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Stuck Steering Wheel/ignition switch--Help

So, I have an 89 Ford Ranger 4-wheel drive and the steering wheel is locked up (along with the ignition switch), neither of which will turn or budge. I’ve been told to shake steering wheel from side to side while trying to turn key–but after fifteen minutes of that (quite a workout) bupkis, nada, nothing. So, other than taking a sledge hammer to the whole truck–any helpful suggestions??? Is there a way to simply break loose the mechanism (I don’t need the security aspect of the locking wheel/ignition, since I only use this for “farm use”. But I really need it fixed.

Sometimes it takes a REALLY hard pull on the steering wheel one way or the other to accomplish this. Not just a shake.

You might jack up the front end and try to move things. If the front wheels are turned against a curb of other obstacle that holds the steering wheel tightly against the locking pin nothing will move.

Not sure if this would be your problems, but on the older Fords, they used a small brass piece on the end where you insert the key. This little brass piece is the switch for the chime if you leave you keys in the ignition. What happens is this piece will break off when you insert the key and prevents the key from going fully into the lock cylinder. Had this happen on a 79 Ford in a shopping center parking lot. Tried everything to get that lock to turn and ended calling a locksmith and he got the cylinder out and replaced it…Not cheap when they have to come to you.

I had an ignition lock up on a ranger years ago. I think it was a 1990, and I just had to drill out the lock.
I tried everything and it was parked on level ground with no obstructions.
If you can get the key inserted the ignition cylinder can be removed. My key wouldn’t even go in the lock.


My2cents is right, it isn’t shaking that helps, it’s turning the wheel to get the load off of the ignition safety lock.

Assuming your key goes into the lock, try jacking up the front wheels and turning the steering wheel back & forth to take the load off of the ignition lock. Post back with the results.

If it doesn’t work, the ignition safety interlock is messed up and the mechanism will have to be replaced. Be sure you follow the repair manual protocol for disabling the airbag before messing with the steering column. If that thing blows up while you’re trying the replace the interlock you could get seriously injured.

If it does work, try parking the vehicle with the steering wheel straight from now on. You just might be okay if you don’t load the mechanism anymore.

When a vehicle comes in with a stuck/seized ignition lock cylinder I insert the key and tap on the key handle with an 8 oz. hammer. The tapping will rattle the sticking tumblers and they will move towards the key. When you are able to turn the lock cylinder to the run position remove the steering column shroud and depress the retaining pin below the lock cylinder. The lock cylinder should then slide out.

You can install a replacement lock cylinder or remove the tumblers from the old lock cylinder and make it into a ignition handle or knob.

Thank you all for the suggestions…I’ve tried tapping on key with hammer to loosen “wafers” as suggested by a locksmith friend…I’ve tried strongly rocking steering wheel back and forth (for about fifteen minutes) all to no avail. The steering wheel locked up to the left, when I inadvertently turned it toward the door by grabbing it while getting in. Should I be turning it HARD to the right to go against the direction it locked or continue trying to muscle it back and forth while trying to turn key? I’ll try getting front wheels off the ground today. This is a major hassle and I can’t even drive it to my mechanic this way. So, it’s sitting in a meadow, back in the mountains and winter is coming on. I need it for fire wood! Any more suggestions would be appreciated.

Pushing the truck to get it rocking foward then back while wrestling the steering wheel side to side might get it out of the bind if it can’t be jacked up due to soft ground or slope.

If it locked up turned to the left as you said then you need to pull it hard farther left to free it because the tension on the pin is now from the steering wheel wanting to go right.

Edit: Do this, of course, while turning the key.