Chevy Silverado Ignition Key Won’t Turn – Why And What To Do?

You’re about to drive your Chevy Silverado but the ignition key won’t turn. Now you’re sitting in the driver’s seat, thinking why did this problem occur? Also, what can you do to fix it? We researched these concerns for your convenience and here’s what we found.

Begin by troubleshooting your Chevy Silverado to find the source of the problem. Take note that this pickup truck’s ignition key may fail to turn because of different problems ranging from a locked steering wheel assembly to a deformed mechanical key. After finding the suspect of the issue, use the appropriate measures to solve the root of the problem.

So continue reading as we talk about the possible solutions to restore your Chevy Silverado’s normal serviceability. We’ll also discuss the different reasons why this truck’s ignition key won’t turn in greater detail.

Chevrolet Silverado electric pickup truck at the New York Auto Show, Chevy Silverado Ignition Key Won't Turn - Why And What To Do?

Why Won’t My Chevy Silverado’s Ignition Key Turn?

A Chevy Silverado’s ignition key won’t turn because of reasons like:

Locked Steering Wheel

Chevrolet steering wheel

In particular, the column connected to the steering wheel locked, preventing the ignition key in the switch to turn. This underlying cause can appear from different origins, such as:

  • Built-in locking feature: Some vehicles, including certain Chevy Silverado models, allow users to lock the steering wheel assembly for security reasons.
  • Link failure: A break in the steering wheel column link can cause the assembly to lock.
  • Inadequate power steering fluid: The lack of lubricant may prevent drivers from turning the steering wheel, along with the ignition key.
  • Power steering failure: A component within this system might need repair or replacement, preventing the steering wheel and the ignition key to turn.

Faulty Ignition Switch

Ignition lock with car keys on wooden background

The ignition switch is responsible for starting a car, particularly your Chevy Silverado. A failure within the ignition switch may lock the assembly, preventing you from turning the mechanical key inside. This particular issue can occur because of other underlying problems, such as the mechanical key breaking while it's still inside the ignition switch.

Bad Ignition Lock Cylinder

Oftentimes, an ignition lock cylinder may deform or warp because of misuse. One example is the frequent exercising of significant force while turning the ignition key in the switch. If so, inserting the mechanical key into this part might yield little to no results in igniting your Chevy Silverado’s engine.

Ignition Cap Failure

Also called the distributor cap, this component functions by receiving the current from the ignition coil and sending it to the ignition wires and the spark plugs. Corrosion can appear on this part, causing it to fail. If so, you might find it more challenging than usual to turn the ignition key in your Chevy Silverado.

Other signs of a failing distributor cap are:

  • Persistent check engine light
  • Rough engine idling
  • Engine misfires
  • Unknown sounds coming from under the vehicle’s hood

Deformed Mechanical Key

Many Chevy Silverado models, particularly those that came before the truck’s fourth generation, required drivers to turn a mechanical key in the appropriate cylinder. Take note that a deformation of the key's design may prevent it from turning.

Also, don’t attempt to force the key to turn in the cylinder if it’s not turning. Otherwise, the key might become stuck, which can make the repair process more expensive, laborious, and time-consuming than intended.

How To Fix A Chevy Silverado’s Ignition Key That Won’t Turn?

Red Chevy Z71 Silverado car

In this section, you’ll learn some possible solutions to help solve the underlying problem that causes your Chevy Silverado’s ignition key to fail to turn.

Unlock The Steering Wheel

It's important to note that you shouldn't use brute force in trying to unlock the steering wheel and turn the ignition key. Otherwise, you might place additional harm on your vehicle. Also, you may not need any special tools or skills to complete this task.

After taking note of those details, continue this process by following these steps:

Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Figure the direction when you locked the steering wheel assembly.
  2. Hold the steering wheel in that direction while turning the key in the ignition.

If done correctly, and you didn’t encounter other problems, the engine should start. The wheel and the ignition cylinder should also return to working normally.

Replace The Ignition Switch

Make sure that your replacement ignition switch is compatible with your specific Chevy Silverado model. Otherwise, the results may not be up to par with your expectations.

What You’ll Need

  • Wrench
  • Panel remover
  • Screwdriver
  • Small stick

Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Open the hood of your Chevy Silverado and disconnect the negative battery terminal.
  2. Enter the Silverado’s cabin by the driver’s side.
  3. Remove the steering wheel column’s cover with the panel remover and the screwdriver.
  4. Turn the key to its start position and hold it.
  5. Use a small stick to poke through the hole in the ignition switch to release the assembly.
  6. Disconnect the wires connected to the ignition switch assembly.
  7. Install the new ignition switch while paying attention to its orientation.
  8. Return and secure the other components that you removed earlier.
  9. Reconnect the negative battery wire to the correct battery terminal.
  10. Turn the key to check if the problem persists.

Check out this replacement Chevy Silverado ignition switch on Amazon.

You can also watch the video below for a visual representation of the steps mentioned above:

Can You Start A Car With A Bad Ignition Switch?

Start or stop engine of the car

You might be able to start your vehicle, including your Chevy Silverado if it has a bad ignition switch. One way to achieve this goal is by using jumper cables.

Before you use jumper cables, be wary of the following precautions:

  • Wash your hands after handling the car’s battery and its components to prevent potential harm from chemicals.
  • Avoid touching the battery and the jumper cables with wet hands.
  • Wear protective gear, such as a face mask and disposable rubber gloves, to prevent accidents and injuries.

Also, ensure that you have adequate confidence in proceeding with this task. The vehicle maker may not be liable for the mistakes you make while trying to start your car with jumper cables.

After taking note of those points to consider, here are the general steps to use jumper cables on your vehicle:

Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Park the vehicle that’ll provide the power to your car’s battery as close as possible.
  2. Turn off the ignition on both vehicles.
  3. Let the engine cool on both vehicles before opening their hoods.
  4. Connect the positive jumper cable to the positive terminals of the batteries of both vehicles.
  5. Repeat the previous step, but connect the negative jumper cable to the negative terminals.
  6. Start the car with the good battery.
  7. Allow the engine to run for a few minutes.
  8. Turn on the engine on the vehicle with the dead battery.
  9. If the engine starts, remove the cables from the battery terminals and close the hoods.

Take note that some carmakers may not include a jumpstart kit in their vehicles. If so, you may need to purchase one before you can continue using the steps mentioned above.

Check out this car jumpstart kit on Amazon.

Final Words

Interior and steering wheel of a Chevrolet

A locked steering wheel, a faulty ignition switch, or a deformed mechanical key are among the possible reasons why the key won’t turn in your Chevy Silverado. Remember to troubleshoot the cause of the problem first. Then, use the appropriate measures to fix the problem and avoid additional issues.

If you liked this post and you're looking for answers to other truck concerns, check out these other great reads:

How To Adjust Pedals On GMC Sierra

How To Mirror iPhone To Toyota Tacoma