Freeing a Steering Lock That Refuses To Release - UK Auto Locksmith.

by Uk Car Locksmith
7 months ago
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You insert your car key and attempt to turn the ignition on a cold winter morning, but no matter how you wiggle and twist, the steering lock refuses to disengage. Your steering wheel remains frozen in place no matter what you try. Few things are more annoying than turning your ignition key expectantly only to have a steering lock reject your efforts. But before calling for expensive roadside assistance or a tow truck, read on for tips on releasing a stuck steering wheel lock yourself.

What Does The Steering Lock Do?

The steering lock is a built-in anti-theft device found on most modern cars. It consists of metal components within the steering column that prevent the wheel from freely moving when the key is not inserted. Here is how it normally works:

  • A locking pin engages with the ignition cylinder in the steering column when the key is vertical in the “LOCK” position
  • With this pin jammed in, the steering wheel cannot be turned more than an inch or two.
  • Inserting the car key and turning it sends a signal for this locking pin to retract back into the ignition cylinder, disengaging the wheel lock
  • Once unlocked, the steering wheel can then rotate freely to allow driving

Common Reasons A Steering Won’t Unlock

Issues in either the mechanical ignition cylinder components or the ignition power system can all cause the steering lock release signal to fail. Common reasons include:

Mechanical Issues

  • Wear/damage to the locking pin and ignition cylinder preventing smooth engagement
  • Environmental issues like cold weather cause ice buildup

Electrical Issues

  • Weak battery or alternator unable to generate enough power
  • Bad ignition switch failing to send release signal

Tips For Freeing a Jammed Steering Lock

Before calling a costly locksmith, try troubleshooting the root causes and using specialized auto locksmith techniques:

Check Key Battery

The key battery may be too depleted to transmit the vital unlock code to release the wheel. Replace the battery or try your spare key if available.

Jiggle Steering Wheel

l While gently but firmly trying to turn the ignition key, wiggle the wheel back and forth. This extra vibration helps break free a stuck locking pin.

Shift Gears Into Neutral

Trying to unlock steering column components that are under pressure from “Park” or “Drive” puts strain on the system. Shift to neutral to relieve some pressure.

Ensure the Brake Is Released

Just like when shifting gears, make sure to take your foot fully off the brake pedal when trying to unlock the ignition. This also minimizes pressure on all systems involved.

Lock/Unlock Doors

Locking and unlocking all doors can essentially “reset” the car’s electrical system, allowing the steering unlock signal to get through successfully on the next attempt.

Violently Rock the Car

For rear-wheel drive vehicles especially, rocking the car forcefully back and forth transfers pressure from a possible jammed front steering column to the rear wheels. The jolt may be just enough to free up the stuck lock!

Jump Start Battery

If low battery charge seems the culprit, jump-starting or recharging the battery can provide the extra electrical boost needed for the steering lock components to spring back open as designed.

Professional Unlocking Methods

If you cannot resolve a stuck steering column yourself, reach out to a professional auto locksmith service. They can deploy specialized unlocking tools to resolve even stubbornly jammed steering locks. Methods include:

Lock Picking Tools

Custom manual picks are used to align and retract locking pins inside the ignition cylinder precisely, mimicking the correct car key signal to unlock the steering.

Jiggler Keys

These are cut for common vehicle ignition locks. Your locksmith will have an array to rapidly try releasing yours.

Drill/Scope Extraction

As a last resort, the cylinder may need removal or repair, which lock pros can handle carefully by drilling while scoping internals.

Avoid Future Lockouts

To help ensure your steering lock keeps working smoothly for many miles ahead:

  • Avoid parking with wheels turned all the way left or right
  • Maintain consistent battery health and charging
  • Address minor ignition issues early before they worsen
  • Keep the ignition cylinder area clean/lubed

While worrisome, in most cases a little persistence and the right troubleshooting techniques will safely get your steering unlocked and you promptly back on the road. But never hesitate to call in an auto locksmith team if needed – releasing frozen steering components is their specialty after all!

  • For lockout- Start from £120

  • For Lost key- Start from £180

  • For Key Repair- Start from £130

  • For Copy Key- Start from £150

  • For Key replacement- Start from £150

  • For Ignition Repair/replacement- Start from £300

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Call Now: 020 3930 0517



There are a few common reasons your steering lock won't release when turning the key. Mechanical issues like a damaged locking pin or wear on the ignition cylinder can prevent the components from disengaging. Electrical problems can also stop the release signal. Cold weather can even cause enough ice build-up to jam things.
Not necessarily right away. First try the troubleshooting tips like jiggling the wheel, making sure the brake is released, or shifting gears. Also, check the key battery or try your spare. Rocking the vehicle vigorously can help too. If none of that works, a locksmith's specialized tools can get it opened.
Yes, using too much brute physical force trying to muscle your steering wheel to turn when the lock is engaged can definitely cause damage to the ignition cylinder or locking pin. Always start gently and increase force gradually. And stop immediately if anything starts to feel like it is bending or breaking.
Take simple preventative measures for maintenance: Don't turn wheels all the way when parking, keep the battery properly charged, address minor ignition issues promptly before they worsen, and lubricate the cylinder periodically. Doing things like ensuring battery health prevents many electrical issues that could cause a stuck lock.


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