car keys breaking and expensive to replace

edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Disability Money Matters
11 replies 5.3K views
saving_penniessaving_pennies Forumite
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edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Disability Money Matters
I have a mobility car and within a couple months the car key had broken - it came apart as I tried to start the car. This was replaced, I thought under waranty. Then within a month the plastic part of the key started to crack and shortly afterwards the key fell apart. I was told the replacement had been a goodwill gesture and that keys are not covered under the warranty. i contacted mobility and was told the car insurance does not cover it.

So I started to use the spare key. And within a month it had began to crack and slowly over months it got to the stage where it cracked so much the key doesn't stay together. I tried tape and this worked for a while but then the key got too cracked and plastic chipped away. There is now no plastic to hold the key in, so I can't tape or glue it.

I have no idea why this kees happening to the keys. I am only a small lady, not that strong, and have been using car keys for 8-10 years with no problems. The only difference is that now I have a adapted car with push pull acerelator/brake system and a car sales man said perhaps this means I am putting the key in at a different angle than if the adaptation was not there, and therefore putting more stress on the key.

My car is now two years old. It is possible to use the key which is in two parts by putting the metal part into the ignition and holding the rest of the key as close as possible to the metal part and then turning the car on. Obviously this is not ideal, and makes my fingers sore as I turn the small metal part of the key. Also when the car goes back next year then they are going to want at least one whole working key.

They cost £180 each to replace - ouch!!!

I'm wondering if anyone has had problems with their car keys and whether they have managed to get them covered under warranty or car insurance. I checked with my home insurance - it isn't covered under that either. Also has anyone ever had problems with keys breaking like this?
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  • Richie-from-the-BoroRichie-from-the-Boro Forumite
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    I have a mobility car and within a couple months the car key had broken - it came apart as I tried to start the car. This was replaced, I thought under waranty. Then within a month the plastic part of the key started to crack and shortly afterwards the key fell apart. I was told the replacement had been a goodwill gesture and that keys are not covered under the warranty. i contacted mobility and was told the car insurance does not cover it.

    So I started to use the spare key. And within a month it had began to crack and slowly over months it got to the stage where it cracked so much the key doesn't stay together. I tried tape and this worked for a while but then the key got too cracked and plastic chipped away. There is now no plastic to hold the key in, so I can't tape or glue it.

    I have no idea why this kees happening to the keys. I am only a small lady, not that strong, and have been using car keys for 8-10 years with no problems. The only difference is that now I have a adapted car with push pull acerelator/brake system and a car sales man said perhaps this means I am putting the key in at a different angle than if the adaptation was not there, and therefore putting more stress on the key.

    My car is now two years old. It is possible to use the key which is in two parts by putting the metal part into the ignition and holding the rest of the key as close as possible to the metal part and then turning the car on. Obviously this is not ideal, and makes my fingers sore as I turn the small metal part of the key. Also when the car goes back next year then they are going to want at least one whole working key.

    They cost £180 each to replace - ouch!!!

    I'm wondering if anyone has had problems with their car keys and whether they have managed to get them covered under warranty or car insurance. I checked with my home insurance - it isn't covered under that either. Also has anyone ever had problems with keys breaking like this?

    You obviously have dexterity problems with your ' car starting procedure ' and are breaking the coded key. Not sure what to suggest as I've never heard of a general manufacturer recall for badly made keys.

    .. you are not putting them on a very hot place for days on end and ' baking ' them brittle are you ?

    The goodwill replacement is unlikely ever to be made again, as evidenced by the fact you managed to fracture the second key and in all likelihood will do a subsequent 3rd / 4th / etc

    With your replacement [ 3 year ] car you should consider a ' key card ' model, here a credit card type thing is used for locking / unlocking / starting the car, that way no key is ever needed.
    Disclaimer : Everything I write on this forum is my opinion. I try to be an even-handed poster and accept that you at times may not agree with these opinions or how I choose to express them, this is not my problem. The Disabled : If years cannot be added to their lives, at least life can be added to their years - Alf Morris - ℜ
  • ChorlieChorlie Forumite
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    I've been driving for 23yrs with hand controls and never once had a problem with the key.

    What car do you have?
    What type of hand controls do you use?
    Is it easy to insert the key (nothing blocking it)?
    Does anything knock into the key (hand controls / your knee etc)?
    Where do you place your key when not driving? Are you a wheelchair user and put your key in an underseat bag (could it be damaged in there) or are they placed (as someone else said) somewhere hot (by a kettle / toaster)
    Do you have a pet or child that might be playing / chewing it?

