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man holding steering wheel with left hand and stick shift in right hand

It’s extremely unlikely that your car’s steering wheel will lock while driving.

The steering wheel locks as an antitheft feature when parked. The steering wheel will lock itself if you turn the wheel 90 degrees.

Even if a thief could get inside your car and get it started, he wouldn’t be able to drive as the steering wheel would remain locked.

The issue drivers have is not getting the steering wheel lock off when returning to their vehicle. It can be annoying and even a little embarrassing. We’ll also explore if it can happen while driving the car.

How Can I Unlock a Steering Column?

The steering wheel won’t unlock until you have put the key in the ignition and turned it to its first position. Please don’t force it, though, as you don’t want to break the key in the lock. 

To release the internal locking bolt, you may have to turn the steering wheel slightly into the locked position direction.

Regular ignition

You can turn the key simultaneously and move the steering wheel forward and back. This will release the lock and allow you to get the vehicle started.

Push-button ignition

You must turn the left-right steering wheel and press the brake pedal simultaneously. Do this while pressing the engine start/stop button.

These are the standard ways of unlocking a car steering wheel, but you should refer to the manufacturer’s handbook if you are unsure or require further guidance.

What Can I Do to Prevent the Steering Wheel from Locking?

As this is a security measure, you can’t disable it. Even if you could, it would likely invalidate your auto insurance policy. The good news is that once you unlock your steering wheel, you’ll find it much easier the more you do it.

Can A Steering Wheel Lock When Driving?

It’s extremely rare for it to happen, but there are three possible ways that it could.

We examine them below.

1. Steering wheel locks while driving (Steering linkage failure)

As steering linkage is so essential, it is made to a very high standard, and because of this, there should be plenty of warning signs before it fails. Usually, the steering will feel vague and inaccurate.

You may turn the steering wheel and not get the crisp response you typically do. 

If you have doubts about your steering, have a qualified mechanic check it out for you.

2. Power Steering Fluid Low

A common reason why steering may lock up is the reservoir’s lack of power steering fluid. Unless there has been a sudden large leak of liquid, perhaps from a burst pipe, the decline in accurate steering should feel gradual.

Once there are signs that your car’s steering is not as sharp as it was, look under the hood a check the reservoir fluid isn’t below the minimum line. If it is, top it up, and you’ll be good to go.

3. Power Steering Pump Problems

If the problem isn’t the linkage or the power steering fluid, it might be that the pump is defective and not pumping the fluid around the system effectively.

This won’t happen suddenly and is more noticeable at low speeds during a sharp turn. A screeching noise often accompanies it. Although unwise, you should still be able to drive the car but with much more effort. It’s unlikely that your steering will lock up completely, but the situation won’t improve either.

In this case, you should pull over immediately have a professional examine your car.

Are you concerned about the security of your car while driving? You’re not alone! Steering wheel locks are becoming increasingly popular for drivers who want to protect their vehicle from theft and unauthorized use.

A steering wheel lock is a device that locks the steering wheel in place, making it impossible for anyone to drive the car without the key.

In this article, we’ll discuss the mechanics of a steering wheel lock, common causes of steering wheel locks, symptoms of a locked steering wheel, how to unlock a steering wheel, prevention tips for steering wheel locks, the importance of regular maintenance for the steering system, and when to seek professional help for steering wheel issues.

Keep reading to learn more about steering wheel locks and how they can help keep your car safe.

The Mechanics of a Steering Wheel Lock

A steering wheel lock is a simple yet effective way to ensure your car is secure while you’re away.

It works by fitting a locking plate to the steering wheel that prevents it from being turned. This plate is connected to the ignition switch, power steering pump, and tie rods so that when the steering wheel is locked, the entire steering mechanism is disabled.

The lock then fits to the steering wheel locking mechanism, preventing you from turning the steering wheel. By using this lock, you can be sure that your vehicle remains secure while you’re away.

