Steering Wheel Doesn’t Lock When Car Is Off

Sometimes the steering wheel doesn’t lock when car is off. This can be a big problem because it can give access to thieves to move your car. Let’s find out how to avoid this.

Today most vehicles have safety and security features that help in keeping the thieves at bay. One such security feature is the locking of the steering wheel which means the steering wheel will lock at one place after switching off your vehicle and removing the key.

But there are situations in which the steering wheel doesn’t lock when the car is off. It can be a big concern for most car drivers and requires immediate solutions. In this article, I will discuss a few reasons that are responsible for your steering wheel not locking. Continue reading this article for more information.


Steering Wheel Does Not Lock when Car Is Off

What Should I Do If My Steering Wheel Doesn’t Lock When Car Is Off?

#1. Failure In Turning The Steering Wheel

Sometimes car owners do not turn the steering wheel properly. For instance, if you turn the wheel too much to the left or right or if you don’t turn enough in any of the right or left directions, then the steering wheel will not lock.


This problem will require a little bit of attention. You have to turn the steering wheel to the right and left until you hit the right spot. The right locking spot means the steering wheel needs to catch the detent so that the wheel will lock in one place.

#2. Broken Detent

A detent is a component that holds and locks the steering wheel. If the detent is worn out or poorly damaged, your steering wheel will not lock when the car is in turned-off condition. It happens when you use your vehicle of a very old model. However, this issue can occur with new models of cars.


Repair the detent as soon as possible. If it has been poorly damaged, then replace it with a new one.

#3. Broken Cog

The detent pairs with a cog so that the steering wheel locks in a place when you switch off your vehicle. As the detent wears with time, the cog can also have wear and tear. 

The more you use your car there are more chances of breakage of cogs. Consequently, it leads to malfunctioning of the steering column, which in turn causes the steering wheel not to lock in turn off condition.


An experienced mechanic can resolve this issue. You should not do experiments of replacing cogs at home as it may damage other steering column components.


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#4.Failure Of Electric Locking Mechanism

Most of the vehicles have a manual car steering mechanism. But some car owners have electric steering mechanisms.

If there is short-circuiting or the wires have got poorly damaged in the electric steering mechanism, your steering wheel will not lock in turn-off condition.


If you find such an issue, then take your vehicle to the nearest mechanic as soon as possible. It’s better if a professional mechanic looks over the issue because to fix the problem, you have to remove both the steering column and steering wheel, which is tricky.

#5. Loose Steering Wheel

The steering wheel itself is a problem for locking issues. Sometimes the steering wheel becomes loose and cannot catch the detent properly. So, your wheel will not lock in turn-off condition.


The best part is you can easily diagnose the problem of a loose steering wheel as it will not feel normal. You need to tighten it as soon as possible by going to the nearest mechanic.

#6. Malfunctioning Of Key Cylinder

Your key has to be released all the time so that your steering wheel will lock properly. But if there is an issue in the key cylinder, then the sensor thinks that there is still a key in the cylinder, and finally, your steering wheel will not lock in the switch-off condition.

This problem mainly occurs because of the malfunctioning of the key cylinder. The key cylinder usually doesn’t work because it catches dust and dirt with time. Sometimes it may be prone to wear and tear with time.


Cleaning the key cylinder may resolve the issue. Sometimes the key cylinder may require complete replacement.

#7. Malfunctioning Of Computer

Most vehicles depend on a computer to function all the components of the vehicle. But when the computer doesn’t function properly, the steering wheel will not lock when the car is switched off.


The professional mechanic needs to scan the vehicle’s computer with advanced scanning tools like the OBD 2 scanner, which helps in diagnosing whether the computer is preventing the steering wheel from locking.


Steering Wheel Does Not Lock when Car Is Off


Answers To More Common Questions About Steering Wheel Lock

#1. Does the steering wheel lock when the car is off?

Yes, the steering wheel locks when the car is turned off. This feature protects the car owner from theft.

#2. How do you fix a steering wheel that won’t lock?

Various factors are responsible for not locking the steering wheel while the vehicle is turned off. One of the common reasons is broken or worn-out detent, which is the catch part of the steering wheel. So you need to replace the detent with a new one.


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#3. How do I get my steering wheel to lock?

To lock the steering wheel, you have to follow the below steps.

  • Switch off the car and take the keys out of the ignition.
  • Turn the steering wheel either in the right or left direction until you hear a click.
  • Your wheel will lock till you return, unlock the steering wheel and start your vehicle.


Steering Wheel Does Not Lock when Car Is Off


Wrap Up

Your expensive vehicle is at risk if your steering wheel does not lock after turning off your car. I have outlined various reasons for not locking the steering wheel. I hope that will help you diagnose the issue related to not locking the steering wheel.

Please don’t forget to share any suggestions for this article. I would love to read your suggestions in the comment section.

Happy Driving!


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Sean Mendez

Hi, I am Sean, a self-confessed petrolhead. I live in Boise, Idaho with a busy family of four and our energetic Labrador retriever. Thank you for visiting my website. You can find my email on the contact page.

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