Broken VW Key ? Reuse old key electronics to save money

My guess is you have a flip key, for a VW Transporter or Caddy, and the blade has snapped away from the rest of the key. The problem of the broken VW key also affects Skoda and Seat Keys. It’s a bad problem that’s getting worse.

Broken VW Key


This week we fixed a key from a three year old VW Transporter, one of four keys fixed in as many days. How is it possible that a vehicle just a few years old, you end up with a broken VW Key?

This article explains why they read, and we’ll show you how to fix your own broken VW key.  Follow the instructions to get some more life out of the old electronics, rather than pay for a whole new key.

Broken VW Key

We think they should be replaced through a recall, as they have done with the newer type Seat key. However this is only happening in certain dealerships. Read more about how the new style key is already breaking.

Broken VW Key Why are they breaking to soon?

There are four problems that have met to make the perfect storm for owners, leaning a trail of broken VW Key problems behind.

Broken VW Key Problem One

The ignition locks feel very stiff to turn. This is especially true on VW Transporter and Caddy vans. We think it’s ok up to the point where the ignition lights come on. However when you turn the lock the last part to crank the engine, it feels very heavy.

Broken VW Key Problem Two

The ignition lock is held in place by a lock housing. The steering lock and electrical switch are part of the housing and unfortunately, we believe they are faulty.

It’s common for us to see 5-6 year old cars with lock housings that have failed, jamming up. The extra pressure put on the key weakens it, causing a broken VW Key. Read all about the problem here.

Broken VW Key Problem Three

The key blade is held into the key by a pin, held inside the blade holder. This blade holder is too weak and a fracture occurs around the place where the pin passes through.

This is an example of inferior component design, and we see this throughout the range of new keys and locks.

Broken VW Key Problem Four

Both the VW Transporter and VW Caddy models are used by businesses that do a lot of stop/start work such as delivery drivers. This constant on/off with the ignition lock brings forward the problem by years.

The VW transporter above had a mileage of 98,000 after three years, whereas the average family would probably take 5-6 years to get to this amount of miles.

We can see the problems that regular drivers will experience in a few years time.

Broken VW Key

So How can you fix your Broken VW Key ?

These are fairly simple to fix, but there are a couple of WARNINGS I need to let you know about

Warning Number One. These keys are different to Ford or Vauxhall keys. With these other makes we can take a ‘virgin’ key off the shelf, cut it and code it to your car.

However, VW, Seat and Skoda keys are different.

The chip that is fitted to your Broken VW Key has been specially formatted by the VW dealer, and if you break the chip, or it fails, replacing this key is more complicated.

Warning Number Two. If you open the broken key incorrectly, you will break the chip. This is not good. So read to the end and watch the video first please.


What do I need to fix my Broken VW Key?

Only a few things really.

  1. A new repair case. You cannot reuse the old case, sorry.
  2. Some Circlip pliers.
  3. The YouTube video below. It’s ten minutes long and will show you in great detail how to carefully open the key, remove the electronics and then rebuild the key.

That’s about it.





Broken Transporter Key Snapped in Lock

This weeks car key review was easy to choose. When our customer arrived with his 2017 VW van, we couldn’t believe our eyes! With a broken Transporter key, he needed help.

broken Transporter key

German engineering? It used to stand for something. The old VW cars and vans would run forever. The keys from 2003 era vehicles are still in one piece, fifteen years later. So what happened to this broken Transporter key?

broken Transporter key

Was the broken Transporter key the customers fault?

The van is used for courier work. Frequent stop/starts with the ignition being turned 150-200 times every day. This is common in the world of multi-drop delivery drivers. 

So will the New VW Transporter be able to cut it looking forward? Are the  keys strong enough to withstand the job? You’ll have to think about this when choosing your new van. Inferior Design and manufacture are now common place in the motor trade, although a broken key that’s just one year old is extreme. 

We recognise that multi-drop drivers use the ignition lock far more than most of us as regular users. However, the weakness in these keys is a warning for us all. It’s a look into the future of VW keys. The same as Ikea testing the kitchen drawer all day and all night long until it fails. 

Is a Broken Transporter key covered under warranty?

Unfortunately not. We’re told this is user error, the key has been mis-treated and therefore, isn’t covered. To replace a broken Transporter key at the dealer will cost £246 per key.

Can the broken Transporter key be fixed?

Yes. This isn’t simple, because of how the key case has been fixed together. Good news.  Following our method to open the key won’t damage the electronics inside.

To find out how to fix the new style of broken Transporter key, watch out for out YouTube video next week. 

We believe there are big problems ahead for VW, Seat and Skoda keys. They already have problems with the newer style key. 

You’ll need to keep an eye on the flip mechanism, losing blades and ignitions that fail. 

Let us know if you have this problem, we’d love to hear from you

VW Car Key Won’t turn in lock

German cars have a reputation for excellent engineering and reliability. When we see a fifteen-year-old VW Passat, it usually has the original car key and ignition lock. Unfortunately, the newer car keys and locks from VW are not so reliable. We’re starting to see a new fault, and your VW car key won’t turn in the lock, so you can’t drive it. This problem is showing up on cars from 2009 onwards and we’ve seen it up to 2013 models.

Why won’t my VW car key won’t turn in the lock?

It helps to know just a little bit information about locks and keys. The ignition lock on your VW is simple.

vw car key

Ignition lock and key

It’s a small lock, with lots of pieces that move up and down, called tumblers. When the correct key is put into the lock, the tumblers line up and then the key can be turned, simple.

The lock must be held in place, and the big piece of aluminium that does this is called the lock housing. As well as holding the ignition lock in place, it also has electric wires attached to it, and the steering lock. So, the lock is a very simple thing, whereas the lock housing is more complicated and has many functions. Unfortunately, when your VW car key won’t turn in the lock, it’s not obvious which problem you have. It could be the VW lock that’s faulty, or it could be the lock housing.

What do I do about my VW lock problem?

When your VW car key won’t turn in the lock, the first thing to do is to find out whether you have a lock problem, a lock housing problem, or both. Most independent garages will follow the guidelines and simply order both parts.

This will solve your problem but is the most expensive solution. For a start, the lock will need to be ordered in, and takes 10-14 days to arrive from Germany. However, the lock housings are available next day. So, if you have a low mileage car and your car lock is ok, you may just need a new lock housing. This would cut your parts bill in half and you could be mobile in a couple of days, instead of two weeks!

How do I test to see if I need a new ignition lock?

This isn’t easy. The only way you’ll know is to take the ignition lock out of the lock housing. To do this you’ll need to remove the plastic housing that covers up the lock housing. This can be a bit of an effort with some VW cars.

Once you can get to the lock, you then need to remove it from the housing. This involves turning the lock to the first position and poking a piece if wire into the lock release hole. It’s not simple and you’ll probably find you’ll want a mechanic to do this. Once you get the lock out, carry out the following fault finding.

How do I know if I need a new ignition lock?

When you have your lock out of the car, you need to put your VW car key into the lock and test it. Does the key turn smoothly in the lock? Or, is it notchy and feel like there is some resistance? If the lock turns smoothly, great news, you probably just need the lock housing. These are available from VW or TPS the next day and cost between £90 and £150 plus VAT. If you turn the lock and it grinds, or there is any resistance, you need a new lock and a new housing.

How do I know if I need a new VW Lock housing?

We recommend that the very least you should do is replace the lock housing.

vw car key

Ignition lock housing with lock removed

We’re seeing 2-3 cars every month that are suffering with lock and lock housing problems. The lock housing is normally the faulty part, so it needs to be changed.

Do I need a new VW Car key as well?

The new style of VW car key is terrible quality. Since 2009 they changed the design and they have a problem with the blades becoming loose and snapping away from the key. However, unless you have this problem, we would say that the key will be ok. Even if the key blade is worn, (usually caused by turning the lock when jammed) you’ll just need a new blade, and not a complete key.

If you order the parts from VW or TPS to your VIN number, then your old car key will fit the replacement lock. This means you can still use your old WW car key, saving you the cost of a new key and programming.

The unfortunate thing is because the lock and housing become stiff to turn, this causes the key damage at the hinge. Take a look at this article from last year.

Can I fit my own car lock and lock housing?

We think this is a tricky job. It’s not a weekend DIY project. The lock housing has lots of things attached to it and is held on the car with security bolts. These need to be removed with a hammer and punch, which isn’t that easy. Next, there are lots of things attached to the housing, and these need to be carefully removed.

The new lock housing comes with a warning. You can’t turn the mechanism without the lock in place. What we mean is, don’t mess about with the new lock housing, until you have a lock to put into it. If you do turn the lock housing, it will be scrap and you’ll need a new one! For some reason VW have designed the housing so that if it is tampered with, it locks up and cannot be used. This is good if someone is trying to steal the car, but not much used if your trying to fix it!

Should I try to fix the VW lock and housing myself?

As we’ve said, this is quite an involved job. If you’re confident with cars and tools, you’ll probably have no bother. However, we believe that if there’s any doubt, leave it to the garage. We hope this helps!