How To Remove A Broken Key From A Car Or Door Lock
Like most things, keys start to wear over time. The metal will eventually snap into two, given the right amount of pressure. More often than not, it happens when you’re using it to open your home or car ignition in a hurry.
Unfortunately, when this happens, it happens in an instant. We know how helpless it feels to be in this situation and understand the dread and anxiety you’ll probably be feeling.
But don’t let them consume you just yet. We’re here to help. There are ways to salvage your doorknob, deadbolt, and car ignition all on your own and we’ve listed each method here for you!
How to Remove Broken Key From a Door Lock
Figuring out how to get a broken key out of a lock can seem hopeless, but you came to the right place. Check out these tried and tested methods below. We’ve also linked a video to show you exactly how it’s done.
Method 1: Use Tweezers
We use tweezers for almost anything, and for a good reason—they can grip almost anything. Best believe they can work to retrieve broken keys from locks, too, so it’s only logical that you reach for one at this crucial time. However, you need to make sure that you have the right tweezers for the job. The last thing you want to do is push the key further into the lock.
When you’re finally armed with the right one (preferably one that is designed for tight spaces), begin the key extraction. Make sure not to squeeze too hard on the tweezers, though, as gripping it tightly can push the broken metal further. You also need to work quickly!
For the best results, consider this YouTube tutorial by Tyler J Thomas. Start at the 6:18 mark to get to the good part!
Things You Will Need
- A good pair of tweezers
Method 2: Try Superglue
You might think we’re out of our minds by suggesting super glue, but if you’re in a situation without tools, you need to get a little more creative. If you find yourself without tools and need to remove the broken key immediately, try the superglue method. However, keep in mind that this will only work if your broken key remains accessible—or at least, still visible from the door lock.
When you’re ready, take the broken half of your key or a small wire. Place super glue on it, making sure to remove any excess as too much can cause this method to fail. Now, hold the broken part you have and reattach it to the end of the broken key. Make sure to apply the right amount of pressure and wait until they rebind.
Method 3: Apply Glue Stick
The glue stick method became popular on TikTok and other social media methods, and thankfully, it works! It’s another great solution for those who do not have tweezers or other tools on hand, and you should try it, too.
The trick is to make sure that the glue stick end molds properly into the key. You’ll want to soften the tip by using fire, whether through a candle or lighter. Once it’s soft enough, you need to slam it onto the keyhole and wait for it to harden around the edges.
You also need to check if the metal is visible. If it isn’t, you will need to trim the glue stick to make sure that it can properly hold onto the broken key. Once it hardens, wiggle it around and pull gently—it should come right out.
Check out this tutorial by Locksmith Recommended. The tutorial begins at the 1:46 mark.
Things You Will Need
- Glue stick
- Lighter or candle for heating
- Scissors for trimming
How to Remove Broken Key from The Ignition
Figuring out how to remove a broken key from a Kwikset deadbolt is easier than removing one from your car’s ignition. You will need proper tools to get this right, so study the methods below carefully. Don’t worry—we’ve linked a video tutorial for you alongside our listed methods:
Method 1: Probe Using Steel
When it comes to pulling a car key out of the ignition, you need to be careful. A car door is more complex to change than a deadbolt, so start your attempt properly by having two thin pieces of metal ready.
This can be a bobby pin, safety pin, or a random piece of steel wire. Whatever you choose, however, make sure to line it properly on either side of the key. Make sure to only insert it far enough, one that will allow you a firm grip.
Here comes the tricky part: you need to be precise with pressure as you pull. You’ll likely lose grip, but don’t be disheartened. Repeat the process until the broken key is out of the ignition, or at least far enough for it to be pulled away by hand.
Shared by Car Genius, this YouTube tutorial will make sure you get things right! The tutorial starts at 0:16.
Things You Will Need
- Bobby pin, safety pin, or steel wire knife
Method 2: Apply WD-40
You will need thin pieces of metal to get this method right, but before doing so, consider adding an oil-based lubricant to the ignition keyhole. The best one on the job is the WD-40, which will make your key extraction smoother.
Keep in mind that your keyhole ignition can get grimy over time, which will make it difficult to wiggle the broken key out. All you need to do is spray the keyhole and grab your metal of choice to begin the extraction. In this case, you can also consider using a pair of scissors.
To make sure that you properly apply the WD-40, consider Peter Finn the Car Doctor’s tutorial starting at the 0:24 mark.
Things You Will Need:
- Choice of thin metal or scissors
How To Prevent Broken Keys
While a key broken inside a lock can be solved, prevention is better than cure. If you’re looking for ways to prevent broken keys, we still have the answer for you:
Regularly Lubricate Your Locks With Oil
Metal can tarnish over time or be home to grime and dirt. This is especially true for deadbolts, which are placed outside of our homes. To keep your locks in good condition, apply oil regularly.
You can do this every week, and for good measure, polish your keys every now and then. In doing so, you can prevent wear and tear, effectively eliminating broken keys and blocked locks. Yes, this also applies to your car’s ignition!
Do Not Force Or Apply Further Pressure When Your Key Is Stuck
Should you find your key meeting some sort of resistance in the lock, step back. Shaking or forcing the key to turn will lead to a broken key stuck in the lock. At this point, make sure to carefully remove the key from the keyhole or ignition. Check if you have the right key, and if you do, consider applying oil before you try again.
Can I use my key again?
The short answer is no. You cannot use a broken key, as you risk it being stuck in the keyhole again. It’s also important not to use the key as it’s stuck inside the door. Whether you’re using tweezers, a glue stick, or pieces of metal, do not try to turn the broken key inside the lock. You only risk pushing the part into the lock, which can cost you the entire mechanism.
The methods listed above are sure to help you figure out how to get a broken key out of a lock—deadbolt, ignition, or otherwise. As long as you have the right materials, tools, and instructions, getting a key out should be quick and painless.
The key to a successful key extraction is patience, however. You need to take your sweet time, as rushing through the process can lead to costly mistakes. In other words, the slower you are, the better the outcome will be.
When it comes to handling your keys, on the other hand, remember to never put too much pressure or turn your key in a rush. The best way to prevent a broken key is to never apply too much force when locking or unlocking a door. Although easier said than done when you’re in a hurry, this is how you end up with a broken key.
Should you still find yourself in this situation, however, you’re now equipped with five tested methods—complete with video tutorials by people who really know their stuff. Not even a broken key can stop you now!