My sister has a ford escort and used the car the other night, filled up on gas and then this morning she was not able to start the car. She would put the key in the ignition but it would not turn. I could not get the automatic car to shift into neutral to try and start it that way. I also tried to spray wd40 incase it needed to be lubricated. It seems locked up. Do you have any suggestions as to what may be causing this and how to fix it?


The ignition key would not turn or the engine would not turn?

First I suspect there is a transmission linkage issue since you could not shift it into neutral, but that is a guess.  Like Mr. Van I can't really tell if the lock won't turn or if it is the starter not turning the engine.  

 [b] Don't use WD-40 in any kind of lock. [/b]  WD-40 is a WATER DISPLACEMENT.  It will provide some cleaning and will provide a temporary light lubrication in a lock, but that lubrication tends to become a gummy mess over time and causes more problems than it fixes.  Clean locks with a zero residue cleaner and lube them with a real lock lube.  The right lubes may be in a powder form or a liquid where the liquid is really zero residue and has a dry type lube suspended in it.


Turn the steering wheel a little, and hold it, to release the tension on the ignition key. The steering wheel may be difficult to turn, an inch or so, if a front wheel is jammed against a parking block, or something. I’ve seen people, who’ve been driving their car for years, have this problem and not know how to deal with it (unbinding the ignition key).

Low voltage is another possibility. Hook jumper cables to it and try.


I used to have an Escort and had this problem a few times the last year I owned it. Hellokit’s suggestion is what always worked for me.


be clear.

you can’t get the key to even turn in the lock?

or the key will turn, but the car won’t start?


You can put the key in the ignition, but are unable to turn it.


Ok so she pulled into my parents driveway, so there are no blocks or anything obstructing the wheels or anything like that. I took a walk around the outside of the car and it looks fine. I tried the tilting the wheel and holding it and then trying to turn the key, but it still won’t turn. I am at a loss. I have AAA on my car, do you think I could call them to come out and look at hers?


then you in all likely hood simply have the wheels turned hard over, to jam the key switch so it wont turn EASILY.

take a look at the front wheels is one (or both) against a curb, or other object?

the steering wheel has to be turned HARD to loosen up the key so it will turn. try it one way, then the other, while turning the key. the key should move easily when you turn the wheel. it may take two of you , one to turn the wheel and one to turn the key.

the important part here, is it takes almost NO effort to turn the key, you just have to move the steering wheel.

dont break off the key in the lock.


The car is just in the driveway, no curb or anything and the tires are straight. I will try tonight with her after work to have one of us turn the wheel and the other the key.


not to ask a dumb question but are you SURE you are using the correct key?


my sister has only this car key on her key ring and she gave me the spare key to try as well and both of them are not working. It is a ford key and I assume she knows what key it is. The other cars in my parents house are a chevy and honda and I did not use those keys.

I know it is puzzling why it won’t start, especially when she used it the night before. I thought that maybe her gas cap was loose or something, but you should still be able to turn the key, right? But her key will not turn. Unless something is jammed in the ignition??? But the key feels like it goes in all the way.


There is also the ever present dinging noise when you have the key in the ignition with the door open, so I think everything else if fine once I am able to turn the key there should be no problems. The dinging noise also makes me feel like I am using the correct key.


can you turn the wheel at all? it should move in one direction a small amount. try to move the wheel, and simultaneously turn the key. the key is being held from turning by the friction of the wheel hitting the steering wheel lock.


If all else fails, a mobile lock-smith is the person to call…


I can turn the wheel to the left, but the key will not turn. I have tried to hold it over to the left with as much force as I can and try to turn the key.

When I try to turn it to the right, the dinging of the ajar door turns off and I can not turn the key either. The sterring wheel does not turn as far to the right as it does to the left.

I just don’t want to have it towed somewhere and find out it was an easy fix.


Thanks everyone. I had someone come out to look at the car and he said that the ignition needs to be replaced. Not sure how much that is going to cost, but it probably will be a lot.


DO NOT turn the steering wheel as hard as you can, and try to turn the ignition switch. Turn the steering wheel just a little, left or right. It should be in a position where it moves easily, an inch or two.

When you start the car, your foot is always on the brake, isn’t it? There is a key lock-solenoid which the brake switch causes to release, IF there is enough voltage from the car battery to release the key lock solenoid. This is why I told you to get a jump from another car or truck. The car’s battery could be low. I don’t think it’s a faulty ignition switch, though, it could be. GET THE JUMP START, and be sure!