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Key won't turn in starter

Any idea why my key would not turn in the starter, although an hour previously and up to yesterday it has always worked just fine. Again, this morning, the key turned just fine. Is this a warning that I’m heading towards disaster?

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Have you tried moving (wiggling) the steering wheel to the right and to the left while turning the key ? Sometimes the steering lock becomes bound up. Be careful. Don’t break the key.


+1 for CSA.


It can be a problem with the column lock or the ignition switch. (They are separate parts). Either one can be replaced at reasonable cost unless you break the key off in the lock…An automotive locksmith should your first stop…

Does the key turn to run or acc but not start? Or does it turn to start and nothing happens?

Thanks for the suggestion about jiggling the steering wheel. I think that will solve the problem and free up the key to turn in the starter. I’ll see what happens next time the key sticks.

You could also just have a worn key, or the tumblers in the lock mechanism are wearing out. Try using a spare key and see what happens.

@Daph is the key an original or a copy?

On a previous Toyota, the copies would wear out rapidly, whereas the 17 year old originals showed very little wear!

BTW, just to be nitpicky, the STARTER is the electric motor that turns the engine over when you twist the key in the IGNITION SWITCH. Sorry.

I thot from your opening post that you couldn’t get the vehicle to start . Now you say " I’ll see what happens next time the key sticks." Sounds to me you are driving the car now.