How to Unlock Your Steering Wheel (Step by Step)

Do you want to know How to Unlock your Steering Wheel? If yes, then you are on the right page.

Like a smartphone, cars have many features you might not know about. Steering wheel locks are one such feature. While some use club lock/theft deterrents, others already have these guardians.

If you don’t know how it works, it can get you confused and stop you from making use of your car.

The steering wheel’s lock feature prevents your front wheel from changing direction when you have no key in your ignition. It helps to prevent theft.

However, some drivers have difficulties unlocking their steering wheel, especially new ones who are not conversant with the safety feature.

The first thing to know about unlocking a steering wheel is that the process is easy and simple. If it’s not, then it means you’ll have an issue. Unfortunately, since not all drivers are aware of this feature, many who get their steering wheel locked only do that by mistake.

So, if you don’t know how you can unlock the steering wheel that you’ve mistakenly locked, you’ll find out by reading through this article and also how to avoid locking your steering wheel mistakenly next time.

How to Unlock Your Steering Wheel?

Don’t panic when your car’s steering wheel gets locked because it isn’t a mechanical problem, and you might have just turned the wheel too fast when parking or you just turned off your engine at a bad time. Instead, you need a bit of mild force to unlock your steering wheel.

Here is what you’re supposed to do to unlock it:

  1. Bring your wheel down to the same direction you had, when your wheel was originally locked.
  2. If you aren’t sure of the direction you should pull, try pulling both – if you’re pulling in the correct direction, your wheel moves slightly.
  3. As you’re holding the wheel in the correct direction, start the car’s engine by putting the car key in the ignition.
  4.  If the engine refuses to start or the wheel refuses to unlock, turn your wheel the other way and redo the step above.

Now your car’s steering wheel is supposed to be unlocked!

If you have a car that is electric and without ignition, this will work well for you:

The steering wheel lock is essentially an electronic deadbolt. With your hand(left one), Shake the wheel using significant force, and while you use your other hand to press the car’s start-stop button.

Do not step on your car’s brake. These steps would unlock your car’s steering without starting your engine, by putting the ignition in ACC mode.

The steps mentioned above may not work in some cases as your wheel lock and break, a glitch in many other ways or wear out.

You can try different keys or spray lubricant on cars with ignition cylinders. If the car’s ignition cylinder breaks or is worn out, it may be necessary to replace it.

Also Read: Steering Wheel Not Straight (Causes & Solutions)

What Else Can I Do if It Doesn’t Unlock?

How to Unlock Your Steering Wheel

It’s simple and easy to unlock your steering wheel if you do it the right way. However, if the previous instructions still don’t work in unlocking your steering wheel, you already have an issue.

Try using a different key. The key should be a spare key made for the same car. You should try this because there are some cases where a less bruised or different key solves the problem.

The wear and tear on an old key, especially on its ridges, can be why it’s not turning easily, especially if it comes to unlocking your steering wheel.

Try using your spare key instead. There’s a chance you keep your spare key for emergencies and use one regularly to operate your car.

It’s a little irresponsible not to have an extra key. It’s time to duplicate yours in the closet key shop in case a bigger problem happens or you encounter something worse than having your steering wheel locked.

1. Use WD-40

This is correct; in these situations, a trusted WD-40 could help sometimes. It is used best in lubricating metals and getting the rusted parts of the metal moving again.

Its lock tumbler must have worn out with time, and frozen upon locking the steering wheel for your ignition assembly. When this is the case, losing it might be a temporary solution.

You can spray the WD-40 inside your lock cylinder, insert your key, then try turning it to lose the tumblers. Do this repeatedly till you free your lock tumbler, and unlock the steering wheel.

Just like we mentioned above, this solution is temporal. So even if it works, you still have to check the ignition assembly, because it might still need replacement. Get the car to a mechanic as it’s still running to avoid delays in the repair.

2. Have Your Ignition Assembly Checked

When the situation gets to its worst, it then means that the entire ignition assembly may be busted. In this case, there’s nothing you’ll be able to do unless you have a mechanic’s know-how.

This repair is not just any basic repair you’ll want to joke with if you don’t know how to do it properly.

Call a trusted mechanic immediately to examine your ignition assembly. You can equally have your vehicle towed as quickly as you can to the car dealer so that whatever requires replacement in the car can be replaced.

A busted ignition assembly does not lock your wheel alone; it prevents the car from starting and you from driving your car too.

3. Check Your Key Fob

A car with a button start should be checked to know if its key FOB battery works well or if a different FOB should be tried. If the problem persists, you might have an electronic or electrical problem.

One of the best ways to prevent having a locked wheel is by steering the wheel to the direction you want the wheel to be, resting the car on the parking brake, and releasing the wheel, the transmission should be put in PARK, and the engine should be shut down.

Then avoid touching your steering wheel unless you are ready to turn on your engine again.

Also Read: Steering Assist Is Reduced (Meaning, Causes & Solution)

Why Do Steering Wheels Lock?

How to Unlock Your Steering Wheel

We have to find out the problems before we go to any solutions. It’s certain that most of you have faced this problem but didn’t know what caused it initially. There are many reasons for this problem.

Below are some most common situations that cause your steering wheel to lock.

  1. Accidentally engaging one of the vehicle’s safety features during parking. To be more specific, turning the wheel a bit left and right while the car’s engine off makes one of the car’s lock slots get blocked. This results in having your car stuck.
  2. Suppose dirt gets into your ignition chamber if the car’s engine stops working suddenly.
  3. The Engine Control Unit (ECU) might be having a problem if the Engine Control Unit sensory problem occurs.
  4. Engine stalling could be caused when there’s insufficient fuel delivery, and it can equally be responsible.
  5. Sharp turnings: Habitual sharp turnings increase the possibility, of having a locked steering wheel.

Also Read: Can You Use Brake Fluid for Power Steering Fluid? (Explained)

How to Prevent Steering Wheel Lock

The feature anti-theft feature locks the steering wheel and engages only if the steering wheel is moved when the car is off and there’s no key in the ignition. A common way to get engaged is if someone tries to get out using the wheel.

If the person doesn’t use the wheel in that situation, then there’s no need to worry about it getting locked.

How to Unlock Your Steering Wheel

Frequently Asked Questions – How to Unlock Your Steering Wheel

So Why Is My Ignition Stuck?

If you’re encountering problems trying to get your key in and out of your car’s ignition, it’s probably gummed up because of contamination and age. Dirt, grime, and dust enter the ignition chambers with time, making them frozen or sticky.

What tools do I need to Unlock my steering wheel?

You just need your key and no other tool for the job.

How Do I Lubricate My Ignition?

We recommend you use 3-In-One dry lubricant oil or Tri-Flow lubricant oil.

Is It Okay To Spray WD-40 In Ignition?

We don’t recommend it. But then you can feel free to use it if you’re planning on replacing your ignition chamber. If not, buy & use a specific lube for the work.

Conclusion – How to Unlock Your Steering Wheel

The only discussion in this article is the causes and possible solutions to quickly solve the problem of having a locked steering wheel. If you’re not lucky, you might need a new ignition lock assembly, which will massively waste your time. So we’re hoping these simple fixes here work for you.

If you’re unable to turn your key, then the key might be the problem. It’s possible that a worn-out key will not engage the vehicle’s tumblers. Remember that using force won’t unlock locked wheels.

The only thing it’ll end up doing is damaging parts of your steering mechanism. Instead, try following the steps listed above when applying pressure.

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