Broken Car Keys aren't a simple DIY Fix

     We received a call from a client who's car key broke clean in half inside her 1998 Nissan Sentra driver side door lock. The key didn't get stuck inside the lock which made the situation that much better, however she attempted to glue the pieces of the key back together.  If their is one thing you must know, its that locks, keys, and glue don't mix. The pieces were glued back together neatly, however, after it dried, the key still broke off inside her ignition! Thats when she called our mobile locksmith service.

     We sent a technician out to asses the situation and he was able to extract the broken key pieces from the ignition lock cylinder. First thing our technician did was he removed the glue on the key and put the broken pieces of the key back together and held them in a clamp in a car key duplication machine. He cut a copy onto a metal key blank to test if the ignition was in good condition. The new key worked on the doors and the trunk, unfortunately however, it would not go all the way inside the ignition, and got stuck about a quarter of the way in. After inspecting the ignition lock, the technician determined that the ignition had glue residue inside that had gotten stuck between the lock tumblers. Without being able to turn a key to remove the ignition, their was no way the technician would be able to remove the ignition and repair the tumblers without damaging it. This resulted in the client needing to replace her ignition.

     If you have a broken car key, don't attempt to fix it yourself as the cost to replace a car key is substantially cheaper then the cost of replacing and re-kying an ignition lock cylinder to match the original keys for your vehicle. The technician spoke with the client and told her the situation and gave her the option of replacing the ignition without getting it re-keyed to save some money. This would mean that she has one key for the doors and one key for the ignition lock to start the car. But she didn't want to have to lug around two keys (who can blame her) so she asked us to re-key the new ignition lock cylinder to match her original factory car key that works on the doors. The broken ignition was removed by force and a new ignition lock cylinder was re-keyed and installed.

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     Car keys and ignition locks have to endure certain types of stress everyday. The keys get banged around, dropped on the ground, or get thrown onto hard surfaces. In some cases, if the ignition lock cylinder is old, it may be hard to turn the key resulting in excessive force to start the vehicle. The ignition tumblers get worn from everyday use, and from additional strain from the weight of other keys on your key ring. You can avoid most ignition and key problems by following these tips:

  • Don't overload your key ring: Its best not to have too many keys on the same key ring as your car key as the weights from the additional keys puts stress on the ignition lock cylinder tumblers resulting in potential early ignition lock cylinder failure.
  • Don't force your key  if its difficult to turn or insert in the ignition, something may be obstructing the keyway, or the tumblers may be jammed. It may be an easy quick fix that doesn't require replacement of your ignition lock cylinder.
  • Never try to repair a broken or bent key. Once a car key has become broken, brittle, bent, snapped, or compromised in any way, its a disaster waiting to happen. This makes it very difficult and in some cases impossible to duplicate the car key onto a brand new key, because the bent cuts on the key will be transferred to the new car key.
  • If you have a spare of the car key in good condition, its a good idea to get that key copied in the unfortunate event you lose your primary key, you can always duplicate the key in good condition if you lose your everyday car key.