Key Turns But Won’t Unlock Car Door

If your car key turns but won’t unlock car door, you could have a variety of problems such as lack of lubrication, frozen locks, or dust that could have gotten inside the lock that prevents the locking mechanism from moving.

It’s frustrating when you turn the car key in the lock, but the car door won’t unlock. You may be able to fix some of these issues yourself and avoid costly repairs by checking out this article.

This article will cover the 10 most common reasons your car key turns but won’t unlock car door and how you solve these issues.

10 Reasons Key Turns But Won’t Unlock Car Door

The most common cause of a key that won’t turn in the lock is a lack of lubrication. Over time, the lubricant in the lock wears away, and it becomes difficult to turn the key. To fix this, you can apply some new lubricant to the lock. Be sure to use a product made for locks, such as WD-40.

Here are the 10 most common reasons key turns but won’t unlock car door:

1. Lack of Lubrication

If you’ve been having trouble unlocking your car door, the culprit may be a lack of lubrication.

Over time, the lubricant in the lock wears away, and it becomes difficult to turn the key.

This can happen if the lock has been turned for a very long time or after being out in the rain.

You can apply some new lubricant to the lock to fix this. Be sure to use a product made for locks, such as WD-40 or Master Lock PTFE Lock Lubricant.

2. Frozen Car Lock

When the temperature is below freezing, the car’s locks can freeze due to the water molecules in the air turning into ice, sticking to the car lock, which makes it practically impossible to open.

The easiest solution to a frozen car lock is to wait it out, as it might get hotter outside during the day, and the ice in the lock will melt.

If you on the other hand need to open your car door right now, you could speed up the process by either applying de-icer to thaw the car’s door lock, or simply by lubricating the locking mechanism.

Alternatively, you could use a lighter or a heat gun to apply heat to the door lock, making the ice surrounding the lock and the ice inside of the keyhole melt.

3. Dust Got Inside the Lock

This is a common reason for car locks that are not shielded, especially in dusty or sandy environments and near roads that are constantly getting dirt blown on them.

Dust particles accumulate between the key and the lock, preventing the lock from opening.

The lock can be cleaned with a compressed air spray to remove the dust particles and fix the problem. It could also help to apply lubricant to the car’s locking mechanism.

Giving your car TLC may be needed in some cases, both the car key and car door lock might need need to be cleaned.

4. Damaged Car Key

A damaged key will have difficulty turning the lock and could get jammed in the process, meaning that you need to contact your local locksmith or dealership to replace it.

Even newly created keys can malfunction or be damaged even though it’s rarely or never used, so it is always a good idea to keep a backup on hand in case a car key is misplaced or broken.

It’s also possible that your key is dirty and needs to be cleaned. If this is the case, you can try using a key cleaner or some WD-40 to degrease it.

If your key doesn’t turn the lock at all, it may be because the tumblers inside the lock have shifted out of place.

In this case, you need to take the car to a locksmith and have them reset the lock.

5. Damaged or Worn Car Lock

Several things can cause a car lock to fail. The lock may wear out over time or become damaged, possibly due to a collision.

If your car lock isn’t working, you should get a new one.

However, if you prefer not to spend a lot of money on a new lock, you can change the cylinder of the old one.

In most cases, the cylinder of the lock or the tumblers are the things that get worn out or damaged.

If you change those, you can use your old lock without replacing it.

6. Bad Car Door Solenoid

If the car’s door solenoid is bad, the problem may be a simple one that can be fixed with a new solenoid.

However, if the solenoid is bad, it may indicate a more serious issue with the car.

In this case, we recommend taking the car to a mechanic to have it looked at.

If you wish to replace the solenoid yourself, you’ll have to open the car doors panel.

7. Blown Fuse

If your key doesn’t unlock your car door, it could be a blown fuse. Replacing the fuse is an easy and cheap fix!

Symptoms of a blown fuse causing the car door not to open is easy to recognize.

A blown fuse will usually prevent you from unlocking the car doors on one side but not the other side of the car.

8. The door Latch is Stuck

On rare occasions, your key might turn and unlock the car, but the door does not open no matter how hard you pull. The problem might be the latch, not the lock.

A corroded or damaged door latch can keep the car door from opening, even if you manage to unlock your car.

If this is the problem, take your car to an auto workshop to repair or replace the door latch.

A door latch is fairly easy to replace if you like to perform auto repairs yourself. Open the door panel on the inside of the door, locate the latch and have it replaced with a new one.

9. Key Fob Battery is Dead

One of the most common reasons your car door lock isn’t working is that the key fob battery is dead.

If this is the problem, you can solve it by replacing the battery in the key fob.

Replacing a key fob battery is extremely easy. Here’s how you do it:

  1. Pry open the key fob with a plastic pry tool.
  2. Remove the drained battery from the key fob.
  3. Insert a fresh and newly purchased battery.

If replacing the battery inside the key fob does not solve your issue, you will need to take your car to the dealership for further assistance.

10. Faulty Key Fob

The key fob might not be working. The battery might be dead, or the fob is broken.

You should go to your car dealer and have them troubleshoot your key fob with the computer to see if they can fix it.

If the key fob is malfunctioning and your local authorized dealership can not troubleshoot and fix the key, they will need to get you a new fob.


What Do You Do when Your Car Won’t Unlock?

In most cases, the car’s door does not unlock due to lack of lubricant. Spray some WD-40 both on the key and inside of the keyhole and jerk the key back and forth to lubricate the locking mechanism. Alternatively take your car to a locksmith or an authorized mechanic to look into the issue.

Why Is My Car Not Responding to My Key Fob?

There could be a number of reasons why your car isn’t responding to your key fob. One possibility is that the battery in the key fob has died. Try replacing the battery to see if that resolves the issue. If it doesn’t, you may need to have the key fob serviced.


This article explained the ten most common reasons a car key turns but won’t unlock car door. The reasons vary from a blown fuse, a bad door latch, lack of lubricant, or a frozen lock, but could be caused by a few other reasons not as common.

If you are experiencing your car key turns but won’t unlock car door, it is cheaper to troubleshoot and diagnose the issue yourself before taking your car to a certified mechanic for repair.

Keeping the car lock lubricated and the key clear of dirt or dust also prevents the car lock to jam in the future.

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Robin Söder

Robin has always been passionate about cars ever since young age. Over the years, Robin has worked on thousands of cars and gained invaluable experience in the process. He is considered an expert in his field and is often consulted by other mechanics for advice.

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