The 9 Ways To Fix A Ford Cargo Van Key That Won’t Turn

Modern Ford cargo vans have advanced electrical and mechanical components that are designed to make your life easier. But these components are prone to breakage since there are lots of moving parts.

An example of this is the ignition key. An ignition key not turning is a surprisingly common problem in most modern cargo vans. Luckily this problem is easy to fix.

You’re unlikely to need a mechanic, and if you do, then it shouldn’t be too pricey.

Here are 9 ways to fix a ford cargo van key that won’t turn:

  1. Turn the steering wheel while turning the key
  2. Ensure you’re in the right gear
  3. Charge your battery
  4. Clean your ignition port
  5. Clean your key
  6. Replace your key
  7. Lubricate your ignition
  8. Rapping the key
  9. Fix your ignition cylinder


1. Turn The Steering Wheel While Turning Your Key

Before you start to panic and take your Ford cargo van to your local mechanic, consider that your steering wheel might be locked.

A locked steering wheel is by far the most common reason why your Ford cargo van’s key won’t turn. Luckily the solution is also quite easy, and you won’t need any tools.

If you take your key out of the ignition and turn your steering wheel too far to the right or left, you’ll hear a loud clicking sound. This indicates that your steering wheel is locked. 

Ford and other carmakers do this becauseif a thief manages to hotwire your car or get it started without the key, they won’t get anywhere. When your steering wheel is locked, you’ll only be able to turn it a few millimeters and the indication key won’t turn.

To fix this problem, simply hold the steering wheel with one hand and turn it as far as you can. Next, put your key in the ignition, and it’ll turn easily. You’ll also notice that your steering wheel is now unlocked.


2. Ensure You’re In The Correct Gear

Not being in the correct gear is another common reason why your Ford cargo van’s key won’t turn. If you’re driving a cargo van with an automatic transmission, then you’ll only be able to turn on the car when it’s in neutral or park.

Luckily this solution is also simple. Double-check to see if you’re in the park or neutral gear and turn your ignition key again.


3. Check If Your Battery Ran Out Of Power

Most high-end vans have more technical and advanced ignition systems. This can help prevent theft, but it also requires extra power from the battery. If you have a high-end Ford cargo van and your ignition key won’t turn, then there’s a possibility that your battery is dead.

This problem is easy to diagnose. Simply get your hands on a voltmeter. This costs around 10 bucks, and you’ll be able to tell if your battery is dead or low on power.

Another way to test if your battery’s power is low is to turn on your cargo van’s headlights or brights. If it seems dimmer than usual, then there’s a high chance your battery power is low. If your lights don’t turn on at all, then there’s definitely something wrong with your battery.

If your battery is the problem, buy a basic battery charger off Amazon for $30 and all you’ll need to do is charge your battery. This is as simple as connecting the negative and positive cables to their respective terminals and plugging it into an outlet.

If you’ve unlocked your steering wheel, put your cargo van in the right gear, and charge your battery and you’re still stuck, then the problem is a bit more advanced.


4. Clean Your Ignition Port

Dirty ignition ports are a common problem that many van owners deal with. It can cause a laundry list of problems for your cargo van, one being a key that won’t turn.

If you live in a windy place, then a dirty ignition port is a problem you’ll come across sooner or later. This is caused by tiny dirt and dust particles entering your ignition port. If enough particles enter, then your key will fail to engage the pins properly and not turn.

Fortunately, the solution is quite simple. First, you’ll need a can of compressed air. Normally you get a nozzle with it that’ll help you blow air into your ignition port. Next, attach this nozzle to your can of compressed air and shoot 2 to 3 spurts of air.

Avoid using more than a few spurts of air since low temperatures can cause unnecessary damage to the ignition cylinder.

Once you’ve shot 2 to 3 bursts of air into your ignition port, insert your key. If it turns, then you know your ignition port was dirty.


5. Something Stuck To Your Key

Most people use their keys to open packages, and other things they are not designed for. These can make your life easier, but causes unwanted things to stick to your key.

If you open plastic, cardboard, or any package with tape on it, then it can cause problems. When you try to turn your key, it’ll cause your key to improperly engage the pins of your ignition cylinder and it won’t turn.

To fix this problem, take a clean cloth and wipe off your cargo van’s key. Also, try to stop opening random items with your keys since it’ll just cause a big headache down the line.


