Keys get stuck in ignition

Asked by GuruBFML3 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?

52 Answers

350

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

13 people found this helpful.
430

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.

43 people found this helpful.
180

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

18 people found this helpful.
550

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.

55 people found this helpful.
350

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!

21 people found this helpful.
330

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.

33 people found this helpful.
320

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

26 people found this helpful.
80

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.

8 people found this helpful.
70

https://auto.howstuffworks.com/automotive-recalls1.htm Maybe everyone can spread the word to their friends with Subarus

7 people found this helpful.
630

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.

63 people found this helpful.
320

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.

6 people found this helpful.
60

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.

6 people found this helpful.
90

https://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/VehicleComplaint/

9 people found this helpful.
120

After trying unsuccessfully to reach Subaru America via phone, stopped in at dealership to explain the issue... armed with all the info gleaned here. Turns out I didn’t need to convince them.... was told that even though 2017 Outback was out of warranty, Subaru’s service bulletin was well known to them and they’d do the repair, no charge. The appt isn’t til next week, fingers crossed all will be made right. Until then, the “put in neutral, then slam to park & turn key,” hack has been working. (As it turns out, there was also a recall of some sort on my car, so they’ll take care of that at the same time.). Thank you all for helping me to be an informed consumer.... sadly, women are often still treated as clueless. (Do have to say, Boardman Subaru in Ohio is stellar in their customer service, and always treat me with respect, even when I actually am clueless!)

12 people found this helpful.
80

I have the same problem with my Subaru Outback 2016. I called the dealership and Subaru of America and they indicated there is no recall for my vehicle. I provided them with the service bulletin number and information about this problem being recurring - no luck in getting the repair under warranty. I have scheduled an appointment with my local mechanic whom is much cheaper than the dealership. I have also filed a compliant with NHTSA per the posting above to see if a recall will be issued at a later time.

8 people found this helpful.
80

Subaru legacy 2016, out of warranty already. Took it to dialer, they gave me a loaner and fixed it. No charge fo loaner, parts or labor.

8 people found this helpful.
30

Thank you all. My wife's work has two Foresters which both have this symptom and shifting gear and firmly put into Park let me remove the key. Subaru dealer will get a visit soon!

3 people found this helpful.
65

I've got the same problem. 2017 Outback, 3 yrs old in Sept 2019, 27K. I hope my dealer helps with this...

3 people found this helpful.
80

I just returned from my local Subaru dealer for 2 recalls and this ignition problem. Although I gave them the Bulletin Service 16-112-18R, received from Subaru itself, they wouldn't fix the problem because they didn't experience the problem. I explained that it's intermittent, but they still wouldn't fix it. I am now going to my repair shop to have it fixed and I will keep the receipt for reimbursement from Subaru.

3 people found this helpful.
10

I took my impreza 2016 24K miles to dealer with this issue today. He immediately said that it is some "shift pedal" issue, and sounds like he was probably referring to Brake shift lock mentioned here. He said it will cost $700. Luckily I have an extended warranty plan which will cover this with $100 deductible. But I have a question: reading this: http://www.subarucomplaints.com/brake-light-switch/ - Are you sure this cannot cause the key getting stuck issue?

1 people found this helpful.
160

I just took my 2016 Subaru Outback into Dewey Griffin in Washington state with the problem of my key not coming out of the ignition. My car is out of warranty so they gave me an estimate of $235.38 parts and $145 labor ($471) to fix it. I will be contacting the places mentioned above.

4 people found this helpful.
160

I contacted Subaru of America (1-800-782-2783) and they covered the cost of repairing the problem described in bulletin 16-112-18 that the dealer was going to charge me $471 to fix. they were very helpful - my faith in Subaru is restored :) Thank-you for the suggestions in this thread, it made the difference of $500!!!

