How To Get Key Out Of Ignition Honda Civic?

Having your key stuck in the Honda Civic ignition can be annoying and inconvenient. Thankfully, in most cases, there are a few easy things you can try yourself to get the key unstuck before paying for a locksmith. This article will provide a short overview of the common causes of stuck keys and detail different methods to get the key out of the ignition on your Honda Civic, from jiggling the steering wheel to using a lubricant. With some simple mechanical techniques, you can often resolve a stuck key quickly.

Common Causes Of A Stuck Ignition Key

There are a few common reasons why your Honda Civic’s key may get stuck in the ignition and refuse to turn and release. Here are some of the most likely culprits:

  • The Steering Wheel is Locked
  • Parking Gear Not Engaged
  • Internal Damage or Wear
  • Foreign Objects or Debris

The Steering Wheel Is Locked

Modern Honda Civics have an anti-theft feature that locks the steering wheel in place when you turn the car off. If you switched the ignition off while the steering wheel was turned or under pressure, it can bind the locking mechanism and trap the key.

Parking Gear Not Engaged

On automatic transmission Honda Civics, you have to fully engage the Park gear before the key will release from the ignition cylinder. If your shifter isn’t completely in Park, it will lock the key in place as a safety precaution.

Internal Damage Or Wear

The ignition cylinder houses internal components like springs and pins that allow the key to turn and release. If these get damaged or excessively worn, it can lead to a stuck key situation.

Foreign Objects Or Debris

Small objects, debris or even excess buildup of dirt and grime can make its way into the ignition cylinder housing and cause the key and lock components to bind up.

How To Get Key Out Of Ignition Honda Civic

If you find yourself with a stuck key in your Honda Civic, don’t panic. Here are several methods you can try at home to get the key unstuck. Make sure to try them in the order listed, moving down to the next technique if the previous one fails.

How To Get Key Out in Ignition Honda Civic
How To Get Key Out in Ignition Honda Civic

Method 1 – Jiggle The Steering Wheel

The first thing to try when your Honda Civic key is stuck is to attempt to jiggle the steering wheel back and forth while gently trying to turn the key. This rocking motion can release built up tension on the steering lock and allow the key cylinder to turn freely again.

  • While seated in the driver’s seat, grip the steering wheel with both hands.
  • Try turning the wheel left and right repeatedly while lightly wiggling the key.
  • Apply moderate force – you want the wheel to move a couple inches in either direction as you jiggle it.
  • Keep trying the jiggling motion for 30-60 seconds before stopping to try the key.
  • With the other hand, gently try to turn the key clockwise to release it as you jiggle the wheel.
  • The key should be able to turn freely and release after this motion releases the bind.

This is the easiest and most effective method for a stuck Civic key, so take your time and don’t get discouraged. The jiggling takes some of the pressure off the internal locking mechanism.

Method 2 – Rock The Vehicle

If the wheel jiggling technique fails to work, the next step is to try rocking the entire vehicle back and forth. This shifts the car’s weight and changes the orientation of components under the hood that connect to the ignition cylinder housing.

  • Make sure your Honda Civic is in Park or Neutral and the parking brake is engaged.
  • Get out and physically stand in front of the vehicle. Place your hands on the front bumper.
  • Firmly rock the car forward and backward – try to shift the weight a couple inches in each direction.
  • Have another person sitting in the driver’s seat to try the key periodically as you rock the car.
  • The key turning tabs inside the cylinder need to be aligned properly again to release the key – this motion can help.
  • Keep trying for 2-3 minutes before moving on to the next method.

Method 3 – Tap The Ignition Cylinder

If rocking the entire car fails, your next step is to try tapping on the ignition cylinder housing itself. This can knock loose any debris that may be trapped in the cylinder and binding the key.

  • Locate the ignition cylinder on the side of the steering column. It has a slot that the key inserts into.
  • Using the open end of a wrench or mallet, gently tap on the cylinder housing in a clockwise direction.
  • As you lightly rap the cylinder, have someone in the driver’s seat try to turn the key and release it.
  • Only tap firmly enough to produce a light impact – you don’t want to damage the cylinder.
  • Try this for a minute or two, then switch directions and tap counterclockwise.

The tapping transmits vibration through the internal components that can dislodge foreign particles or detritus stuck inside.

Method 4 – Lubricate The Keyway

If the ignition cylinder taps fail to work, another DIY method is to lubricate the keyway slot. Oil or lubricant can help release the key by reducing friction and corrosion.

  • Locate the keyway slot in the cylinder where the key inserts.
  • Using a pen oil lubricant, spray or drip a small amount into the slot opening.
  • Insert the key in and out of the slot a few times to disperse the lubricant.
  • Spray additional lubricant and work the key in and out.
  • Having an assistant try the key periodically while lubricating can help release it.
  • Avoid using liquids like WD-40 or water that can further corrode the cylinder.

Lubrication helps ensure the key can slide in and out freely and engage the cylinder locking tabs smoothly.

Method 5 – Use A Sturdy Wood Wedge

Wedging a sturdy piece of wood into the cylinder slot when the key is partially inserted can provide the torque needed to force it to turn.