6. Check If Your Ford Key Is Worn Out

A worn-out key is another common reason why it won’t turn. Like most other car parts, your key wears out over time, and if you don’t check up on it from time to time, it can stop working.

The easiest way to check if your key is faulty is to use your spare key to turn on your car. If it works, then you’ve found the problem. The good news is that there’s nothing wrong with your car, but you’ll need to fix your key.

Also, look for signs of damage on your key like;

  • Cracks
  • Rounded teeth
  • Broken teeth
  • Excessive wear.

A quick solution to get your Ford cargo van to start with a broken key is to pull it out a little and turn. This helps your key engage the correct pins in your ignition cylinder.

Once you know it’s your key that’s at fault, you need to replace it. Here you have a few options. The easiest but most expensive way to fix it is to visit your dealership and ask them to copy your key and work their programming magic. 

If you want to cut down on costs, then copy your key at a local locksmith and ask your dealership to program that key to your car. This involves a bit more work, but it’s cheaper.


7. Lubricate Your Ignition Cylinder

A more technical reason why your key won’t turn has to do with your ignition cylinder. Sometimes the components can get jammed up over time, but a little lubricant can do wonders. 

There is some controversy when it comes to which lubricant to use, but silicon and graphite-based lubricants work best since they don’t collect dust, dirt, and other tiny particles that can mess up your ignition cylinder over time. 

Also, if you’ve found out that a dirty ignition port was your problem, then using some silicone or graphite lubricant in your port will prevent the problem from happening in the future.

There are 5 steps to lubricating your ignition port properly:

  1. Collect everything you’ll need. These include lubricant, the key to your Ford cargo van, and a cloth.
  2. With a nozzle, spray the lubricant into the ignition cylinder.
  3. Wipe away excess lubricant that might have spilled.
  4. Insert your Ford cargo van’s key and turn. 
  5. If it doesn’t work, use more lubricant and try again until it turns.


8. Rapping The Key

If lubricating your ignition port didn’t work, then the next step is to gently tap your ignition with a hammer. Some mechanics call this “rapping the key” and it’s supposed to emulate you shaking your key or car.

The purpose of “rapping” is to shake the internal parts of your ignition cylinder so it works normally again. Sometimes springs and other tiny parts can get stuck, and even lubricant can’t get them moving again. 

Modern cargo vans have complicated ignition cylinders, and some parts can get stuck. If lubricant can’t get them to work normally, then by tapping your ignition with a hammer, you’ll get these components moving again.

When rapping the key, avoid hitting your ignition too hard. Remember it’s better to hit too soft than too hard. You shouldn’t even think of it as hitting, instead, think of it as tapping. After tapping it a few times, the component should be unjammed and working properly again.


9. Faulty Or Broken Ignition Cylinder

The last reason why your cargo van’s key won’t turn is that your ignition cylinder is broken or faulty. You’ll rarely need to replace your entire ignition cylinder unless you manage to turn the key of your van and it doesn’t start.

If you’ve tried all the other tips in this post and they didn’t work, then you definitely have a broken ignition cylinder. 

A simple visit to your local mechanic and around $200, and you’re good to go.


4 Ways To Prevent This Problem From Popping Up In The Future

Although these problems aren’t as expensive as replacing an entire clutch system, they can cause a lot of unnecessary problems. So instead of waiting for your Ford cargo van to act up again, here are ways to prevent ignition key problems.


1. Don’t Hang Things From Your Keys

Never add unnecessary weight to your keys when you put them into the ignition. This causes unnecessary wear on your ignition and can cause serious problems over time.

One can compare it to someone wearing earrings. One earring won’t do any harm but add an extra few grams and over time, you’ll wear your earlobe out. The same goes for hanging other keys from your ignition.


2. Don’t Use Your Keys To Open Packages

Whenever there’s an unboxing video online, the person always uses a key to open their package. Although this can seem innocent, it can cause materials to stick to your key or even worse, cause damage to your key over the long term.

Instead, opt for a knife or scissors and leave your key for starting your cargo van. 


3. Service Your Van Regularly

By simply servicing your cargo van, you can avoid most problems. You also allow your mechanic to catch issues when they’re still small, so you don’t have to spend a lot of money later.


4. Lubricate Your Ignition Cylinder

If you feel like your ignition key is a bit hard to turn, then lubricate it with a silicone or graphite lubricant since it’ll help the components work better. Also, it prevents dust and tiny dirt particles from entering your ignition and messing things up.