Key stuck in Ignition, Steer Column will not Lock | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

  • Register Today It's free!

Key stuck in Ignition, Steer Column will not Lock


New Member
March 10, 2012
Reaction score
City, State
Jacksonville, Florida
Year, Model & Trim Level
2007 Sport Trac
Hey Sport Trac fans, I am on my second Sport Trac! I had an 2003 and sold it and bought a used 2007 V8 4wd.

Recently I stopped at a Lowes store and I could NOT get the key out of the ignition. I noticed that the steering column also did not lock.

I found some recomendations here about a by pass under the cup holder plastic. Tried that I couldnt get it to work.

Any suggestions? I appreciate all help! LOVE THEM SPORT TRACS


Join the Elite Explorers for $20 each year.
Elite Explorer members see no advertisements, no banner ads, no double underlined links,.
Add an avatar, upload photo attachments, and more!

Sounds like the shift lever is out of adjustment.

Or it wasn't in PARK

Try starting it again, put it in Park again, then see if it comes out.
Sometimes mine thinks the key is still in and the door chime goes off even though I have the key out.

Thanks But, I have tried all the obvious...

The shifter is in park, However, The steering column will not lock, thus allowing the key to come out... Thanks for your answers so far...

Pinpoint Test E: The Ignition Key Cannot Be Removed from the Ignition Lock Cylinder

Refer to Wiring Diagrams Cell 13, Power Distribution/SJB for schematic and connector information.

Normal Operation

When the transmission selector lever is placed in a position other than PARK, the key release interlock actuator (part of the ignition switch assembly) prevents the key from being removed from the ignition lock cylinder. The key release interlock actuator receives fused battery voltage from Smart Junction Box (SJB) fuse 8 (15A) along circuit SBP08 (VT/RD). Ground for the solenoid is provided along circuit CDC41 (WH/BN), through the park detection switch (internal to the transmission selector lever) and then along circuit GD138 (BK/WH). When the transmission selector lever is placed in a position other than PARK, the park detection switch applies ground to circuit CDC41 (WH/BN). This prevents the key from being removed from the ignition lock cylinder.

Wonderful, what will they think of next? :rolleyes::confused::confused:

I just sent you the diagnosis. Go to Pinpoint "E" for the stuck key issue.

I'm having the same issue in my 2010 Explorer. I get that I will have to get it to the dealer, but any temporary fixes appreciated.


I was able to remove the key only by disconnecting the battery. I havent taken it to the shop yet :(... Please let me know what they say... Does your steering column lock?

I hadn't thought of disconnecting the power source - thanks! No, my stearing column does not lock.

how about the key cylinder replace tutorial the ford ranger looks easy the explorer isn't like that 20 dollar fix for ranger easy need documentation for 20 dollar replacement for explorer

In my case, it was a faulty pin in the shift lever. While the lever was in park, a small pin was not fully engaging and thus, not registering. The pin had to be replaced.

Ford Explorer 2008

I have had the same problem with my 2008 Ford Explorer. The pin needs to be pushed in for the key to come out and it makes a squeaky noise when the engine is first started. We recently took out the pin that releases the key stuck in the ignition but now we cant put it back in. Any suggestions? If i have to take it to the dealer, how much money/ how long will it take to fix this?

Same problem . Wow, it's one thing right after another with this thing, I'm starting to really hate my ride. Dayam, so sad.

Solved. Ok, kfollo is right but not explaining fully.
***This is a 60 second fix I kid you not.
It is hard for me to fully illustrate from my phone (I'm without a computer right now) but if you are having this problem, don't freek out, it's a simple fix.
Go to Google and search for "2006 explorer key won't come out " no matter what year yours is just do that and pull up the YouTube video that shows how to quick disassemble the center console at the shift lever and the dude shows you how to push a pin in .... And your done.
I wish I could post my own video, it's so easy. Anyway, I hope this helps someone. But I have to reiterate, if you have this problem don't freek out, just look for that video and its literally a 60 second fix.

...but unfortunately it will probably be a temporary fix, until the pin slips out again...

On mine, this was caused by the vertical plastic shifter pushrod breaking where the horizontal pin is pressed into it. If you have disassembled the shifter you will know what I mean. I went thru three of these oem plastic shifter pushrods before i ditched the plastic crap and made a steel shift pushrod and pressed in the horizontal pin tight. Confident that mine won't break, but the oem plastic design is no good in my opinion.

You're 100% right 06bluez. My fix was temporary. Had to do it again to get my keys out.
Would you please explain in a little more detail your permanent fix?

there is a plastic pushrod that tee's into the metal pin that you noticed keeps slipping out. the problem is most likely that the plastic pushrod is broken. Can you squeeze in the shifter button when the truck is in park? If so, the plastic pushrod is broken.

to remove the shifter, slide down the chrome trim at the bottom, and loosen the set screw. lift up the shifter handle, and you should be able to pull out the broken plastic pushrod. if it's broken, there will be another piece, and a spring under the horizontal pin that keeps slipping out. To remove the broken piece, pull out the horizontal pin.


The black piece with white grease is the pushrod, only relevant picture I have..

I used a piece of steel rod about the same diameter as the plastic pushrod, cut it to the same length as the plastic pushrod, and drilled a hole in the same place as the hole the horizontal pin. secured the horizontal pin into the new steel pushrod with a little epoxy at the time of reassembly.

It took a couple of hours to tear into the console, get access to it, and fab up the steel replacement rod, but it's a permanent fix, one less thing to break. and from the number of threads i have seen on this, maybe someone with a little more free time than myself should make a batch of these steel replacement rods and sell a 'repair kit'...

I don't mind fixing stuff that normally breaks and wears out but this whole design with the plastic rod down the middle of the stick shift is just crap. Thanks for the info 06Bluez, I was able to do the same thing but with a bit of a twist. I used a piece of 5/16 rod that was 7-7/16 long. The hole is 1-3/16 from the end and is drilled with a 5/32 drill. I ground the end to a point like the original so it will self center on the bottom spring. The nice thing is the pin in question actually has splines where it goes through the original plastic shaft. By drilling with a 5/32 drill the splines are tight and the pin needs to be driven in with a hammer. This action actually cuts splines in the 5/16 rod and makes for a nice tight fit. After driving the pin all the way through the new shaft a couple of time the splines get cut and its ready for reinstall. Just be careful when driving the pin in during reassemble. We don't want to break anything else. I ended up pulling the console cover to gain access to the plug for the O/D cable plugs in. The entire process took a couple of hours and is a pain, but its a permanent fix to a bad design. I was going to up load a pic but i'm not able.
Edit: joined elite so here is the pic

wow just saw this, yep thats just like what I fab'd up. great addition thanks for the picture!

Join the Elite Explorers for $20 each year.
Elite Explorer members see no advertisements, no banner ads, no double underlined links,.
Add an avatar, upload photo attachments, and more!

06bluez and phil - great help in these posts, thank you. Fabbed up the steel rod today and it is great! After spending $4 on the rod, there was enough rod left over to make 3 or 4 more. Maybe i'll put the "repair kits" on the market. :-)