Why Is My Ford Steering Wheel Locked?

A locked Ford steering wheel could simply be an anti-theft measure in action—but it could also be a symptom of more serious mechanical problems.
Written by Melanie Krieps Mergen
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
Unlocking a Ford steering wheel is often a matter of jiggling your steering wheel and car key until you’re able to turn the key and start your engine. If that doesn’t work, you might have a more serious mechanical problem on your hands.
Having your steering wheel lock up unexpectedly can be an unnerving experience. One of the most common reasons this happens has a pretty easy fix, but in some cases, your steering problem may be a sign that a vehicle component or system is in need of service. 
Don't panic just yet, though—
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How to unlock your Ford steering wheel

If your Ford’s steering wheel has locked up while parked, it might simply be the result of a protective anti-theft measure
When your vehicle’s steering wheel is turned too much while parked and there’s no key in the ignition, this can engage a locking mechanism that, in theory, would prevent someone from driving off with your car during a theft attempt. 
Often, the key to fixing a locked Ford steering wheel is a combination of moving the steering wheel and turning your key in the ignition at the same time. 
The steering wheel will typically have a little more give in one direction than the other, so try turning toward that direction with one hand while you use the other to turn your key. The process might involve some back-and-forth movement (and some patience), but once your steering wheel hits the right spot, this should allow your key to move forward and start the engine, which should release the locking mechanism and free up your steering wheel.
For Ford vehicles that use push-button start rather than a physical key, unlocking your steering wheel is typically less complicated. If your vehicle detects your key fob inside the cabin, the steering wheel should unlock. Otherwise, pressing the start button should let the locking mechanism release. (You might still need to jiggle the steering wheel a little to help it unlock.)
If this doesn’t unlock your steering wheel, it’s possible your Ford has a more serious mechanical problem, in which case you might need a certified mechanic to take a look.
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Why your Ford steering wheel lock might engage

Anti-theft protection is just one of several reasons you could end up with a locked steering wheel. The following are some other common culprits that may signal a need for service or repairs.

If your steering wheel locks while parked

A steering wheel that locks up while parked could be that anti-theft protective measure, or it could be related to a mechanical problem, like ignition failure. Since the vehicle’s ignition and steering wheel work closely together, the problem with your steering wheel could be a symptom of an ignition issue.

If your steering wheel locks while driving

Hopefully, this never happens to you, but if your steering wheel locks while you’re driving, it’s likely the result of a major mechanical problem that could be related to your steering column, the power steering system, your
steering rack
, or your Ford’s suspension system.
If you do find yourself in this situation, it’s best to remain calm and start to brake as soon as you can safely do so. Ideally, if your steering wheel still has some give, you may be able to pull off on the side of the road and call for help. This is a situation where having
roadside assistance
towing and labor coverage
can be a major relief. 

If your steering wheel is usable but stiff

If you’re dealing with difficult steering, but your steering wheel isn’t completely locked, there might be an underlying issue with your power steering system
That could imply a number of things. It might be time to change your
power steering fluid
, there could be a fluid leak somewhere in the system, or one or more of the power steering system’s components may be failing. 
To figure out the source of the problem, you’ll want to have your vehicle inspected by a certified mechanic. 

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