A very common problem occurs when one of your keys breaks. The key may break outside of the lock or while in the lock. If it breaks outside of the lock, you need to take the broken pieces to a professional locksmith and have a new key originated. If the key is extremely worn, the locksmith must come to where the lock or vehicle is to ensure correct origination of a new key. Saturn vehicles along with older G.M. vehicles with single sided keys are notorious for worn keys that are not easy to decode.
If the key has broken off in the lock, do yourself a favor and call a Professional Locksmith to extract the broken piece from the lock. Locks contain many small springs and parts that can easily be damaged from someone not skilled at lock service, attempting to remove a broken key. Weekly, we see the results of someone attempting to remove a key and inadvertently destroying the lock or making the key extraction even more difficult. Replacing the lock will definitely cost far more than having the key extracted by a professional.
To avoid the problem of a broken key, replace any keys that have small fractures or crack in them as well as worn keys. Also, have a professional look at the lock and key when they become hard to operate. Most often, a lock that does not operate easily may be the result of a worn key. I have seen numerous vehicle locks replaced by mechanics when only the key was worn, costing the motorists far more than would have been necessary to replace the key.
In the old days a key breaking was strictly a mechanical failure of the metal key, but todays vehicle keys also include electronic components to remotely operate locks as well as an anti-theft device known as a transponder. Outside of Nissan and Chrysler vehicles, the transponders rarely fail, but the plastic cases on all of the remote head keys seem to break quite easily.
When the metal part of the key breaks, it just requires obtaining a new key cut to match the broken one unless electronic components are involved. Dr Auto Lock stocks many common shells for keys containing electronic components when just the shell or metal part of the key breaks. It is far less costly to just replace the key shell than to replace the electronic components as well. This is also true of keys that only contain a transponder chip. At Dr Auto Lock, we can usually replace the shell and reuse the transponder chip from the broken key. Reusing the electronic components usually does not require the reprogramming of the electronic components, making the repair less costly.
Always purchase your replacement shell from a local locksmith, as most locksmiths are not willing to cut keys of unknown materials. Many cheap keys sold online are made of cheap materials that may damage expensive key cutting equipment. We have also found that many of these shells will not properly allow the electronics to fit into them. Once the cheap shell is cut, the scam artist who sold them to you will not refund your money, and usually they refuse to give you a refund even if you did not have the key cut.
The most common vehicles that experience remote head shell breakage are Lexus and Chrysler vehicles. The plastic breaks quite easily on these vehicles and we replace quite few of them. Almost all other vehicles are susceptible to having the metal key blade break after the key has been bent. Flip blade keys used on German vehicles and domestic vehicles tend to break where the key blade is pinned to the remote. These failures require a new remote with electronics and programming. The G.M. remotes are the least costly to replace while the German ones cost the most.
The most important thing to do is to visually inspect your keys weekly. If you see a small crack or fracture starting or if the key is bent, get it replaced immediately. It will cost even more if the key breaks off in the ignition lock. If the key does break off in your ignition, do yourself a favor and call a professional automotive locksmith to extract it. I have replaced hundreds of locks after the vehicle owner or some know it all friend attempted to remove the key, ruining the lock in the process. And finally do not ever try to use super glue to remove the key, it will ruin your lock. The upper key is a transponder key w/o remote while the lower key is a remote flip key.