How To Handle A Malfunctioning Car Door Key

Most people associate a car lockout as losing the keys or leaving them inside the locked vehicle. This seems like a simple fix — grab a spare and you are back on the road. There is another situation that isn't as easy to remedy, though. If your key breaks or malfunctions, you may be unable to get into your vehicle. The following can help you know what to do in some common scenarios.

Malfunctioning Key Fob

Many cars operate from keyless entry, which means you just need to hit the button on the key fob or hold the fob near the door to unlock it. If the fob isn't working, the fix could be as simple as replacing the battery. If a new battery doesn't work, look at your fob to see if there are any little buttons, switches, or sliders. Most fobs have a physical key hidden inside that allows you to open the door in the event that the fob malfunctions. If you can't find a physical key, you may need to call a locksmith to program a new fob for your vehicle.

Broken-Off Key

It can be particularly frustrating when your previously functioning key breaks off inside the door lock. If you are lucky, part of the key will still be protruding from the lock and you may be able to pull it out with a pair for needle-nosed pliers. If you can't grasp the end of the key, bend the end of a thin, stiff wire into a hook and slide it into the lock next to the key. Twist the wire to hook into the teeth of the key, and try to pull it out until you can grab it with the pliers. You will need to call a locksmith to make a new key.

Stuck Key

A key that slides into the lock but doesn't turn can indicate a problem with either the key or the lock. If a visual inspection doesn't turn up any damage to the key, the lock may be the problem. Often, the lock is dirty. Blow out any dust with canned air and then add a drop or two of a lock lubricant to the key before sliding it in and trying again. If the lock still won't work or if it feels gritty and hard to turn, you need to call in a locksmith to repair either the key or the locking mechanism.

Contact a locksmith if you need more help to unlock your car.