How to Get a Key That Is Stuck in the Ignition in a Ford Focus

by David McGuffin

If your key is stuck in the ignition cylinder lock of your Ford Focus, you can try a couple of tricks to help get it out. However, if you are unable to get the key out, you may need to replace the ignition cylinder lock or the entire ignition switch assembly depending on which model you are driving. Hopefully, your situation will be a quick fix, but even if it is, it is best to recognize that you may have to eventually replace the ignition switch and lock cylinder in the near future.

Spray WD40 into the ignition lock cylinder where your key is stuck. Wait for 30 seconds and then try to wiggle the key out from the lock. If it does not work at first, try another shot of WD40 and let it soak for two minutes. If the key still will not come out from the lock cylinder, then you will need to move on to more drastic measures.

Wiggle the key back and forth. This will get tiring and frustrating very quickly. Move the steering wheel too in small back and forth motions. However, if the steering wheel becomes locked as well, you will need to unlock it by turning the key while jerking the wheel hard in the same direction as it is locked. If the lock cylinder and ignition switch are completely broken, then you will not be able to unlock the steering wheel without replacing the ignition switch assembly.

Move the gear shift around until you hear the ignition switch click. Then try to remove the key. Sometimes this trick will work as a short-term solution. Check the black 3/4-inch ring that is below the shifter post. Push the ring up and then down again so that it is resting against the bottom of the shifter post. Try to remove the key again.

Tap the key lightly with a hammer. This may remind you of Maslow's hammer quote, which says that "if all you have is a hammer, then everything looks like a nail." However, mechanics and tow truck drivers have successfully used this technique to help unstick keys from ignition lock cylinders. If this does not work, then use the hammer to tap on the steering column underneath the ignition switch.

Call a locksmith. This will be more costly, but a locksmith will be able to get your key out. However, the locksmith is only a short-term fix. You will still need to find a solution for keeping the ignition lock cylinder working properly, ensuring that the key will go in and out as well as turn the ignition switch consistently. Call around for prices from different locksmiths--you may be able to find a cheaper locksmith who can also replace the lock on the car altogether.

Call a tow truck and have your car towed back to your home or to your mechanic. Usually an ignition switch is not a difficult fix, but it can involve some tricky electrical and mechanical operations with delicate parts located nearby on the steering wheel and steering wheel column.

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About the Author

David McGuffin is a writer from Asheville, N.C. and began writing professionally in 2009. He has Bachelor of Arts degrees from the University of North Carolina, Asheville and Montreat College in history and music, and a Bachelor of Science in outdoor education. McGuffin is recognized as an Undergraduate Research Scholar for publishing original research on postmodern music theory and analysis.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera car key image by koko300 from Fotolia.com