Kia Steering Wheel Locked? How to Fix

You are driving your Kia when you suddenly realize you can’t move the steering wheel. Your life will be in danger. Do you know what to do if your Kia steering wheel is locked? How to fix it right away is extremely important if you want to get out of this situation.

If you are confronted with this problem, you first need to turn the ignition key so you can switch on the ignition. Do it in a relaxed and not in a stressed-out manner. If the key turns, your steering wheel will get unlocked.

If you have difficulty turning the ignition key switch, turn the steering wheel to the right and then to the left while turning the key. This will help release the tension on the steering wheel. This can usually happen because of a gridlock inside the power steering pump. Perhaps it was caused by a power loss from the engine.

Read on to learn more about the problem of steering wheel locks in Kia vehicles and what you can do if you encounter this problem.

What to Do If the Kia Steering Wheel Locked?

what to do if the kia steering wheel locked

If the steering wheel of your Kia vehicle locks unexpectedly, you should first insert your ignition key into the ignition switch and turn it on without using excessive force. Your steering wheel will get unlocked if you can turn the ignition key.

If it’s hard to turn the key, try turning the steering wheel to the left and right. With this action, you are trying to release the tension that might have built up inside the steering wheel system.

The typical cause of this problem is a gridlock inside the steering pump. This pump works so you can steer your car without too much effort.

However, there will be times when there is unexpected power loss from the engine. This will cause the pump to fail, which leads to your steering wheel getting locked.

Turning your steering wheel to the left and right while turning the ignition key simultaneously will help release the locked steering wheel and usually allow you to start your car

If your Kia steering wheel locks while driving, it could be due to a lack of power steering fluid, or the fluid is dirty and needs to be replaced. Topping up or replacing the power steering fluid will fix this issue.

How to Unlock a Locked Kia Steering Wheel?

It’s very dangerous to have the steering wheel of your Kia getting locked while you are driving. However, it can also get locked when your Kia is parked and when its engine is not running. So, what can you do if this happens? This is how you can fix this problem:

1. Insert Your Key

The first thing you need to do is to insert your car key inside the ignition switch. Then turn it without using excessive force. If it turns, your steering wheel will get unlocked. However, if it does not respond, try to turn the key to the left and then to the right while you are turning the key.

2. Exert Pressure on the Steering Wheel

Even if your steering wheel is already locked, it will still give way a little more in one direction than the other. So, turn the ignition key and exert pressure on the steering wheel in the direction where it is still able to go.

3. Don’t Shake the Steering Wheel

When turning the steering wheel from side to side, avoid shaking it. If you shake it, it can damage the locking pin and will lower your chances of unlocking the steering wheel.

4. Slightly Draw Out the Ignition Key

If your ignition key is already old and worn out, it may not be able to get the right key fit. In this case, insert it first and then draw it out a little before turning it.

5. Visit Your Kia Dealer

If you have tried these tricks and still can’t unlock your steering wheel, there must be an underlying cause of the problem. The only solution to your issue is to bring your Kia vehicle to your Kia dealer to get it analyzed and fixed.

6. Additional Tips

Here are some additional tricks that can increase your chances of unlocking your locked steering wheel:

  • Inspect your car battery and see if it is fully charged or not. If its juices are depleted, recharge it. If it’s damaged, then replace it.
  • If you have an OBD 2 scanner, use it to check the cause of the problem.
  • Try wiggling the steering wheel and see if it gets unlocked.
  • Insert the ignition key fully and then draw it out. If there is any dirt in the keyhole, this action may disturb the dirt and make it easier for you to remove it.
  • Drop a small amount of penetrating (lubricating oil) on your ignition key and then insert it inside the ignition switch. Slightly turn the key while it’s inside. Hopefully, this will allow the oil to soak the hole and unblock the contactor on the steering wheel.

Again, what to do if the Kia steering wheel is locked? If you have a locked Kia steering wheel, try to insert your key into the ignition switch. Do not force yourself to turn it. If the key did not turn, you could try to move the steering wheel from left to right while turning the key.

