Can’t Get Key Out Of Ignition Ford Explorer – 5 Causes & Solutions

Can’t Get Key Out Of Ignition Ford Explorer – 5 Causes & Solutions

Are you struggling with Can’t Get Key Out Of Ignition Ford Explorer?  Don’t worry; you’re not alone.

This is actually quite a common occurrence in the Explorer model; however, don’t worry just yet. There are some simple solutions that may solve the problem quickly and easily.

In this article, we’ll discuss why this happens in an easy-to-understand way and provide step-by-step instructions on how to get your key out of the ignition.

So whether you own a Ford Explorer or not, keep reading if you want to learn more about what causes this problem and how to fix it!


Can’t Get Key Out Of Ignition Ford Explorer –  Common Causes

No matter what type of vehicle you have or how long you’ve owned it, sometimes these kinds of situations happen without warning.

Fortunately, by understanding the most likely causes and having access to repair tools designed specifically for this problem, you should be able to get your key out with minimal effort required!

Can't Get Key Out Of Ignition Ford Explorer - Infographic

Here are some of the common Causes:

 Causes  Description
1. Mechanical Issue A mechanical problem, such as a worn-out key or ignition cylinder, can prevent the key from turning or being removed properly.
2. Electrical Malfunction Electrical issues, such as a faulty ignition switch or a malfunctioning electronic key system, can cause the key to get stuck.
3. Steering Wheel Lock If the steering wheel is locked, it can put pressure on the ignition lock cylinder, making it difficult to remove the key.
4. Shift Interlock A faulty shift interlock system, which is designed to prevent the key from being removed while the vehicle is in gear, can cause the key to stick.
5. Dead Battery  A low or dead battery can affect the electronic components of the vehicle, including the ignition system, leading to a stuck key.

Can’t Get Key Out Of Ignition Ford Explorer –  Troubleshooting Steps

As an experienced car ignition expert, I’ve seen this issue many times before. The problem could be a few different things and the best way to tackle it is by taking a step-by-step approach.

Here are some of the steps you can take:

1. Fix The Mechanical Issue

Here are the steps to troubleshoot and fix a potential mechanical issue causing a stuck key in the ignition of a Ford Explorer.

Steps Description
1. Try using a spare key Use a spare key to see if the issue persists. If the spare key works fine, the original key may be worn out and require replacement.
2. Lubricate the ignition cylinder Apply a graphite-based lubricant to the ignition cylinder to reduce friction and facilitate smooth key movement.
3. Consult a professional If the key remains stuck despite attempts, seek assistance from a professional locksmith or mechanic for further inspection and repair of the ignition system.

2. Fix The Electrical Issue 

When faced with an electrical issue in your vehicle, it’s essential to take the appropriate steps for resolution.  Follow these steps systematically to address and fix the electrical problem efficiently.

Step Description
1. Check the battery Ensure the battery is in good condition and properly connected. Clean any corrosion on the battery terminals.
2. Inspect the fuses Check the vehicle’s fuse box for any blown fuses. Replace any blown fuses with ones of the correct rating.
3. Examine the wiring Inspect the wiring harness for any visible damage or loose connections. Repair or replace any damaged wiring.
4. Test the alternator Use a multimeter to check the output voltage of the alternator. Have it tested or replaced if it’s below the recommended range.
5. Scan for error codes Use a diagnostic scanner to retrieve any stored error codes from the vehicle’s computer. Address identified issues accordingly.
6. Check the ignition switch Inspect the ignition switch for damage or malfunction. Replace if necessary.
7. Verify the ground connections Ensure all ground connections are clean, tight, and secure. Poor grounding can cause electrical issues.
8. Seek professional assistance If the issue persists, consult a qualified mechanic or automotive electrician for further diagnosis and repair.

3. Check The Steering Wheel Lock

These steps can help resolve the issue of a locked steering wheel in your Ford Explorer. These steps aim to release the steering wheel lock and allow for the removal of the key from the ignition.
  • Apply firm pressure to the steering wheel in the opposite direction of the lock while turning the key to remove it from the ignition.
  • Ensure the vehicle is fully in “Park” or “Neutral” and try turning the key while gently jiggling the steering wheel.
  • Check for a steering wheel lock release lever or button near the steering column.
  • Follow the vehicle’s manual or consult the manufacturer for specific instructions on how to release the steering wheel lock.

4. Check The Shift Interlock

If you find yourself unable to remove the key from the ignition due to a shift interlock problem, don’t worry. Below are the troubleshooting steps that can help resolve the issue.

  • Check the brake lights and replace any blown bulbs or faulty brake light switches.
  • Press firmly on the brake pedal while attempting to remove the key from the ignition.
  • Ensure the vehicle is fully in the “Park” position and wiggle the gear shifter while pressing the brake pedal to ensure it engages properly.
  • Consult the vehicle’s manual for instructions on how to use the shift interlock override feature, if available.

5. Replace The Dead Battery

When faced with a dead battery in your vehicle, replacing it is a necessary solution. Follow the steps below to safely and effectively replace the dead battery.

Steps to Replace a Dead Battery
1. Turn off the vehicle and park it in a safe location.
2. Open the hood and locate the battery.
3. Put on safety gloves and goggles.
4. Disconnect the negative (-) cable from the battery terminal.
5. Disconnect the positive (+) cable from the battery terminal.
6. Remove any brackets or fasteners securing the battery.
7. Lift out the old battery and set it aside.
8. Clean the battery tray and terminals.
9. Place the new battery into the battery tray.
10. Attach the positive (+) cable to the positive terminal of the new battery.
11. Attach the negative (-) cable to the negative terminal of the new battery.
12. Secure any brackets or fasteners removed earlier.
13. Close the hood of the vehicle.
14. Start the engine to verify proper battery installation.
15. Dispose of the old battery at a recycling center.

Maintenance Tips To Avoid Future Issues

Prevention is key! By implementing these simple yet effective measures, you can avoid future problems. Take proactive steps today to minimize risks.

Preventive Measures Description
1. Check for a discharged battery
  • Ensure that the vehicle’s battery is not discharged or weak.
  • A low battery can affect the electrical systems, including the key release mechanism.
2. Confirm the gear lever is in the “Park” position
  • Make sure the gear lever is fully engaged in the “Park” position.
  • If it’s not properly aligned, the key may not release from the ignition.
3. Examine the steering wheel
  • Check if the steering wheel is locked. If it is, try gently turning the steering wheel left and right while attempting to remove the key.
  • This can release the ignition lock.
4. Inspect the ignition switch
  • Inspect the ignition switch for any signs of damage or debris.
  • Clean the ignition switch using compressed air or contact cleaner to remove any dirt or obstructions.
5. Lubricate the key cylinder
  • Apply a small amount of graphite-based lock lubricant into the key cylinder.
  • This can help smoothen the operation of the lock and alleviate any sticking or binding issues.
6. Consult a qualified mechanic
  • If the above measures don’t resolve the issue, it’s advisable to consult a certified mechanic or contact Ford service for professional assistance and further troubleshooting.


If you’ve ever found yourself stuck in your Ford Explorer with a key that just won’t come out of the ignition, don’t despair. With some troubleshooting and patience, you can soon have it back to normal.

If all else fails, replacing the ignition cylinder will get you up and running again – no sweat!

As an experienced car ignition expert, I’d suggest taking precautionary measures to prevent this issue from happening in the future. Make sure to keep your keys clean as dirt or grime could cause them to stick.

Additionally, avoid jiggling the key while turning it off as this could damage the internal components over time.

References & Official Resources:

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