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Steering Wheel Lock Issues? Why It May Be a Faulty Detent

by Emilia Latvala

The modern-day vehicle has many safety features, some of which are designed to make it harder for a thief to steal your ride. Yet sometimes, these devices can malfunction and may make it hard for a driver to use the vehicle themselves until everything is put right. So what can happen if you suddenly discover an issue with the steering lock mechanism on your car or truck?

Problems With the Detent

A steering lock device is meant to do exactly what it says — to lock the steering wheel in place so that car cannot be manoeuvred without the ignition key. The lock can only be deactivated once the key is inserted into the tumbler to release the detent that holds it in place.

You may be able to detect a certain amount of pressure when you first activate this mechanism just before leaving the vehicle. You'll feel the detent holding the wheel in place, and it's not difficult to understand why this device may eventually break.

Faulty Cog

Beneath the steering wheel is a cog mechanism that is designed to work in concert with the detent. Essentially, the cog will help the steering wheel to centre so that the detent can snap into place as soon as you remove the key from the ignition. Again, it comes under a lot of pressure and may eventually fail. In this case, the wheel may remain in the locked position even after you have inserted the key, or it may not activate at all.

Electronic Failure

In many modern-day vehicles, the locking mechanism is all-electric and the problem may be more difficult to diagnose. In this case, issues may arise within the electronic system as some wires could come loose or wear down, leading to a potential short circuit.

Sensor Issues

An electronic issue may arise within the key cylinder. In this case, the sensor may not be able to determine if the key is in or out of the tumbler at any one time and may not send the relevant message to unlock the wheel.

Early Action Preferred

If you are having problems with your steering lock mechanism, get it checked out by a mechanic as soon as possible. You shouldn't drive the vehicle for any extended distance in case the wheel locks inadvertently. This could lead to an accident, or you may become stranded by the roadside instead. Contact a car repair service to learn more.