How to Unlock the Steering Wheel: 2 Best Quick and Effective DIY Methods to Know

Are you having difficulty starting your car?

Is the key not turning when you insert it into the ignition?


If your answer to the above questions is yes, your steering wheel may be the reason behind the trouble. If you are not familiar with the steering system or have locked the steering wheel by accident, don’t worry. This is an issue that can be easily fixed. When you find yourself in such a situation knowing how to unlock the steering wheel on your own will save you a lot of time and effort.

Instead of approaching a car dealership or waiting for the repair service to resolve the issue, you can solve the problem on your own. Since improper handling can damage the ignition or the steering wheel, you should be careful about how you do the unlocking process.

This tutorial has been put together just for this purpose. Here is a step by step breakdown on how to unlock the steering wheel and get it back to its working condition.

Steering Wheel Unlocking Process

Image source:‬

The steering wheel in a car gets locked when the key is removed from the ignition. This is designed as a safety feature to avoid turning of the vehicle without key in the ignition socket. This is especially useful when you park your vehicle on an incline, as the steering lock will prevent the vehicle from moving even when the brakes fail to work.

Other important uses for the locking mechanism include for towing of the vehicle and to avoid theft of the vehicle by hotwiring the car.

What You Need to Unlock the Steering Wheel

To unlock you need the following tools:

  • Screwdrivers
  • Socket set

The Steering Wheel Can Be Unlocked by Two Ways:

  • 1. Freeing of steering wheel lock without lock assembly repair: This can be done on your own and in three simple steps.
  • 2. Unlocking steering wheel by repairing the lock assembly: This method is required, if the first method does not unlock the steering wheel. This requires an automobile locksmith or professional service for replacing the lock.

1. Unlocking the Steering Wheel on Your Own

Step 1: Insert the Key

Step 2: Try a Different Key

Step 3: Use WD40 spray

2. Unlocking the Steering Wheel by Replacing Ignition Lock Set

If you could not unlock the steering wheel with the above steps and the key doesn’t budge, another way to free it is by replacing the ignition lock system. This part is a bit technical and you may have to get professional help to install the new ignition lock system that can receive the old key, provided it is in proper shape. If not, you may have to make a fresh key.

But, we have given simple and easy instructions for you to follow and make this a successful DIY project.

Step 1: Remove Column Panels in Steering Wheel

Step 2: Free Lock Cylinder

Step 3: New Ignition-Lock System Installation

Step 4: Column Panel Reinstallation


That’s it. Your job is over. You have freed your locked steering wheel successfully. Whether it is just a simple key turning or a more complex lock cylinder system installation, the above steps show how to unlock the steering wheel easily and effortlessly. All you need to know is dismantling the steering wheel column and inserting the ignition system. With the above tutorial, you will never be rendered helpless when faced with a locked steering wheel.

If you are still hesitant about replacing the lock cylinder all by yourself, you can always approach a professional vehicle repair and maintenance service for further assistance. So, have you enjoyed our tutorial on how to unlock the steering wheel? If you like it, please share the article with your friends and family. You can also share your comments and suggestions here. Have a great time!

About the Author Alice Brown

I am just a car girl. Simply interested in the automotive and vehicular world. I started out as an apprentice mechanic working at my father’s garage. I'm hoping my two cents will help you fix a blinking light on the dashboard or that cranking noise that you don’t seem to know where it is coming from.