6 Causes of Chevy Equinox Key Stuck in Ignition

It was the summer of 2012, along the notorious Skyline Drive en route Canon City in my Chevy Equinox. As I pulled over to pee my car key wouldn’t come out of the ignition. Imagine yourself in such a situation! It can be a frustrating experience, right? Why will a car key not come out of the ignition and what’s the quick fix to it? I’ll walk you through the process in a few simple steps. Stay connected with me. 

Why Key is Stuck in Chevy Equinox Truck and What to do?

There are several reasons your car key can be stuck in the ignition. Whereas some reasons may be vehicle-specific, a stuck key is a universal vehicle problem. Here are the top 6 reasons your key is stuck in the ignition and what techniques to pull it out. 

Cause 1: Transmission Gear not in Park Position

As a rule of thumb, your car transmission gear must always be set in the Park position in order to pull the key out from the ignition. In most modern vehicles, especially automatic transmissions, the key won’t leave the ignition if the gear is set to Neutral (N), Second Gear (2), Drive (D), or Low (L) gear. 

Fix: Shift to Park (P)

You will need to shift the gear pedal to the Park (P) position to release the key from the ignition. Don’t forget to step on the brake pedal before wiggling your gear lever between the Neutral and Park buttons. Check the digital display on the dash and ensure ‘P’ is highlighted to indicate that the gear has shifted to Park. Then, twist the stuck key counterclockwise before pulling it out of the ignition.

Cause 2: Steering Wheel Unlock 

The steering wheel lock is activated as a safety measure. So, as you switch off your car engine and turn the steering wheel a little leftward or rightward, the wheel will lock. As a result, you won’t be able to remove the key from the ignition or turn the steering wheel.

Fix: Unlock the steering wheel

The thing to do if the steering wheel lock is activated is to unlock it. Try to wiggle the wheel back leftward or rightward and see it unlock within seconds. Once done, you can pull out the stuck key from the ignition.

Cause 3: Dead or flat battery 

Another reason your ignition key is stuck is that your car battery is dead and unable to power the engine. You’ll notice a dead battery if you hear a repeated clicking sound as you turn the key.

Fix: Recharge your car battery

Once you notice a low voltage or this clicking noise, there’s a chance that the battery is dead and needs to be recharged. Recharge the battery or install a new one. Alternatively, you can jump-start the car using another battery. Read and understand the procedure for jumpstarting a car before trying it.   

Cause 4: Debris on the Ignition key

If the Chevy Equinox key is stuck in the ignition, it is possible that there’s debris or carbon deposit on the key. As long as the debris stays on, the key won’t be able to get to the ignition cylinder pins. Dirt can build up on a car key if it falls on sand or muddy soil. Your key can also accumulate debris if you use it to open packages and boxes or scratch surfaces. 

Fix: Clean up the dirt

This is a no-brainer. All you need to do is to spray deep-penetrating lubricant on the key. I always recommend WD-40 because of its penetrating capacity to clear and clean any surface. 

Cause 5: Worn-out Ignition key

Another possible reason your key is stuck to the ignition is that the key may be worn or damaged. A car key can wear over time if you use it for extraneous things. Your key is designed to start the engine and open and lock the vehicle. Once you engage it with activities outside these, you’ll be causing it to wear quickly. 

Fix: Replace the key 

Once you start noticing that the key is experiencing accelerated wear, it’s time to replace the key. You’ll need a locksmith to do the job. However, replacing the Chevy Equinox key may be a risk. I will recommend that you buy and install a new ignition lock cylinder and key. This way, you can guarantee the safety of your car.  

Cause 6: Damaged Ignition Cylinder

If the ignition lock cylinder has gone bad or is on the verge of failing, it may cause the key to stick to the ignition. The design of the ignition lock cylinder features multiple rows of pins inside them. These pins are spring-loaded to match up with the mouth of the key. Once the pins misalign, your key won’t able to come out of the ignition. Even inserting the key might be impossible.   

Fix: Align the Cylinder Pins

Calling on a professional will be the best bet. Your mechanic will have the technical expertise to correct the misaligned spring-boarded ignition lock cylinder pins. Any error through a DIY might cost more than you ever bargain. 


What is the cost of pulling a key out of a Chevy Equinox Ignition?

There are no hard and fast rules about the cost of removing a key from the ignition. It all depends on the situation. On average, however, you can budget a range of $150 to $500, depending on what causes the key to stick.

How Do I know if the ignition lock cylinder is failing?

That’s a good question, I must say. When the ignition cylinder is failing, you’ll notice one or all of these signs. 

  • You may experience trouble starting your vehicle
  • The dashboard-bound digital screen will show flickering light
  • The starter motor won’t produce any noise
  • You won’t be able to insert into or pull out the key from the ignition 

Final Thoughts

If you find yourself in a situation where your Chevy Equinox key is stuck in the ignition, it’s not time to panic. Try to figure out what the issue is and how to get your car out of the place. Never use crude force to remove the key as such may cause more severe damage. Simply follow the techniques discussed above. I hope you’ll find this article helpful in case your key ever gets stuck in the ignition in the future.   

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