How to Unlock Steering Wheel With Dead Battery

How to Unlock Steering Wheel With Dead Battery

A steering wheel lock is a feature that comes with most modern vehicles as an anti-theft measure. It makes the steering wheel stiff and unable to turn, also the car won’t start when the steering lock feature has been activated.

Even if a car thief gets the car to start the steering wheel won’t budge, unless a key is used to start the car once the steering wheel lock has been activated.

Can You Unlock a Steering Wheel with Dead Battery?

Unlocking a steering wheel is completely mechanical and so the battery isn’t even needed to unlock the steering wheel. So yes, you can unlock a steering wheel with a dead battery.

In fact, you can completely detach the battery from the engine of the car and still insert the key, turn the ignition lock and the steering wheel will be unlocked.

Once the key has been inserted and turned to “on” the lever that locks the steering wheel retracts and the steering wheel is unlocked.

The steering wheel is usually locked by a lever, this applies to cars whose key goes into the steering column.

After the key has been successfully removed from the ignition, then the wheel is turned, this action activates the steering wheel lock.

After the car’s steering wheel lock has been activated, the car’s steering cannot be turned by anyone without the key until the key has been inserted again.

For electrical cars, you’d notice a light that tells you that the steering wheel has been locked. It’s a steering wheel lock warning light.

Compared to cars with ignition cylinders where the key is inserted into the neck of the steering wheel and is locked by a lever, electrical cars have an electronic deadbolt that locks the steering wheel.

The only thing that happens to the ignition and steering wheel when the battery dies is being able to remove the key.

If you haven’t taken out your key, the dead battery locks the ignition switch and the key won’t come out of the ignition cylinder.

In this case, you need to charge the battery before you can be able to completely switch off the vehicle’s engine and remove your key.

Tools Needed to Unlock a Steering Wheel with Dead Battery?

When a steering wheel gets locked, there are a few DIY methods of getting it to work again or repairing your locked steering wheel.

There are some tools that you’d need to unlock your steering wheel. In no particular order;

  • Car’s key
  • Screwdrivers.
  • Hammers
  • Chisel
  • Canned air
  • WD40 (Water Displacement, 40th Formula)

How to Unlock Steering Wheel With Dead Battery

Unlocking a steering wheel whose car’s battery is dead can be easily done.

As reiterated earlier, the steering wheel lock for cars that are not electrical is mechanical and is held together by a lever.

This lever can be easily gotten rid of by inserting your key into the ignition switch but this time around you’re not starting your engines.

All you have to do is to turn your key to “on” and try turning the steering wheel to the left and then to the right little by little. This quick method should unlock your steering wheel in most cases if it doesn’t you can try any of these other methods.

The next thing to try once using your key doesn’t work out is using the WD40.

The steering wheel could sometimes get locked because of the amount of dirt that has accumulated in it, the cause could also be debris or when the specks of dirt or debris have solidified inside the lock tumbler. This can allow the neck of the steering wheel to be very stiff and very hard to turn.

Spray the WD40 into the lock cylinder and inside the steering wheel. After you have sprayed the lock cylinder, you should wait for about a minute or a few seconds before inserting the key.

Try inserting the key and turning the steering g wheel again, if this unlocks your steering wheel, you should know that your steering wheel is due for a change.

If using the WD40 doesn’t work also, you could also try to insert your key into the lock and gently tap the key with a hammer, making sure that the key is fitted into the lock cylinder straight to avoid damaging the key.

The problem could also be from the lock cylinder so you capfuls get a new one and fix it yourself if you can but if you cannot install the new one yourself, get a professional to help you install it

Afterward, try starting turning your key to “on” and wiggle the steering wheel left and right gently. This should do the trick.

One other thing that can cause the steering wheel to lock is if the power steering pump is faulty. This will cause the steering wheel to lock and also make squeaky noises.

If this is the problem, you should get a mechanic to replace your power steering pump.

Ultimately if any of these methods do not work, you could get a professional to check the car out and identify the problem and also teach you how to go about unlocking it next time.

Pros of Unlocking Steering Wheel With Dead Battery

The advantages of unlocking a steering wheel with a dead battery are:

1. Saves Time

When you can unlock the steering wheel of a car with a dead battery, it makes it easier to call for help because all that is left for you to do is. To find someone willing to help you give your battery a boost with theirs.

Once you’re able to get it, connect the charged battery to your car’s battery and wait for about 10-20 minutes, as you keep driving your car, the battery keeps charging.

This saves you the time and money that you would have spent trying to get a mechanic to help you unlock the steering wheel of your car.

2. Gives Knowledge and Experience

When you’re steering wheel locks with your car battery is dead and you’re able to unlock it, this experience will give you some courage and you would have learned something from it.

So when someone else is in that situation, you can easily advise the person on what to do and even guide them on how to go about unlocking their steering wheel.


When your steering wheel gets locked and you can unlock it, you should try to fix whatever causes the steering wheel to lock in the first place so that it doesn’t happen again.

Steering wheels are not very complicated and it’s easy to know how to go about fixing issues around there so when if you got your steering wheel unlocked by a mechanic, learn or ask them to teach you how they did it in case of another time or you might just need the knowledge to help someone.