Volkswagen Beetle: Key Stuck in Ignition → Diagnosis
There are a few easy to fix reasons why your Volkswagen Beetle’s key might get stuck in the ignition. It’s often easy to unstick the key. Whatever you do, don’t start trying to rip it out of the ignition. That can cause bigger problems.
This article is written with the assumption that your key is stuck right now, and that you are looking to get it out.
A key getting stuck in your Beetle’s ignition is not the most common problem. You can go the whole life of the vehicle and this typically won’t happen.
Key Stuck in Ignition Causes: Volkswagen Beetle
Here are some of the most common reasons why the key would get stuck in the ignition. They are presented somewhat in the order of most likely to least likely to be the cause.
All vehicles equipped with automatic transmissions have a lock that keeps the key from being removed from the ignition while the vehicle is in gear. This prevents your Beetle from “rolling off”.
When the vehicle is in any other gear than park will act like neutral and roll away without the parking brake on. Leaving the key stuck in the lock is the manufacturers way of telling you that you need to put it in park before you leave the driver’s seat.
A lot of vehicles are equipped with a steering lock. This lock can bind the ignition switch and get the key stuck from time to time. This is particularly true on hills. Manipulating your Beetle’s steering wheel can unbind the key.
- Bent– Over time and repeated use, a key can bend. If this is the case, you’ll need to get a new one. This issue often happens with cheap duplicated keys. If you do massage the key out, go ahead and throw it away. Take the good key and duplicate it.
- Rusted– A key that is rusted can get stuck in the ignition system easily. It doesn’t have to be a lot of rust. Just enough to keep it from moving freely. As with a bent key, just start over. Once something rusts, it comes back a lot easier.
- Debris– If you’ve used your key to clean something off, or gotten food (or other debris) on it somehow, you’ll find that it can pretty easily stick in the ignition lock.
- Worn– If a key has worn past the point of usefulness, it can start failing to pass through the ignition lock. Replacing the key would be ideal. If you have a key that’s in better shape, you’d want to use that one to make a duplicate.
If you have no key to duplicate, many manufacturers can use the VIN number to cut you a brand new OEM key. Just be prepared to prove ownership to Volkswagen in some way.
Ignition Lock Cylinder
The Beetle’s ignition lock cylinder itself can go bad over time. While it would seem like the most likely cause for a key to get stuck in the ignition at first, compared to it being a bad key, this is not nearly as likely.
Replacing them can be tricky. This is best left to a professional, with today’s electronic theft prevention mechanisms there can be a lot to this.
If your Volkswagen Beetle’s battery doesn’t have enough voltage to properly engage the safety mechanisms that leave your key stuck in the ignition can cause the issue.
How to Get Key Unstuck: Volkswagen Beetle
Here are ways that you can get your Beetle’s key free. This is our recommended order to do them in.
Make Sure You Have Voltage
Is the battery charged? If the vehicle still starts it should be fine. But, since this requires almost no effort to check, why not start here? Low voltage can keep the ignition lock mechanism from properly functioning.
Wiggle the Steering Wheel
Give the wheel a wiggle while lightly trying to turn the key out of the ignition. If the steering lock is causing a bind, this will relieve the pressure and get the key out. This is a very common situation when you park on hills, park with the wheels turned all the way in one direction, or if the wheels were turned with the vehicle not moving before the ignition was shut off.
Make sure your Beetle is in park. Even if it is in park, push the shifter up higher toward park while gently turning the key. You don’t need to manhandle anything. You’re just looking to see if the park lock mechanism is failing. If it is, the key should come right out.
Lubricate the Key
Now that we’ve tried all of the easier, and likely things that can make a Beetle’s key get stuck that aren’t the key itself, it’s time to go ahead and try to get the key out. You’re going to want to use a small amount of lubricant to see if it can help you get the key moving.
If you can still move the key forward, go ahead and do it so that you can get the lubrication spread a little. Don’t force it too hard or you’ll break it off in the cylinder.
It’s time to use a code scanner and see if there are any diagnostic trouble codes that can illuminate the problem.
Conclusion: Beetle Key Stuck
If your Beetle’s key is still stuck after going through all of these steps, it may be time to have a mechanic take a look at the ignition lock and see if it has gone bad. If there’s anything that you’ll like to add, please leave a comment below. Good luck!
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