How to Unlock Your Steering Wheel

2020 Ford Edge Interior

If you’re like most of us here at Kistler Ford, you’ve probably experienced a roadside emergency in serving Sylvania at one point or another. Some emergencies, like blowing a tire or having your radiator rupture on the highway in Maumee, are pretty dramatic. Others like experiencing a locked steering wheel, though perhaps less calamitous can be equally distressing.

Luckily, at our service center, we’re here to help you and others like you from Perrysburg and nearby with all your service & repair needs. With that in mind allow us to provide you the following tips and tricks for how to unlock a steering wheel. Have additional questions after reading? Reach out to our service team for help!

Why Your Steering Wheel is Locked

Encountering a locked steering wheel can be stressful. The first time it happens, you might wonder “is my car broken?!” Usually, the answer is no.

Modern vehicle steering systems rely on a rack & pinion system to work. Sometimes, if you turn your vehicle off with pressure applied to the steering wheel, the wheel can lock due to pressure in the steering system.

Other times, if your vehicle is older, or the key is worn out, there may be problems with the ignition cylinder or the key itself. To determine what’s causing your steering wheel to be locked, we recommend following the tips below. If they don’t work, don’t worry. Instead, schedule a service appointment and leave your vehicle in the hands of our capable service technicians!

How to Unlock a Steering Wheel

Follow these tips to unlock your vehicle’s steering wheel if you find that it’s stuck:

  1. First, try to insert the key into the ignition and start the car. Be gentle and don’t use excessive force. If that doesn’t work, gently grip the steering wheel and move it both ways to determine which way (left or right) it moves freely. Next, try moving the wheel in the direction it moves freely while attempting to start the car. You may have to push the key in slightly and jimmy it back and forth. Again, be gentle, and don’t force the key or the wheel.
  2. If the above steps fail, try pulling the key out slightly before starting. Often, if your key is old or worn, this can help.
  3. Try using a different key and repeat step 1, and if necessary, step 2.
  4. Try spraying some electrical cleaner into the ignition (do not attempt this with push-button start vehicles or vehicles with a “push-in” style key). If this solves your issue, there is a chance your ignition cylinder needs to be replaced.

How to Lock Your Steering Wheel

Why worry about locking your steering wheel? It could prevent your vehicle from being stolen by disabling access to steering functionality if hotwired. With that in mind, here’s how to lock your steering wheel:

  • Turn your vehicle off normally, put it into park, and remove the key.
  • After removing the key, turn the wheel to either side until you hear a click.
  • Test the steering wheel to ensure that it is locked.

Need Help with Steering Issues or Other Repairs? Contact Us!

If the above processes and suggestions haven’t resulted in you successfully unlocking your steering wheel successfully, it’s probably a good time to take advantage of our service specials and schedule your next service booking. At the Kistler Ford service center and body shop, helping you with your service & repair needs is our top priority!

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