How to Drill Out an Ignition Lock Cylinder?

How to drill out an ignition lock cylinder-300

Many cars are manufactured with an ignition cylinder lock that is integral to the steering column. This is a safety feature designed to deter thieves from stealing your car by making it difficult for them to start it. The only problem with this system is, if you have lost your keys or had them stolen, there’s no way of getting into your vehicle without professional help.

If you’ve found yourself in this unfortunate situation and need some information on how to drill out the ignition lock cylinder, then keep reading!

Tools needed

work with heavy-duty gloves

Source: YouTube

To drill out the ignition lock cylinder you need:

  • An adjustable wrench;
  • Socket set with Torx bits;
  • A half-inch electric drill;
  • Masking tape;
  • Lubricants;
  • Screwdriver;
  • Eye protection and heavy-duty gloves.

How to drill out ignition lock cylinders?

remove the plastic cover from around the steering column

  • The first step is to remove the plastic cover from around the steering column. This can be done by removing the screws that hold it into place, and then pulling it away from your dashboard. You will now see a metal casing that surrounds your ignition cylinder lock mechanism.
  • If necessary, take off some more of the surrounding metal casing so there’s less chance of anything obstructing access – just remember how thick.
drill the cylinder this using a small bit

Source: YouTube

  • You need to drill the cylinder this using a small bit (about half an inch).

Tip: It’s a good idea to test fit a drill bit in the lock cylinder before you start drilling.

  • Lock the drill bit into the drill chuck and tighten the chuck. The drill chuck is the part of the drill that holds the drill bit in place. It can be tightened by turning the key or lever, depending on the type of chuck you have.
  • Drill a starter groove into the lock cylinder. Use plenty of lubricants such as WD-40 or similar so you don’t build up too much heat and cause damage. Keep drilling until you’ve made enough space for your screwdriver blade to fit in and move freely – but not too large!
Drill a starter groove into the lock cylinder

Source: YouTube

  • Start the drill at a low speed and create a groove at the end of the lock cylinder
  • Increase the drill speed to the highest setting and drill out the lock cylinder.

 Tips & tricks

  • Don’t drill too far down into the cylinder – there should just be enough space for your blade. If it’s not, then have another go at creating a starter groove in that case.
Don't drill too far down into the cylinder

Source: YouTube

  • Make sure you use lubricants so as not to build up too much heat and damage anything. Keep on checking with your screwdriver blade until it easily turns without force or resistance when inserted into the drilled-out hole!
  • Drill from low speeds first, increasing speed only once the bit is firmly locked in place within the lock cylinder itself.
  • Try this technique yourself before trying on an actual car by getting hold of an old steering wheel column (or similar).

How to remove an ignition lock cylinder?

ignition lock

Source: YouTube

There are several ways to remove an ignition lock cylinder. One way is by drilling out the rivets and screws that hold it in place. Another way is by using a pick or key tool, which can be purchased online at Amazon for under $20, to pop off the locks on each side of your steering column.

Another option is to find someone with a pressurized air compressor who will shoot high-pressure air into the top hole of the lock where you inserted your key until all four tumblers have fallen into their correct position allowing you access inside.

This might work if there’s no damage done to any springs or pins located within these chambers when attempting one method over another. At times somebody has tried everything they know how only.