  • Take a paint stir stick, sturdy chopstick or small wooden wedge.
  • Insert the key halfway into the ignition cylinder, but don’t force it.
  • Place the wood wedge into the slot, leaving half the key exposed.
  • Use steady pressure to rock the wood stick back and forth in the slot while turning the key.
  • The key should be able to turn and release as the wood absorbs some of the bind pressure.
  • Avoid using too much force – work the wooden wedge gently.

This is a mechanical method similar to using a breaker bar when loosening bolts. The lever action of the wood provides extra torque.

Method 6 – Use Vice Grips Or Pliers

Finally, locking pliers or vise grips can be used to get a grip on the key head itself and provide the torque required to turn and release it.

  • Clamp the curved jaws of a set of vice grips or pliers securely over the key head.
  • Position them as close to the cylinder as possible to maximize leverage.
  • With pressure applied to create friction, slowly and gently turn the key using the pliers.
  • Avoid sudden force, work them steadily in a turning motion to mimic turning the key by hand.
  • This increased gripping leverage should force the stuck key to rotate properly.

Be careful not to apply so much force that you break the key or damage the ignition cylinder. Patience and gradual turning pressure is key.

If none of these methods work to get the stuck key out, it’s likely an internal issue and you will need to call a mobile locksmith or have it towed to a repair facility. But in many common cases, one of these mechanical techniques can save the day!

Preventing Stuck Keys In The Future

Once you get the stuck key removed from your Honda Civic ignition, here are some tips to help avoid it happening again:

  • Don’t turn the key until the car is fully in Park – this prevents the gear shift safety lock from engaging
  • Avoid turning off the car while the steering wheel is mid-turn.
  • Lubricate the key and ignition cylinder slot periodically with penetrating oil.
  • Ensure the ignition cylinder area stays free of grime and particles.
  • Replace deteriorating ignition cylinder if it’s damaged or overly worn.
Get Key Out Of Ignition Honda Civic
Get Key Out Of Ignition Honda Civic

Proper maintenance and operation habits will help ensure your Honda’s ignition key continues to turn freely for years to come.

When To Call A Professional

If you try all of these methods thoroughly and cannot get the stuck key to release, it likely requires the skills of a professional locksmith. Continued attempts to force the key could damage it and result in a costly cylinder replacement. Signs it’s time to call a pro include:

  • Key is snapped off in the cylinder
  • Ignition cylinder is cracked or damaged
  • Key will not turn at all despite proper lubrication
  • Steering wheel remains completely locked and immobile

A mobile locksmith has specialized tools to remove stuck keys and repair ignitions. They can extract broken keys, replace cylinders, or decode and cut new keys.

How Do You Get A Stuck Honda Key Out Of The Ignition?

The most effective way to get a stuck Honda key out is to gently jiggle the steering wheel back and forth while turning the key. This releases tension on the wheel lock mechanism allowing the key cylinder to turn freely. You can also try rocking the car, tapping on the cylinder housing, lubricating the keyway, or using a wooden wedge or pliers to apply extra torque to the key. Avoid using excessive force and call a locksmith if DIY methods don’t work.

Why Is My Car Not Letting Me Take The Key Out?

If your car won’t release the key from the ignition, it’s typically due to the gear shift not being fully in Park or the steering wheel lock binding the internal locking mechanism. Make sure to firmly move the gear shift all the way into Park before trying to remove the key. Also attempt jiggling the wheel while turning the key to break loose any steering lock tension. If the key still won’t come out, there may be damage inside the cylinder preventing release.

How Do I Get The Key Out Of My Honda Key Fob?

To remove a stuck key from a Honda key fob, first ensure nothing is obstructing the key slot. Use compressed air to blow out any debris. Then apply lubricant like WD-40 to the slot and key and slowly wiggle the key out. If still stuck, you may need to pry open the fob casing and manually disengage the internal parts trapping the key. Take care not to damage any electronics inside the fob if forcing it open.

Can You Push A Key Out?

No, you should never try to forcefully push a stuck key out of an ignition as this can cause breakage and internal damage. If jiggling the wheel, rocking the car, lubricating, and turning with pliers fails, avoid pushing or hitting the key. Continued force risks breaking off the key, harming the cylinder, or cracking interior components. If a stuck key won’t turn properly, it’s best to call a professional locksmith.


Having to deal with a stuck key can ruin your day and bring your hectic schedule to a frustrating halt. Use the techniques outlined in this article to try releasing it yourself before calling a locksmith. With some creative mechanical leverage and luck, you can get your Honda back on the road to avoid the hassle and expense of professional help. Just remember to be gentle yet firm with the key and ignition cylinder to avoid damage. With the right finesse and technique, you can get that pesky Civic key unstuck.

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Ammar Masoud

I have had a long and fulfilling career in the automotive industry, primarily with Honda and Acura. With 15 years of experience as a Honda service technician, I became highly skilled in repair and maintenance, gaining a deep understanding of these vehicles. After many years in the automotive field, I decided to embark on a second career in industrial manufacturing. It was a significant change, but I found that the skills I had honed in the automotive industry were incredibly valuable in my new role. In my current position in industrial manufacturing, the demand for quality workmanship and meticulous attention to detail is paramount. Fortunately, these are traits that I have cultivated throughout my years in the automotive industry. I take pride in applying these skills to meet the high standards expected in the manufacturing sector.