How to Fix a Locked Steering Wheel

One of a car's key safety features is the steering wheel lock. Normally, when unlocking your steering wheel, it entails putting your key in the ignition to unlock it. However, your ignition tumblers might fail due to experiencing a lot of mechanical movement, wear-and-tear, and frictional force over time, resulting in a steering wheel you can't unlock.

What should you do to unlock this? First, attempt to unlock it several times with your ignition before having a mechanic take a look at the ignition cylinder just to be sure.

Methods of Unlocking a Locked Steering Wheel

  • Insert the Key Into The Ignition: Perhaps your steering wheel remains lock because there's still a bit of force on your wheel after turning off your car the last time. You should unlock it in the same way you had it positioned when you locked it while turning your key. Insert the key into your ignition then observe if that's enough to make the steering wheel unlock along with the ignition cylinder.
  • Turn The Key in a Gentle Manner: Gently turn the key instead. If the wheel and key remain locked in place, you'll need to apply force on your key with the direction you'd usually turn it. However, it's emphasized that you do this step gently in order to avoid the common driver mistake of applying too much pressure. You don't want the key to break while inside the ignition keyhole. That's more expensive to repair.
  • Don't Shake or Rock The Steering Wheel: There's a temptation to rock or shake your wheel in frustration. Don't do that. That can damage the locking mechanism further and decrease your chances of unlocking the wheel. It's better to apply steady pressure in one direction, particularly the part where the pin is, while turning your ignition until your wheel unlocks altogether. To shake the steering wheel is a rookie mistake.
  • Apply Pressure to The Steering Wheel: Usually a steering wheel will end up stuck in place through a pin on one side. When it's locked, your steering wheel won't be able to move in either direction. However, one side will not allow movement at all, which is the side with the locking pin. Know which direction the locking pin is at then apply pressure in that direction while turning the key on your other hand to unlock your wheel.
  • Turn The Wheel and Key to Unlock It: It might take several tries before this becomes successful, but if you do it right and carefully it should unlock in the end. Remember to turn the wheel in the direction where the pin is while turning your key simultaneously. This is how you can unlock the wheel and turn on your engine, allowing you to move the wheel freely as the vehicle starts and revs up.

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