How to get a broken key out of ignition?
June 11, 2005 9:19 PM   Subscribe

Has anyone ever had to take a broken out of a car ignition? While trying to start my 1994 Nissan, my key snapped cleanly, with most of it still in the ignition. I have an extra, so all I need to do is get the key out with damaging the tumblers or the mechanism. Has anyone had to do this before? What did you do?
posted by Snyder to Grab Bag (9 answers total)

A sharp set of dental picks. for a start.If they dont work.Cut a narrow strip of tin, slip it between the lock and key with a small dab of super glue, just enough to bond to the key,
posted by hortense at 9:39 PM on June 11, 2005

posted by bitpart at 11:15 PM on June 11, 2005

Keys are usually non-magnetic, so they don't attract stuff that would foul the lock. If none of ssFlanders' links get you there, call a locksmith. They must deal with this all the time. If you have an auto-club membership, the locksmith might even be free.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:42 AM on June 12, 2005

Would sticky-tack work? Get the stickiest crud you can find and put a little down the ignition slot, though I guess this would depend on where the break is.
posted by jmd82 at 9:12 AM on June 12, 2005

OK, since we're putting glue in there and stuff (I wouldn't), here's what I'd do if I couldn't get a locksmith:

Get an 0-80 tap, appropriate tap drill, an 0-80 screw, and pin vises. Drill a hole into the fattest part of the end of the key. Tap the hole. Drive the screw into the hole. Grab the screw head with pliers, and pull the key out.

But that's just me.

posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:19 PM on June 12, 2005

An update:

Ok, well I tried some various combinations of the suggestions on this thread, from some links, and my own ideas, such as using very small saw blades to try to get underneath and grip the keys, using double-sided duct tape on the end of said blades to try and pull it out, a hemostat, and bent paperclips. All I succeeded in doing was pushing the key fragment further in. However, I pushed it in so far that I was able to fit my spare in the lock, start the car, and drive it 20 miles home. Now I'm just trying to find out if it's worth it to get a locksmith anyhow, or not worry. I'm worried that it might damage the igniton/lock mechanism, possibly causing the car to stay in "Start" mode, making a big bad thing, but unfortunately, I have little idea on how to google such a request. *sigh* Now I have to wait another week.
posted by Snyder at 2:00 AM on June 13, 2005

Since you can now turn the cylinder, the cylinder can be removed, which will make getting out the broken-off key easy. If you can find out how to remove the cylinder, do it. If not, find a locksmith before the thing jams up on you when you're away from home in the middle of the night.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:22 AM on June 13, 2005

A locksmith is going to use a key extractor that looks exactly like a coping saw blade with a sharp point and a handle. These require a gentle touch but will usually get it. Slide it in the loosest part, twist gently to get the teeth to grab the key and pull straight out. It takes a light touch. Hold your mouth right.

Pulling the lock cylinder is a major exercise (they are made to foil thieves, after all) and will probably require a locksmith.

Do not put sticky things in locks. Duh.
posted by warbaby at 7:06 AM on December 2, 2005

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