Car Key Only Goes Halfway In Lock

You’re on your way out, and you’re in a hurry. You press the car key into the lock and immediately feel that it’s stuck. You already know this is going to bolster your plans for the evening.

Your car key may only go into the lock halfway for several reasons. The lock may be obstructed by debris, you have a frozen lock, the lock is dry, the key is bent or worn, or the cylinder pins may be sticking. 

The lock is obstructed by debris

The lock may be obstructed for two reasons. 

Dust, rust, or debris may collect over time on the inside of the lock. This is normal and is often the reason why a key will only go halfway into a lock. The problem is that you will not be able to diagnose this problem by yourself and may need the assistance of a professional locksmith.

The second more serious reason may be the result of tampering with the lock. Criminals may stick objects into the lock in an attempt to open the car door. The objects may break off and be stuck inside the lock, which will prevent the key from entering the lock all the way. 


If you suspect debris particles to be the culprit or dust, use pressurized air and blow into the keyhole. If dust or small debris particles are the problems, then this quick fix should resolve the issue.

The next step is to lubricate the lock and work the lubrication with the key. 

On the other hand, if you suspect that larger objects may be the problem, then take the car to a professional. You may need to remove the lock from the car door to address this type of problem. 

You have a frozen lock

Frozen locks can be frustrating. Your car keyhole will accumulate frost if you live in an area that experiences very cold months during the year. 

If moisture is present on the inside of your lock at temperatures below 32°F, then the moisture will freeze, and you will be unable to use the lock. You will immediately notice that the key feels rigid as you push it into the lock. 


There are a few possibilities that will help you to address this type of problem. 

Keep a magnet in the car. Make sure the magnet is big enough to cover the keyhole. Place it over the keyhole of the door whenever you are not using the car. 

WD-40 can be sprayed into the keyhole. It should keep the lock lubricated and prevent it from freezing or any frost building up. This solution will last for several days.

Hand sanitizer gel can be applied to both sides of the car key. The high alcohol content will prevent frost and is useful for thawing ice. 

You have a dry lock

The lifespan of most locks is about seven years.

This is a common reason why your car key might get stuck in the keyhole. It’s best to use a process of elimination method to determine the actual cause of the problem.

The solution

The best solution is a dry lubricant. 

Dry lubricants generally work better on keyholes than wet lubricants. Unlike a wet lubricant, a dry lubricant dries very quickly. There is less of a chance that the lubricant will attract other dust particles and make the matter worse. 

Simply add a few pumps of dry lubricant to the keyhole. Place the key into the keyhole and move it around to allow the lubricant to evenly spread around on the inside of the lock chamber. 

This should be sufficient to lubricate the lock and allow you to use it again. 

A bent/worn key

Keys are not indestructible. Sometimes it’s not the lock that is the problem, but the key. 

Car keys generally wear out over time, and excessive use may cause the key to become bent or worn. Constant use, improper storage, and reckless handling of keys, such as opening bottles or tins, can all lead to the keys becoming worn, bent, or even worse, broken. 

Inspect the key to make sure that it may not be slightly bent, broken, or damaged in any way. Use caution when removing the key from the car door. If the key is, in fact, bent, slowly and gently pull it out of the keyhole.

Removing the key too quickly or too recklessly from the keyhole may cause the key to break off. This is especially important if the car is in a location far from home and there is no spare key available. 

The solution

Do not attempt to bend the key back into place. This is too risky and may cause the key to breaking off, depending on how badly it is damaged or bent. 

If the car key is stuck in the keyhole without any method of safely removing it, it is best advised to take the car to an auto-locksmith or other professional. More so if there is no spare key available.

In addition, consider if a replacement key may not be a cheaper option than a repair. 

Cylinder pins are sticking

The cylinder pins may be stuck due to the fact that they are dry. This problem is much more common than expected but also a simple and easy fix. 

Another reason for the cylinder pins to stick is a worn-down pin. As dust and dust particles collect on the inside of the keyhole, the key rubs against the particles, causing continuous friction. Over time, this will result in the pins becoming dry. 

The solution

While it may be a relatively easy and quick fix, it is still advised to rather consult with an auto-locksmith who is familiar with the inner workings of a car door lock. The auto-locksmith should be able to address the problem quickly at a relatively low cost to the driver.

What if my ignition key stuck in the ignition of my car

The ignition lock cylinder forms part of the mechanical structure needed in order to start a car. A cylinder lock is a component of the starting mechanism of the car. It is not uncommon, at all, for a key to get stuck in the ignition of the car.

The first step is not to panic, as this may cause a lot of distress. First, gently wiggle the key to try and remove it from the ignition. Keep in mind that many cars have a locking system on the steering wheel that will lock the steering wheel if/when it is turned too far to one side or the other.

Gently unlock the steering lock by wiggling the key in the keyhole while turning the wheel from side to side. 

In addition, shaking the gear selector may help. If the car has an automatic transmission, the key will not be removable unless the car is in park or neutral. 

Be very gentle; shake the gear selector and gently tug on the key to see if it will dislodge from the ignition. 

If none of these attempts remedies the problem, then it may be better to contact a professional to address the problem.