How To Unlock Steering Wheel

Unlocking your steering wheel can be done by several methods

If you have owned your car for quite a while, then the chances are that you probably have dealt with steering wheels that get locked up.

This might be the case if the ignition switch is unable to turn and the car won’t even start.

Here is how you can unlock your steering wheel in either of the following ways:

  1. Try Unlocking It With A Key
  2. Clean The Steering Wheel And Column Thoroughly
  3. Get A Replacement For The Ignition Lock Assembly
  4. Change The Power Steering Pump
  5. Get A Mechanic To Unlock It For You

You should be able to unlock the steering wheel in order to get back to using it. This will ensure that you can turn it comfortably while driving.

You should also know that the steering wheel locking has its share of benefits for you, one of which is a security measure against burglary.

What Should You Do When Your Steering Wheel Locks?

You can employ any of the following procedures to unlock your steering wheel whenever it locks. Most of them are simple procedures any one can manage.

1. Try Unlocking It With A Key

The steering wheel of the car might get locked due to making a sharp turn. This can be recovered by using the car keys to unlock the steering wheel. It should unlock once the car is started.

2. Clean The Steering Wheel And Column Thoroughly

At times the steering wheel gets locked because of debris getting through to the steering wheel column.

Once cleaned, the steering wheel will be unlocked. You should get tips on how to effectively clean the steering wheel and column.

3. Get A Replacement For The Ignition Lock Assembly

At times, the issue is with the ignition lock assembly as something might be damaged. This will need replacement of the components so that the steering wheel does not lock again.

4. Change The Power Steering Pump

The issue might be with the power steering pump if you heard squeaking noises while driving the car.

You should simply get a totally new one for a replacement to prevent dealing with a steering wheel that gets locked up.

This will be done using some mechanic tools, and you might need a mechanic or an expert to replace the power steering pump for your vehicle.

5. Get A Mechanic To Unlock It For You

A mechanic will help you to avoid having the steering wheel locked up. They would provide you with the knowledge that will help the steering wheel will be unlocked in a simple manner.

They will also help you to point out some issues with the steering wheel that will prevent it from locking again.

2 Different Ways Of Unlocking Your Steering Wheel

1. Freeing The Steering Wheel

For this, you will need screwdrivers, a socket set and WD40.

  • You will start to turn the key normally while at the same time you are turning the steering wheel sideways. This will help in the case that the steering wheel gets locked accidentally. At first, the steering wheel will still be fixed, but if you turn the key simultaneously you should be able to hear a click sound, which will show that the steering wheel has been unlocked.
  • If you have two car keys, you should get the spare one and try it out. The issue might be caused by using a key that is worn out and thus unable to click the locks. You should be able to notice that the ridges of a worn-out key have been eaten out.
  • WD40 helps in case your vehicle’s lock tumblers have been freeze leading to the steering wheel being locked you should spray it into the lock cylinder and then try using the key to loosen the parts affected with the freezing. If this works, you need to replace the lock system to avoid such an issue in future.

2. Changing The Ignition Lock System

This is the last resort to pursue if you notice that the above measures have failed. An expert may come through and change the lock system, and old keys will be able to unlock the steering wheel.

  • The first step here is to remove the steering wheel column panels by starting with loosening the screws; the column covers will need to be removed for this process.
  • You should be able to access the ignition lock cylinder. A release tab will be on the side of the cylinder, press it and try turning the key. You should do this until the ignition cylinder is able to move backwards. You should try doing this repeatedly.
  • Get the new ignition lock cylinder and put it in place. This should be done with the new one being installed into the steering column. The lock tab should be fully seated. Check if the new set up works.
  • Put back the column panels, both the top half and bottom column panels. Engage each of the clips and lock them together while making sure the screws are tightened.

Unlocking The Steering Wheel When The Battery is Dead

At times, you have to deal with an awkward situation; the steering wheel gets locked while the battery is dead.

You can then do this by first connecting jump start cables on your vehicle’s car battery to another which has a full battery.

Turn the car by pressing on the push button. This will get the engine on with the ACC system.

You can then turn the steering wheels and then disconnect the jumper cables. The steering wheel will be unlocked and ready for use.

You can also watch this video:

Unlocking The Steering Wheel With Push Start Button

What you should know is that the steering wheel is simply an electronic deadbolt. If yours has a push start button, you should notice a warning light indicating an issue with the steering wheel.

You should be able to solve this, the locking of the steering wheel, in a simple manner.

Using your left hand, wiggle the steering wheel, while applying enough force.

Simultaneously, tap the start button using a finger on your right hand while avoiding to step on the pedals, the brake pedal to be exact.

This will enable you to ignite the car in ACC mode, and the steering wheel will be unlocked without the engine of the vehicle getting switched on at all.

You can also watch this video:

Benefits Of The Steering Wheel Lock

The steering wheel is designed to lock to help in any of the following scenarios.