What Causes a Kia Steering Wheel to Lock?

what to do if the kia steering wheel locked while driving

There are not only one but several reasons why the steering wheel of your Kia vehicle will unlock. There are four or more typical reasons why this thing can happen.

You can most often get out of this problem by just jiggling the steering wheel until you can release the wheel’s locking system.

Here are the most common reasons why the steering wheel of your Kia car can get locked:

1. Activated Safety and Security Features

Your Kia vehicle has several safety and security features to safeguard and protect your car and yourself from potential dangers. They are designed so that your Kia can’t be stolen.

These features lock the steering wheel to stop the car from rolling back when its handbrake fails or when it is parked uphill. However, you’ll get a locked steering wheel if these safety and security features fail.

2. Power Steering Pump Issues

Due to the power steering pump, you can turn your wheel in any direction. But your steering wheel will likely lock up if you have a failing power steering pump.

Power loss in the engine is the typical cause of why the steering pump will develop problems.

3. Accumulated Dirt

The ignition system of your Kia vehicle can also grow old, with its components wearing out. So, as you repeatedly insert and remove your car key in the ignition switch over time, dirt will accumulate inside. This debris can cause the steering wheel to lock.

4. Doing Sharp Turns Frequently

If you have the habit of swerving to avoid traffic, your steering wheel may lock up. This is a bad habit because frequently swerving will harm your Kia’s transmission system and engine. You are in grave danger if your steering suddenly locks up while you swerve.

5. Failing ECU

Most of the operations of your Kia car are controlled by its ECU or engine control unit. ECU failure can also lock the steering wheel of your Kia. The ECU has a component that locks the steering wheel whenever it senses anything wrong with the system.

Additionally, a failing ECU hinders power delivery to the power steering pump, which also causes the steering wheel to lock up.

6. Lack of Power Steering Fluid

The most dangerous time when your steering wheel can lock is while you are driving. It is a situation as dangerous as having a loose steering wheel.

Correct fluid pressure must always be present in your steering wheel system. So, if you lack power steering fluid in your Kia’s steering wheel, you are in danger because it will lock up, given enough time.

Besides these common causes, your steering wheel can also lock up because of more complicated issues.

Follow the tips below to fix this issue. If the problem persists, you must bring your Kia to a dealer. It may have underlying problems that cause its steering wheel to lock.

What Are the Tricks for Unlocking Kia’s Steering Wheel?

what to do if the kia steering wheel locked and key won't turn

If your Kia’s steering wheel is locked, you can apply the following fixes to move it again:

1. Release the Locking Mechanism

If you turn the steering wheel aggressively without the key inside the ignition switch, the locking mechanism of the wheel will engage. This feature prevents car thieves from hotwiring your Kia and running away.

If your Kia car has an old ignition key start system, you can fix this issue by turning on the key again. This will unlock the mechanism and release your steering wheel so you can again move it generally as before.

If you have a Kia vehicle with a push button start/stop, press the brake pedal with your foot and turn the steering wheel left and right. Then press the start/stop button. Your engine will start, and you can move the steering wheel in either direction.

2. Replace or Top Up the Steering Wheel Fluid

If your Kia’s steering was locked due to a dirty or lack of steering fluid, the obvious solution is to replace it or top it up. There will not be enough steering fluid circulating in the steering wheel if your Kia has one of these conditions.

If you will not replace or top up Kia’s steering wheel, it may lead to more severe issues in your steering system. In addition, you may want to check the condition of the power steering pump. It could have a steering fluid leak, which is why there is a fluid lack in the system.

In Closing

When suddenly faced with a locked steering wheel while driving, you should turn your ignition switch key to the on position. Do it mildly, and don’t be stressed while turning the key. If the key turns, your steering wheel will be unlocked. 

If it’s hard to turn the ignition key, try turning the steering wheel to the left and then to the right while turning it. This will help in releasing the tension on the steering wheel.

The steering wheel can lock because a gridlock was created inside the steering power steering pump. A power loss from the engine typically leads to this condition.