Sometimes people face rare issues with their cars without any clue about how to fix them. One such mishap can be the steering wheel locked up while parked. A sudden lack of response from the steering wheel can be frightening. These are common that have to fix. You can also talk to experts or call a qualified service team to take care of your vehicle. Read on to find the list of the most common causes that the steering wheel gets locked up. Why does my steering wheel lock when parked?
Why do Steering Wheels Lock? (Causes)
The purpose of a locked steering wheel is for the safety of your car. When they are parked, a locked steering wheel can help keep your car safe from thieves. But there could be defective reasons as detailed below:
1. Damaged Key
One of the most common causes of the steering wheel getting stuck is your car key. If your car key has suffered any damage, it can lead to problems in its functioning. It can get bent or worn out. If there is damage to your car keys, the ignition will not accept them. It might get successfully inserted into the keyhole, but it will not be able to unlock the steering wheel. This is the most logical reason for locked steering wheels.
2. Internal Wear
The internal components of your steering lock can get old and wear down over time. This causes the locking mechanism of the wheel to become stuck. In this case, can fix the problem through lubrication of the locking mechanism. You can use WD-40, graphite powder, or silicone spray. Try turning the key to see if the steering wheel will unlock.
3. Sticky Locks
A common problem that can cause steering wheels to lock is damp locks. This situation can arise when dirt and debris build up in your car’s locking mechanism. This dirt can make your lock mechanism sticky and jam it from the inside. Such a faulty locking mechanism prevents the lock from getting disengaged. What do you do when your steering wheels are locked and won’t turn?
4. Ignition Lock
Modern cars have turn-key ignitions equipped with ignition lock features. After removing the key from the ignition, this feature gets activated when you turn the wheel. This engages a locking bolt which prevents your vehicle’s steering wheel from getting twisted without a key. This anti-theft feature helps if the thief gets the engine started, they will not be able to operate the vehicle.
5. Steering Linkage Failure
Although a rare occurrence, a sudden breakage in steering mechanics like the steering arms or steering column can cause the steering to lock up. Bring the vehicle safely to a stop to get the tow to a service center. A sudden lack of steering response might lead to the wheel turning quickly but with great effort. A failure in the power steering system can make it more difficult.
6. Low Power Steering Fluid
If the steering wheel jams up when your car is in motion, it can be due to a lack of power steering fluid. A power steering system can make you turn the wheels at lower speeds. If the system malfunctions, your car could be difficult to steer at low speed. The damage causes the system to leak and a lack of fluid pressure. The power steering must be changed if it has become dirty. You will need a new power steering pump if this fluid isn’t circulating properly.
7. Dirt and Debris on the Steering Lock Chamber
Dirt and debris usually get inside your car when it is open. It enters the keyhole chamber, and it can also lock it. This can cause the steering wheel to lock up while parked keyless entry. When this happens, the dirt and debris interfere with the critical action when you try to turn it. Due to this, you will not be able to move the steering wheel. How much does it cost to fix a locked steering wheel?
How to Unlock a Locked Steering Wheel? (How to Fix)
1. Disable the Key Lock Manually
The best and quickest solution is to manually disable the lock. It gives the highest chance of getting the steering wheel unlocked. Insert the key into the ignition cylinder and turn the key slightly. Try to turn the steering wheel with slight pressure. This will open the steering wheel. If it still doesn’t move, there is some underlying cause of this problem. The best option in such a case is to contact a qualified car mechanic for the best fix.
2. Unlock it Through the Ignition
You can manually disable the lock by using this method. Turn the car key and steering wheel simultaneously. Insert your car keys inside the ignition cylinder and turn it gently. If your car doesn’t start, check the locking pin. You should observe where the steering wheel is not moving. That is where the locked side would be. You should not apply pressure on the steering wheel on its free side while simultaneously turning this key. Try not to rock the steering wheel, or it can get worse.
3. Push to Start
This unique method disables the steering wheel locked up while the parked push-starts. By pushing the car or getting someone to move your vehicle manually while you start it. When you have a locked steering wheel, you get a message that your steering wheel is locked on the dashboard. The push-to-start button will begin flashing in your car. Press the start/stop button by stepping on the brakes. Step on the brakes and push the start/stop button to unlock. Try to move the steering wheel to open it.
4. Un-jam the Ignition Cylinder
Before this process, has an aerosol cleaner and a can of WD-40. The process helps to clear your crucial lock. Use the aerosol cleaner and spray it into the lock chamber. Apply WD-40 inside the ignition cylinder. Use a light lubricant like liquid graphite and slide the key gently in and out of the chamber. Repeatedly do this to get the result.
If these solutions do not work, you must replace the steering lock. This is a better process that will require some tools. It also needs knowledge of car repairs. In case you don’t want to replace the steering lock, you can take it to a mechanic or take your car to a dealership.
Q: Why does the steering wheel lock when in the park?
A: The steering wheel in the park locks to prevent theft and ensure safety. This feature is activated by the ignition switch and transmission linkage, immobilizing the vehicle.
Q: What happens when the steering wheel locks?
A: The steering wheel lock is a security feature that prevents movement of the vehicle. It is activated when the ignition is off and engages a mechanism that restricts wheel rotation.
Q: Can I unlock the steering wheel without a key?
A: Unlocking a steering wheel without a key can be a difficult task that should be done by a professional. Trying to force it damaged the vehicle’s ignition system.
Q: Why is it hard to turn the steering wheel when parked?
A: When a vehicle is parked, power steering assistance decreases. Which can make it more difficult to turn the steering wheel due to the increased friction and resistance within the system.
Q: Can you drive with heavy steering?
A: Driving with heavy steering can be difficult and unsafe, potentially indicating a power steering issue that should be promptly addressed for road safety.