12 people found this helpful.
50

Had this problem intermittently on a 2016 Crosstrek. Asked the dealer if there was an override or a fuse that could be pulled to disable the key-lock solenoid - they didn't know of any workaround. The service bulletin says the problem lies with a contaminated park-range switch in the shifter assembly. The part + two "one-time use" spring clips was about $75 CAD + tax. The labour to fit them was $290 CAD. I bought the parts to have a go myself. Internet research showed me how to dismantle the central console - relatively easy once you know where all the hidden clips and screws are. However I only had a exploded diagram of the shifter assembly and I couldn't tell how hard / easy it would be to replace the switch assembly until I actually saw it. When I removed the console it became clear that the whole shifter assembly would need to be removed from the car and then further stripped down on the bench. This would mean getting under the car and disconnecting the shifter cable. Reassembly would then require re-adjusting the cable to ensure correct operation of the transmission. This was more than I was prepared to do at this point ( lack of time, tools and service manual for the car ). So I opted for plan B. The park switch is connected to the green and green / white wires running to a nearby connector. I fitted a normally open micro-switch, just under the steering wheel, ran in some cables and wired it across the defective park switch. I now have an override button! Of course the park switch hasn't played up since.

3 people found this helpful.
90

gtc48 2016 Subaru Legacy with 69,400 mile, out of warranty. The key would intermittently get stuck in ignition. I followed the advice Guru1LZZ5. Contact Subaru America immediately. Get a complaint number and give them the name of the Subaru dealer you will use. Schedule an appointment with the dealer (where you purchased the car). When you get to the dealer, give them the Subaru of America claim number. The dealer either calls Subaru of America or Subaru of America will call the dealer. If Subaru of American agrees the problem will be fixed (parts and labor) by Subaru even if the problem was outside the warranty. Subaru of America will send you an e-mail with confirming the claim number. I submitted the issue by e-mail and then followed up 24 hours later with a phone call, Subaru of America called me within 2 hours of my call. In my case the problem was a faulty sensor that did not recognize the car was in park and therefore release the key. This is a problem for 2016-2017 Legacy and Outback. The costs would have been $543., but I was not charged.

4 people found this helpful.
50

WoW! 2017 Legacy! Same issue! Keys wont come out of ignition. Stopped at a dealership and was told out of warranty! Shown them a Service bulletin and was told that its only to help out the mechanics in problem solving{???} Came back with the classic response also "Oh you did not buy your car from us!" Cost of repair 'would be' $800! Will call Subaru Canada!

1 people found this helpful.
50

Just finished talking with Subaru Canada and they declined that there is a issue with this!

4 people found this helpful.
65

Posted 5 months ago about the stuck key problem. I have been out of the country and unable to get to the dealer, I called Sub America and explained. The problem got real bad then improved. Still, a problem and it sometimes takes several FORCEFUL shifts into park to release the key. I was a couple months out of warranty in Sept, the problem became significant in October when I was out of the country. Later the virus prob hit. Back in the country now. I talked to Sub America, they said bring it to the dealer and they'd check it out. The problem was reported a few months out of warranty time-wise, but I only had 27K miles on the vehicle (FYI). Well? They are going to fix it! Great! Price for the repair was $700! I am over 65 and never had this problem with any car I've owned. This is also the first new car I have ever purchased. I appreciate Sub America fixing this.... good luck.

3 people found this helpful.
40

2016 Subaru Forester. Same problem with the key getting stuck in the ignition. No warranty. I took your advice and called Subaru of America. They worked with my dealer and covered the cost of diagnostics and the repair.

4 people found this helpful.
20

for me pressing the break down hard 3 times while the car is still running works all the time for me, the problem seems to come and go

2 people found this helpful.
40

I have the issue with key being stuck in ignition. I went to dealer with the service bulletin. The cost will be $650 to repair. I called Subaru America and they said it is out of warranty and they had no recourse to help me. I used to be a Subaru evangelizer but not now. When an issue is written so many times, I think it is time to recall.

4 people found this helpful.
90

My car was out of warranty. I contacted Subaru America and received a complaint number. Subaru America knew I was going to the dealer and contacted the dealer that morning. I told Subaru America of the date and time of the dealer appointment. The repairs were made at no cost to me. You must have the complaint number before you go to the dealer. The cost of repair was $560. I am sure my dealer would not have repaired the Legacy unless Subaru America contacted them. I suspect Subaru America authorizes the repairs even when the car is beyond warranty because they don't want a national mandated recall. Stick with Subaru America. Ask for a supervisor. Good luck

5 people found this helpful.
20

I have a 2017 Subaru Legacy. Some key stuck in ignition problem. It is the Park sensor that can sometimes get dust or lint on it and causes it to not realize the car is in Park. I had my son-in-law disconnect the sensor. Took him less than 15 minutes. Problem solved!

