It’s never a good start to the day when you are about to leave home to go to work and the car key breaks off in the car door. This is a common occurrence, especially if the car door lock has been “sticking” for a while, meaning you have had a harder time opening the door each time you put the key in.
But standing there looking down at the broken car key in your hand, you may be wondering what you can do to get in the car and go about with your day. So, here are some methods you can try to get the broken car key out of the lock using common items you have around your home.
Suppose the key broke as you turned the lock. This will make the fragment of the key that is stuck in the door very hard to remove, especially as it is in a halfway-turned position.
One thing you can try to get access to the other half of the broken car key is to use some needle nose pliers to reach into the cylinder and turn the lock to a locked or unlocked position. But be careful! Doing this can cause the key fragment to become further embedded into the lock.
Apply Some Oil
If you have some WD-40 or other car-based oil to hand, this will help more, but any oil will do the trick. Spraying an oil-based lubricant into the keyhole can make it easier to separate the broken key fragment from the lock, making the removal process simpler.
Try not to apply too much, as this can make it slippery, so in this instance, it is best to use a dry lubricant if you have one to hand. Just be sure that once you have the key fragment out of the lock, you wipe off any excess oil.
Not everyone has access to needle-nosed pliers, but tweezers are more commonly found in the home. However, consider that tweezers are generally shorter than pliers, so you will need to take into account how deep in the lock the fragment is and how thick the tweezers are. Be sure that they are thin enough to grip the key, or you will risk pushing it further into the lock.
Probe and Pull
If you don’t have tweezers or pliers, you can take two thin pieces of metal to probe and pull the key fragment out. Make sure that the pieces of metal are thin and flat and will allow you to get a firm grip on the key fragment.
You can use items like a metal hair clip, a bobby pin, a button pin, a pair of pocket knives, a safety pin, or a small, flat-headed screwdriver. Be patient, as you will likely lose your grip on this method several times before it succeeds.
If you have access to sticky putty, you can use it to try and extract the key fragment. Push it into the slot and allow it to sit for a few minutes, and then pull it out. Hopefully, the key fragment will be attached. If it isn’t, try reshaping it and try again.