8 Ways to Remove a Broken Key in Car Door Lock or Ignition

January 3, 2023

Fatima Buzdar

Inserting your key into the car door lock or car ignition only to hear an ominous snap is likely to send you into a frenzy. Seeing it broken into two halves is certainly does not help either. However, what worsens the situation even more is finding that the broken half is stuck in the car lock or ignition!

Being locked out of your car or being unable to start your car greatly disrupts your day-to-day life, so you certainly need swift solutions to the problem. So what can you do to resolve this sticky situation, without playing a part in worsening it even a bit more? Fortunately, there are various ways to fix the issue of a car key broken in ignition or car key broken in car door lock.

8 DIY Ways to Get a Broken Key Out of the Car Lock or Ignition

There are various DIY ways to remove a broken piece from your car cylinder. However, keep in mind that you should be very careful when trying any of these methods. As a layperson, it is easy to mess up the process and damage the cylinder. Additionally, there is no guarantee that you can be able to resolve the issue on your own, since you lack the professional skills required.

It is recommended to hire an automotive locksmith to sort the issue out for you. Not only can they resolve the issue without damaging the lock, they can also do it much faster and provide replacement for any parts if needed!

1. Spray Lubricant

It is quite common that a key gets broken in a keyway due to it severely lacking lubrication. Even lubricating at this point might greatly help you with taking out the broken piece from the keyway. Spraying a lubricant with a nozzle can soften the friction that might be preventing the broken piece from being released, allowing you to smoothly take it out.

WD-40 can certainly do the job, but it is often recommended not to use it for keyways. This is because oil-based lubricants like WD-40 can attract grime, which can cause issues with the lock functioning. Instead, dry lubricants like graphite ones are recommended to be used for keyways.

2. Tweezers

The thinness of many tweezers allows them to fit into a keyway to enter it, making them especially useful if the stuck part of the key is not poking out. Simply push the tweezer into the keyway and grab onto the piece. And then while wiggling it around, try to pull it out. Lubricating the keyhole also greatly helps with this process, since it prevents friction from getting in the way.

However, the downside to this method is the tweezers having a low grip strength. This makes the process of pulling out the key harder.

3. Pliers

If there is a good amount of the key fragment protruding out of the keyhole, then utilizing a pair of needle nose pliers can help you with taking it out. They have a strong grip, so you can firmly hold onto the fragment and pull it out. Just give it some jiggles when you have a strong on the piece and then pull it out. When used in conjunction with lubrication, it can be even more effective.

However, if the key is too far into the keyway, then it might not be your best choice. The tool would likely be too bulky to be able to reach the fragment to firmly hold into it, preventing your attempt to remove the key with the pliers.

4. Paper Clip

Paper clip can be effective to remove broken keys from a keyhole whether the fragment is sticking out or not. It needs to be bent so that it is shaped into a straight position. Then it should put above the piece stuck inside the keyhole. When it is inside the keyway, it should be pushed downwards to be twisted, allowing it to grip into the piece. Once you feel that the grip is firm enough, pull out the piece of key.

This can be quite tricky. However, if done right, it can release the piece from the keyhole.

5. Magnet

A powerful magnet can either fail or work like a charm to get the broken key from a keyway. If the key has enough metal in its materials and it is somewhat loosened, then the magnet can attract it and pull it out. Try to loosen up the key with a tool like a thin tweezer or flathead screwdriver. And then put a powerful magnet near it to see if it does the work. 

6. Glue Stick

This may catch you off by guard. Understandably, you might be skeptical, but this super glue stick method can certainly prove to be very effective if utilized right. However, you have to be very careful since you can damage your lock or ignition if you are not careful. Do it at your own risk!

The broken key fragment must be sticking out of the lock to try this method. Basically, the tip of the glue stick is warmed by a lighter to soften it. Then the stick should be attached to the piece for a bit. Once the glue is hardened around the fragment, it should strongly grab the key edge of the broken key, which is exactly what you need! Hence, once it is hardened, try to pull the piece out by grabbing into the other end of the glue gun.

7. Small Jigsaw Blade

A small jigsaw blade can be a good alternative to the professionally used tool, broken key extractor. In other words, it can be highly effective and something you are actually likely to have access to in your home.

Insert it into the keyway on the cutting side of the key piece. And then hook its teeth into the teeth of the key, so that they grab onto the piece. Once you have a firm grip through this means, pull the key out.

