The key won’t go into the ignition. Causes and solution

Sometimes, drivers are facing a problem with the key that does not enter the ignition. This unpleasant situation can frustrate and panic drivers because they don’t know what to do.

The best situation here is to not get mad and check for the possible reasons that may cause the key to not go into the ignition. Because it happened to me, I wrote this article to help you find the main cause and get it fixed.

And yet several possible reasons may cause this issue, which I will list below.

The automatic transmission shifter is on the wrong spot.

It can happen that, from time to time, we are in a hurry and make some small mistakes when we stop the car, especially if it has an automatic transmission.

Here I am referring, especially, to the automatic transmission shifter left in a position other than the sign (P), and this will cause the key to not enter into the ignition when we are trying to insert it, or if it enters the ignition, the key will not turn.

The best solution here is to put the shifter in the P sign. Sometimes, the key refuses to enter the ignition even if the shifter is on the P sign. In this case, remove the key from the ignition, move the shifter, and put it back in the P sign again. This simple solution often is reported as a success by drivers that had faced this problem.

A security feature in your car

Security features that your car has may also cause the key to not go into the ignition. Often this feature is triggered by an accident, for example when getting out of the car, you lean on the steering wheel causing it to lock. For security measures, the steering wheel may lock and the key might not go into the ignition.

If this is the first time that happened to you, don’t panic. There is a quick and easy fix. All you have to do is move the steering wheel slightly to the left and right, and, at the same time, try to insert the key into the ignition. At some point, the security feature will disengage, and the key will enter the ignition without any problems. This solution can also work if the key won’t turn into the ignition.

In some cars, especially older models, you may need to move the steering wheel more and with greater force.

If this solution does not work, maybe you accidentally pushed a button that triggered the security feature to enable and you did not notice. Try to find it, the car manual can help a lot in these situations.

There is dirt on the key

If there is something on your key, then this is a good reason why your key does not go into the ignition. It can happen especially to old car keys that do not have any protection and when they are in your pocket, then dirt or other things may stick to them, you will try to insert the key into the ignition and you will not realize why the key will not enter.

If you however notice something stuck to the key, then try to clean the key by removing anything that is on it, as this will lead to the accumulation of dirt in the ignition when you try to insert the key like that, which represents another cause.

Another solution you can try is to slide the key in and out until the key will finally enter the ignition, although I do not recommend this solution because of what I said above, causing the ignition to be filled with debris. Don’t force the key, if you manage to get the key in, then you should be cleaning the ignition as soon as possible.

Dirt or debris into the ignition

Accumulation of dirt or debris into the ignition is another common cause that can make the key not enter the ignition. This issue is often caused by the reason we mentioned above, if you try to insert a dirty key into the ignition, then, in time, dirt and debris will accumulate as well in the ignition causing it to fill and this will not let the key to enter at some point.

A solution to this problem is to check the ignition interior with a flashlight. If you do notice dirt and debris then you can use compressed air to try to clean that area.

Damaged key

A possible reason why your key won’t go into the ignition is a damaged key. Maybe it has cracks or missing teeth. Also, check to see if the key is straight. An unpleasant accident may cause the key to be bent.

You dropped something heavy on the key or the key was stuck into the ignition and you forced it out, without realizing for a moment what you did, causing the above damages to the key and also leading to damages to the ignition too.

Using a wrong key

A rare and, somehow funny situation is using the wrong key. While this may be a simple mistake, it sometimes happens to people. If you are using the wrong key, do not force the key into the ignition, because it can damage them both, and can cause a lot of problems that need a costly repair.

Just look at the key and see if it is the right key for your car. Often, such situations happen to car dealers or people that have more cars and end up confusing the keys :).


As you have read, there are several reasons why the key does not go into the ignition. By going over these causes, you can find the answer to this problem.

Sometimes the simple solution is to clean the key and the ignition, on other occasions, it is necessary to change the key, especially if it is damaged or a thorough check of the ignition to find out the exact cause.

Often, if the ignition is the cause, it is recommended to change it.

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