2 people found this helpful.

Same problem Subaru 2017 Crosstrek. I bought certified used in September only 9 months ago. Car only has 29 thousand miles on it. I called dealer then I called Subaru USA. You find number on the internet. Then I also made a complaint to the NHSA. Since this has been an ongoing problem for at least 5 years if not more. I have been driving for over 40 years and never come into this problem with any car I have. I have also given the dealership and Subaru a bad review wherever I could find. They can fix the problem. I think. At least I have read other people have had the problem fixed.

10

I developed the same issue with my 2016 Impreza at 57,000 miles. Contacted Subaru of America with the service bulletin mentioned above. They said they would cover 50-100% of the repair if the dealer diagnosed it as that issue. I just took in my car this morning and recieved confirmation they will cover 100% of the cost. I bought this car used 1 year ago from a different dealership than where it is being serviced. I hope other people have the same luck, just reach out and be persistent with them. The repair would have been $650.

1 people found this helpful.

Lucky since this problem started at 4.5 years old, 78,000 miles. Unlucky since she’s way out of warranty! I’ll be checking with SoA and work toward a fix. Meantime I’m comfortable trying the workarounds. Also have an issue where the Eyesight cuts out at night. Only at night. Still very happy with my baby and will probably trade her for a newer one soon.

20

Developed this issue with my 2016 Outback (24k miles). Had scheduled a regular service with my local dealership where I purchased the car and asked them to check the ignition issue. I was quoted $660 to fix it as they stated that the entire shifter assembly would need to be replaced (as outlined in the service bulletin). I declined the quote and luckily found this thread before picking up my car. I mentioned to them that I intended to follow up with SoA as it was a known issue and I thought it was unfair for me (a loyal customer) to pay for it out if pocket. The next morning (before I had a chance to ring SoA) the dealership called me and offered to fix it at no charge (paperwork indicates that it was a goodwill repair). They also supplied me with a free loaner. My guess is that the dealership makes more money from this by trying to charge a loyal customer for the repair instead of working with SoA. The whole ordeal left a bit of a sour taste in my mouth so I intend to be be extra cautious in the future with my interactions with this particular dealership.

2 people found this helpful.

I am just at dealership and they told me it costs $ 512 to fix it, as I was waiting guy comes back and said that Subaru is covering this issue even my 2017 outback is out of warranty, but due to Covid crisis they would cover it, as to what service agent at dealership told me

40

We are working on the same issue for 2 2014 forresters that started misbehaving at the same time. I contacted subaru of america via email, and they did get back and assigned a case number for each vehicle. I need a diagnosis according to their rules, this is 3 weeks out. Everyone knows about it, and I explained this is not an isolated case as described in the bulletin. Please contact subaru of america, I think the more reported is better. They need a recall. Meanwhile we have to fuss with the cars to get the key out, annoying.

1 people found this helpful.
10

Please file a complaint with https://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/ the more people reporting on this the better.

1 people found this helpful.
30

Somebody on another forum suggested squeezing the button on the back of the shifter 4 times while your foot is on the brake. Works every time for me! It was out of warranty by 6 months (only 54,000 km) but Calgary Subaru would only fix it for $700. Will try Subaru of Canada next.

2 people found this helpful.
50

I wrote to Subaru Canada when my wife's Crosstrek got the problem just out of warranty. Next I knew the local dealership's service manager was emailing me saying of course they'll fix it.

1 people found this helpful.
40

I also read where if you push the shifter button 3 or 4 times that helps. Depressing to brake and firmly pushing it into gear was taking longer each time for results, so I tried the shifter button and viola... works great. I also hold the button completely in while shifting into park, and that's the go-around for now. I want it fixed though.

2 people found this helpful.
50

The problem is the park-range switch in the shifter assembly. Its contacts get contaminated so it doesn't always work. I believe the fault is the result of inadequate sealing on the switch together with excessive grease being applied during manufacture. Repeatedly operating the switch e.g. with the button on the selector will help.