remove an ignition lock cylinder

Source: YouTube

  • Disconnect the battery. It’s important to disconnect your car battery before you start drilling, popping off locks, or using pressurized air because if it has any kind of power left in it and something goes wrong, like a spark igniting nearby flammable fumes or fluids under pressure inside your engine compartment – well then that could be very bad news for you! So always remember to first disconnect the negative cable from the terminal of your car’s starter by loosening up its nut with an adjustable wrench on both sides before attempting anything else.
  • Remove the steering wheel by pulling it straight upwards and out of your car. You can use a ratchet wrench with a socket to get enough leverage in turning the nut on an access bolt located behind where your steering wheel was originally situated. It’s best not to disassemble anything more than you have to when removing this part from its pivot point or else you could damage something that might need replacing later down the road anyway, plus it takes longer! So just pull up hard and fast – be careful though because it doesn’t take much for your arm strength to break things like plastic moldings.
  • Remove the wipers and indicator switches. Once you’ve pulled up your steering wheel, look for two pliable rubber grommets that are stuck into grooves on either side of your ignition lock cylinder situated underneath it where your wiper blades were located – these can be pried out with a flathead screwdriver after heating them first to make them softer. Next, lift off any other plastic covers surrounding this area until you see four screws holding down an access plate over the top of everything else; take those out by inserting a Phillips head screwdriver straight downwards through their holes (you might need somebody’s help here so they can hold onto the plate while you unscrew each one).

Remove the sleeve from the steering column

  • Remove the sleeve from the steering column. After you’ve taken off all four of these screws, slide out any plastic or metal pieces that are in your way until you see a small black rubber cylinder at the top end of open space underneath it; this is where you’re going to be working for quite some time so get comfy! You’ll notice there’s one more screw near its base holding down another plate over everything else – remove this too by inserting a Phillips head screwdriver straight downwards through its hole (you might need somebody’s help here).
  • Remove the ignition switch. After you’ve taken out that final screw, take off any plastic or metal pieces in your way until you see a small silver cylinder right underneath it – this is what we’re looking for! Now use an adjustable wrench to loosen up each of its six bolts on either side by turning them counterclockwise (you might need somebody’s help here). After all twelve of these are loose enough where they won’t tighten themselves again when attempting to pull out the entire assembly upwards through open space, slide everything straight downwards along with its attached wiring harnesses and electrical connectors until it falls apart into two parts; then set both halves aside somewhere safe for now.
Remove the core from your old ignition

Source: YouTube

  • Remove the core from your old ignition lock assembly by using a size 15 Torx bit socket to unscrew its tiny center screw on either side of it. There’s also one more very small screw in its base that you might need to drill out if it doesn’t come off with just your fingers, and this is where I’d recommend putting some masking tape around whatever tool you’re going to use so nothing goes flying when it finally gives way! You want something tiny here like tweezers or needle-nosed pliers because anything else will only damage whatever underneath even further than necessary – plus remember what we said about sparks igniting nearby flammable fumes?  We don’t want any explosions today!

That’s it! Your new core assembly should slide easily into place, and you can put everything else back together again in the opposite order that we did to take your ignition lock cylinder apart – just don’t forget about any screws or bolts along the way… 🙂

Safety measures

People who enjoy car racing know that sometimes you have to drill out an ignition lock cylinder if the key won’t go in. This is a simple job, but it can be dangerous so here are some safety tips for drilling out an ignition lock cylinder:

  • Always wear eye protection and heavy-duty gloves.
  • Make sure your hands are dry before starting because oil or grease on them will cause sparks when they come into contact with the metal of the lock cylinder.
Use a drill with about half an inch

Source: YouTube

  • Use a drill with about half an inch of power and attach it to a socket set, which will keep you from having to hold onto the cylinder itself while drilling.
  • Be sure that there are no combustible materials nearby when drilling because sparks will ignite them very easily!
  • Always have someone standing by who is also wearing protective equipment just in case something unexpected.

Keep these safety tips for drilling out an ignition lock cylinder in mind if you need to do this job yourself!


How to drill out the ignition lock cylinder? This question comes up a lot when people are looking for car locksmith services. Drilling out the lock is not always necessary, but there are certain circumstances in which it can be very helpful. If you would like to find out more about the process, contact a locksmith service for assistance.

A new core assembly can be expensive but it is worth considering if your old one has been damaged beyond repair by using a hammer incorrectly. Do not attempt this without help from a professional!

Now that you’ve read this article, do you know how to drill out an ignition lock cylinder? Don’t forget about the safety measures when drilling out an ignition lock cylinder! I hope my blog post helped. Good luck and be safe! 🙂


How to drill out an ignition lock cylinder

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