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Nottingham Car Keys
Loughborough auto locksmith

Common Reasons Car Keys Are Damaged And How To Fix Them

Posted on: May 16th, 2024 by guy hudson

In the hustle and bustle of modern life, car keys are often the unsung heroes that quietly grant us access to our vehicles. Yet, these small, seemingly simple tools can become a source of frustration when they malfunction or break. Let’s delve into the world of car keys, exploring the various types and the common issues that plague them.


Car keys are the gateway to mobility for most individuals. Whether it’s a traditional metal key, a remote key fob, or a sophisticated smart key, these devices play a pivotal role in starting our vehicles and ensuring security. However, issues with car keys can disrupt daily routines and even strand us in inconvenient situations.


Different Types of Car Keys


  1. Traditional Keys: These are the classic metal keys that physically engage the ignition cylinder to start the car. They are simple and reliable but can be prone to wear and tear over time. Traditional keys are straightforward in design, typically requiring manual insertion into the ignition switch and turning to start the vehicle.


  1. Remote Key Fobs: Key fobs use radio frequency signals to communicate with the car’s locking system. They often feature buttons to remotely lock/unlock doors and may include a panic button for emergencies. These electronic devices enhance convenience but are susceptible to battery issues and electronic malfunctions.


  1. Smart Keys: Also known as proximity keys or keyless entry systems, smart keys enable hands-free locking and unlocking. They utilise sensors to detect the key’s proximity to the vehicle, allowing for push-button ignition without physically inserting the key into the ignition cylinder. Smart keys are sophisticated but can experience connectivity problems or require reprogramming if their software malfunctions.


Key Maintenance for Longevity

Regardless of the type of car key you use, proper maintenance can significantly extend its lifespan and prevent common issues. Here are key maintenance tips tailored to each type:


Traditional Keys

  •  Regularly inspect for signs of wear, such as bending or worn-out grooves.
  •  Keep keys clean and dry to prevent rust and corrosion.
  •  Avoid using excessive force when turning the key in the ignition cylinder.


Remote Key Fobs

  •  Replace batteries periodically to ensure consistent performance.
  •  Keep the key fob away from water or extreme temperatures.
  •  If buttons become unresponsive, consider having the fob professionally inspected.


Smart Keys

  •  Avoid physical damage by protecting the key from impacts or drops.
  •  Ensure the key’s proximity sensor is not obstructed by other items in your pocket or purse.
  •  If the key stops working, consult your vehicle’s manual for reprogramming instructions or seek professional assistance.


Common Reasons Car Keys Get Damaged

  1. Wear and Tear from Frequent Use

Car keys endure significant wear and tear due to regular usage. Each time you insert and turn the key in the ignition or lock, tiny amounts of metal are shaved off from the key’s teeth. This gradual erosion can eventually lead to the key becoming misshapen, bent, or weakened. Traditional keys, especially, can experience wear on their teeth, resulting in difficulty starting the vehicle as they struggle to engage properly with the ignition cylinder.


  1. Exposure to Extreme Temperatures

Car keys are often exposed to extreme temperatures, whether left under the scorching sun or exposed to freezing cold. These temperature fluctuations can cause materials in the keys to expand and contract, leading to structural damage over time. Plastic components in smart keys and key fobs can become brittle and prone to cracking, while electronic components inside key fobs can malfunction due to temperature-induced stress.


  1. Accidental Damage or Misuse

Accidents happen, and car keys are not immune to them. Dropping keys onto hard surfaces, submerging them in water, or using excessive force when turning the ignition can all result in physical damage to the key. Buttons on key fobs can become unresponsive if they are pressed too forcefully or if foreign substances find their way into the device, affecting their functionality.


  1. Issues with Key Fob Batteries

Key fobs rely on batteries to transmit signals to the car’s locking system. If the battery inside the key fob is low or depleted, the key fob may not function correctly. This can manifest as failure to unlock doors remotely, inability to start the vehicle with push-button ignition, or sporadic responsiveness of key fob functions.


Understanding these common reasons for car key damage can help car owners take proactive steps to protect their keys and ensure their vehicles remain accessible and operational. Regular maintenance, careful handling, and prompt repairs, when needed, can significantly extend the lifespan of car keys and prevent inconvenient lockouts or key failures.


How to Fix Common Key Problems

  1. Key Breaks or Bends: If a traditional key breaks, consider having a spare key made by an auto locksmith. For a bent key, gently straighten it using pliers, being careful not to break it further.


  1. Faulty Key Fob Buttons: Clean the key fob’s buttons with rubbing alcohol and a cotton swab to remove dirt or debris. If this doesn’t work, replacing the key fob may be necessary.


  1. Dead Batteries: Replace the battery in your key fob by following the manufacturer’s instructions or seek assistance from an auto locksmith for more complex smart keys.

Types of Key Damage

Car keys are subject to various types of wear and tear. Here are some common issues that can impact the functionality of your keys:


  1. Key Bending or Breaking: Keys can weaken over time due to repeated use, leading to bending or even snapping. This can be exacerbated by applying excessive force when turning the key in the ignition or door lock.
  2. Corrosion and Rust: Exposure to moisture and environmental elements can cause rust and corrosion on key surfaces, affecting their ability to fit smoothly into locks.
  3. Electrical Malfunctions in Key Fobs: Modern cars often use key fobs equipped with electronic components. Malfunctions such as dead batteries or internal circuit issues can render key fobs ineffective.


How to Fix Damaged Car Keys

DIY Repairs for Minor Issues

For minor key problems like corrosion or stiffness:

  1. Clean the Key: Use a soft brush and some alcohol to remove dirt and debris from the key’s grooves.
  2. Apply Lubricant: Use graphite powder or silicone spray to lubricate the key’s moving parts.


Seeking Professional Help for Major Damage

When facing serious key issues like broken keys or malfunctioning fobs, it’s best to consult with an auto locksmith. These professionals have the tools and expertise to handle complex key repairs and replacements.


Key Maintenance Tips for Longevity

To prolong the life of your car keys and prevent future issues:

  1. Avoid Excessive Force: Be gentle when inserting and turning your keys.
  2. Keep Keys Dry: Store keys in a dry place to prevent rust and corrosion.
  3. Regular Inspection: Check your keys periodically for signs of wear and tear.



Key problems are a common frustration for vehicle owners, but with the right knowledge and resources, they can be effectively managed. Whether you’re dealing with a worn-out key or a malfunctioning key fob, proactive maintenance and timely repairs are key to ensuring smooth operation.


For professional assistance in Nottingham and surrounding areas, Nottingham Car Keys offers comprehensive auto locksmith services. They specialise in vehicle entry, replacement car keys, key programming, and camper van keys. If you find yourself locked out, their skilled technicians can swiftly retrieve keys from cars, vans, or boots using advanced lock-picking techniques. They also provide rapid replacement services for lost or stolen car keys across various makes and models.


Nottingham Car Keys’ service coverage extends to Nottingham, Derby, Leicester, Loughborough, and neighbouring regions, with a rapid response team available daily for lost car keys in multiple locations. Contact them today via phone at 01159 843133, email at, or through their online quote request form.


Don’t let key problems disrupt your day—reach out to Nottingham Car Keys for efficient solutions and get back on the road with confidence! Stay informed, stay prepared, and enjoy hassle-free driving.


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