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Registered
1999
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3 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hello,

(1999 Subaru Forester)

I've read every forum post etc. etc... but I think my locked steering wheel may be different than most.

I'm not sure what exactly happened since my friend parked the car... but now the key won't turn and the steering wheel is stuck pretty far left (it won't budge).

I've jacked up the front of the car and tried to turn the wheels back to the center as much as possible... then I realized that the wheels were pretty straight to begin with... and somehow the steering wheel is far left.

I disassembled the the steering column cover to look for a locking pin to remove but wasn't sure where to look.

Sidenote: All electronics work in the car and on the wheel except for my headlights won't turn on... maybe it is tied into the problem?


SO. Any suggestions as to what I could do? I would love to fix it myself it its simple, but I'm worried its becoming less simple the more I get frustrated with trying to fix it. Help?!
 

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Registered
SH10 2.5X Premium 4EAT
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260 Posts
wiggle ur steering wheel left-to-right (right-to-left) back and forth while u turn the key. try that!
 

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Premium Member
2008 XS 4EAT
Joined
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9,878 Posts
I'll assume the car is an automatic. Is the car in Park? Can you remove the key?

Besides wiggling the steering wheel, if you have some assistance try this.
With you in the car have a friend gently rock the car (more like pushing) forward and see if that releases the steering lock. If that doesn't work you can also try moving the shifter out and into Park while someone continues to push. The shifter interlock will not allow you to remove the key if the shifter is not entirely in the Park position (I think it is the same as the neutral switch). Hopefully either of the two will get you free. Make sure you are pressing the brake pedal lightly.
There is also a shifter release button,lift the arm rest up and remove the two screws holding the parking brake cover in place and remove. Lift up the shifter cover, at the front of the shifter console you will see a little hole, if I remember correctly it is on the drivers side. You can use a screwdriver to push the button down and the shifter should free up, if it does leave it in neutral and try starting the car. If that works straighten the wheels and put it in Park. See if the works normally now, if so reassemble everything and you should be good to go.

Good Luck and keep us informed if that worked for you.

If you have to leave the car this way, since you have the lower steering wheel cover off, there is a small lever right by the ignition tumbler that will release the key.
 

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Registered
1999
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3 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for all the suggestions! Unfortunately, after releasing the shifter and putting it into neutral and rolling it about 20 ft.... the wheel is still to the left and locked. the key is not in the ignition... i can insert it in, i just cant turn it! just like the wheel...

so my tires are straight and my steering wheel is cocked to the left and my key wont turn when inserted in. my headlights also wont turn on.... but everything else works just fine!

ugh. any other ideas? i would love to NOT tow this somewhere and pay a bunch of money if didnt have to... im a college kid short on money to begin with! and if its really easy to fix, i just dont want to pay hundreds for some guy to find something simple and adjust it, you know?
 

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Registered
2004 Forester XT '06 STi 6MT
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707 Posts
did you look at where the steering column attaches to the steering rack? maybe the splines are worn down or the connection is not secured properly. this would have allowed the steering wheel/column to move, but the wheels to have remained straight.

i don't understand how you say "all electronics work" when you say you can't even turn the key once it's inserted? how are you getting ACC power?

in my experience it can sometimes be quite a feat/trick to get the steering wheel unlocked with turning the key in the ignition at the same time.
 

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Registered
2010 forester
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1 Posts
Hello,

(1999 Subaru Forester)

I've read every forum post etc. etc... but I think my locked steering wheel may be different than most.

I'm not sure what exactly happened since my friend parked the car... but now the key won't turn and the steering wheel is stuck pretty far left (it won't budge).

I've jacked up the front of the car and tried to turn the wheels back to the center as much as possible... then I realized that the wheels were pretty straight to begin with... and somehow the steering wheel is far left.

I disassembled the the steering column cover to look for a locking pin to remove but wasn't sure where to look.

Sidenote: All electronics work in the car and on the wheel except for my headlights won't turn on... maybe it is tied into the problem?


SO. Any suggestions as to what I could do? I would love to fix it myself it its simple, but I'm worried its becoming less simple the more I get frustrated with trying to fix it. Help?!


The same thing actually happened to my 2010 Forester yesterday. First thing I tried was to open the shift release and pushed button to move the shifter from p down then back again. That didn't seem to do anything. Then eventhough the steering wheel would barely move, I pulled it as much as I could to the right and while I held it to the far right I turned the key and it unlocked and started.
 

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Premium Member
2008 XS 4EAT
Joined
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9,878 Posts
Thanks for all the suggestions! Unfortunately, after releasing the shifter and putting it into neutral and rolling it about 20 ft.... the wheel is still to the left and locked. the key is not in the ignition... i can insert it in, i just cant turn it! just like the wheel...

so my tires are straight and my steering wheel is cocked to the left and my key wont turn when inserted in. my headlights also wont turn on.... but everything else works just fine!

ugh. any other ideas? i would love to NOT tow this somewhere and pay a bunch of money if didn't have to... im a college kid short on money to begin with! and if its really easy to fix, i just dont want to pay hundreds for some guy to find something simple and adjust it, you know?
I'm at a loss, not knowing how the steering lock works, I'm wondering if it is operated by a solenoid, when the key is removed(?) I'd do as fraktal suggests, start looking at the steering rack from the engine compartment and follow it into the cabin, have someone wiggle the wheel while you inspect those areas for movement.

Is the steering wheel slightly cocked or is it in a position similar to doing a 360 turn? This might help to know for others to chime in.

Then I might suggest trying to follow the wire looms from the ignition switch and see where they split off, that might help determine if the steering lock is activated by a solenoid or other switch.

Have you also tried releasing the key release as I mentioned previously? If you do, in the released position see if the ignition switch will turn to the acc. or on position.

You could also try this approach, but it will require resetting the ECU on your 99 (I also had a 99 and did this reset before). I'll start with the reset method, if you have the remote entry fob all you will have to do when reconnecting the battery (the hazards will flash as well as the dash illumination flashes) is operate the open and close feature on the fob. If you don't have the fob, inside on the drivers side, just below the fuse/change pocket is a recessed button that you will have to press, feel along the bottom of the trim and you should find it. you will also need to bleed off any reserve electrical power with the battery disconnected, turn on any lights, dome,flashers etc. pump the brakes and leave it for about half an hour (? this is what I was told by a mechanic and always did).

You could also see if the ignition switch will move into the On position while the power is off.
My theory is if the steering lock is operated by a solenoid, the interruption of power may be enough to reset some of the electrical systems, hopefully giving you back unlocked steering.

As always keep us posted, I'll be checking back when I can. Hopefully others will too.
 

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Premium Member
2008 XS 4EAT
Joined
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9,878 Posts
Can you also clarify by what you say that "everything else works fine", other than the lock and headlights.

Thought of something else to check but my electrical skills are weak. The shifter has a neutral interlock switch. I'm not sure if it is mechanical or electrical that only allows the car to be started in Park or Neutral. Since you can see the shifter under the console are there any wires leading into a switch? Try disconnecting and reconnecting or removing the switch and inspecting to see if anything might be sticking(again it may be electronic).
Still don't understand the ignition switch not turning to either the Acc. or On position(?).
Just something else to check.
 
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