Car Maintenance And Repairs

Why Key Won't Go In Ignition?

Mike Cross
Updated Jan 20, 2021
Why Key Won't Go In Ignition

Have you ever been in a situation where your key wouldn’t go into the ignition and you didn’t know why or what to do?

Well, a lot of people have been in that position and when it happens it can be surprising and frustrating.

That is why it is best to stay calm and think things thru.

That can be easier said than down though sometimes, but after reading this article you will have a better idea of why your key won’t go into the ignition and what to do about it, so if you come across that situation, then you will be able to stay calm and solve the problem.

Why Key Won't Go In Ignition
Why Key Won't Go In Ignition


Their are actually a handful of reasons why your key may not go into the ignition. Before going into detail of each one and what to do about it we will give you a short list of possibilities here. The possibilities are

  • Wrong Key
  • Security Feature Enabled
  • Something in Ignition
  • Something Stuck in Key
  • Damaged Key

If you are having this situation right now and think you know why, then you can jump to that section and find a solution. If you aren’t having the situation currently, then you can read thru all the possibilities and that way you will be prepared for if it happens to you.

Wrong Key

The most simple explanation of why your key won’t go into the ignition is that you are using the wrong key.

While this might sound super simple, it happens to people. If you can’t get the key to go into the ignition, then do not force it. This can cause damage to the ignition and the key.

Instead stay calm and be patient. Look at the key that you are trying to use and make sure it is the right one for the vehicle that you are in.

These days with people having multiple cars you most likely have more than one key on your key ring and you might just simply be using the wrong one. If you find that you are using the wrong one, then crisis is avoided and you can just switch to the right one and go about your day.

Security Feature Enabled

Another common possibility for why the key won’t go into the ignition is that you might have triggered an anti-theft feature on your car.

This can easily be done by accident when getting out or getting in. A lot of cars if they think they are being stolen will lock up. This means that the steering wheel, will not turn and the key might not go into the ignition.

The way this happens is if you pulled on the wheel when getting in or out or hit something wrong. If your car is locked up, then it is easy to freak out especially if it is the first time that it has happened, but the key is to stay calm.

If your car is locked up, then it is normally pretty easy to fix. All you have to do is wiggle on the wheel gentle and eventually it will start to turn again.

It really is that simple for most vehicles. Some cars are harder to get them to disengaged the security system though, so if this doesn’t fix your car, then you may have to research your specific car, but at least you know what is going on.

Once the anti-theft system is disengaged, then the key will go into the ignition like normal and the car will start just fine.

Something in Ignition

Sometimes the reason why the key won’t go into the ignition, is that something is in the way of it going in.

This can happen if something gets stuck in the ignition. Some cars have spring loaded dust covers that push out of the way when you put the key in. If this spring breaks or gets stuck, then the cover will not move out of the way.

If your car has this feature, then to fix this problem you just need a small screw driver. You can use the screw driver to carefully move this cover out of the way. This will then allow the key to go in like normal.

If your car doesn’t have this cover, then that doesn’t mean that something isn’t stuck inside the switch. You can use a flash light to look to see if you see any debris in the hole.

If you do, then you can again use a screwdriver and carefully work the problem piece out.

If you don’t see anything though, but still think this might be the cause of why the key won’t go in, then you can take some compressed air and blow the ignition out. The compressed air will move and get ride of most things that shouldn’t be in their.

After doing this the key should go in again. If it doesn’t, then it means you might have another problem going on.

Something on Key

One of those other problems may be that your key has something stuck on it. With carrying your keys in your pocket with other things, it could be easy to get something stuck in the grove of the key. This is especially true with older keys that don’t fold up and for the none square keys.

If you see something stuck to your key that shouldn’t be there, then use something small like a paper clip to get it off. Something getting stuck to your key is one way that things get into the ignition because if it is something small, then the key might go in normal a few times before the thing falls off and blocks the hole.

If you clean your key though and it still won’t go in, then you might need to lubricate the ignition slightly. This is especially true if you have already blow the ignition out and made sure nothing was in it. You can use a little WD40 or something like that in the ignition to help break up grease that may be stopping the key from going in. If the key still won’t go in, then you might have the last problem.

Damaged Key

The last reason why your key may not be going into the ignition is that the key is damaged. Inspect the key and see if you see any missing teeth or cracks in the key.

If you do, then you will have to get a new key and this can be expensive. If you don’t see any missing teeth or cracks, then the next thing you should check is to make sure the key is straight. With daily use it is easy for the key to get bent.

This is especially true if you took it out of the ignition to fast or in the wrong way the last time. If the key is bent, then you can try to straighten it, but you got to be careful not to break the key. If it is bent to much or can’t be straighten, then again the only solution is to get a new key.


So as you can see their is a handful of reasons why your key may not be going into the ignition. The key thing to do when this happens is to stay calm and problem solve. It may be something simple like using the wrong key or the anti-theft being engaged. If it isn’t these things though, then it might just be something is stuck in the ignition or key and this is normally pretty easy to fix. The only major thing that it could be is that the key is damaged, and if that is the case then you will have to get a new key. After reading this though you should be able to figure out what it is and solve the problem.

Mike Cross
Life is too short to drive with stock audio

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

5 comments on “Why Key Won't Go In Ignition?”

  1. Howzit bro, I bought 2013 Mercedes w204 accident damage but my key won't go in and I dnt no why, funny part is my wheels dnt lock

  2. Reason 6: There's a little catch that stops you taking the key out unless the engine is off and the gear selector is in Park. That catch is in the locked position, and won't let me put the key in. I suspect a logic failure in the interlock system, rather than a mechanical failure in the catch mechanism. How do I reboot the logic?

  3. For me, my key will only ho in a quarter inch. It looks like there's a metal piece blocking it from going in any further. This metal piece is not the dust cover - that is working fine. I've tried everything and I mean everything I can think of and that metal tooth just won't budge. It must be there by design to prevent the key from going in. But why? I just can't figure it out. It's an old car and this stupid problem might cost too much to justify keeping it. I figured I could get about 3 more years out of it as it's a Toyota Echo, 2003. Any out-of-the-box thinking or suggestions would be appreciated.

  4. I have a 2011 malibu it worked fine coming home from store. The and hour later husband went to use it and key would NOT go in. Tried both keys. Nothing

linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram