Unlock a steering wheel lock

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Unlock a steering wheel lock
Unlock a steering wheel lock
Anonim

A steering wheel lock is one of the ways in which your car is secured. The purpose of a steering wheel lock is to prevent someone from driving the car without a key, or with the wrong key. You normally unlock your steering wheel lock by turning your key in the ignition. However, due to wear and tear of the ignition lock, it is possible that the steering wheel lock no longer unlocks. If that happens, try the steps in this article before taking the car to a garage.

Steps

Method 1 of 3: Unlocking the steering wheel lock

Fix a Locked Steering Wheel Step 1
Fix a Locked Steering Wheel Step 1

Step 1. Insert the ignition key into the ignition switch

The steering wheel lock is probably locked because the steering wheel was moved after the engine was turned off. You unlock the lock the same way you start the car.

  • Insert the key into the ignition and try to turn it.
  • When the key turns and the car starts, all the steering wheel locks are unlocked at the same time.
Fix a Locked Steering Wheel Step 2
Fix a Locked Steering Wheel Step 2

Step 2. Carefully turn the key

If both the key and the steering wheel are stuck, you will need to apply a little more force to the key in the direction it is supposed to turn. Don't put this too high on the key, because that way you can bend or even break the key while it's still in the lock. Instead, gently apply pressure until the ignition lock moves.

  • If you eventually have to call the roadside assistance, it will be a lot more expensive to repair an ignition lock with a piece of key in it.
  • If the key doesn't turn with any pressure, then it probably won't make sense to apply more force. In that case, keep some pressure on the key and proceed to the next step.
Fix a Locked Steering Wheel Step 3
Fix a Locked Steering Wheel Step 3

Step 3. Put pressure on the steering wheel

The steering wheel lock is locked by means of a pin on one side. When the lock is locked you won't be able to turn the steering wheel either way, but you won't be able to move one way at all (the side where the pin is). Determine which way the steering wheel won't turn, then apply pressure to the other side while trying to turn the key with your other hand.

  • The process of simultaneously turning the key while applying pressure to the steering wheel causes the steering wheel to unlock.
  • The handlebars can only move a little bit in the opposite direction to the pen, but it can't move at all in the direction of the pen.
Fix a Locked Steering Wheel Step 4
Fix a Locked Steering Wheel Step 4

Step 4. Do not shake the handlebars

It can be tempting to shake the steering wheel back and forth when trying to unlock the steering wheel lock, but doing so will reduce the chances of success. Instead, try to apply even pressure in the same direction until the steering wheel unlocks.

Shaking the steering wheel back and forth can damage the locking pin and take you even further away from home

Fix a Locked Steering Wheel Step 5
Fix a Locked Steering Wheel Step 5

Step 5. Pull the key out of the lock a bit before turning the key

A worn key sometimes has difficulty turning in the lock. Sometimes it can help to insert the key all the way in first and then pull it out slightly. Do this just a few millimeters and then try turning again.

  • If this works, it is likely a worn key.
  • In that case, you should replace the key as soon as possible before it stops working altogether.
Fix a Locked Steering Wheel Step 6
Fix a Locked Steering Wheel Step 6

Step 6. Simultaneously turn your steering wheel and your key to unlock

You may have to try a few times, but if you apply enough pressure to the steering wheel in the right direction while trying to turn the key, both will unlock and you can start the car. You can apply a little force, but never force the steering wheel or key if it doesn't work right away. That way you damage the stem, key or other parts.

  • When the lock and steering wheel are unlocked, you can drive the car.
  • If you still can't get the steering wheel lock loose, you need to determine what the problem is.

Method 2 of 3: Freeing a stuck lock

Fix a Locked Steering Wheel Step 7
Fix a Locked Steering Wheel Step 7

Step 1. Spray a small amount of contact spray into the keyhole

If the ignition lock cylinder no longer works, it may help to lubricate it by spraying contact spray into the keyhole. Be careful not to spray too much. A few short sprays of spray should be sufficient. After this, insert the key into the lock and move it back and forth to properly distribute the lubricant.

  • If this fixes the problem you will probably need to replace the ignition cylinder as the problem will return and get worse.
  • Liquid graphite can also help lubricate the cylinder.
Fix a Locked Steering Wheel Step 8
Fix a Locked Steering Wheel Step 8

Step 2. Inject compressed air into the ignition switch

It is possible that there is dirt in the ignition lock that prevents the key from turning and you cannot unlock the steering wheel lock. Purchase a can of compressed air from an office supply store and insert the nozzle straw directly into the keyhole. A few short squirts should be enough to remove dirt.

Wear safety glasses to prevent the dirt from getting into your eyes

Fix a Locked Steering Wheel Step 9
Fix a Locked Steering Wheel Step 9

Step 3. Move the key back and forth in the lock a few times

If there were bits of dirt on the key when inserting, the dirt may now be in the pins of the contact cylinder. Insert the key all the way into the lock and pull it out again. Repeat a few times to remove any debris left in the cylinder.

