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1997 Nissan Altima-Steering Column Locked

I drove my husband’s car to work one night, came home, and parked in front of the house. The next day, when he tried to go to work, he couldn’t get it to start. The steering column was locked and no matter what we do, we cannot get the key to turn in the ignition. I parked directly in front of the house which required no turning of the wheels, so they are not turned sharply in either direction, just straight. The steering column lock button is stuck in the in position. I’ve been googling and cannot find anything that works (please don’t suggest turning the wheel sharply/hard while trying to turn the key, we’ve tried dozens, if not hundreds of times-it just doesn’t work). We’ve already bought my husband another vehicle as we were already planning to do so, but we’d really like to solve this problem without spending a lot of money to do so. Any ideas?

Is there any possibility that someone may have tried to steal the car and messed up the ignition switch? There would be wear marks or scratches around the key hole. Does your key look normal? Is it an original or a copy? Is there a possibility that one of the cuts on the key you are trying may have gotten altered by dropping the keys? If so, have you tried another key? If it’s a double cut key, have you tried it “upside down”? Usually only one side actually pushes on the mechanism in the lock. If one cut doesn’t work, the other might. Is a piece of the key broken off in the lock? You might also try lubricating the key hole with some graphite powder. It’s available at any auto supply, It’s a little plastic tube that you can “puff” JUST A LITTLE powder into the lock with. Then work the key in and out. DO NOT use WD-40 or similar liquids. They will only gum up the lock.

It is possible that the lock is simply worn out on a 17 year old car. It happens. In that case, you will probably need the help of a good locksmith.

I think you will have to get the car towed to your mechanic and have the ignition switch replaced.


Maybe the key is stuck. Look for a little hole near the key. If you stick a paper clip in the hole and try to move the key, maybe the lock cylinder will come out and you can replace or fix it. Maybe not. Second, try tapping around the lock button with a mallet and maybe it will come out. It may not be possible to do any of what I suggested. Some locksmiths may be able to fix it in short order.