How To Unlock Your Steering Wheel

This will just take a second

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Like your smartphone, your car has a lot of features you’ve never heard about. One such feature is the steering wheel lock. While some people use club locks or other theft deterrents, many cars already have these built-in guardians. If you’re unaware of how this works, however, it could create some confusion and prevent you from using your own vehicle.

Steering wheel locks can be activated as you’re exiting your vehicle. On select cars, this can be accomplished by turning the wheel after you shut off the car and remove the key. With the lock on, the wheels will be locked into a turn, either left or right, so even if a criminal can start your car, it’ll only drive in a really wide circle. Sucker!

If this happens to your own car without you trying to set it, don’t worry, it’s an easy issue to resolve. The Drive’s problem-solving editors have set out the exact instructions to get you on the road quickly. Let’s get to it.

The Basics of Unlocking a Steering Wheel

Estimated Time Needed: 1 Minute

Skill Level: Beginner

Vehicle System: Steering


For once, you don’t need safety glasses or mechanic gloves for a how-to!

Everything You’ll Need To Unlock Your Steering Wheel.

You don’t need any tools for this job, just your key. 

Here’s How to Unlock a Steering Wheel

Let’s do this! 

  1. Insert your key.
  2. Put pressure toward turning the key and maintain that pressure.
  3. Wiggle your steering wheel left or right, or up and down.
  4. Jiggle the key until it turns.
  5. Turn your car on, all done.
A 2006 Acura RSX interior with tan leather.
You might not know it, but your car probably has a steering wheel lock., Acura

FAQs About Locked Steering Wheels

You’ve got questions, The Drive has answers!

Q. So Why Is My Ignition Stuck?

A. If you’re having issues getting the key into and out of your ignition, it’s most likely gummed up due to age and contamination. Throughout time, dust, dirt, and grime can enter the ignition chamber and make it sticky or frozen.

Q. Alright, Then Is It Okay To Spray WD-40 In Ignition?

A. We do not recommend it. If you plan to replace the ignition chamber, then feel free to use WD-40, but otherwise, buy and use a specific lubricant for the job.

Q. How Do I Lubricate My Ignition?

A. We recommend using Tri-Flow lubricant oil or 3-In-One dry lubricant oil. Avoid WD-40 and graphite.

Let’s Talk, Comment Below To Talk With The Drive’s Editors!

We’re here to be expert guides in everything How-To related. Use us, compliment us, yell at us. Comment below and let’s talk! You can also shout at us on Twitter or Instagram, here are our profiles.

Jonathon Klein: Twitter (@jonathon.klein), Instagram (@jonathon_klein)

Tony Markovich: Twitter (@T_Marko), Instagram (@t_marko)

Chris Teague: Twitter (@TeagueDrives), Instagram (@TeagueDrives)


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Tony Markovich


Tony Markovich is a former Senior Editor at The Drive, departing in 2022.