  • The steering wheel lock is designed in the vehicle as a safety inclusion that will keep away burglars. This is if they are able to get into the car. This will save you when the last thing you want to deal with is losing your beloved vehicle to thieves.
  • The steering wheel lock also comes in handy when you park the car in an area that is inclined. The risk is that the hand brake may not be enough to stop the car from rolling away. This should guarantee the safety of your car and also the safety of others as it will not roll down the slope unexpectedly, thanks to the steering wheel lock.

What Makes The Steering Wheel Lock?

The steering wheel locks when you set it to lock if it is turned without the key placed in the ignition-key position.

This is a security measure that will help safeguard your car from burglars who might be able to get into the car and want to make away with your car.

They will be unable to drive effectively as the steering wheel will be locked.

  1. Issues with the power steering pump: Among the reasons that can cause the steering wheel to lock is that the power steering pump may not be in good condition. This will be noticed if with time; you are unable to do this with the slight force.
  2. The key is damaged: Another possible cause for the locking of the steering wheel might be because of the fact that the key mechanism might be damaged.
  3. Sharp turning may lock the steering wheel: You should lower the speed and avoid this.
  4. Issues with the engine control unit of the vehicle: If it breaks down many of the components of the vehicle, get jammed up, and the steering wheel may be locked too.

3 Ways To Stop Your Steering Wheel From Locking Again

The locking of the steering wheel is one way that can cause you great inconvenience.

You should try and avoid this by doing either of the following actions:

  1. Taking the car for regular checkups; you can do the check-up yourself on a regular basis. This is for the simple parts of the vehicle that do not need the attention of a mechanic. One thing to check is the power steering and transmission fluid that needs to be followed up every ninety days.
  2. When you unlock your steering wheel, and you notice something is loose or damaged. You should have it repaired or replaced altogether.
  3. Avoid those sharp turns on the road when you are driving. Some drivers are into the habit of making sharp turns when it is not necessary. This might lead to locking of the steering wheel, which is not good for your vehicle, you should also avoid the act of pulling the steering wheel when the engine has been turned off.

Q&A

Now you know how to unlock your steering wheel, the methods I explained above.

I also provided some questions below that may help you understand better when it comes to unlocking the steering wheel. I suggest you keep reading!

How Do I Unlock A Steering Wheel When The Key Doesn’t Turn?

If the key does not turn, you can unlock the steering wheel through the following way below:

When you turn the steering too much sideways, if the key is not present, this will lock the steering wheel.

This is a measure against the car being taken by thieves. The key will not even turn in the ignition as the steering wheel will be locked.

To unlock the steering wheel, turn the steering wheel to one direction and turn the key in the ignition.

This will be able to release and unlock the steering wheel. You will be able to drive the car once again.

You can also watch this video:

Can I Break A Steering Wheel Lock?

Yes, you can break a steering wheel lock. This can be done with a series of steps that will need you to be keen while undertaking.

To do this, you will need a can of nitrogen or Freon that is liquefied, something for the injecting of the liquid, a plastic bag and a hammer.

For safety purposes, you will need to either have goggles on or gloves.

After wearing the safety gloves, you will have to pull and unscrew the pin from the end of the attachment.

You should place the nozzle in a manner that faces away from you and attach the attachment on the can having the liquid Freon.

You will be able to notice that heavy ice will form in the area around the lock of the steering wheel.

You should then throw the can into the empty plastic bag. Using the hammer, hit the lock that now has ice over it. It will shatter, and the steering wheel will be free.

Can I Unlock A Steering Wheel Without A Key?

Yes, you can unlock the steering wheel in the absence of car keys.

However, this will has to be done in an unorthodox manner and will need a technician or an expert to help with the task. It will be done by getting to remove the screws and taking out the lock cylinder.

You will then have to install a new ignition lock and install back the columns. This should not be a difficult task if you are a handyman and have all the required tools.

If you are unable to get this done by yourself, you can get an expert of this stuff and they will be able to get a solution for your case.

How Much Does It Cost To Fix A Locked Steering Wheel?

To replace the ignition lock cylinder in your vehicle will cost not more than $330. The labor will be charged at around $150.

The cost of fixing a locked steering wheel depends on the issue that cost it. It should not be so expensive if you work with your trusted auto repair shop.

Conclusion

As seen above, the steering wheel locks down because of some issues that provoke this.

It can be locked to prevent being stolen by thieves and also protect it from rolling over if you park it o an inclined surface.

If it gets locked by mistake, this article has got you covered on how to unlock it in the simplest manner.

Sources:

1. LiveAbout – https://www.liveabout.com/how-to-unlock-your-steering-wheel-4428055
2. CarRoar – https://carroar.com/unlock-steering-wheel/

Written by Yusuke Kohara

Hi there! My name is Yusuke. I write about automotive topics for Car Proper. I love cars and have a passion for writing helpful articles on tools, car accessories, and how-to to help my readers solve their problems. In my spare time, I'm either working out, reading the book, or spending time with my family. I also work for a digital consulting agency.

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