Can A Car Key Get Worn Out? (And What To Do About It)

If you've owned your car for several years, you know the constant wear and tear can be hard on any vehicle. But, have you ever thought about your keys? Maybe you've noticed a few dings or scratches and wondered if a car key can get worn out? Wonder no more because we have looked into this very topic to answer all of your questions. 

Car keys can get worn out. In fact, it is quite common. Car keys go through a lot of wear and tear, especially if they are used every day. Keys can lose their shape and become dull.  A worn-down key is dangerous for you and your car.

Luckily, there are a few steps you can take to prevent/slow down car key wear:

  1. Make extra copies of your car key.
  2. Clean your keys regularly. 
  3. Properly store your car keys.
  4. Don't attach extra items to your keyring.
  5. Lubricate your car keys and locks.

It is never too late to start any of these maintenance strategies. Key maintenance could save you lots of money and prevent you from not being able to start your car one day. You probably still have more a few more questions. Keep reading to learn about worn down car keys and proper car key maintenance.  

A man holding the car keys of his convertible car, Can A Car Key Get Worn Out? (And What To Do About It)

Why Is My Car Key Worn Out?

It is normal for car keys to become worn down over time. Think about what a car key goes through daily; they move in and out of locks and the ignition, causing keys to contact metal. You probably store keys in a bag or purse during the day, where they may knock against other items. Also, you might drop your keys frequently without even thinking about it, letting them crash against the hard ground. These various actions add up to a dull, worn-out car key over time. 

Of course, if you have a key fob, you don't have to worry about this as much. However, fob keys can also become worn out over time and stop working. 

Is A Worn Out Car Key Bad?

A worn-out car key is bad because, over time, it may fail to start your car or can damage your ignition. It happens slowly, but keys will start to degrade and no longer be compatible with their locks or the ignition due to a dull thread. A few cuts and dings are nothing to worry about, but these small blows eventually add up to a dull, worn down key over the years. What was once a small scratch can turn into a valley, making your key no longer functional.

One day, unexpectedly, your trusty keys may no longer open the door or get stuck in the ignition. This could leave you stranded somewhere. Or, worse, damage your ignition and cost you hundreds of dollars to fix it and get a new key. For more information on what to do if your car key is not coming out of the ignition, check out,  Car Key Not Coming Out - What To Do?

How To Prevent Car Keys From Wearing Out

With proper care and maintenance, you can slow down key wear and prevent it from becoming a problem. With the following steps, you can ensure your keys will last as long as your car.

1. Make Extra Copies Of Your Car Keys

Making extra copies of your car keys is a great idea for both regular car keys and key fobs. Once you have multiple copies of your car key, you can rotate them, decreasing the wear each key goes through. Once they start to look too worn down, you can always get another copy made.

Having a spare set is also great if the set you normally use stops working. It prevents you from getting stuck because you will have a backup key already made. 

2. Clean Your Keys Regularly 

Cleaning your car keys regularly also slows down wear. Using any multisurface cleaning agent and cotton balls to scrub your key once a week prevents built-up grime. It also prevents any excess dirt on your key from transferring into the ignition or door locks. As a bonus, regularly cleaning your car keys prevent the spread of germs too. 

Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day Multisurface Cleaner 

This is a wonderful multi-surface cleaner that is safe to use around children and pets. You can use it to clean much more than just your car keys, so it won't go to waste.

Click here to view it on Amazon.

3. Properly Store Your Car Keys

Improperly storing car keys can lead to damage for both regular keys and key fobs. 

For key fobs, you need to make sure to keep them away from extreme temperatures, especially heat. Electronics do not mix well with extreme heat. Storing your key fob in a spot that gets really hot or cold could lead to wear and prevent it from working. 

For regular keys, you need to make sure to store your key in a dry, well-ventilated area to prevent rust from developing. A key left in humid, wet conditions for too long has the potential to corrode and rust, thus wearing down the key. 

If your keys actually got soaked by water, you should check out this post, Are Car Keys Waterproof?

DecoBros Wall Mount

Wall mounts like this are a great place to store keys. Hanging keys allow them to receive proper ventilation. When you have a special spot to store them, you won't find yourself scrambling around your house looking for them at the last minute. 

Click here to view it on Amazon. 

4. Don't Attach Extra Items To Your Keyring

Attaching items to your keyring may look nice, but extra weight can cause your key and ignition to wear down faster. Extra weight puts added pressure between the key threads and the ignition barrels. Added pressure leads to friction, which in turn causes wear. It is always best to key your key separate from any other items. 

5. Lubricate Your Car Keys And Locks

Lubricating your car keys and locks is a great way to prevent unnecessary friction between metals. A decrease in friction prolongs the life of your key. Make sure to use a graphite-based lubricant on metal. Other lubricants could attract dirt and dust, which will only cause more wear to your key. 

3-In-One Dry Lock Lube

This graphite-based lube is an affordable way to keep your car lock protected. It is easy to apply and could save you lots of money in the long run.

Click here to view it on Amazon.

Why Do Car Keys Stop Working?

A worn-out car key is only one reason your key may stop working. Here are a few other reasons your key may not be working.

  • A broken lock
  • Ignition problems
  • If you have a key fob, the battery might be dead
  • If you have a new car, the key may have been programmed incorrectly

Can You Program A Car Key Yourself?

It may be possible to program an electronic key yourself; however, it is not recommended to do this. You may find sources online telling you how to program a blank transponder key you bought for a low price, but this will not work for most cars. Save yourself the hassle, and pay a little more to have a professional program a car key for you. 

Where Can I Get A New Car Key?

There are many different places where you can get a new car key. It all depends on the types of car you have. Any car without an electronic part is much easier to replace. You can go to most basic hardware stores or Walmart to get these types of keys replaced. 

Electronic keys are more expensive and difficult to replace. Depending on your car, you may have to go to your car dealership or auto locksmith to get a new key. 

For more information, please read this blog post, Where to Get Car Keys Made?

Keep Your Car Keys In Pristine Condition 

A little bit of wear and tear on your car keys is inevitable. However, it would help if you did everything in your power to prevent this from happening. The last thing you want is for your key to get stuck in the ignition or fail to open your car door, leaving you stranded far away from home. 

There are some simple actions you can do to prolong the life of your key. Make a few copies, store and clean your keys properly, and use granite-based lubricants on the locks. Help your car keys last for years! 

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One comment

  1. This article doesn’t mention anything about a valuable point which is to store the original keys for the car as spares so if duplicates are needed they are always available in the best condition to be used for copying. This will prevent the originals from wearing down if they are not in regular use so future copies are not copied from worn original keys which won’t work as well as copies made from unworn originals. I always keep at least one set of the original keys for anything…house car etc. as the unused spares for emergencies or to be used only when I need to make copies. Copying from copies never provides the best key…often key machines are not calibrated properly and or the person making the keys is not very careful to make sure the blank is inserted properly and the cutting procedure is done carefully resulting in poor, non working, or marginally working keys and most consumers will tolerate a poor or marginal copy because they are lazy and don’t want to have to go back to the store to get a better copy. Then they attempt to use this poor or marginal key to make another copy in the future compounding the issue. My Grandmother made this mistake with her house and no one had any keys that worked properly in the doors. They all had to be jiggled for some time to get them to work to open the door. Same can happen with car keys and any lock.

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