Why My Car Key Will Not Turn To Lock Position?

If you find yourself in a situation where your car key will not turn to lock position, several issues may be causing the problem. While some of these issues are specific to certain years, makes or models of vehicle, many are fairly universal and can be addressed in your driveway. The issue may be the key, the ignition cylinder, or user error. Narrow down the cause of the issue by attempting several methods before having the vehicle towed to a repair facility.

Reasons Why Your Car Key Will Not Turn To Lock Position?

Here, we will reveal the reasons that cause your key will not turn to the lock position:

1. A Worn-out Shift Lock Cable

You can find a cable running from the shifter to the ignition switch. If the cable gets worn out or disconnected in your efforts, it fails to push the lock into place. Consequently, you can’t turn the key to the lock position.

2. Brace Screw Gets Lost

The shift-lock cable that goes into the ignition switch has a brace with a screw. It secures the cable into its place. If the brace screws get lost somehow, the cable will come out and it will not function properly. In other words, it will not push the lock into its place. As a result, it will be impossible to turn the key to the lock position.

3. Bad Ignition Lock Cylinder

A faulty ignition lock cylinder is another caveat that makes it difficult for the key to go into the lock position. If you fail to turn the key to the lock position, it’s either the ignition switch or the ignition lock cylinder.

Generally, your car key slides into the ignition lock cylinder. These two car elements mate together and become one. If these two components break, it will affect both. Plus, you can find many other small moving parts inside the steering column that get activated when you insert the key and turn it. These parts can also be the culprit.

4. Locking Pin On The Top of The Cylinder Gets Locked

Most often we overlook the locking pin on top of the cylinder as it’s less susceptible.

When the key won’t turn to the lock position, everyone seeks the lock-out system in all steering columns. This system prevents you from pulling out the key and locks the steering wheel while your car is in motion.

You can find a secondary button or switch to release the key if you have a manual transmission vehicle. On the other hand, if you have a car with automatic transmission, you need to have your car in park to release the key.

If the cable running from the automatic shifter to the steering column gets disconnected, you can never turn the key back to the lock position.

Yes, this is the logical reason. But what about the locking pin on the top of the cylinder? This top pin secures the cylinder into its housing. If this pin somehow gets locked up, you can’t get the key to the lock position.

What To Do If The Key Won’t Go To Lock Position?

Above, we described and traced out the reasons that cause your car key to not go to the lock position. In this chapter, we will elaborate on how to solve those issues to get your key back to the lock position again.

1. Replace The Damaged Shift-Lock Cable

Start with removing the shift cover to inspect its operation. If you find the shift cable comes loose, you must tighten it up. On the other hand, if the cable gets worn out or damaged, you must replace it. The following tutorial will help you learn how to change the shift cable.

2. Back The Brace Screw On

Sometimes the brace for the cable going into the ignition switch may lose the screw that holds the cable secure. Just grab the same size screw and back the screw on. We hope your cable will now work properly and fix your car key issue.

3. Fix The Ignition Lock Cylinder Issue

You must disassemble the steering column to see what parts get broken. Once you inspect those parts, you must replace them with new ones. Alternatively, you can hire a professional mechanic to do this task if you are not mechanically inclined.

Finally, inspect the ignition lock cylinder for damage. If it gets defective, replace it. To do this work, we recommend you hire a car mechanic.

4. Remove The Locking Pin

As we mentioned in the previous chapter, sometimes the locking pin on the top of the cylinder may somehow lock up. What you need to do is- just remove the locking pin from the top of the cylinder. It will solve the problem.


Take a look at a few frequently asked questions:

Q1. Why Is My Key Not Twisting?

Your key will not twist if you try to use a key for a different car. Similarly, you can’t turn the key when the steering wheel is locked. Just use the key that comes with your car. Second, unlock the steering wheel. In this case, turn the steering wheel from side to side while continuously turning on the ignition key.

Q2. How Do You Turn A Key That Won’t Turn?

You can easily turn a key that won’t turn by wiggling the steering wheel back & forth while you gently turn the key. On the other hand, if you have a car with automatic transmissions, you should try to jiggle the gear shift. Then, try to turn the key. Alternatively, you can hire an automotive locksmith to fix this issue.


Car key will not turn to lock position due to a worn-out shift lock cable, a defective ignition cylinder, and more. Fixing those problems will help you turn the key to the lock position again. Fortunately, we broke down everything related to this. So, follow the steps we mentioned above to solve the key turning issue. Additionally, we also described some alternative ways you can follow if the key won’t turn in the ignition.

Leave a Comment