You may find yourself with the steering wheel locked for no apparent cause as you prepare to take the wheel of your Volkswagen Atlas. This sometimes happens, and in most situations it is not very serious. Having said that, be sure to follow the steps we will examine with you in order to find the solution as simply and quickly as possible.
Before solving the question, we will first remind you how the starter mechanism works.

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How the steering wheel of my Volkswagen Atlas works

First, the starter switch consists of two components.

  • The cylinder of the lock in which you insert the key to turn it
  • The electronic switch behind it. It will provide the electrical impulse to start your Volkswagen Atlas’s engine as soon as you turn the key.
    When should it be changed?
    Three cases may explain the need to change the switch on your Volkswagen Atlas:
  • The switch on your steering wheel was damaged or forced, in most cases because someone tried to steal your car.
  • The switch suddenly failed and no longer functions at all.
  • The switch on your Volkswagen Atlas shows signs of weakness, there is a little delay between the time the engine starts or you have to press the key very hard.
    Check thoroughly your steering wheel with your Volkswagen Atlas’s manual to see if the switch is made of one piece or if the two elements (lock cylinder and switch) are different. Indeed, it is possible to replace only the out-of-service element, which is more economical. You will likely need to spend about a hundred euros if you use a garage, between 20 and 50 € if you change it yourself.
    Now to the points:

How do I unlock the steering wheel of my Volkswagen Atlas?

On a car, locking the steering wheel when stationary is a basic safety feature against theft. The steering wheel can only be unlocked by inserting the matching key into the vehicle.
Insert the key into the switch. Your steering wheel has most likely been locked since the last time you removed the key from the switch.
To unlock the steering wheel, just turn the key to the right and you can start the engine of your Volkswagen Atlas. Try without forcing, in mechanics, it is hardly ever good to force so act carefully on the steering wheel and the key until you come across the unlocking point.
Maneuver the steering wheel, if your key is locked, move the steering wheel in the direction it wants to move and your key will then turn. Be careful, you must be more or less coordinated when you turn the steering wheel and the key of your Volkswagen Atlas.
Do not move the steering wheel too hard. If you force too hard, you may ruin the switch pinions, which will completely block the steering wheel on your Volkswagen Atlas. If this still doesn’t work, try to remove the key just a little. The idea is to find a position that would allow it to turn. Try one or two millimetres less depressed.
If you can start, your key is worn out. It would consequently be wise to change it quickly.
It is also likely that your switch may be seized. In the event of a blockage, it may require a little specific anti-seize agent. Send one or two splashes into the slot of your Volkswagen Atlas’s switch and then try to insert the key again. Play it gently to use product all over it.
Also, just check that your key is not damaged or blunt; if the teeth are no longer as they were in the beginning, they will no longer be able to move the pinions of the cylinder on your Volkswagen Atlas’s steering wheel.
If the problem comes from your key, remember to take your duplicate in order to make another copy and thus have two keys that are in working order for your Volkswagen Atlas.

Conclusion on my Volkswagen Atlas :

As you have read earlier, the main reasons for a steering wheel lock are a damaged key or a jammed cylinder. In automotive mechanics, the majority of breakdowns or malfunctions are due to units that are poorly or not taken care of. Keep them in good condition by simply cleaning them regularly and also by taking care of them to optimize their life span.

If you wish more tutorials on the Volkswagen Atlas, go to our Volkswagen Atlas category.