How to Fix a Locked Steering Wheelin a Hyundai Sonata

So you’ve locked your Hyundai Sonata steering wheel and can’t get it to unlock. You’ve watched a few YouTube videos, and they all said that you could take apart the dash and manually unjam it.

Despite arguably being one of the most popular compact sedans and having strong engine performance, this Hyundai model has some faults. Over the years, some drivers have reported that they can’t turn while driving their Hyundai Sonata due to a locked steering wheel.

Since this phenomenon is frustrating, we are here to help. This article will provide you with ways to fix your Hyundai Sonata steering wheel when it feels locked and not responding to your input. Let’s get to it.

What causes the Hyundai Sonata Steering wheel to lock?

The Hyundai Sonata steering wheel locks to keep the car safe. These safety features are meant for anti-theft and to avoid crushing. However, on some rare occasions, it might lock when you are driving. Here are some of the reasons why the steering wheel lock.

Anti-theft feature

For a thief to operate a vehicle, they must go through multiple safety systems. Should they bypass all the initial stages of accessing the car, the steering wheel lock ensures total safety. Despite not likely meant for this purpose, this feature enhances security.

Parking safety feature

When you park on descent or incline, you should ensure that you right turn the steering wheel. In doing so, should the car develop a mechanical problem or forget to set it in gear and pull the parking brake, it won’t steer itself to an obstacle.

Low power steering fluid

This lock rarely occurs. When it does, mainly at a lower speed, chances are a lack of power steering fluid or dirty steering fluid. This malfunction may not affect your driving but will pose difficulty when on low speed.

Steering linkage failure

This steering lock is unheard of but at times happens. Should you find yourself in a position where the steering wheel suddenly locks, find a way to bring the car to a stop. You should then seek the services of a specialized mechanic.

How to Fix a Locked Steering Wheelin a Hyundai Sonata

If your Hyundai Sonata’s steering wheels lock, there are three ways to fix it if it doesn’t require a specialized mechanic. These include:

  1. Unlocking using the car key
  2. Loosening the sticky locks
  3. Replacing the ignition lock system

Here is the step-by-step process of fixing the locked steering wheel using each method:

1. Unlocking using the car key

Step 1: Insert your key in the ignition

Firstly, you will key into the ignition as you would when starting the car. You will then try to turn it in. If the key turns and starts the car, it will unlock the car with the ignition cylinder if it doesn’t follow the steps below.

Step 2:Gently turn the key

With the key still in the ignition, apply pressure and gently turn it in the direction you want the steering wheel to turn. Avoid applying too much pressure as the key may twist or break inside the ignition.

Step 3:Exert pressure to the locked steering wheel

When the steering wheel is locked, it won’t move freely in either direction. However, one side will stifle any movement whatsoever. Determine the direction with no movement, then apply pressure in the opposite direction while repeatedly turning the key in the ignition using the other hand.

Don’t shake the wheel while doing this. Shaking or rocking the car might end up damaging the locking pin.

Step 4: Slightly pull out the key, then turn it

If the above steps still don’t unlock the car, you can slightly pull out the key then turn it. This process helps if the key is slightly worn out. By inserting the key in all the way then pulling it out. Should this step work, it would be best if you replace the key before it stops working.

Step 5: Simultaneously turn the wheel and key to unlock

Lastly, if the Hyundai Sonata’s steering wheel is still locked,  you can try this step. This step will apply pressure to the wheel in the locked direction while turning the key. It will start the car as well as unlock the steering.

2. Loosening the sticky locks

Step 1:Lubricate the keyhole

At times the ignition cylinder might need lubrication for it to turn. However, take caution not to overspray the cylinder. After you have applied short squirts, insert the key and gently turn it back and forth. Note that if this process works, you might need a cylinder replacement.

Step 2: Spray high-pressure air into the ignition

Alternatively, you can spray high-pressure air into the ignition. This process helps if there is debris hindering the key from turning. By spraying the air into the ignition, you will clean it.

Step 3: Repeatedly slide the key in and out

If the debris happens to stick on the keys’ surface, it may end up sticking in the ignition pins. To remove them, insert the key entirely, then pull it out. Do this a few times to remove any debris stuck in the cylinder. If this step works, finish by spraying canned air into the cylinder for further cleaning.

Step 4: Check for any damages on the key

If none of the above steps work, you might need to check the state of your key. The chances are that it is twisted. Chipped or rounded essential teeth may also be a cause. When the teeth are chipped, the key won’t engage the ignition cylinder pins.

3. Changing the ignition lock assembly

When you are sure that none of the above steps work, the best solution is to change the ignition assembly. You can do this on your own or involve a qualified mechanic. You will first buy a new lock system then remove your ignition cover.

Using an Allen wrench, you will release the ignition assembly. Remove any component that may hinder the access of the ignition wire. Put a 9/32 inch Allen wrench into the release hole while simultaneously turning the ignition key backward; if you want to ensure that you have fixed it correctly, test if the lock pins move freely. You will test by inserting the key in and out repeatedly to feel if it sticks.


This blog post will show you how to fix a locked Hyundai Sonata steering wheel. Several reasons can cause the locking, for example, if there is debris in the ignition or if you leave your car unlocked and someone starts it and drives away.

Whatever the reason is, if your Hyundai Sonata steering wheel is locked, worry not. You can quickly fix it yourself in a matter of minutes. Just follow the steps in this post, and you will be able to get your Hyundai Sonata steering wheel moving again in no time.

Liam Dare

As CEO of, my passion for the automotive world motivates me to build online businesses that provide information and entertainment to users. I am proud to contribute in a positive way to the automotive community.