Door cylinder broke, spun freely, locked itself in wrong position, key is stuck, need key

Volkswagen Golf 1.6 i 2001 / 2002.

When attempting to manually lock my car, the cylinder malfunctioned. It spun freely, and then the cylinder locked at an ~50-degree turn to the right and is preventing key removal.

I’m ready to, and know i most likely have to replace the cylinder. My immediate need is to extract the key so I can drive while awaiting the replacement.

Efforts to reposition the key, including forceful turning, wiggling, and using the central lock buttons while doing so, have been unsuccessful. The manual lock/unlock stick feels like a stiff spring and unresponsive.

If I could rotate the cylinder 1-2 mm to the left the key slot would be able to come to a vertical position, and might release. However, it’s siezed stuck and I’m uncertain if this would work anyway. Any more force than applied would bend the key.

So my question is, how can I extract a key from a misaligned cylinder that won’t let key slot return to a neutral position?

Pushing/pulling also does nothing while turning/wiggling.

I can get the spare key so I can drive it in a couple of days, but it would be great to be able to move the car to a safer location asap since door lock doesnt work.

I don’t have tools or space to take the door apart at current location, so only after getting key out or waiting for spare key mechanical work is possible.

Call a locksmith.


Worst case call your insurance or AAA if you have towing with either, and have it towed to a shop for repairs…

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Locksmiths make house calls. It should be easy to find one that works on automobile key locks.

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If you ever get it out, get some more keys made. Very dangerous to only have one key.

if you can get the door panel off, chances are good that this is a pretty easy fix. Sounds like the locking rod gave too much and allowed to key to over turn. Unclip the correct rod, turn the key to where you can pull the key out, and reconnect the rod. Then be careful to not overturn it in the future.
(FYI: this is kind of a generic idea, as I have not personally had the door panel off of a Volkswagen before.)

@eddo makes a good point, probably a relatively simple repair. Since OP doesn’t have tools or an available space to attempt a diy’er repair, the only solution is to figure out the best way to place the car and the locksmith (or shop tech) in the same location. I doubt there’s anything else the OP can do w/that situation. Suggest to not try using more force, as that might damage the key. Then you’ll have both a broken lock AND a broken key.

I had to fix a broken door lock on my Corolla a few years ago. It’s not a task I’d recommend for a newbie diy’er, even if they had the tools and space to do it. Its very easy to break the internal plastic links inside the door. Ask me how I know? … lol …

Just saying if the op had a second key, it could be driven to the shop. Like not having a spare tire so someone has to come and tow you in.

Boy Scout class over.

I was discussing with a friend many years ago about how I could best get myself out of a losing situation. (I think it involved a blonde). I valued his opinion so he said well I wouldn’t have gotten myself into that in the first place.

I am going out on a limb here and going to say that since the key was sticking out of the door and unlocked in a not so safe place, that either the OP has already had it taken care of or at least moved, or the car was stolen due to the unsafe place with the key sticking out of the door… And also since the OP has not been back and or responded to any reply’s… lol

Good way to find someone to get the stuck key out of your door in an unsafe location, leave it and a thief will removes it for you and then use your car to get safly back home… :grin:


Thank you all for your helpful advice!
I managed to manhandle the key the last mm needed to get it out, so now i simply use passanger side door for locking and unlocking.
200€ for a locksmith was always out of the question, way to much cash for something i can swap myself. And have it fixed. Or just ignore the problem and use passanger side door. Easily worth 200€.
I’d have the spare key today if i hadn’t found a fix allready.
The reason i don’t have the spare to begin with is beyond me. Current owner whom i rent from insists it’s “more convenient” if he has the spare, so he can come out with it if needed… /facepalm. It’s a bit retarded at the face of it, but then we can add that he works 1h away, with 50 mins home to the key. So thats 4h of lost work if i need the key for some reason.
Some kind of power trip, since he knows the central lock is busted and now the drivers door cylinder. If it was up to me the spare would reside at my apartment for easy access. The doors even lock themselves sometimes when i start the car to defrost while scraping windows.

You rent the car? I know things are different in different parts of the world, but it is $3 and a couple minutes at th3bhardware store to get a key made. It’s even done by computer now. Even Walmart seem# to have them. Put the key in and out pops a new one.

Your Volkswagen is older than the op’s car, his are likely transponder keys.


My last Volkswagen was 1968.

I’m guessing the OP is speaking of the landlord; i.e. OP rents an apt or room from the real estate owner. The landlord says they also need a key to OP’s car in case they need to move the tenant’s car for some reason.

Could be but around here a landlord cannot enter the premises or a car as an extension without permission. Of course they have a master key so just hang the car key by the refrigerator in case it is needed. And if the car is there, wouldn’t the op also likely be there? Doesn’t matter. Not to continue but why didn’t he/she/it just get the key from the land lord and drive it to the locksmith? Oh never mind. Didn’t want to pay 200#. Wiggle wiggle wiggle to get the key out.

Just saying, I have my second key fob in the trunk, and a door key hidden so I can either unlock the trunk or door. And this time someplace where it will not rust off.

Not to continue but why didn’t he/she/it just get the key from the land lord and drive it to the locksmith?

Owner not available for the moment. Just goes to show how stupid it is i don’t have the spare.
200€ Is ~60-70% of my disposable income for a month after bills etc, that’s pretty hefty when i can just use passenger door. We all have different economical bases to live by, so 200€ for one person might seems like something to scoff at. While for another it’s make or break.

Ben checking on the cylinder and it seems pretty straight forward to change it by splitting the door. So i’d rather take a chance with 30€ for a new cylinder and keys instead of 200€ for a locksmith. As i wrote the key works fine in passenger door, for 200€ i’ll gladly walk half a lap around the car each time im unlocking it. Thats pretty much 200€ for 20-30secs of moving when unlocking doors. So 400 unlocks before im at 200€ if we assume 1 min is worth 1€, which would net me an hourly savings of 60€ per hour.

quadruple/sextuple that amount of unlocks and you might get close to what my time is worth at the moment.

Try a little lube in there and see if it loosens up. If you pull the door panel you can make sure the cylinder is secure if thatbisboartbof the problem or yeah just worn out. Ifnitbwere me though watching Eros, I’d pull the cyl out and loosen it up as a try.

Needing to open the driver’s door by first opening the passenger door then reaching over to unlock the driver’s door doesn’t seem much of a burden. The driver’s door does seem to open and close after all. I had a similar problem on my Corolla, passenger door wouldn’t open using key. I used the same technique until I had time to fix the passenger side. So it probably makes sense for OP to continue using that method. There is one risk however, in the event of an accident where somebody needs to help you get out, may cause some delay. Suggest to drive extra cautiously until fixed.

I actually just went through the sun roof. Smashed drivers side, injured passenger on right side. Operable sun roof. Back when I was young and flexible.