Help! Key got jammed in ignition and won't come out!

I’m in need of some help! I recently started up my Ford E-150 to get the replacement battery going. When I went to turn it off, I couldn’t take the key out. The engine still starts and does what it’s supposed to, but the key is too far in the ignition. I’ve tried jiggling it, pulling on it, pushing it in more, but I can’t get the key out! Every self-help site doesn’t say anything about car still being able to start. Everything else in the van still works just fine, but the key won’t come out. What can I do?

Is the ignition in the “locked” position? The key can’t be removed in the “off” position. Be sure the transmission shift lever is fully engaged in park and the ignition in in the locked position.

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Yep, I did both of those things, but the key is still jammed. Thanks for the input!

Have you tried removing it while moving the steering wheel slightly left or right? Sometimes the wheel gets jammed tight against the locked position.

Have you tried removing it with the truck in neutral just to see what happens?

I’d recommend calling a mobile locksmith.

Try pushing the front of the ignition switch in while turning the key. also spray a little lube in where the key goes in if you can.

I thought you could take the key out with it running on Fords.

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Lol you so funny :joy:.

Can happen to any make and/or model if the ignition cylinder is worn enough. It happened on at least 4 of my families cars. ‘61 Olds Starfire, ‘63 GMC Suburban, ‘66 Olds VistaCruiser, and ‘67 Olds Dynamic 88. Also anything that fit in the cylinder slot could turn it, old car key, house key, screwdriver. Up until the mid nineties I don’t think my father even carried a real car key.

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I can do that on my Ford truck, although I doubt it is by design. Sometimes when time to park the truck, engine still running, there’s no key in the ignition, instead has fallen on the floor … lol… comes in handy sometimes if I start the engine, then decide I need to go back for something I forgot, don’t have to turn the engine off.

For OP’s problem, if the good ideas above don’t work, a shop may have to be hired to replace the ignition switch. Key sticking used to occur on my prior VW Rabbit sometimes, and just twisting the steering wheel right & left helped.

Happened to my brother in our Datsun one morning as well, though he never kept enough gas in the car for someone to get far if they stole it.

Thank you all for your responses and good ideas! Unfortunately, none of those worked (also couldn’t get any lube in there because the top of the key covered the entire opening for the key) and we ended up having to get the car towed to the dealership to have them do it. We called AAA to see if they could take it out, but the key is so far in that they risked damaging the key and ignition switch because they didn’t have the tools to do it. I appreciate the help from all of you! :slight_smile:

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UPDATE: we got the key out. All we had to do was put the van in drive, move it to a different spot, put it back in park, and the key came right out. We saved ourselves a trip to the dealership and $$$ just by changing gears.

Thank you all again for your advice!


Thank you for letting us know the outcome good luck with it in the future. :smiley:


I should have recommended finding a better parking space.

The key cannot be removed in the “unlock” position. The shift lever mechanism is worn and not easily reaching the correct position for the ignition to rotate to the “locked” position.

Don’t understand how OP is able to start engine if key is stuck. Is the e150 configured with a start switch independent of the key?

The lock cylinder rotates but the key cannot be removed in any position other than “locked”.

The op stated that the key couldn’t be removed, not that it wouldn’t turn.

My current and prior cars use some combo of “off”, “acc”, “on”, and “start”. Not “lock” or “unlock”. What’s the purpose of the “lock” & “unlock” positions?

Lock and Off are the same thing.

Lock just locks the steering wheel from turning.

And possibly the shift lever from coming out of Park.

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Ok, thanks for the explanation, it’s getting more clear. hmmm … sorry if I’m beating a dead horse, but still a little confused. Does the term “unlock” in the discussion above refer to any other position than “lock”? Or is there an actual “unlock” position?