steering wheel locked up while parked and key won’t turn

Car is not just a machine for going here and there. For certain individuals, it is an image of affection, part of the family, or perhaps the identity of their personality. But sometimes it can be a reason for headaches. 

Problems like the Steering wheel locked up while parked can test someone’s patience. More importantly, you won’t get any prediction before this kind of problem happens. 

The steering wheel lock system is a safety feature in cars. Modern vehicles come with many safety features to deter car theft, and a steering lock one of them.

However, as a machinery function, it doesn’t go according to the algorithm all the time, and when it works inaccurately, it gives irritations. 

Here we will discuss the common causes of it and give a complete solution to this annoying problem. So, scan through the whole article to prevent a headache next time.

Steering Wheel Locked Up While Parked

why does my steering wheel lock when parked?

Before going to any solution, we need to know the problems. I am sure many of you have already faced this issue but did not know how it even happened in the first place. There are several reasons for it. Take a look at some of the most common causes of steering wheel lock:

  • When you engage one of your car’s safety features accidentally during parking.
    More specifically, if you try to turn your wheels a bit right and left while your car engine is turned off, then one of its lock slots gets blocked. As a result, you’ll have a stuck car.
  • If dirt enters the ignition chamber. It can also happen if your car’s engine suddenly stops working.
  • There might be issues with the ECU(Engine Control Unit). In case the ECU sensory issues occur.
  • Insufficient fuel delivery can cause engine stalling, and that also can be responsible. 
  • Sharp turnings: As long as you are taking sharp turns habitually, the possibility of steering wheel lock can’t be decreased.

How To Unlock A Locked Steering Wheel?

With the causes of the Steering Wheel Locked Up While Parked highlighted above in mind, you are one step closer to dealing with the problem. The other thing you have to know is how to deal with these problems. 

Solution For Common Cases:

Before you start, make sure your car is in the park or neutral position. Then follow the step by step procedure, and you will fix your car in no time. You may jump to “Solution for Special Cases” if you don’t have the same ignition or steering system.


First thing you need to try is to use the ignition. Just insert the key in the ignition and turn it on. Count it as your lucky day if this trick works. This is the most common solution to this problem. 

Because sometimes, users unintentionally applied pressure to the wheel when turning off the vehicle or inclined toward the wheel for support when getting out, the wheel gets locked. If you already tried that, then follow the next steps.


If the key does not move gently and the wheel is locked in place, try to apply more pressure than usual. While turning the key, try turning the wheel also in each direction as hard as possible.

Although remember one thing, massive pressure will break the key, which will make more mass. 


Still stuck there? Then use a screwdriver to pull out the steering wheel. Look for a plate that has a small rod, which is about 3 inches long-this is the lock. Pull out the rod. Now use a screwdriver to replace the steering wheel.


If you don’t have a key, try to remove the steering wheel. Now remove the steering column. If there is an airbag system, then remove the airbag first. This process may vary by vehicle. Now locate the ignition hole and search the plastic tabs within the ignition. See if they are sticking. Use the screwdriver to force this down. Be careful while doing so because this could damage your steering wheel function if you handle it too roughly. 

Hopefully, this will unlock your locked steering wheel.

Sources: How to Unlock Your Steering Wheel by LiveAbout

Solution For Special Cases:

The ignition and steering system is not the same for all cars. There are exceptions like ford and Tesla. Here are the solutions for some of these special cases:

Case-1:  How To Unlock A Locked Steering Wheel Push To Start.

Cars with push to start can be unlocked by pushing your start/stop button while depressing your brake. Simultaneously, you need to try to move your steering wheel.


If your car has a hydraulic power steering system, check whether it needs a fluid change or power steering pump fix. Add up fluid if you have fluid problems. But if you have a pump problem, you need to send it to a servicing center.


People who use electric cars like Tesla may face sudden shutdown problems. You may try to power on and off. In case that does not work, you need you to take your car to a servicing center.

How to hotwire a car & disable steering wheel lock >> Check out the video below:

Final Thoughts:

This article only discussed the causes and solutions you can take to solve this annoying problem quickly. But if luck is not on your side, you may need a new ignition lock assembly, which will be a massive waste of your time. So we hope these easy fixes work for you.

Wish you good luck in fixing this problem. Happy driving!

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Mahir Ahmed


I'm the guy responsible for ensuring honest, informative, accurate and helpful guide to the reader.

1 thought on “steering wheel locked up while parked and key won’t turn”

  1. In my case using ignition did not solve the problem at first, so tried to follow through other steps. I thought I was going to mess up but turns out it was really easy to do on your own .I got easy fix. So I will say that whoever face this problem just don’t panic. It’s really easy to solve this problem if you are patient. This article was really helpful, thanks!


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