Car keys can seem indestructible given their forever-sharp edges and uncanny ability to scratch any item they come in contact with (especially in your pocket or purse!). However, when car keys do eventually get damaged, you may find that they’re no longer able to unlock your car doors or turn the ignition.
When this happens you may find yourself stranded and unable to get around, as your primary means of transport is rendered useless. However, do not fret. Issues like these are quite common, and often have an easy fix.
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For most vehicles, the key will refuse to turn in the ignition if the car’s gear has not been put in the Parking position. Be sure to check the position of your gear when attempting to start your car with your key.
Modern vehicles feature a safety switch that prevent drivers from starting their vehicle if the gears is in any position other than the Parking one. This feature can save your car from being damaged due to driver negligence.
Your car’s steering lock could also be preventing your key from turning in the ignition. The steering lock usually engages if you were turning your steering wheel as you turned off your car. You can check if the steering lock has been engaged by wiggling the steering wheel left and right.
If your steering wheel doesn’t budge, it is likely locked. You can unlock it by wiggling your steering wheel while turning your key in the ignition. This is a common issue that many people don’t know the easy fix for.
Bent or warped car keys were more common in the past when car keys were double-sided. The new generation have grooves that are more resilient and hold up to bending better.
Keys often get bent when people misuse them as tools to open cans or dislodge stones from shoes. They may have also been run over by a car, or dropped from a great height.
A bent or warped key isn’t likely to turn or even fit in the ignition. If you’re having difficulty fitting the key in the ignition, you should avoid forcing it as that could damage your vehicle.
You should also avoid straightening the key as bending it back may cause it to crack and break. Instead, you should consider giving your key to an auto-locksmith or a key-cutting shop for repair.
If your key fits in the ignition, but is unable to turn it, your problem may lie with the ignition itself. You can verify that the problem is with the ignition and not with the key by using your key to unlock the car door. If you’re able to unlock the car door with ease, your key is likely fine.
Keys can chip or break when you drop or step on them. If the metal blade portion of your key has broken, you should call a mobile car auto-locksmith. Sydney contains many auto-locksmiths who offer to do such repairs.
If the ridges of your car key are chipped, they may not be able to adequately align with the wafers inside the ignition mechanism. This misalignment can prevent the ignition from turning.
Other kinds of key damage can stop your key from working too. If the main bow of the key has been damaged, the transponder chip inside may stop working. Cars manufactured in the past 20 years come with transponder keys as an anti-theft measure.
The transponder chip in your key communicates with a receiver in the car when you insert your key in the ignition. If the receiver doesn’t receive a signal from your key’s transponder chip, you won’t be able to turn your key in the ignition.
In this situation you’ll have to take your key to a professional, such as your car’s manufacturer or call a mobile car locksmith. Sydney is home to a variety of car dealerships and manufacturers, but they may overcharge you when replacing your key’s transponder chip.
A third party auto locksmith may be able to replace or reprogram your transponder using a car key transponder programmer.
Transponder key programming only takes a few minutes and requires just your car keys or your car itself.
Keys in the past did not contain transponder chips, and regular damage to keys would not have required a car key transponder programmer to fix.
Key fobs have been gaining popularity over the years. These keys do not fit into a keyhole or ignition. They resemble tiny remotes with buttons for unlocking or starting your car.
Key fobs may stop working if they’re exposed to extreme temperatures. For example, key fobs dropped in the snow may stop working temporarily, or until they get back within a normal temperature range.
The batteries inside these remotes tend to diminish over time as well. This could cause the key to stop working, and prevent you from entering and/or starting your car.
If your key fob has a removable battery cover on the back, you may be able to replace its battery yourself. However, some key fobs may have to be sent back to the manufacturer or to an auto-locksmith to have their battery replaced.
Key fobs also contain transponder chips, which can sometimes malfunction and stop working. These can also be fixed by the manufacturer or an auto-locksmith. They may either need to be replaced entirely, or simply reprogrammed using a car key transponder programmer.
As you can see, car keys of all types are prone to problems. The best solution is to take good preventative measures to ensure your keys are handled with care and aren’t exposed to physical wear.