Breaking a car key off in the ignition of your vehicle is an unfortunate occurrence that can happen more often than you think. This simple act can cause a host of problems for you and make it impossible to get to your next important appointment or run errands.
However, there are a few steps you can take to remove a broken key from your ignition using just some guidelines and a few tools. We’ll show you our step-by-step guide on how to get broken key out of ignition lock without resorting to calling a locksmith.

broken car key on a table

Things You’ll Need

Below is a short list of tools and supplies that can help you complete the steps. We will let you know which tools you’ll need during each step of the process.

  • A can of compressed air.
  • paperclip. You should straighten this paperclip out to make a long, thin wire prior to performing this task.
  • A pair of needle nose pliers. These will allow you to pull the broken portion of the key from the ignition assembly.
  • jigsaw blade This blade may provide you with an alternative method for removing the key.
  • A key extractor.

We will show you how you might be able to get your broken key out of the ignition using the wire, the pliers, the jigsaw blade, or a combination of the three items.

Method 1: Using a Wire to Get the Key Out

Before you begin this method, it’s a good idea for you to have your compressed air cannister with you. You’ll need it for the first part of the process.

Clear Possible Obstructions

Use some compressed air to clear out any debris or dirt that might be blocking your access to the broken piece of the key or the ignition cylinder. We recommend only using compressed air during this step. While you may be tempted to spray some lubrication or a cleaning product into the cylinder, these products can cause damage to your locking mechanism. This is especially true for newer locks that might house sensitive electronics.

Replace the Broken Key

Put the broken part of the key back into the locking cylinder. It can serve as your guide as you attempt to reach the piece that is still trapped inside.

Insert the Wire

Slide your bent paperclip or another thin wire along the edges of the key. Once you have done this, you can remove the top portion of the key from your ignition cylinder. This should leave only the broken piece inside and the wire present. Use care when you remove the top part of the key so that you don’t pull the wire out with it.

Grip the Broken Key

Use the ends of the wire to get a grip on the broken part of the key that is stuck in your ignition. You may be able to twist the edges of the wire to get a more secure grip on the key.

Extract the Key

You can use your wire to pull the broken piece out the ignition cylinder. Pull the apparatus out slowly and carefully using a slight up and down motion to minimize the risk of sticking. You can pull the key out the rest of the way with pliers. This is the final step of method one for how to get broken key out of ignition.

Method 2: Using a Jigsaw to Get a Broken Key Out of the Ignition

The second method for how to get broken key out of ignition involves a jigsaw blade instead of a wire. However, it starts the same way as method one:

Clear Obstructions with Compressed Air

It’s better to be safe rather than sorry in this case. While you might not think using some compressed air is a necessary first step, it’s better than finding out later that there is debris in your ignition lock that is preventing you from removing the broken key.

Insert the Blade

Now you can slowly and carefully slide the jigsaw blade into the lock cylinder. You will not need to use the top part of the key for this method. You should keep sliding the blade into the ignition until it stops on its own. You’ve made contact with the broken key if it does stop.

Pull Out the Key

Once your jigsaw blade has stopped moving, turn it slowly to one side. The goal here is to try to catch the blade on one or more teeth of the broken key. This is how you get the broken key out of the ignition. Pull the blade and key out until enough of the key emerges that you can grasp it with your pliers.

Method 3: Using an Extractor to Get the Broken Key Out of the Ignition

Clear Out Debris

Give the ignition lock a few shots of compressed air to make sure the only obstruction you have to deal with is the broken key.

Insert the Extractor

Now you can slide the key extractor tool into the ignition cylinder. Make sure the part that is pointed upwards has a hook on the end.

Turn the Tool

Turn the extractor toward the broken key. You should feel the tool catch on one or more of the key’s teeth.

Remove the Tool

Pull the extractor toward you slowly. Try to make sure the hook stays in contact with the key’s teeth as you do this. Once a small portion of the key is visible, you can use pliers to remove it completely. This is the final method for how to get broken key out of ignition.

Wrapping Up

As you can see, although a key extractor can be a helpful tool, you do not necessarily need one in order to get a broken key out of your ignition cylinder. A thin wire or a jigsaw blade along with a trusty pair of pliers should do nicely if you follow the simple steps above. We’re always interested in hearing from readers, and we invite you to leave a comment in the section below. We’d like to hear how these methods worked for you or about any others you’ve tried.

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