Steering Wheel Wont Lock And Car Wont Start Causes and Fixes

Discovering your steering wheel wont lock and car wont start can be alarming. It can also be tough to figure out why this is happening, especially if you’re not an automobile expert.

Steering Wheel Won't Lock And Car Won't Start Causes and Fixes

A defective detent or actuator is one of the most common reasons why your steering wheel refuses to lock. In this article, our automobile team explains the leading causes of this problem and how to fix it.

Reasons Why Your Steering Wheel Wont Lock And Car Wont Start?

The reasons why your steering wheel won’t lock and car won’t start are a defective detent, a faulty actuator, and a computer malfunction. You could also have a damaged cog or a slack steering wheel. However, you should consult with a professional mechanic for a proper diagnosis.

Take note that every steering wheel locks. This lock feature is an anti-theft mechanism that prevents thieves from gaining unauthorized access to your vehicle. Here are some reasons why your steering wheel won’t lock.

– Defective Detent

If your steering refuses to lock and the car won’t start, there’s a high chance you’re dealing with a defective detent. The detent is found in the gearshift system and is responsible for halting rotation. Like every other component in a car, the detent is susceptible to wear and tear due to regular use.

Its cables can also get burnt or frayed, resulting in a worn or broken detent. When this is the case, your steering won’t be able to lock in place.

– Damaged Cog

A damaged cog is also why your wheel refuses to lock, and the car won’t start. A cog is a gearwheel that rotates other wheels or parts of a wheel. Several factors can cause a damaged or broken cog. They include wear and tear, corrosion, scratches or dents, and even breakage.

Reasons Why Your Steering Wheel Wont Lock And Car Wont Start

A damaged cog will make it difficult for you to lock the steering. Other signs of a damaged cog include grinding noise, check engine light, fluid leakage, and difficulty shifting gears.

– Faulty Actuator

An actuator is a vital electric motor that converts electrical signals from the car’s control unit into physical action. An actuator can become faulty when the connectors are broken or when there is excessive engine vibration and rust. It can also become damaged when there’s a power loss, or other components of the gearshift systems do not work well.

When your actuator is terrible, you will experience difficulty with your wheel locking. You may also detect a low pressure in your steering wheel, regular power loss, and unusual noises from the turbocharger. Your ECU may also malfunction, and fault codes will appear on your dashboard.

– Wrong Steering Wheel Operation

Sometimes, your wheel may not lock because you turned it the wrong way. You may have turned it too far to the right or left. Hence, it would be impossible to lock it in place after you take out your car keys.

Also, if you make sharp turns too often, your power steering will turn wrongly. This wrong turning will cause the steering not to lock, and your car will refuse to start.

– Faulty Electric Locking Mechanisms

Check the electrical lock mechanism if your steering refuses to lock, and your car won’t start. These are protective mechanisms to prevent a third party from gaining access to your vehicle. An electrical lock mechanism can cause your wheels not to lock due to some defective components.

First, short-circuiting can cause damage to your electrical locking mechanism. Burnt or broken wires can also damage your electrical lock mechanism. The steering lock fuse can also cause the problem, leading to the inability of your wheels to lock in place.

– Bad Car Computer

A glitching or malfunctioning computer is also a common reason your wheel may refuse to lock and your car won’t start. Most modern vehicles rely on the car’s computer (ECU) to function correctly, so your vehicle will only work well if this system is repaired. There are several causes of a bad car computer, and one is a short circuit in the system due to a power surge.

Another cause is excessive vibration, which can cause its connectors and wires to loosen. Inconsistent voltage and corrosion can also cause damage to the car’s computer. When this occurs, your steering may not lock, and your vehicle may be unable to start. Symptoms of a bad ECU include a burning smell, poor acceleration, increased gas mileage, and engine stalls.

– Loose Steering Wheel

A slack steering wheel is also why it needs to be locked in place. It is easy to tell when your wheel is loose; you’ll notice excessive play or obscure positioning. Inadequate steering fluid, worn steering gear, and a defective ball joint are some of the most common reasons a wheel can become loose.

It could also be a problem with the rack mount or steering belt. In this case, your steering won’t lock because it isn’t positioned correctly.

– The Key Does Not Fully Release

If your ignition key doesn’t release, your car won’t start, and you’ll experience difficulty with the steering lock. A common cause of this issue is a problem with the ignition lock cylinder. It is near the ignition switch and can get worn due to repeated use. If the ignition cylinder gets bad, your car key won’t turn.

What Can You Do If Your Steering Wheel Won’t Lock And Car Won’t Start?

If your steering wheel won’t lock and car won’t start, you can fix the defective detent, cog, and actuator. You should also consider driving more carefully or resetting the car’s computer if necessary. Other solutions include checking your electrical connections and resetting the car’s computer.

– Fix Defective Detent

One of the first solutions for a steering that refuses to lock is to fix the defective detent. Get your car to an auto repair shop or consult a licensed mechanic who can diagnose it properly. If the detent is the main reason your wheels refuse to lock, replace it immediately.

