Question about 1998 Jeep Wrangler

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1998 Wranger Ignition Key Stuck / Steering Column Locked

My 1998 Jeep Wranger Steering Column is locked. I''m using the right key but I'm unable to turn the key over. It worked earlier in the day. The Column is locked. Key won't unlock, tried 2 keys.

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  • bmosher01 Dec 04, 2008

    I have same problem but with 1999 cherokee. It has happened several times before but this time the wheel was locked. i tried flooding with WD40 but that did not work. I am not sure what I will do next..

  • pattysue222 Jan 11, 2009

    2000 jeep wrangler ignition key will not turn to start position. what to do?

  • jmarknauti Mar 01, 2009

    from time to time the key will not turn in my cherokee 98

  • ake_77 May 09, 2009

    Sometimes when mine does it I turn the steering wheel a little it unlocks the ignition, sometimes that doesn't work. I also have a problem where my stupid key actually can be pulled out while the Jeep is running.

  • Anonymous Mar 12, 2014

    steering column locked red message

  • Anonymous Mar 12, 2014

    pull the steering column 1998 f250

  • Anonymous Mar 30, 2014

    Ignition key will not turn on the steering column, stuck in off position. Tried both keys, same issue. Wiggling the key or adjust the steering column or stepping on the brake doesn't work.



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I have had this same problem on 4 of my Jeeps. A locksmith provided me with two answers.
This key thing happens to me at least once a week.
It is a common problem with Jeeps. 1998 Wrangler, 2007 Cherokee and two 2000 Cherokees all had the issue.

1. Replace the tumbler assembly. $150. USD (Not!)
2. Place the key in the ignition, smartly impact the key on the **** end, end that is sticking out of the ignition. (Harder is not better) strike straight on as to not break the key off. 4 or 5 strikes should fix the problem every time.

FYI - flooding the switch with WD-40 will not fix the issue, it is a tumbler problem.

Posted on Dec 23, 2008

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Same problem on a '98 Wrangler. Been that way for some time. Wiggling the key usually works, but takes a LOT of wiggling sometimes. Very Frustrating. Everyone I asked says the switch is going bad, getting worn. Have used compressed air, WD, white lithium.

Since the key must be in the "on" position to remove the cylinder, it's much smarter to replace it sooner rather than later!

Found a new replacement on Ebay for $55 +/-. They will re-key it for me to match original at no extra charge.

Posted on Apr 30, 2009

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It sounds like to me you have a bad key and tumbler assembly.

Posted on Nov 30, 2008

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The ignition switch is probably too full of metal filings from the keys and worn parts. Try flooding the switch with WD-40 to flush it out!

Posted on Nov 30, 2008

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Steering Wheel Locked

Being a locksmith for ten years, I have been aquainted with a number of occasions where the steering wheel gets locked up.
Always start with the least expensive option.

I'm sure this sounds silly but, have you tried turning the wheel hard right and hard left? You wouldn't believe how many times people have their tires turned to the right or left, which binds the ignition switch to the point that you can't turn the key to start the vehicle.

If the steering is in a rotational bind it can also bind the "U" joint in the steering column.

Check to make sure that you can actually operate the key cylinder and start the vehicle.

If you can operate the key cylinder of the ignition and start the vehicle, try rotating the steering wheel with the engine running, and see if that will unlock your "U"joint adjuster.

If you do all of the above and it's still unable to be adjusted, you will have to have a locksmith replace the universal joint rod in the steering column.

The main reason for these joints to fail is due to people driving with the column in an attitude of either up from the straight position, or down from the straight position.

The column is "designed" to operate from any position, BUT it causes the joint to fail due to prolonged use in an either up or down position while driving. The adjustable wheel is great for getting into and out of the vehicle, but it should always be driven in a totally straight position with NO upward or downward slant to the steering column.

I hope this will solve your problem economically.


Nov 03, 2008 | 1995 Jeep Wrangler

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2003 jeep wranger

Sometimes the ignition lock cylinder and the parts that it operates may become jammed. The only remedy I can recommend short of disassembling the steering column is to try working the key in and out, back and forth, while working the steering wheel from side to side at the same time in order to dislodge any binding parts from operating.

Jul 06, 2008 | 2003 Jeep Wrangler

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