    If you can rule out all of them, check on the net to see if it's a common / know issue with that car key (are others having the same issue), if so go back to your dealer with the proof and demand all keys are replaced free of charge since they aren't fit for purpose under the sale of goods act.
  • thanks for your replys

    I have a honda jazz car from motability with hand controls - there is a metal lever which is a push pull accerator/brake. This lever is in front of the ignition and so I do have to go in at an angle to put the key in the ignition and turn it.

    When I don't use the keys they are kept with my other keys on the side. No where near a radiator so doubt they are being over heated.

    I searched for broken key fobs and there are many people commenting about how the key casing gets cracked. This is how mine started. This wasn't specific to Honda Jazz. I've not read about people whose keys have broken to the extent that the metal part of the key is seperate from the key casing. I will have to re-search the websites as it was months ago I read about other people's keys breaking. If I had sense I should have used superglue whilst the metal key was beginning to come out of the casing.

    I have heard about the cars that don't require a standard key and certainly will be going for that next year when my car is renewed.
  • I did some research and there are autolocksmiths who can, in theory, replace a car key at a cheaper cost then Honda. I called motability to see if when I hand the car back whether I need to hand back one or two keys. They prefer two, but one is sufficient. The broken keys need to be replaced by a Honda approved by Motability. When I explained the cost and how it isn't covered by insurance, plus Honda saying it may be due to teh adaptation which is infront of the ignition meaning I have to put the key in at an angle. After speaking to the fleet team, the lady said they will replace the key but I need to pay labour and coding cost (not sure what that will be). She also gave me the number for a local adaption centre and said they may have an adaptation to make sure this doesn't happen again.


    Thanks for your replys.
  • Vicky123Vicky123 Forumite
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    The keys on my last car broke or rather fell apart and there is no adaptions to the car, it was a Citroen, not much help I know but just making you aware it isn't necessarily anything to do with adaptions or strange angles.
    I just put it down to me having dropped them at some point and weakening the casing but tbh I have dropped keys countless times in my life and never had them fall apart.
  • ChorlieChorlie Forumite
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    I'd get the hand controls checked, mine has never blocked access to the ignition.

    My hand controls are Gosling's which has less metal that some other makes.

    Also my current car has keyless drive, so I can leave my keys in my coat pocket and just press the Stop/Start button, I don't need a key in the ignition.
  • Vicky - thanks for your reply. And yes your right it may not be due to the adaptations.

    Chorlie - Motability asked me to call the people who installed the hand controls to see if they come across this before. Although they have never heard of keys breaking, they are aware that some drivers find it difficult to get to the ignition due to the hand controls and there is another adaptation to remotely start the car although this cost £350. This would make it similar to your start button - pity I wasn't told this 2 years ago. I doubt Motability would agree to the adaptation with only a year left, given the fact I may be terminating my contract early due to change in my condition meaning I now need a wheelchair.

    I will definitely look into the keyless approach for my next car.


    I called Honda to inform them that Motability will replace the key but I will pay for labour/coding - it will cost me about £35. Much better than £180! :)
  • ChorlieChorlie Forumite
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    Do your controls look like this:

    http://www.jeffgosling.co.uk/HandControls/examples/h.html#thumb

    (look at the photo of the Jazz, it looks like there should be enough room to insert the key).
  • No, they don't look like the jeffgosling ones. They seem small compared to mine.

    Mine were from techmobility. I can't find a pic of my actual hand controls but they are similar to the top photo in this link: http://www.techmobility.co.uk/vehicle_adaptations.htm although mine has more metal underneath which goes just above my knee when I'm sitting down.

    Techmobility told me they have limited positions to put the hand controls so they don't hit knees etc and have space to move back and forward. The part I hold in my hand is relatively big compared to the picture in your link. I have thin wrists/small hands and can just about get between the lever and steering wheel to reach ignition but it is a tight fit. It is easier to go under the hand control to get to the ignition.
  • BufferBuffer Forumite
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    Now thias may sound odd, but a few years ago we had a similar problem with the plastic part of keys breaking.

    Eventually using a process of elimination it boiled down to the fact that when out of the car and at home, the keys were regularly stored within range of a magnetic field, which over time caused the molecules within the 'plasticiser' component of the plastic to break down making the plastic brittle. The magnetic field was from stereo speakers (the keys were regularly left ontop of the speakers cabinet). My technical/engineering colleagues in the RN did some work on this to see if it would have any use operationally but couldn't find any at that time (very late 70's).
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