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This happens to me sometimes because the pressure of the steering lock is enough to keep me from being able to turn the key. Try moving the steering wheel while turning the key, if that doesn't work, flip the key over and try again (unless it is a one sided key), if that doesn't work, then you are likely looking at a bad lock cylinder and it will have to be replaced.
Assuming the car is not running and you are trying to start it, sometimes the steering wheel is locked from the wheel thrying to turn back on itself and this won't allow the key to turn. Try turning the steering wheel all the way to the left or right then while the wheel turned, try to turn the key.
Try moving your steering wheel to the left then jiggle the key until it releases, if no luck try the same thing moving the steering wheel to the right, or combination of both ways, If this works then there is nothing to worry about, it can happen almost to any vehicle, you are just in between the wheel locking mechanism and the ignition start or the removal of the key, a common problem in the design of the wheel lock, to prevent it from happening again, just have your steering wheel were you want it before starting or turning off you car.
you most likely have a bad key switch cylinder assembly. you can try to spray wd40 solvent into the switch before you have the switch replaced,but sometimes it's a switch replacement that repairs the problem. have you inspected your ignition key to look for damage to the key itself? try a spare key to make sure it's the key,and not the key switch. you can also try turning the key while turning the steering wheel at the same time to get the key to work.sometimes the switch locks when parked in a bind,such as on a hill,or against a curb and so on. try this 1st before you have the ignition switch replaced. AAA auto club,if you're a member covers part of the replacement costs for a replacement switch also. you may have coverage through a cell phone also.one more thing to try, if you have a tilt steering column,try to reposition the steering wheel to see if you can get the key to turn. remember never force it enough to break your key off into the switch! thank you for choosing fixya.com!
I have an 2002 Escape. I can think of three possible issues:
You're using the wrong key. Duh.
You have a bad ignition switch. Extremely unlikely.
Your steering wheel is pushing against the steering lock. I just went out to my Escape to confirm this on mine. This happens sometimes if you park against a curb, or parking block. The steering wheel is pushed against the lock pin, and the key can not be turned.
Trying turning the sterring wheel back and forth. There should be some play or shake. If no play, turn the steering wheel a little harder in either direction until it moves a little, hold it, and try the key.
For the disbelievers, this can happen on most cars. Go to your car and hold some pressure on turning the steering wheel. Try turning your key from off to start.