  • If this works, the problem will likely return later, until the debris is completely removed from the ignition.
  • Use a can of compressed air to clean the cylinder if this method has worked.
Fix a Locked Steering Wheel Step 10
Fix a Locked Steering Wheel Step 10

Step 4. Check if the key is bent or damaged

If the key will not turn, the key may be damaged. Sometimes the teeth on the key are flattened or damaged, and the pins of the cylinder may not be reached properly. This in turn can result in a key that does not turn, so that the steering wheel lock is not unlocked.

  • Your key needs to be replaced if the key is damaged to such an extent that the cylinder no longer rotates.
  • Never copy the damaged key. A good replacement key should be supplied by a dealer who has experience with your make and type of car.

Method 3 of 3: Replacing the ignition switch

Fix a Locked Steering Wheel Step 11
Fix a Locked Steering Wheel Step 11

Step 1. Buy a new ignition switch

Ignition locks are easy to replace in most cars, which can be done at home, even by people without experience. Before you start, you must have ordered the correct ignition lock from an auto parts store. Specify the make, type and year of manufacture of the car to order the correct lock.

  • Car manufacturers are not likely to change part numbers quickly, so getting the right part won't be a problem in most cases.
  • Buy the new ignition switch before removing the old one. Compare the two locks and verify that the two locks are exactly the same before starting the job.
Fix a Locked Steering Wheel Step 12
Fix a Locked Steering Wheel Step 12

Step 2. Remove the plastic cover around the ignition switch

Most cars have a plastic housing around the steering column and ignition switch. Remove this plastic housing by first lowering the handlebars to the lowest position and then removing the screws that hold the housing in place. On some cars the housing consists of two parts, on other cars the cover at the ignition lock is a separate piece.

  • If you cannot lower the steering wheel with a lever, you must first remove the steering column support arm under the dashboard, so that the steering column comes down.
  • Remove the screws from the housing around the steering column, separate the two halves and remove the plastic.
Fix a Locked Steering Wheel Step 13
Fix a Locked Steering Wheel Step 13

Step 3. Remove the ignition switch with an Allen wrench

Examine the ignition switch and remove any trim material to gain access to the lock connector and the hole to release the assembly. Insert a 9/32” Allen key into the hole while turning the ignition key back.

  • Use the ignition key to remove it completely by pulling it towards the passenger seat.
  • Carefully disconnect the ignition lock connector when removing the ignition lock cylinder.
Fix a Locked Steering Wheel Step 14
Fix a Locked Steering Wheel Step 14

Step 4. Make sure the new ignition switch is well lubricated

Once the old ignition lock has been removed, compare the two locks again to see if they are the same. If all is well, the ignition switch is already lubricated at the factory and ready to be installed. Look closely for lubricant on the moving parts on the outside, check that the new key fits properly and that the cylinder rotates smoothly in both directions.

  • If the contact cylinder is not properly lubricated, first lubricate the cylinder with liquid graphite or a similar lubricant.
  • If necessary, purchase a lubricant from an auto parts store.
Fix a Locked Steering Wheel Step 15
Fix a Locked Steering Wheel Step 15

Step 5. Check that the lock pins can move freely

You can do this by putting the key all the way in the lock a few times and taking it out again. The key must not get stuck when inserting or removing it.

  • Lock pins are lubricated with graphite powder that is applied directly into the keyhole.
  • Graphite is available in small tubes designed to force the powder into the keyhole, reaching the back of the keyhole. Graphite can be added if needed.
Fix a Locked Steering Wheel Step 16
Fix a Locked Steering Wheel Step 16

Step 6. Slide the cylinder into place and reattach the connector

When everything fits properly and the lock is sufficiently lubricated, slide the cylinder into place and make sure it clicks into place. Reattach the connector and attach the cover material you removed earlier.

  • Turn the cylinder forward with the key until you hear it click into place.
  • Tighten the connector first, i.e. before securing the new cylinder in place.
Fix a Locked Steering Wheel Step 17
Fix a Locked Steering Wheel Step 17

Step 7. Start the engine to verify that the steering lock is unlocked

Before you reattach the steering column (if you had loosened it) and put back the plastic housing, make sure that the engine starts and that the steering wheel lock is released. This is done by inserting the key into the ignition and turning the key while applying pressure to the opposite side of the locking pin.

  • The bolts of the steering column must be tightened with a certain force (torque). You can find these specifications in the repair manual for your type of car.
  • If you can't find these specs, tighten the bolts securely with a long arm wrench so you can apply enough force. The bolts of your steering column must be tight, otherwise they can vibrate loose while driving.

Tips

  • In this article, we mean the ignition lock as the combination of the cylinder with key, the electrical switches and the mechanism of the steering wheel lock. This combination is sold and assembled as a whole, and can be purchased from dealers and auto parts stores.
  • A repair manual specific to your type of car can be useful if removing the ignition switch causes problems.

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