Have you been in that situation where your car’s steering wheel suddenly locks and you don’t know what to do about it? It can be quite frustrating, especially when you’re trying to get to work or start the school run and time is of the essence.
Don’t panic! There are simple solutions to unlock your steering wheel, but which one applies to you will depend on what kind of car steering wheel setup you have. We’ve categorized them as follows:
- How to unlock steering wheel for cars with an ignition cylinder
- How to unlock steering wheel without key (with a start button)
- Other solutions on how to unlock your steering wheel
How to Unlock Your Steering Wheel
Scenario 1: How to unlock steering wheel for cars with an ignition cylinder
If your car has an ignition cylinder that you turn with the key, then there’s a simple procedure you can follow to unlock the steering wheel and get your car moving again.
Step 1: Using your left hand and some pretty strong force, pull the steering wheel to the left and right
Step 2: Simultaneously, and using your right hand, turn the key in the ignition from “Lock” to “Accessory” (usually Acc) or “Start” position.
Doing these two things together should get the wheel moving as normal.
Scenario 2: How to unlock steering wheel without key (with a start button)
Many newer cars come with a push-button start. It’s frequently shown during advertising as a kind of superior advanced feature. Unlike the cars with their wheel lock connected to the ignition cylinder, push-button vehicles make use of an electronic deadbolt. The rest of the procedure is actually quite like what you do with the key.
Step 1: Using your left hand, shift the wheel left and right with some force
Step 2: At the same time, use your right hand to press on the start button as you would turn the key in the above scenario
There is one more important factor to think about here, and that is that when doing the above steps, you mustn’t step on the brake. Keeping your foot off the brake and performing steps 1 and 2 will free the steering wheel but not start the engine. That’s a safer way to get the wheel unstuck.
Other solutions on how to unlock your steering wheel
If you need alternative solutions, it could be because you’re facing a different type of problem with the steering wheel and its connected parts. If you are using a key, try switching to the spare to see if that makes any difference. Alternatively, you could use a spray lubricant to help the movement along. If you drive a car with automatic transmission and an ignition key, then the problem could be being caused by your car not being in neutral or park. This will at least make the key impossible to turn.
If you have a push-button start vehicle, then the problem could be with your key fob. The entire system relies on the signals sent by that fob, which in turn are powered by the fob’s main battery. If the battery is dead, or other components are malfunctioning, then the result is a potentially locked wheel and car that won’t respond.
Probably the best solution is to prevent the problem from happening in the first place. When you park your car, position the wheel where it needs to be, activate the parking brake (or pull it up if it’s manual), let go of the wheel and then switch off the car. The next thing to do is not touch the wheel again until you’re going to start the car. If you have this habit, then you likely won’t ever end up with a locked wheel.