But replacing a detent can be challenging if you don’t have professional experience. It’s best to leave the repairs to a mechanic to avoid causing damage to other valuable components in the car.

– Replace Damaged Cog

You should also replace the damaged cog if a mechanic diagnoses it as the culprit. Just like the detent, replacing a damaged cog requires a lot of precision, technical expertise, and the right tools. We recommended leaving it to a professional mechanic.

Doing so will reduce the chances of improper installation and damage to other components. It would be frustrating to pay for more repairs simply because you damaged some parts while fixing this component.

– Fix Faulty Actuator

If you’re sure your cog and detent are working perfectly, you may need to check your actuator. If it’s the culprit, you need to carry out immediate repairs. Like most components in the gearbox system, you’ll need to be careful when handling the actuator. Hence, it’s best to have a professional and vetted mechanic do these repairs.

Remedies of Steering Wheel Won_t Lock And Car Won_t Start


You will likely have to replace the actuator with a new one if it is bad because it is more cost-effective. After replacing the actuator, your steering will lock easily.

– Drive Carefully

You must drive more carefully, especially when making sharp turns, to avoid overturning your power steering. It would help if you also reduce the pressure or force that you mount on the steering as you go.

However, you can easily repair a steering that is out of place. You have to turn it to the left and right until it clicks. You should be able to tell that your wheel is in the correct position.

– Check Your Electrical Connections

Checking your electrical connections is very important for the vehicle’s lock mechanism. It’s best to inspect the wires and fuses to be sure they are in good working condition. If the cables look broken, frayed, or burnt, you need to replace them immediately, or your car won’t move.

Similarly, you will need to drive more slowly, especially on bumpy roads. Since excess vibration can cause wear and damage to these electrical components, it is only wise to drive more slowly to avoid further damage after carrying out repairs.

– Reset Car Computer

Another quick fix for steering that isn’t locking is to reset the car computer as soon as possible. You must first turn off the car’s battery and remove it from its compartment. You also need to get a diagnostic scanner. You will need to short the positive and negative wire cables by tying them together with insulated tape.

Carry out a soft reset by draining all currents in the capacitor circuit or other electrical components. This will disrupt power flow to the ECU. Make sure to remove the ECU from its fuse box and wait about 15 minutes before replacing it.

Then you would need to wait 30 to 45 minutes before installing the battery’s terminal cables and the battery in its place. After doing all these, you should take your vehicle on a test drive.

– Fix the Ignition Lock Cylinder

You should also fix your ignition cylinder if you discover it is the reason your key isn’t turning.

Fixing Car Ignition Lock Cylinder

Fixing the ignition lock cylinder is quite technical, so a professional mechanic should be in charge of repairs. Once you fix your ignition cylinder, your car key should turn more easily.

– Carry Out Regular Maintenance

After carrying out all of the essential repairs, you must keep up with regular maintenance. These will prevent future reoccurrences and save you money on repairs. Make sure to keep your steering components well-lubricated to avoid corrosion. Doing so will also reduce the chances of a worn steering gear or ball joint.

If you cannot carry out these maintenance routines, you can always bring your car to a service center every three to six months.

Frequently Asked Questions

– How Can You Unlock Your Steering Wheel and Start Your Car?

You can unlock your steering wheel and start your car by inserting your keys into the switch port and applying pressure when turning the key. Maintain the pressure while rotating your steering wheel from left to right or up and down.

Continue turning the key until your steering wheel moves in place. Turn on your car, and you’re good to go.

– How Is a Push Start Steering Wheel Unlocked?

A push-start steering wheel is unlocked by inserting your keys into the switch port and turning the key. Unlike key ignition cars, you’ll need to step on the brake pedal and apply pressure while turning your wheels left and right.

Conclusion of Steering Wheel Wont Lock And Car Wont Start

Do the Causes and Fixes for a Steering Wheel That Won’t Lock and Car Won’t Start Also Apply to a Kubota Tractor?

When it comes to causes and repairs for Kubota tractor startup issues, the same principles that apply to a car with a steering wheel that won’t lock and won’t start might also be relevant. However, it is important to remember that Kubota tractors have their own unique mechanical systems. Therefore, it is advisable to consult the specific troubleshooting guide or seek professional assistance to address any startup issues with your Kubota tractor.


You don’t have to panic anymore because your steering wheel refuses to lock and the car won’t start.

Here’s a recap of the main points discussed in this article:

  • Your steering wheel wont lock and car wont start because the detent and cog are damaged. It could also be a result of a faulty actuator, lock mechanism, or computer malfunction, among others.
  • You can fix this problem by replacing the cog and detent. You should also replace the actuator, reset the faulty ECU, and check your electrical connections.
  • Make sure you consult a professional mechanic for proper diagnosis before repairs.

Now that you know the causes and fixes for steering wheels that won’t lock, you can take practical steps to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

5/5 - (19 votes)
Ran When Parked