How To Drill Out Ignition Lock Cylinder – The ultimate guide

Photo of author
Written By Thomas Anderson

Drilling an ignition lock cylinder out is a difficult task as there’s a risk of damaging the adjacent parts. But if you know the right way, you can lower the risk and easily replace the ignition lock cylinder. So, you’ve to learn how to drill out the ignition lock cylinder first.

The ignition lock cylinder drill-out process is pretty simple. First, drill a groove in the bottom part of the cylinder. Then speed it up till you can take out the cylinder. Alternatively, you can remove the steering wheel, disconnect the connections to the ignition switch and take the cylinder out of the cylinder slot.

Here, we’ve discussed the conventional process and another alternative way to drill out an ignition lock cylinder so that you face no problems. So, let’s jump right in!

What Is An Ignition Lock Cylinder?

The ignition locking mechanism of your vehicle, otherwise known as the ignition lock cylinder, is a cylindrical-shaped mechanical part located inside your car. It’s used to start your vehicle. The electrical components that control the lock of the ignition switch are structured inside there. 

Although modern vehicles have switched to a push-to-start system, the traditional approach can also be seen too. It’s a pretty standard setup seen in cars. 

Some of the most common car maintenance tasks might require you to drill out an ignition lock cylinder. Although the process might seem quite daunting at first, it’s pretty easy once you get to know the basics.

How To Drill Out Ignition Lock Cylinder: The Process

You can drill out the ignition lock cylinder in only a few steps. Here, we’ve thoroughly gone through the process that will help you to get along.

1. Fit Test

First, you’ve to test fit a drill inside the lock. Because you want a bit that is the nearest smaller size than the ignition cylinder, try using the hardened drill bits as they can cut through the cylinder.

2. Lock-In

Lock the drill piece into the chuck and tighten it. At this time, you should be wearing protective gloves to ensure your safety. 

3. Start the Drill

Start the drill at a very slow speed. Try to gauge out a filling at the very end of the cylinder. The groove should just be big enough so that the drill bit doesn’t slip at high speed.

4. End of the Road

After creating the groove, gradually increase it to the highest speed and drill the lock cylinder out. Don’t force the drill into the cylinder. Instead, let the drill do most of the work, as overheating could burn out the rotor inside and damage the tool.

How To Drill Out Ignition Lock Cylinder If The Key Won’t Turn

The ignition lock is an essential part of your car and should be maintained nicely. Unfortunately, some people don’t appreciate this privilege. As a result, they end up wearing it down over time. That’s when you’ve got to replace it immediately. 

If you’ve got the keys, the removal process is relatively easy. But if you don’t, you can follow the following steps to take care of this particular job.

1. Disconnect The Battery

The first step is to disconnect the battery. It’s necessary for your own safety so that you don’t short any connections in your car or, worse, get electrocuted yourself. After that, simply removing the negative cable terminal will do the job.

2. Remove Steering Wheel

First, get the steering wheel out of the way to have uninterrupted access to the lock cylinder.

First, remove the mounts and bolts from the lids on the steering wheel. Next, take out the covers and the steering wheel. Then, pull the cover in the center. Now, you can remove the connections between the wires and the horn. Then put the nuts in a secured place and take the steering wheel out of the shaft.

3. Remove Indicator Switches And The Wipers

Check the owner’s manual and remove the indicator switches and the wipers accordingly.

4. Remove Steering Column Sleeve

The spacer columns should be inside the steering wheel column. Just slide them up once you find them.

5. Disconnect The Connections To The Ignition Switch

Unhinge the mounting screws of the ignition switch and try pulling the switch out. You also have to remove the specific connectors connecting to the ignition switch.

6. Remove Mounting Bolts 

Use a screwdriver or socket wrench and unbolt the housing and the switch assembly holding the cylinder. 

Most cars have interchangeable, universal lock cylinders. These can be removed using a pin in the pinhole by operating the release mechanism.

7. Check The Mounting Bolts

Some cars have snap-off safety bolt heads. They are pretty easy to remove. It was designed to prevent thieves from replacing the ignition lock and driving off with the vehicle without using a key. 

You’ll need to remove the mounting bolts from both the steering wheel column and the ignition switch. To do that, you’ll need a power drill with extractors to get the job done.

8. Lock The Key Cylinder

Take a straightened paper clip and insert it into the lock cylinder slot. Turn it in a lefty or anti-clockwise direction. It will refrain the ignition from turning on by locking the cylinder.

9. Take Out The Switch

Get a screwdriver and put it in the lock cylinder. Keep turning it in the clockwise direction until you can’t. After you stop turning the screwdriver, move the paperclip in the right direction. Then simply slide out the switch. 

The task might get a bit difficult if you have an old car as the vehicle might be rusty due to old age.

 10. Replace The Lock Cylinder

Depending on its condition, you may need to clean the ignition lock cylinder or replace it with a new one. 

If you think it can be reused, you should keep it as it was. If not, getting a new replacement is the best option. Use the keys to rebuild it after all processing. 


The lock cylinder is the most crucial part of the ignition process as it starts or powers the car up. So, if you’ve somehow managed to mess it up, then it’s better if you get it replaced. But, again, you can use a drill to help you out in these times of hardship.

The whole process has been thoroughly explained in this guide, and even an alternate method has been included just for your convenience. If you’ve gone through the entire thing, you should have a grasp on how to drill out ignition lock cylinder.

You may also read now