interior shot of 2021 nissan maxima

How To Unlock A Steering Wheel

If your key won’t turn in the ignition or you’re unable to start your Nissan vehicle, the cause may be a locked steering wheel. Fortunately, a locked steering wheel is no cause for alarm — and it’s an easy fix! Most of the time, a locked steering wheel happens by accident due to a worn key or lock tumblers. Learn how to unlock a steering wheel in the guide below from the Gunter Nissan of Martinsville service center, and don’t hesitate to reach out with your car-care questions.



Why is My Steering Wheel Locked?

As a safety measure to prevent vehicle movement while the vehicle is parked, your steering wheel locks each time you turn your ignition key to the “off” position. Normally, it unlocks automatically when you start the engine. If it doesn’t, your steering wheel may have become locked for the following reasons:

  • Your key is too worn to catch properly in the ignition tumblers.
  • Worn ignition tumblers are preventing the key from turning.

How to Unlock a Steering Wheel: Step-by-Step Guide

Learning how to unlock your steering wheel should take just a couple minutes. Here’s what you need to know:

  1. Remember the direction you pulled the wheel when it first became locked? Start by pulling the wheel in that direction.
  2. If you’re not sure which way to pull, try both. When you pull in the right direction, you’ll feel the wheel move just slightly.
  3. Hold your steering wheel in the proper position and insert your key into the ignition. Now, try to turn your key and start the engine. 
  4. If the wheel stays locked and/or the engine fails to start, turn the wheel in the opposite direction and repeat step 3.
  5. You should be able to turn your steering wheel and get back on the road in Martinsville ASAP!

Unlocking a Steering Wheel: Tips to Keep in Mind

To avoid damage to your steering mechanism or key, keep these points in mind while unlocking your steering wheel:

  • Don’t Use Force – Brute force won’t unlock a locked steering wheel, and may even damage parts of your steering mechanism. Instead, apply consistent pressure while following the above steps.
  • Try Another Key – Sometimes, the cause of a locked steering wheel is the key itself. If the teeth of the key are too worn, it won’t be able to properly engage the tumblers of the locking mechanism. We’re happy to make you a replacement when you stop by our certified Nissan service center near Danville!

How to Lock Your Steering Wheel

Occasionally, you may want to lock your steering wheel internationally. For example, a locked steering wheel can provide extra security if you’re parking in an unfamiliar area. If someone who shouldn’t be is behind the wheel, they’ll have a harder time getting the vehicle to start. Here’s how to lock your steering wheel:

  • Shut off the engine and remove the key from the ignition. 
  • Turn the steering wheel one direction or the other until you hear a click.
  • When you hear the clock, you can rest assured that your steering wheel will remain locked until you return.
  • Unlock your steering wheel by following the steps above.

Rely on Gunter Nissan of Martinsville for Expert Nissan Service in Ridgeway 

You may know how to lock your steering wheel and how to unlock a steering wheel, but there’s lots more to learn when it comes to DIY care-care! Whether you need to remove corrosion from a battery or change your spark plugs, the team at Gunter Nissan of Martinsville is here to help. Speak with a certified technician over the phone or visit us near Reidsville, NC today!

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