Common Causes of Steering Wheel Locks

Most steering wheel locks activate when you turn the key ignition system on. In some cases, the steering wheel lock bar, cylinder, nut, or release button may be damaged or broken, causing the lock to remain in place even when the key is not activated.

Also, the steering wheel lock may be activated by a faulty steering wheel lock cylinder or switch, which could be due to poor installation – very rare- or wear and tear. Finally, the steering wheel lock can be activated by a stuck steering wheel lock nut, which may occur due to an obstruction in the steering wheel lock mechanism.

As you can see, there are a variety of potential causes for a steering wheel lock, and it’s important to address them promptly in order to avoid any further complications.

Symptoms of a Locked Steering Wheel

Putting the brakes and lock on your journey without warning can be downright terrifying but, thankfully, very rare.

If your steering wheel suddenly locks up while you’re driving, you may experience a few telltale signs just before it happens.

A warning light often pops up on the dashboard when the steering wheel locking pin is engaged. You may also hear a loud clicking sound when activating the steering wheel locking feature. This is often caused by an issue in the vehicle theft prevention system.

How to Unlock a Steering Wheel

If your vehicle’s steering wheel is refusing to budge, don’t panic – there are ways to get it moving again!

The first step you should take is to check the steering wheel angle sensor. This sensor is part of your vehicle steering control system and is responsible for measuring the angle of the steering wheel. If the angle sensor malfunctions, it can lock the steering wheel, preventing you from being able to move it. If this is the case, you may need to have it replaced.

Another potential cause of a locked steering wheel is an issue with the wheel alignment. If the wheels of your vehicle are misaligned, the steering wheel can become locked. You can have your vehicle’s wheel alignment checked and adjusted if necessary.

Finally, in some cases, a car steering wheel lock can be installed in the vehicle’s ignition system and cause the steering wheel to lock. If this is the case, you will need to have the lock removed and the ignition system repaired.

Prevention Tips for Steering Wheel Locks

To ensure you never have trouble unlocking your steering wheel, it’s important to take steps to prevent it from locking in the first place.

Regular vehicle maintenance is essential for driver safety and car theft deterrence. This includes checking the steering wheel mechanism and ensuring the car immobilizer system is working properly.

Additionally, you should always secure and lock your vehicle when it is not in use. Keeping your car in a locked garage or parking lot is also helpful in reducing the chances of your steering wheel locking while driving.

The Importance of Regular Maintenance for the Steering System

You need to stay on top of regular maintenance for your steering system – otherwise, you’re courting trouble down the road. Regular maintenance is important to ensure the safety of your vehicle, and it’s especially important for your steering system.

To keep your steering system in top condition, here are some maintenance tips you should follow:

  • Check your steering column for any signs of wear and tear.
  • Inspect your steering gearbox for any potential issues.
  • Have your steering linkage inspected on a regular basis.
  • Check your power steering fluid levels and top up if necessary.

Following these maintenance tips will ensure that your steering system is in the best condition possible and that you and your passengers are safe.

When to Seek Professional Help for Steering Wheel Issues

Failing to take care of your steering system can lead to serious issues when driving, so it’s important to know when it’s time to seek professional help.

Minor issues may be solvable with regular maintenance, such as checking the rack and pinion, steering shaft, and hydraulic fluid levels, but if the problem persists, you should always seek professional help.

Different car emergencies may require different solutions, so it is important to find a certified mechanic to inspect the vehicle’s steering gearbox and other components to accurately diagnose the issue.

It’s best to seek help right away when you experience any steering wheel issues, as these can become safety hazards if left unchecked.


You now better understand steering wheel locks and how to prevent them.

Taking the time to regularly maintain your steering system is crucial for avoiding issues down the road.

With regular inspection and maintenance, you’ll be able to travel safely and securely, without fear of your steering wheel locking up.

So, take a few moments to give your steering the attention it deserves. You’ll be glad you did.

After all, the steering wheel guides you safely through life’s winding roads.

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