the steering fluid is too thick.
The truth is that, although it is a very common breakdown, it is still a problem and must be corrected immediately. Remember that the steering wheel is one of the most important elements of the vehicle, so it is very important to ensure its proper functioning.
Like all the elements of your car, the steering wheel must also be checked during different maintenance and driving a car that is poorly aligned, with swings or with breakdowns that affect its control, puts your life and that of many people at risk.
My car’s steering wheel gets hard, what should I do?
Steering wheel hardness is not a fault that can be noticed in advance, which is why it is essential to know the faults that can root the steering wheel to become hard. This way you can check all the elements and make sure that you will not have any scares behind the wheel while driving. These are the most common causes:
Steering fluid leak
Probably one of the most common causes is a steering fluid leak. Not only can the system have a leak, but the level can also be insufficient and not function perfectly. If you notice that the steering wheel is very hard when turning, this may be the reason.
Thick steering fluid
Another of the most common reasons is the thickness of this liquid. This problem is if the steering wheel feels hard when turning, but the fluid has a correct level. The liquid can accumulate dirt or even “expire” since it must be replaced from time to time.
Faulty Power Steering Pump
Now that you know two easy breakdowns, let’s get to know one that’s a little more complex. This piece is responsible for delivering the fluid to the steering system. If you cannot turn the steering wheel properly or even hear some noise, prepare your pocket because the steering pump may have broken down.
Without a doubt, another element that affects the hardness of the steering wheel is the steering rack . This element connects the steering wheel with the mechanisms that turn the wheels. And if you notice that the steering wheel becomes hard after starting the car, but gradually turns more smoothly as you drive, the problem is with the rack.
The pressure of the wheels can also influence the hardness of the steering wheel; incorrect pressure can trigger this breakdown or even cause an accident while driving.
Now that we have a basic understanding of the potential causes, let’s delve into the steps to troubleshoot and resolve the issue:
Check the Steering Wheel Position:
Start by attempting to turn the steering wheel gently from side to side while simultaneously trying to turn the key. If the steering wheel is locked, applying a bit of force in the opposite direction of the lock may release it and allow the key to turn.
Ensure the Vehicle is in Park:
Automatic transmission vehicles must be in the “Park” position for the ignition key to turn. Ensure the gear selector is fully engaged in the “P” position and try turning the key again.
Inspect the Key:
To examine the key for any signs of damage. If it appears bent, chipped, or excessively worn, consider using a spare key. If the spare key works, it may be time to replace the original key.
Wiggle the Key:
While attempting to turn the key, gently wiggle it in various directions. Sometimes, a slight adjustment can help the key engage with the ignition cylinder.
Use Graphite Lubricant:
If the key is not turning due to friction within the ignition cylinder, consider using a graphite lubricant. Apply the lubricant directly into the keyhole and insert the key, turning it back and forth to distribute the lubricant.
A weak or dead battery can occur issues sometimes with the ignition. Hence, ensure your vehicle’s battery is in good condition and has enough power.
Experiencing a stuck key and a locked steering wheel can be a frustrating experience, but by systematically troubleshooting the issue, you can often identify and resolve the problem. From simple adjustments to more complex repairs, the key is to approach the situation patiently and methodically. If all else fails, seeking assistance from a qualifies automotive professional is recommend to ensure a thorough diagnosis and proper resolution of the issue. Remember, maintaining your vehicle and addressing issues promptly contributes to its overall longevity and performance.