How to get a jammed key out of an ignition

Written by brynne chandler
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Few things are more frustrating than when everyday actions you count on just go wrong. How many times a week do you put your car key in the ignition and take it back out? And now your ignition key is stuck; it just will not come out. Don't panic. If the car will start, the best thing to do is drive home, where you will have more options for dealing with the problem and where you know you are safe. There isn't one foolproof method for getting a jammed key out of an ignition, but if you are patient and keep trying, you should be able to free the key.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

Things you need

  • Hacksaw blade
  • WD-40 or cooking spray
  • Phillips screwdriver
  • Flathead screwdriver

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  1. 1

    Rock the steering wheel from side to side a little while you gently try to twist the key free. According to "Popular Mechanics," it's common for people to twist the steering wheel slightly with one hand while they turn the car off with the other, throwing it out of alignment.

  2. 2

    Insert a thin hacksaw blade into the key slot if it will fit. Do this with the teeth pointing up toward you. Wiggle the hacksaw blade and the key together to see if the blade can grab the key and free it from whatever it's caught on.

  3. 3

    Spray a little WD-40 or cooking spray into the ignition. Wiggle the key around very gently so that you don't risk breaking it, and try to pull it out.

  4. 4

    Use the screwdrivers to take the ignition assembly apart, loosen the locking pin or push the key out from the other side. If you can't see how to do this simply by looking at the ignition, it's time to call AAA or a mechanic.

Tips and warnings

  • Have someone else give it a try. Sometimes when we're frustrated, we don't have the delicacy needed to coax inanimate objects into behaving.
  • Never use your car keys to pry things open or punch holes in things; you risk bending them out of shape.

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