Broken Car Key
October 29, 2005 10:27 PM   Subscribe

Help! How do I replace a broken car key? I have no spare. My car is a 1991 Nissan Maxima.

So anyway my girlfriend and I drove to a Halloween party separetly. She locked her keys in her car. At the end of the night I go to my car and my key was broken in half. Thankfully my roomate was able to pick our drunk asses up (she was dressed as a tornado and I was a cowboy with a totu, in case you were wondering). What do I do?
posted by geonags to Travel & Transportation (16 answers total)
Get thee to your nearest Nissan dealer, with your title in hand. Given your VID (Vehicle ID number), they should be able to issue you a key. (But you might have to wait a while.) Some makes (I've heard this about Cadillac) a locksmith with the right tool can create a new key on-the-spot, by keying in the VID.

By broken in half, do you mean in the lock? Then just a call a locksmith -- he should be able to extract the broken-off end, and create a new, working key for you from that.
posted by Rash at 10:38 PM on October 29, 2005

What's a totu?
posted by trip and a half at 11:39 PM on October 29, 2005

posted by trip and a half at 11:46 PM on October 29, 2005

Simpler, since your girlfriend still has her keys, but they're locked in the car -- get somebody with a slim jim who can help you break into your car. This might be a locksmith, might even be the local police (be prepared to show ID, of course). Then you have original car keys, which you can get copied.

If the key parts are not retrievable from the lock, of course, you're going to need a new lock.
posted by dhartung at 12:10 AM on October 30, 2005

As Rash says, if a dealership is open, you can get a key cut with the VID and ownership documentation , etc.; but the process can be a major pain.

That said, you can also call a locksmith. It'll usually cost you about $40, but tomorrow being Sunday, it likely would be more costly.

One thing about getting older is that you learn to carry a spare key in your wallet and keep one hidden in a magnetic holder duct-taped to the frame somewhere; along with having yet another spare set, stashed at the girfriend's house.

Few people manage to avoid these costly little life lessons, sadly.

( She's so drunk that she locked her keys in her car, and you're so drunk that you broke your only key, possibly in the lock? Given what seems to be a high level of confusion and fuzzy thinking on both your parts, that actually seems more like a good thing to me. Neither one of you should have been driving; but perhaps that wasn't your intention).
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 1:35 AM on October 30, 2005

dhartung, they're in separate cars. The tornado's keys are locked in the tornado's car; the cowboy's key is inexplicably broken, either in the lock or not.
I think.
posted by librarina at 1:35 AM on October 30, 2005

(Unless the cowboy means that he broke his copy of the tornado's key as well. But then why would the friend need to come? Wouldn't they just take the cowboy's car and come back tomorrow with a locksmith to get the tornado's car? It's unclear.)
posted by librarina at 1:38 AM on October 30, 2005

For the broken key: apply some superglue to the middle of the broken key, insert into the keyhole that contains the broken end and push. USE VERY, VERY LITTLE SUPERGLUE, otherwise you might accidentally glue one end or the other inside the chamber, which would be BAD. You should be able to extract the key from the car.

To get a replacement, you can either go to a key shop with your superglued key and have them make a new one, or go to the dealership and give them your VIN and they'll cut you a new key that fits your car. At least, with newer cars this works (1990+). This obviously wouldn't work on a '56 Chevy.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 1:46 AM on October 30, 2005

FWIW, AAA covers locksmith visits for lockouts. If you get the cops to open your car, they are not liable for any damage resulting from the use of a slim-jim, nor are they trained to the same level of expertise as a locksmith. If you've got AAA, use it. (Call the locksmith and pay him, get a receipt, and submit it to AAA.)
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:28 AM on October 30, 2005

Response by poster: Oh man, thanks everybody. I feel like an idiot right now. Somehow my key broke in half at the party and I couldn't find the other end. I can do the AAA thing for my our cars then head over to a Nissan dealer. It was a good thing that either of us were not able to get inside our cars.
posted by geonags at 5:53 AM on October 30, 2005

geonags -- AAA will pay for a locksmith to make a new key (I've done it after a broken key in a 91 Honda Accord), so no need to go to Nissan dealer and pay way too much.
posted by j at 7:04 AM on October 30, 2005

what kind of party did you manage to break a key in half at?
posted by devilsbrigade at 9:50 AM on October 30, 2005

Nissan keys are prone to breakage. In the last two months, both my mother and brother have broken keys to their Sentras right in half. It's the top-heavy plastic head combined with the narrow key shaft, I think.
posted by Dreama at 10:41 AM on October 30, 2005

Do you like your Maxima? We had over 300,000 miles on our '91 before we sold it.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:14 AM on October 30, 2005

If it's a clean break, you can bring it to any ole' key-maker. If it's a manual copier and the person has had any experience, they should be able to piece it together easily enough and make it good enough copy to work (older models use a clamp where you can adjust the key any way you wish). Chances are a copy will be sticky at first, but become easier to use with time. I used to copy keys at Ace Hardware, and I had a few broken keys I was able to successfully duplicate.
posted by jmd82 at 1:13 PM on October 30, 2005

Seconded AAA. When I lost my key they sent a locksmith out who made me a new one on the spot.
posted by Kellydamnit at 3:36 PM on October 30, 2005

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