If you have a car and notice that the key does not turn smoothly in the ignition, then you may find it difficult to turn your car on. This can be a serious issue if you need to get to work or school in a timely manner. If you find yourself with this problem, then there may be a few different things going on. Keep reading to understand what they are and what you need to do to repair the problem.
Lock Cylinder Malfunction
Your vehicle has a device called a lock cylinder that is secured inside the ignition switch. This cylinder reads the information contained in the key. This includes any anti-theft radio frequencies emitted from the key. The frequency tells the car that the correct key is being used and the lock cylinder can engage. The cylinder also contains wafer tumblers or thick pins that fit into the grooves of the lock.
Over time, the lock cylinder can fill with debris, and this can make it difficult for the wafers to fit with the key properly. Also, the wafers can stick or wear down, and this can prevent the key from turning.
In some cases, the lock cylinder can be repaired with the replacement of the worn wafers. This is advisable, because new keys and door locks will be required to match with a new lock cylinder if a full replacement is required. If your vehicle does need to be rekeyed, then the cost will be fairly low. In general, it will cost around $20 per lock for a new key system.
Your mechanic can tell you if the lock cylinder in the ignition needs to be replaced entirely. If it does, then it is wise to schedule the repair as soon as possible. If your key continues to stick in the ignition, then it may break off. If you cannot schedule a lock cylinder replacement soon, then make sure to clean out the ignition with an electrical contact cleaner. Also, clean your car key with soap and water to make sure it does not introduce debris into the lock cylinder. You can also spray the key with a lubricating spray like WD 40 to make sure it can slide easily into the ignition.
Worn Key Problems
You may also have a worn key if it is difficult to start your car. Worn keys form grooves on both the top and sides of the key. Also, the peaks of the key start to wear away. When the key shape changes, the wafers within the lock cylinder will not align properly, and you may not be able to turn the key. Look at your key to see if it is bent or worn down or contains a variety of scratches on the sides. If this is the case, then you will need to have your key replaced. In many cases, an exact clone can be created of the key that will work exactly like the original.
If you have to drive your car for a few days before investing in a new key, then there are a few things you can do to make sure the key turns a bit easier. Jiggle the key in the ignition gently. This may help to force the cylinder wafers into the right positions so the car will start. You can also try to push the key upward toward the top of the ignition while you try to turn the key. This may help to place a bit more pressure on wafers where the worn parts of the key sit against the lock. The wafers then may position correctly so the car can turn over.
For more information, contact a local locksmith from a company like Top Security Locksmiths.