1 people found this helpful.
135,005

The button thing is to get a sloppy brake-shift solenoid to wo work properly; that could be the problem with the key release.

10

Guys, this really works thanks for the advice. I’m having the same problem with my 2016 subaru i just picked up my car from the dealership no charge and got a loaner. Make sure you call Subaru of America first before heading to the dealership

1 people found this helpful.
20

The same problem was happening with my 2016 Imprezza at 42K. Called the local dealership where I bought it and mentioned TSB after reading about it and was told a TSB isn't a recall (car is out of warranty) and I was SOL. Called Subaru Canada and long story short, 3 weeks later talked to local service manager and it was fixed at no charge to me. Invoice states "shifter plate replacement" and parts listed are several clamps and plate guide assembly. I think you'll get the best results going directly to Subaru Canada. The local dealerships probably haven't seen a lot of cases and would be taking a hit if they fix it for free, but if we keep going to the head office they will realize it's a problem and tell the local dealerships to fix it to keep us happy. I know that if they hadn't stepped up on this issue this would have been my first and last Subaru but now my faith has been restored in the company.

2 people found this helpful.
10

Thanks for posting this questions and for all of these awesome answers! We had the same problem in our 2017 Legacy. First, the local Subaru Service Center told us it cost $512 to fix. I let them know about the Subaru service bulletin 16-112-18R, but they said since my car had 93K miles, they wouldn't cover it and the bulletin meant nothing. I read all about the problem being a defect that was addressed in updated Subaru models and didn't like having to pay to cover a known problem that Subaru refused to put out recall to repair. My wife emailed our State Attorney General's Office and we promptly received the sweetest letter from Subaru of America letting us know they'd cover everything and provide a $500 credit. Long story short...cars fix and oil changes are on Subaru for awhile. Thanks posters!

1 people found this helpful.
40

Follow up on our 2014bsubarus (two of them). After contacting subaru of america and obtaining case numbers, bot were fixed at no charge. SofA kept in touch with the dealership and they did an excellent job. Both cars were out of warranty, both cars had approximately 80-85 thousand miles. As long as we obtained a case number, there was no issue.

10

I have problems trying to take out my ignition key on both my 2016 Subaru Outback and my son's 2014 Outback when is parked and in the Park position. If I don't remove the key, I can't lock the doors unless I carry a spare key which is ridiculous and very unsafe. My insurance company would also not be too happy with y doing that. I now have to take it to Subaru for $300+ repair. This seems to be a defect on Subaru cars and the company should repair it.

1 people found this helpful.
40

Call subaru of america and get a case number. They fixed both of our out of warranty cars at no cost to us. They followed up to make sure it was done.

1 people found this helpful.
10

My local Subaru finally fixed my car so the key is no longer getting stuck. I told them I was in touch with Subaru of America. That I needed a quote so that they could decide to fix or not. The local Subaru wanted to charge me for the quote. I told them never mind I wasn't going to spend that kind of money. They knew I was mad the young men looked at my history owning Subaru's (purchased 5 from them) and said he would take care of it for free. It is wonderful to not have to stress over the key situation any more. All I can say is keep being persistent and contact Subaru of America. They really need to fix this for everyone for free.

1 people found this helpful.

I took my car in yesterday to have the problem with the key getting stuck in the ignition fixed, along with a recall on the brake light repaired. I followed the above advice to: “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. Then 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.” The person at Subaru of America was super helpful processing everything. She did say that the car was out of warranty (6 year old car) but if the problem was that stated in the service bulletin they would likely cover all expenses. When I got to the dealer I asked if they had repaired many cars with the key getting stuck. He said yes they’ve had a few but sometimes it was not for the reason stated in the bulletin. He also said based on the call from Subaru of America even if I went elsewhere for repairs or the problem was due to something other than what the bulletin said, that they would not charge me the $138 diagnosis fee, so that was good. Nice guy, but if I didn’t have the Subaru of America case number and their person contacting the service department, I’m not sure the whole process would’ve been free. Do your prep and call the main office and open a claim, I have a feeling this is a pretty common issue that they don’t want expanded into a recall issue. Overall, very good customer service by Subaru of America for providing the good will free repair for an out of warranty repair.

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