How to Unlock an Ignition Switch

by Michael Scarn
yellow car, a honda japanese sport car model image by alma_sacra from

A common security feature on cars and trucks is the ability to lock the steering wheel and ignition switch when a car is turned off and the transmission is in park. This feature was implemented to deter the theft of automobiles. It can also be difficult for some car owners to unlock their ignition when they attempt to turn their car on. Fortunately, by taking a few simple steps you can quickly unlock it again.

Step 1

Ensure that your vehicle's transmission is in park. If you have manual transmission you can skip this step and move on to Step 2.

Step 2

Press the brake of your car completely down with your right foot. If the key of the car is not in the ignition put it there now.

Hold the steering wheel of your car firmly with your left hand and the car's key placed in the ignition with your right hand. Turn the steering wheel to the right and left while you twist the ignition key as if you are starting the car. Engaging in these two motions simultaneously will release the ignition switch and allow you to turn the car on.


  • Depending on the year, make and model of vehicle you drive you may need to firmly turn the steering wheel back and forth. Make sure to exert sufficient force on the steering wheel to successfully unlock the ignition switch.


  • When these steps are properly followed the ignition switch will release quickly. If it takes more than a few attempts to release the ignition switch take your car to a mechanic as soon as possible to have the steering column inspected.

Items you will need

  • Automobile ignition key

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