8. Broken Key Extractor

A broken key extractor is a go-to tool for professional locksmiths to remove a broken piece from a keyway. This is thanks to their high effectiveness of removing pieces. Of all the methods listed here, it is the most effective, efficient and least damage-prone solution to a car key broken in ignition or car key broken in car door lock. However, unfortunately it is likely that you do not have it in your home.

The tool is inserted facing the cut side of the piece. The intention is to have the teeth of the tool grip the teeth of the key. Once that is done, the tool is twisted in the keyway and pulled out along with the piece.

Why the Key Gets Stuck

You may be wondering why your key got snapped and stuck in the first place. The answer to it can lie in various kinds of issues in the keyhole, and even the key itself. For example, the ignition may be dry, blocked or even damaged. Or the lock cylinder may require replacement or repair due to rust and grime accumulation, damage, etc. It is also possible that the problem actually arose from the key itself. Over usage and time, it could have lost its shape and gotten bent, causing it to be stuck within the keyhole.

Regardless of what issue may be, you can take your own precautions to prevent this from happening in place. If your car door lock is jammed or your key gets stuck in ignition, never try to put excessive force upon the key or it can snap. Instead, have a professional locksmith inspect and diagnose the issue. They can also assist with key extraction and proceed with any necessary component replacement or repair, so that you do not have your key stuck in the ignition or door lock again!

Close up of a hand inserting a key into ignition

Call Our Locksmiths to Get Your Car Key Out of a Lock or Ignition Cylinder

Due to issues found in the ignition or door lock cylinder, the key can get stuck in the keyhole and snap into two halves, and its other half can get firmly stuck into the keyhole. This can be a troublesome situation, but fortunately there are DIY ways that you can try to resolve it. However, it is highly recommended that you call a locksmith rather than take it on your own.

It can be more complicated than you might expect to extract a broken key piece from the ignition or door lock. In the process, you can even risk damaging the lock, which is the last thing you would want! Ultimately, your time and efforts can go futile, and even come with the risk of worsening the issue.

A locksmith, on the other hand, is trained to swiftly extract broken keys and provide any subsequent services needed. Our automotive locksmiths in Oshawa are ready to assist you with your car key broken in ignition or car key broken in car door lock! We can promptly arrive to your location and remove the broken key from the ignition or cylinder in no time. Additionally, we can repair or replace the ignition or door lock as needed so that your day does not get disrupted again. We can also craft a new car key if you need a spare key or do not have a spare key.

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A quick look in to the question we are constantly asked.
You should get a professional locksmith to replace your lock because locksmiths have the skills and tools that the average person doesn’t own. Just because you have the tools doesn’t mean you are equipped to do a task that involves opening a lock or changing the key. For one thing, most people don’t own lock-picking sets or specialized tools like what a locksmith would have. These are tools that would give you access to a lot of safes and doors without having to damage them in any way.
A locksmith is a person who repairs or installs locks, and that's maily what we do. However, we are often called to provide other services as well, such as installing deadbolts, repairing broken keys, and providing security advice. The most common services that a locksmith provides are lock installation, lock repair, key duplication and key replacement. As a company, we expand upon the latter and also deal with other not-so-common household annoyances like garage door repair and installation, electric openers, patio sliding doors, emergency locksmith services, and many others
The fact that we’re not fast, but faster is certainly one of them, but there are also many more. Some of the benefits that we can provide you with include:
- We provide customer satisfaction through efficient customer service, fast and pleasant techs, fair prices, and quality locks and keys.
- Top quality products that we use. We keep abreast of the latest developments in the industry to make sure your home is fortified with the latest security products and that your locks are of the best quality.
- You get courtesy, reliable, and trustworthy service at all times.
In most cases, the best route is to swap out your old set of locks altogether. Older locks were typically made with a variety of simplistically cobbled together devices and even today, a great deal of shoddy craftsmanship is still seen. The best locksmiths in the industry will always direct you towards picking up a new set of locks and that’s because a trained professional is able to not only replace the parts that are broken, but make sure to outfit you with high end parts that will ensure you’re getting a much more secure locking solution that will last for well beyond the of your current doors.

Some situations, however, do allow for a repair instead of a replacement, but most of the times require from specialized equipment not generally available in the household.

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