A key broken off in a car lock not only destroys the key for future use, but also renders the lock unusable. When a key breaks in a car lock, the metal tip of the key gets lodged in the lock action. If the lock was locked when the key was broken, it cannot be opened. Use these tips to find how to remove a broken key from a car lock.
Remove the key head. If the key head was not completely broken off, work the key head back and forth until it fully breaks off from the part of the key that is in the lock. Discard the key head.
Align the lock for key removal. If the lock is rotated into some position between the key insertion and operate positions, use your thumb or a small stiff object to rotate the lock to the insert position.
Clear the car lock area for key removal. Remove any loose debris, cloth or paper from the area.
Lubricate the lock. Use a spray dispensing liquid or powder lock lubricant. Use a liberal amount of lubricant by working the spray at all angles in the key way of the lock.
Select a lock removal tool. Lock removal tools are readily available at hardware and automobile parts stores. If a tool is not available, use a homemade substitute.
Choose a tool that is narrow enough to slip into the lock key way, which is the straight opening in the lock that extends down from the key opening itself. The tool must have 1 or more hooks on the end to be inserted into the lock.
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Choose a tool that has a pointed hook or hooks. The hooks must extend up towards the key so that they can engage the key teeth. The hooks also should be angled back toward the outer lock opening so they can be used to pull the key back without slipping off of the key teeth.
Insert the key removal tool. Gently insert this tool into the lock key way. Turn the hook or hooks sideways while inserting the tool so that they do not catch on the teeth of the key during insertion. Gently jiggle the tool as needed to allow complete insertion of the tool.
Engage the key removal tool. Turn the tool so that the hook or hooks are facing towards the key. Slowly and gently pull the tool back, jiggling the tool if necessary, to engage one or more of the teeth of the key.
Pull the key removal tool back towards you slowly and smoothly. If the key does not begin to come out with the tool, the hook or hooks did not catch the teeth. Should this occur, reinsert the key removal tool and make a second attempt to engage the tool.
Remove the key. When enough of the key has come out of the lock to allow it to be grabbed with fingers or fine pliers, pull the key and the key removal tool out together. Be thoughtful of how you discard the broken key, as a replica can still be made from the pieces.