Car keys are designed to serve any user for roughly the same lifetime the car is in use. However, like any other movable tools, car keys are susceptible to breaking. That is why most vehicle manufacturers always provide two sets of keys for every car. What should you do when your car keys break at the worst possible time? You could be rushing to work in the wee hours of the morning and the car key snaps just as you turn it inside the door lock. They can also break inside the ignition, leaving you completely stranded. We take you through what to do when your car keys break inside the lock.

Assess the nature of the key break

This is important as its implication guides you on what steps to take next. A car key that broke off inside the lock on the door keeps you from either locking or unlocking the car. A car key that broke inside the ignition keeps you from using the car entirely. You then need to decide if you can take out the broken piece of key from the car lock.

Here is a quick process to follow…

Get the right tools

A car key broken inside the door lock or the ignition lock needs the right set of tools including a small flathead screwdriver, a pair of pliers, a proper lubricant and a magnet. For lubrication, you can use either a powder lubricant or a spray dispensing liquid.

Removing a broken car key that sticks out of the lock

If the car key broke in a manner that a significant part of it sticks outside the door lock or ignition lock, then you are in luck. You can try to reach the broken piece using your fingertips. If you’re unable to reach the broken piece using your fingers, then a pair of pliers may come in handy. Carefully use the pliers to pinch the end of the broken car key that sticks out, then draw it out like you would a straw from a juice box.

Removing a broken car key that does not stick out of the lock

This one is more tasking.  In addition to pliers, you may have to use a big magnet. The magnet should draw the broken car key out of the lock to a significant length that allows you to use a pair of pliers to completely remove it. If you don’t have a magnet at your disposal, apply some lubricant to the lock. Then proceed to insert the flathead screwdriver inside the lock. Be careful not to push the broken key further inside the lock. Once the screwdriver is inside the lock, begin to draw it out while pressing the broken piece of car key against the wall of the lock. The lubrication should ease friction, allowing the broken piece of car key to be drawn out together with the screwdriver.

You clearly need the right tools if you have to DIY extract the key out of the lock. If you don’t have the right tools, instead of trying to force the keys out of the lock (which will only do more damage to the lock) contact an automotive locksmith professional for safe extraction. Remember to make a copy of the second set of car keys after the first breaks off.