Ignition Cylinder Steering Wheel Bind | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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Ignition Cylinder Steering Wheel Bind


Explorer Addict
July 30, 2009
Reaction score
City, State
Florence, KY
Year, Model & Trim Level
1998 XLT 4WD 4.0L SOHC
Apparently the last time I'd parked my X I had just turned the steering wheel a little to the left (barely, more like only pressure that direction than turning much) and was still applying pressure to it when I turned the ignition off.

That resulted in resistance to the right which put the steering wheel and ignition lock in a bind. After 5 minutes trying to turn it using two different keys I figured I needed a new cylinder or something else in the column, but finally tugging the steering wheel back and forth while trying to turn the key freed the cylinder.

Has this happened to anyone else? It's never happened to me before though I'm not usually turning the wheel at all when the ignition is turned off.

Is it a sign that something needs lubed or is wearing out?

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yes. it can happen with any vehicle with a steering wheel lock. just turn the wheel to take the pressure off the locking pin before turning the key.

^ That sounds easy but it wasn't so easy. The wheel wasn't budging.

^ That sounds easy but it wasn't so easy. The wheel wasn't budging.

i didn't say it was easy. depending on how much pressure is being applied to the locking pin, it can require some mussel to release it. i've had to leave work to go get my wife's Chrysler minivan's steering wheel yanked over enough to release the pressure on the pin so the key could be turned. it's just one of those things. it doesn't happen often, but it can happen on just about any vehicle. if you always leave your wheels straight when you park it wont happen.

^ That sounds easy but it wasn't so easy. The wheel wasn't budging.
Turn it the other way..
I drive a tow truck and this happens all the time and I when I come out the people are always dumbfounded when I get right in and start it right up..

^ I was. The only thing I could have done was turn harder but I didn't want to break the locking mechanism. I just had to keep at it doing nothing differently until it eventually freed up, but I was very close to quitting and assuming I'd be tearing the column apart.

I'm no stranger to having a "bit" of a bind in other vehicles but they were relatively easy to unbind.