Key won’t turn in ignition? Here’s how to get your vehicle started

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key ignition video still
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Have you ever had your key stick in the ignition so you can’t turn your vehicle on?

Turns out there’s an easy fix — and it’s probably not what you think it is.

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Here’s what to do when your key won’t turn in the ignition

If your key is stuck in the ignition and won’t turn, one of the easiest fixes is to jiggle your steering left and right. That’s almost certainly what your owner’s manual will tell you to do:

key ignition owner's manual

But sometimes that just doesn’t work!

What happens then? Well, the cause of your problem could be that you need to replace your lock cylinder, which isn’t exactly a cheap job — unless you know how to do it yourself.

I called the dealership to get a quote on parts and labor to replace the lock cylinder on my 2007 Hyundai Sonata. I thought that if it was reasonable, I would do it so I don’t have to wrestle with my key in the ignition every time I want to start the vehicle.

The price? $170 for the lock cylinder itself and between $240 and $300 for the two or two-and-a-half hour job of install that I was told it would take a service tech.

That’s easily a $400 job at the dealer’s service department!

Well, I’d rather be inconvenienced for a minute getting my car started in the morning than have to fork over $400. So for now, I’m finagling the key with just a little force in the following manner:

I plan to keep doing this as long as it works to avoid paying $400 while I assess the difficulty of changing out the lock cylinder myself as a DIY job.

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Theo Thimou About the author:
Theo has co-written several books with Clark Howard, including the #1 New York Times bestseller "Living Large in Lean Times."
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