Why Can’t I Pull My Key Out Of The Ignition? (9 Reasons Why)

Generally, most cars come with a key that you insert into the ignition to start your car. Unfortunately, some drivers may face issues with their keys, which normally involves the key being stuck in the ignition.

You may be wondering why you cannot pull your key out of the ignition. I did some digging, and here is what I learned!

Why Can’t I Pull My Key Out Of The Ignition?

You cannot pull the key out of the ignition because your key has been damaged or dirty. Additionally, ignition problems like a failing ignition cylinder or having dirt in the ignition can get your key stuck. Moreover, some features, like the steering wheel lock or accessory mode, could be the cause.

Do you want to find out more reasons why your key is stuck in the ignition? I made a list of reasons below, so reado n!

1. Damaged Or Worn Key

One of the most common reasons why your key is stuck in the ignition is that your key is damaged or worn out.

Generally, keys will be used a lot over the years since you will use your key each time you want to switch your car on and off.

Even throwing your keys to a table can cause a bit of damage to your keys, and these repeated actions can wear out your key over time.

Once your key has a small crack or dent, it will be much more difficult or impossible to remove your key from your ignition.

2. Dirty Key

If your key does not have any damage on it, chances are your key is stuck in the ignition because the key is dirty.

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Normally, people keep keys in various places that can house dirt, dust, etc., such as their pockets, bags, etc.

While you may not notice it, dust and dirt can build up in the grooves of your keys.

Once you insert your key into the ignition, it can be hard to remove the key since the dirt on the key would cause mini obstructions.

3. Faulty Ignition Cylinder

If you have a failing or damaged ignition cylinder, it will keep your key from exiting the ignition.

Your ignition cylinder is the part where you insert your key to start your car, and the ignition cylinder has various spring-loaded pins that are in rows.

These rows of pins within the ignition are meant to match up with your car key when you insert the key to start your car.

Even if one of these pins are not in the right alignment, you will struggle to remove your key.

In some cases, a faulty ignition cylinder will not allow you insert your key into the ignition at all.

4. Dead Battery

Generally, your car relies heavily on the car’s battery to start, and the ignition system will also depend on the battery to work.

Usually, having a dead battery while the key is still in the ignition can make your key get stuck because it will lead to a lock up.

Normally, you will know that your key is stuck because of the dead battery when you keep hearing a clicking noise when you try to turn on your car’s engine.

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5. The Steering Wheel Lock

The Steering Wheel Lock

A very common reason why you cannot take your key out of the ignition is that you locked your steering wheel.

If you turn off your car, leave the key in the ignition, and move your steering wheel (even a little), it will make your steering wheel lock activate.

Typically, the steering wheel lock is a safety feature to keep thieves from trying to steal your car.

Usually, you can fix this by moving the steering wheel while turning your key at the same time.

6. You Did Not Set Your Parking Gear

Another safety feature that can keep your key stuck in the ignition is not setting your parking gear.

While it will depend on what type of transmission you have, cars that use an automatic transmission will not release the key if the car is not in the parking gear.

On the other hand, cars that utilize manual transmission will only release the key if the gear was first shifted to neutral.

Therefore, you just need to try shifting your gear according to your transmission to release the key.

7. Accessory Mode

In most cars that have a regular key, the car will also likely have an accessory position that can make the key stuck in the ignition.

Generally, the accessory mode is meant to let you use some of your car’s features without turning on your car’s engine, such as the radio or power lock window.

Occasionally, you may not realize that you left your car in accessory mode, which is why the key will not leave the ignition.

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Usually, you can try to turn the key to turn the car on and then switch the car off completely (making sure it is in the off position) to take the key out of the ignition.

8. Dirt In The Ignition

Similar to getting dirt on your key, you could have a build up of dirt in your ignition that created a block that made your key stuck.

9. Manufacturing Defect

While this is a rare cause, you may have a manufacturing defect that keeps your car’s key stuck in the ignition.

Normally, you will have to call the manufacturer or dealership to see if your specific car model and batch has issues that were part of a recall to learn if it was a manufacturing defect.

To know more, you can also read our posts on why your ignition key is hot, why your key fob is not working after replacing the battery, and why your key won’t come out of the ignition.


Normally, most people cannot take their key out of the ignition due to a dirty or damaged key.

Moreover, an issue with the ignition system, such as a faulty ignition cylinder, can keep your key stuck in the ignition.

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