How to Unlock Steering Wheel Without Key

You might have experienced car starting issues, which seems to be normal. You might feel less concerned until the steering wheel locks up. When the steering wheel locks, you will be unable to turn the ignition key as well. There are many reasons why this could pop up.  In this article, I’ll show you how to unlock a steering wheel without Key. Sounds impossible, right? Well, it is very much possible. But before we get this, I’ll also explain how to unlock a steering wheel with Key, why do steering wheel locks are, and possible causes of steering wheel locks.

Why do steering wheel locks?

Are you surprised that your steering wheel locked without doing anything stupid? Well, there are two reasons why your steering wheel suddenly locks. The first reason is safety. Every time you turn off your ignition and remove your key, the steering will automatically lock if you try to turn the wheel. Car manufacturers put this feature in cars so that cars will not move on their own.

how to lock steering wheel

The second reason is to protect your car from car theft. Hoodlums can easily steel your vehicle by applying to hotwire techniques. So, to minimize the number of car theft, automobile manufacturers add this feature to vehicles.

Now you know why steering wheel locks, let’s quickly look at the sole aim of this article, which is unlocking the steering wheel without Key. You will also learn how to unlock Steering wheel with the dead battery. There are a few ways you can unlock the steering wheel with or without an ignition key – and you will need a few common mechanic tools.

Let’s quickly look at the ways one after the other.

Method 1: Try unlocking the steering yourself.

There are four steps to follow under this method.

Try inserting the key: Try to insert the key and turn the ignition at the same time. You can try turning the wheel on the side you turned it before it locks. If you can’t remember, try it on both sides. If your steering locks as a result of an accident, this trick will be a quick fix.

Tip: do not apply too much pressure while turning the wheel. Apply moderate force to avoid causing more damage to the locking mechanism.

Try out another key: If the primary key fails, try using another key. Most times, the problem might be the ignition key. If you bought the vehicle second-hand, it could be that the former owner did not handle the key well. Or you are not handling it well either. Try the spare key if you have it. Chances are, it could work. If the spare key fails, retry the primary key. However, most newer cars might not provide you with spare keys.

Try spraying in WD40: If steps 1 and 2 above fail, try spraying WD40 into the ignition key port. It could be that the wheel is locked due to dirt, debris, or solidification in the lock tumblers. Spraying WD40 might save you from the stress you are into. After spraying WD40, insert the key and try turning it back and forth. If this trick works, you will have to replace your lock cylinder.

Slot in the key and tap it with a hammer: this method might sound odd, but it works. Try inserting the key a couple of times. You want to insert the key halfway and tap it with a hammer. You want to make sure you hit it straight to avoid bending or breaking the key.

Method 2: Unlocking through ignition replacement set

This method requires technical knowledge. However, before stepping into this method, you want to try the above method first. You may need to seek professional assistance. And yes, you have to visit your owner’s booklet before trying out this method.

Remove the column panels: you want to remove the column panel in the steering wheel by losing the screws that hold the steering wheel’s downside. Locate the tab on the cover and press it. That way, the downside column will come off without stress. You want to remove the upper column as well.

Free the cylinder lock: you want to locate the lock cylinder. Release the tab in the ignition lock system and press it down while turning the key at the same time until the cylinder pulls backward. Try this method a couple of times to free the lock cylinder.

Install new ignition lock system: Install a new ignition lock system and try unlocking it with the old key.

  • Fix back the cylinder lock the way it was in the steering column.
  • Ensure you set the lock tab in the cylinder lock before proceeding.
  • Check if the key returns fully.
  • You want to ensure the key returns before you fix back the column.

Reinstall the column: reinstall the upper column before installing the lower part. Fix the screws and tighten them the way it was.

Method 3. Unlocking by loosening sticky locks

Another method to free a steering lock without Key is by utilizing loosening sticky locks.

Spray in electrical cleaner into the ignition keyhole: suppose you have a sized lock cylinder, grab your electrical cleaner and spray it into the hole. Then you want to insert your key and remove it. Do this a couple of times to gently lubricate it.

Spray canned air into the ignition: It is possible the steering wheel locked due to dirt and debris caught in the ignition. If this happens to be the case, insert the canned air spray nozzle into the ignition hole and spray in the air. It will assist in removing the trapped debris.

Insert the key in and out a couple of times: there is a possibility that you have been trapped in debris in the ignition cylinder pins. So, sliding in the key will help to clean any trapped dirt.

Ensure the key is not damaged or bent: In some cases, the inability to unlock the steering wheel could be caused by a bent or damaged key. When you have a damaged key, the chipped teeth on the key will be unable to engage the ignition cylinder pins to turn. You can replace the key or contact a dealership to service it.

Tip: Ensure you check the power steering pump fluid level. Little or no steering fluid can cause other problems as well.

Read Also: How to Start a Car with a Bad Ignition Switch

how to unlock steering wheel without key bmw

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: How to unlock a steering wheel push to start?

How to unlock a steering wheel push to start button? You must have noticed that the steering will lock when you turn off your car and remove your key. So, to unlock your steering wheel on a push start button, you have two options.

  1. You can try depressing the brake and press the push start button once while moderately shaking the steering wheel back and forth.
  2. You can take off your leg from the brake pedal and double press the start button while wiggling the steering wheel as well. Both options will turn on the ignition as well.

Q: What causes the power steering wheel to lock?

Few reasons could cause your power steering wheel to lock. They are as follows;

(1)Problem with the power steering system; if your power steering gets jammed or stuck or you have a power steering fluid leak, it could lead to Steering wheel lock-up.

(2) Steering auto-lock feature; the steering wheel has a feature that locks the steering when you turn off the car and remove your key from the ignition port. This feature is added to minimize the rate of car theft.

(3) Failure in the steering column or rack or suspension components; such a case can cause your steering wheel to lock while driving. Though this is not common, it happens.

Q: What happens if my steering wheel locks up?

If your steering wheel suddenly locks up while driving, you will be unable to turn your wheel to navigate out of the road resulting in a severe car accident if there is a vehicle trying to overtake you. However, the possible cause of this could be power steering leaks, dirty steering fluid, or failure in the suspension or steering column.

Q: Can a steering wheel lock while driving?

Yes! Although this is a rare case. Inasmuch as most modern cars are designed with an automatic locking steering mechanism, they are only meant to activate when the vehicle is not working, parked. This is an anti-theft and safety mechanism.

Q: How much does it cost to unlock a steering wheel?

Unlocking a steering wheel could virtually cost you nothing if you follow the guidelines above. However, the cost of unlocking a steering wheel could be around $100 – $400 depending on the cause of the problem, parts, and service fee.

How To Fix A Locked Steering Wheel-Tutorial YouTube

Final Thought

I believe this article has clearly outlined steps and answers to questions like how do I unlock my Honda Civic steering wheel or any other car model BMW, Mercedes, and Audi. If you find it difficult to comprehend any part of this article’s information, ensure you contact your mechanic for proper check and rectification. So, it’s all you need to know about how to unlock the Steering wheel without Key.

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Osuagwu Solomon

Osuagwu Solomon is a seasoned automotive technician for the past 9 years, and a technical writer. He loves writing about auto professional repair guides, DIY repair guides, and buyer’s guide. After spending six years in the automotive workshop, he decided to impact his knowledge to people aside his domain, and he has achieved this by centering his Automotive writing skills on REPAIRS.

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