What to Do If Your Key Broke In a Car Lock?

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What to Do If Your Key Broke In a Car Lock

You’re running late to work, and you dash out the door to your car. You stick the key into the car door lock and snap! It breaks off in the car lock, and now you’re stuck.

You’ll be late at this point, but you may be able to resolve your broken key conundrum quicker than you think. Here’s what you can try first before calling a locksmith for car key services for older model vehicles that require physical keys.

Try Using Pliers

If part of your car key sticks out of the lock after it breaks, you can try using needle-nose pliers to extract the broken portion. The trick is to pull the car key directly from the lock without twisting. Twisting it could cause it to break even further and create more problems.

Use a Magnet

When your car key is completely flush with the keyhole and nothing is sticking out of the lock, a magnet may help. However, this will only work on keys that have enough metal content. Give it a try and see if this trick helps you get the broken portion out of the lock. You’ve got nothing to lose if you have magnets in your home.

Use a Screwdriver

Grab your toolbox and get a flat-head screwdriver. Since the tip of this screwdriver is flat, it will be small enough to fit into the lock cylinder or be able to touch the edge of your broken key.

You’ll put the screwdriver into your lock, applying enough pressure to unlock the door. Plan on making a few attempts before you experience the sweet sounds of success. However, this method for opening your car door with a broken key jammed in the lock is the riskiest since you may wind up pushing it deeper into the lock.

See If an Eraser Works

The kind of eraser that has a soft, chewing gum-like texture may be another way to remove your broken key from your car lock. This will only work if you can see a piece of your broken key sticking out of the lock.

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To use this trick, knead the eraser so it feels like chewed gum. Then gently mold it to the part of the key protruding from your lock. You can then try to pull the key out. Some people find this works great, but you may only get it out slightly. From there, you can use a tool, like needle-nose pliers, to finish extracting it from the lock.

What Happens If You Break Your Key In the Car Ignition?

Another problem faced by those with older model cars is the potential for those keys to break off in the ignition. If this has happened to you, you could troubleshoot using a few methods before calling a locksmith.

You can also use needle-nose pliers to pull a broken key from the ignition of your car. You should make sure you put your car in park and shut off the engine first. Of course, if there is no portion of the broken key sticking out of the ignition, the pliers won’t help. A thin wire may be useful, though it must be thin enough to slide into the ignition with the key and strong enough to retain its shape.

The biggest risk to trying to get your broken car key out of the ignition yourself is that you risk damaging your vehicle. It’s a far better idea to call a locksmith that offers car key services to help you out of this jam.

Car keys that break off in the ignition are best left to a professional. You can’t turn the ignition with a broken key, so you can’t get anywhere. Broken keys are tough to remove from ignitions, and if you’re not careful, the ignition switch will be destroyed.

What Causes Car Keys to Break in Locks?

Often, it is just wear and tear that results in car keys breaking off in locks. It’s a good idea to take care of your keys and your locks to avoid these problems. Until you can buy a car that doesn’t require a lock and key to enter and start, you should take preventative measures.

Prevention Is the Key to Averting Broken Car Key Disasters

Is there ever an opportune time for a car key to break? Of course not, which is why you should take a few preventative measures to avoid being thrust into a situation like this again.

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For the external lock, you will want to spray a silicone-based lubricant into the keyhole twice per year. This prevents the lock from sticking and wearing on the key.

Another important thing is to have replacement keys for your vehicle. If your car key breaks in the lock, you can just grab your spare set. Once you get to work, you can call a locksmith to come and remove the broken piece.

Why You Should Call a Locksmith First

Even if you have all the right tools on hand, a lot can go wrong. You could completely break the lock on your car door and need to have it replaced. It’s especially important to call a locksmith if you’ve broken your key in the ignition. Trying to repair that damage will be much more costly than if you’d simply called a locksmith from the start.

Locksmiths have all the right tools to get the job done right without causing more damage to your vehicle. They can usually get to you quickly. If you have spare car keys, you can get to where you need to, such as your job or home after a long day of work. Then, the locksmith can remove the broken key and help you put this stressful situation behind you. 

Dylan Miller

I am a Chicago native and regular contributor to "Locar Deals". I have a master's degree in English, am an automobile content creation specialist, and have written professionally for a variety of automotive companies over the past few years. I write on a variety of vehicles, from high-end luxury cars to ten-year-old gas guzzlers and everything in between. And I love sharing valuable car buying tips with consumers from all walks of life.

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