How to Unlock a Steering Wheel Without the Key (Push-to-Start Ignition)

Having a push-to-start ignition can be great until you have to figure out how to unlock your steering wheel. There are some circumstances when you may need to unlock your steering wheel even if your engine is not working. Such as your car needing to be towed.

Keyless Ignition Steering Lock Mechanism

A keyless ignition steering lock mechanism can come into play for several reasons. This is the result of an automatic mechanism designed to protect your car from theft and to protect your safety.

A locking steering wheel consists of a spring-loaded lever that engages the locking mechanism. This can happen automatically or you can lock it on purpose by turning the steering wheel after the engine is off. You can also accidentally engage this feature by turning the steering wheel after the engine is off.

Most steering wheels can be unlocked in the same manner, although there can be some variance from car to car when it comes to this issue. So, it is always good to look at your manual for anything unique to your car.

How to Remove Steering Lock Without Key

You may know how to unlock a steering lock in a car that uses a key to turn on and be concerned that a push-button would make it harder to unlock a steering wheel.

Luckily, it can often be easier to unlock a push-to-start ignition than you think. There are a few simple steps that you should follow to unlock the steering lock. In some cases, you may not be able to unlock the steering wheel and this is when you should consult a mechanic.

1) Determine the Cause of the Steering Wheel Locking

While this is not always easy or relevant, if you think the reason for the lock engagement is related to the well-being of the car, you should proceed with caution when turning it back on. If you think your steering wheel is locked because the battery died, you may want to try to jump the car before or during your attempt to unlock the steering wheel.

2) Put Your Foot on the Break

This helps ensure that the car does not start moving once you unlock the car.

3) Move the Steering Wheel so That it is Centered

You may also want to try turning the wheel in the direction it was turning before it locked. You can also try to wiggle the wheel back and forth several times. Be gentle but firm. Turning the wheel may be unnecessary with some car models.

4) Press the Button to Start the Engine While your Foot Is on the Break

In some cases, you may want to try turning your wheel while simultaneously pressing the ignition button rather than pressing the ignition button after turning the wheel. Try a few different methods if one does not seem to be working.

Your steering wheel should be unlocked! If this is not the case, consult the instructions below.

How to Unlock a Keyless Ignition Steering Wheel With a Dead Battery

While nobody likes to have their car locked and even worse with a dead battery, if we follow the appropriate steps, we can unlock it.

1) Do Not Put Your Foot on the Break

Doing so will not necessarily harm the car. Pressing the break just will not do anything unless you can jump your car first.

2) Press the Ignition Button

It should still work to turn on accessories mode or to at least unlock the wheel. This is because the steering lock mechanism is mechanical rather than electronic.

3) Turn Your Steering Wheel

You can try to center it, turn it to one side, or turn it back and forth to disengage the lock. In some cases, you may want to do this while simultaneously pressing the ignition button. Be as gentle and forceful as you can so as not to damage anything.

Your steering wheel should turn. If this is not the case, follow the instructions below.

Importance of Steering Wheel Lock in a Keyless Ignition Car

While a steering wheel lock can be annoying if you are not expecting it to be on, there are actually several purposes that the lock can serve. This is not unique to keyless ignition cars since cars that start with keys also have locking steering wheels.

Here are some reasons your steering wheel lock is critical to the safety of your car.

A Locking Steering Wheel Prevents Theft

A locked steering wheel makes it much harder for thieves to hotwire your car. This is the main reason that your steering wheel locks when you park your car.


With a locked steering wheel, a car can not move on its own. So, you can not forget to press your break as you turn on your car and you will not jolt unexpectedly in any direction.

Protect From Power Steering Issues

Your steering wheel may lock if your power steering system is damaged. If you believe this is the case, take care when you are turning your car back on.

Protection Against Issues With Your Steering Column or Suspension

This is another case when your steering wheel may lock to protect you. This is another case in which you should be careful when turning your car back on.

What if the Steering Wheel Still Won’t Unlock?

If your steering wheel will still not unlock, consult your owner’s manual to see if there are any reasons unique to your car that could be causing the engagement of the lock. Follow any instructions you find in your owner’s manual.

You may need to ask a mechanic to look at your car. This is especially the case if the reason behind the steering wheel lock is something like damaged suspension or issues with the power steering. In these cases, it may be unsafe for you to continue to drive your car as it is.

Avatar photo

Author: Dave Johnston

Dave Junior is a hands-on automotive technician with experience in performing service, diagnostics, and repairs on domestic and imported vehicles. He enjoys writing and sharing his knowledge far and wide.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *