Keys get stuck in ignition

Asked by Jan 21, 2019 at 05:37 PM about the 2002 Subaru Outback

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

Keys are getting stuck in ignition, car will start and
run but the keys will not come out. Tried many
things to get them out, the only thing that seems to
work is moving some of the wire in the steering
column. Not sure which wire is causing the
problem but there is a faint clicking sound that
starts and then when it stops the keys come out.
This is happening every time the car shuts off and
not sure how to fix the problem. Any suggestions?

14 Answers


Defect in the brake shift lock; this makes you press the brake peddle to shift the transmission. Put the shifter in neutral or drive, press the brake peddle, then forcefully shove the shifter into park. This may trio the mechanism so you can get the key out. You then need to have a mechanic fix this.

16 people found this helpful.

I have the same issue. How did you fix it? I have to disconnect the battery all the time.

1 people found this helpful.

I'm having the same problem. Subaru told me it is a sensor not recognizing the car is in park. They didn't have any parts to fix it. So I'm still driving with it this way. I doesn't do it every time. They said keep slamming it into park until it would recognize the car is in park. This is a pain in the neck and takes several minutes each time.

8 people found this helpful.

Let's see: A billion dollar company doesn't have a fix right now, so the customer has to wait and put up with this. I think I would have strangled the service manager. If this is a newish car, keep taking it back and when you've been there three times without a fix, tell them about the LEMON LAW, and demand they replace the car. That WILL get their attention.

3 people found this helpful.

there is a recall on some subaru's re the brake light switch that apparently also may affect ignition

1 people found this helpful.

I found a YouTube video explaining the process. For some reason the direct link I tried to post here did not work. Go to Google and type in: "Subaru outback key stuck in ignition how to remove" You will see a video with the same name from a site called The Clay Way. Click on that video. The first half of the vid is him talking about his site, so skip to the middle and you will learn: The Park sensor is having issues and not communicating to the steering column. In the video, he shows how to remove one screw under the steering column to remove a cover. Then he shows how to unplug the key sensor that is causing the problem. You will lose the key door chime by doing it, but the key will now always come out. No need to send in the car for repairs. Very simple fix.

4 people found this helpful.

I took mine to a local independent shop. Using Subaru service bulletin 16-112-18R, they replaced the part -- about $100 including parts (Subaru dealer wanted $375). Until it was fixed, disconnecting the battery when needed was a short-term fix. Wish I had known Guru144Q9's advice a few weeks ago!

4 people found this helpful.

Took to my 2016 Subaru to the dealership today for a fix and they wanted $600. Will be looking for a cheaper option or do the self fix. This should be a recall issue, not a repair to be paid for by the customer.

5 people found this helpful.

I have a Subaru XV 2016 model. The key has started getting stuck in the ignition intermittently after turning the motor off. Sometimes it takes several attempts involving turning the motor back on and pulling the key out as I’m turning the motor off. It may go a couple of days and be fine then do it several times in a row. Subaru has acknowledged it’s a faulty part but were going to charge me for replacement - a cost of up to $800 with parts and labour. Luckily I have an extended 5 year warranty so the replacement shouldn’t cost me anything. Interestingly my local Service centre had me as a 3 year warranty and it was only at my insistence that they found on ‘another data base’ that I have the 5 year warranty. However a friend has a Forrester of the same vintage with exactly the same problem. Subaru are not acknowledging this as a manufacturer problem and may charge full costs of replacement. I’m keen to hear from other Subaru owners who are having the same problem. Theresa. Darwin NT

I got the same problem here earlier this year. Took my 2016 Subaru to the dealer and they covered it under warranty. Now, my one of my friends Subaru got the same issue and the dealer charged him 500 bucks to fix it as he bought the vehicle a bit earlier than mine the same year and warranty is already expired. So disappointed on Subaru and will not consider buying it again, even though it's a solid car beside this issue. Other options are out there anyway. Maybe everyone can spread the word to their friends with Subarus


Just got back from dealer. Figured I'd throw in my 2 cents and this site helped me understand the problem. First thing was, this was a 2017 outback, and I had bought it end of July, so barely a month of ownership, and boom, ignition issue. Figure it's my problem, not car. Happened again, looked online, saw the issue, and realized I'm out of my warranty by a week. FIRST THING TO DO IS CONTACT SUBARU OF AMERICA! Give them the dealer you bought it from, where you'll service the car, and the TSB number, which is 16-112-18R. They reached back out and asked for milage and to contact service. Kindly call your service person and explain the issue and the TSB number, and schedule the appointment. After you schedule, call Subaru of America and tell them the date and time of service. Brought car in, explained this "Ignition key issue, TSB number 16-112-18R, I've contacted Subaru of America and they said they'll reach out to y'all" Guy said, cool, I see you're out of warranty but let's see what Subaru of America says. They made the fix, guy had me sign a document saying I understood it was out of warranty, and changed me ZERO. The key is letting subaru of america know as the more complaints they get, the more pressure they'll get to recall this issue.

1 people found this helpful.

Thanks fir answers to my post on the keys getting stuck in the ignition of my Subaru XV 2016 model. It sounds crazy HH7g9 that the problem fir you is not able to be fixed. Sounds like a cop our by dealership. Suburb fixed my key problem under the 5 year warranty I had taken out. This was only at my persistence that I had a 5 year warranty as my records of purchase weren’t correct on the local dealership computer system. It took two phone calls with the manager and s long debate with counter staff to sort this out. My friend will be getting her car fixed free as well as it was hard for our dealer to deny there was a problem with faulty parts when two of us presented together with the same issue with cats of the same vintage. My advice here would be stand your ground. Subaru need to take ownership of this key issue and do all replacements at no cost to the car owners. I’ll be pursuing it with Subaru Australia to alert them to the magnitude of the problem.

I’ve had the same issue with my 2013 forester for about a year now. The issue comes and goes but it extremely annoying! I went to suburb and they wanted $300 plus for just parts. Am told it may be my solenoid which I have purchased but not done yet. I recently discovered that if the key doesn’t come out if I leave it for about 40 seconds then the key will release. To get it to release faster move the key back a little into the the next key position and wait a few seconds, you will hear a click and the key will release.

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