This is why the steering wheel is locked up while the car is parked

It is always considered safe to have your steering wheel turned all for safety turning when the car is not on the move. In other words, having your steering wheel locked can harm the steering system if unnecessary turning is applied while the vehicle is in parking mode.

Some individuals consider it essential to leave the steering wheel locked to prevent the car from issues like theft, but others consider it otherwise.

When the car steering wheel is locked, you won’t be able to start your vehicle, and the ignition button will be unable to turn.

In some instances, you may park your car without initiating a steering wheel lock, but you find the car steering wheel is locked on return. It is always irritating and scary finding the steering wheel locked.

This situation is common with several car models, and many users have found themselves with this problem of the steering wheel locking when the car is parked.

There are several reasons why the steering wheel locked up while the car is parked, but the common causes include:

  • Having the steering wheel locked when the car is packed as a security feature;
  • Internal wearing;
  • Bad key;
  • Sticky locks. 

When your car has an automatic anti-theft steering wheel lock, it may be designed to initiate when the vehicle is parked. Other car models may initiate steering wheel locks when parked if the steering is turned on either side, right, or left.

Therefore, You may have parked the car and accidentally or unknowingly turned the steering wheel when getting out of the vehicle. 

Although uncommon issues, the steering wheel internal system may have worn out, leading to the locking of ignition cylinders. Sticky locks are not far from what internal wearing can do to your steering wheel system. Debris and dirt can enter the steering wheel chambers and lead to locking up.

Solutions to unnecessary steering wheel lock-up when the car is parked

1. Automatic anti-theft steering lock

If you are not comfortable with the anti-theft steering lock after the car park, you can choose to remove it by taking the issue to your dealership. But it is also essential to consider the use of an anti-theft steering lock before removing it.

If you are not ready to take it out and become initiated when the steering wheel has turned on either side, you need to be careful not to touch it after parking your car.

2. Internal wearing

If the steering wheel locks due to problems in the internal system, take the car to the mechanic to repair worn-out parts.

3. Sticky locks

If the steering wheel lock occurs due to debris and dirt in the internal parts, you can take the car to the mechanic for necessary removal. You can still apply the right lubrication to avoid rusting the internal components of the steering wheel system.

What happens when the steering wheel locks?

Although it depends on different situations of your car, once the steering wheel locks, several incidents may occur. For example, the steering wheel can lock while driving due to the steering arm or column failure.

In this case, your car won’t be able to turn either right or left. This sudden lock may lead the car to lose direction, and not be able to turn a corner.

As well, a steering wheel lock can occur while the car is in parking mode. When this happens, the ignition switch will be unable to turn, and starting the vehicle will be impossible. A warning light indicating a steering lock can also be seen in some car models with a start/stop button.

What does it mean when your steering wheel locks up, and the car won’t start?

First, what is the steering wheel lock, and how does it work? If you got to know this, then knowing how it affects the starting of a car is easy.

A steering wheel lock is a loss of steering power so that the driver won’t operate the vehicle. This system is set to lock the steering mechanism for the front tires or wheels when moved, and the car has no key. 

The system works by releasing a spring-loaded lever that results in a slot lock locking the mechanism. A vehicle has an ignition cylinder connected to the steering wheel; once the lock is initiated, the ignition is turned off. This means starting the car will be impossible since the ignition mode is off.

How do you release a locked steering wheel?

If you want to release a locked steering wheel of your car, there are simple steps you can follow. These steps need to be followed carefully.

However, how you would deal with the issues will differ from one car model to another. With common car models, you can try the following to unlock your steering wheel.

Step I: Insert the car’s key into the ignition.

If the car starts, then the steering wheel unlock is active.

Step II: Gently turn the key

Here, after inserting the key and both the ignition and steering wheel unlock won’t be active, try to apply slight pressure gently so as not to damage the key. You can continue applying pressure gently until the ignition is engaged.

Step III: Turn the steering wheel gently to right and left

While turning the key for ignition, try to apply pressure on the steering wheel simultaneously. You should apply the pressure on the side or direction if the wheel is experiencing difficulties moving.

For cars with a start/stop button, unlocking the steering wheel is not complicated. By depressing the brake pedal, press the START/STOP button and at the same time turn the steering wheel on both sides, left and right, until the car starts in the usual way.

More on how to unlock the steering wheel can be found here

Is it possible that a steering wheel could be jammed and unrepairable?

No, a steering wheel can’t jam and be unrepairable. Issues that affect the steering wheel to the point of locking can be attended to successfully.

How much does it cost to have your steering wheel locked?

If you have a steering wheel lock issue, it may cost you between $150 and $1000. The repair cost varies depending on the nature or level of the problem, the material used to make steering wheel components, and the type of mechanic or labor required.


Every part of the car has a role to play, which applies to the steering wheel lock. Therefore, this system is to protect your vehicle from theft when in a park, but sometimes it can be initiated when you don’t want to. In other words, the steering wheel can lock at a moment when it’s not needed.

You can deal with situations by trying to unlock the wheel using the above ideas. But if the problem is complicated, you need a mechanic who will help you solve an unnecessary steering wheel lock.

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