This morning I tried to open the passenger-side door (of my 2001 VW Eurovan) but it appears to be stuck. The door is unlocked. I can pull the handle, but apparently not far enough to operate the door mechanism. Same for both interior and exterior door handles. The other doors appear to be OK.

Lock/unlock with the remote keyfob appears OK.

I tried lock/unlock with the actual physical key, but it seems that I can only push the key about 2/3rds of the way in.

So it appears that some numskull joker tried to jimmy my door yesterday evening, failed, but left something (part of a key, perhaps) in the lock.

Any tips/advice for removing whatever object is stuck in the lock myself?

Or is this something I'll need a mechanic or a locksmith to fix?


I thought the door was not openable at all, but I fiddled with it a bit more and it turns out I can open it with the interior door handle. I'll take the door cover off later to see what I can find - I know how to do this from when I fixed the powerwindows :)

  • Can you get the door open or not? If you can open the door, you can remove the lock and take it apart.
    – JPhi1618
    Commented May 16, 2016 at 17:21
  • @JPhi1618 No, I cannot open the door, at least by operating the handles :( Commented May 16, 2016 at 17:33

4 Answers 4


Don't know if this would be the best way to attack the problem, but here's what I would do.

Remove the interior door handle and fiddle with the linkage trying to get the door to open.

If that does not work, remove that passenger's seat so you have room to work. Remove the door cover. Hopefully this can be done with the door closed. Even if you can't get it all the way off, hopefully you can remove it enough to get your hand in there and move the linkage manually. Try to move the linkage as close to the lock as possible. You might even be able to remove the lock. Try to find diagrams of the door beforehand so you know how the linkage is setup and where everything is.

  • I thought the door was not openable at all, but I fiddled with it a bit more and it turns out I can open it with the interior door handle. I'll take the door cover off later to see what I can find Commented May 16, 2016 at 22:06
  • I was able to remove the exterior door handle, and found that due to metal fatigue, pin that held a hinging part had broken. I was able to drill out the remains of the pin and put a bolt in its place and now the door is good again. Somehow after that I could use the key too. Perhaps something lodged in the keyhole fell out when I removed the whole assembly? Commented Aug 11, 2016 at 22:54
  • Good to hear. It happens sometimes that fixing one problem fixes another seemingly unrelated issue. Hard to say for sure what happened, but who cares as long as it works now, right?
    – rpmerf
    Commented Aug 12, 2016 at 18:18

You need to find a way to open the door, slim jim or other tool.

Once the door is open you need to remove the lock cylinder to get the broken key out. Depending on the vehicle how hard or easy this is.

The cylinder may have been damaged and would need replaced and re-pinned to your key, this would require a locksmith.

If you can remove the lock cylinder yourself this will save money when you take it to a locksmith shop for repair or replacement.

Fastest way to repair this is to call a locksmith.

  • If it's not a key that's in there, but a bit of metal, a tweezers may be sufficient to remove what's in there. If so, removing the lock cylinder may not be necessary. If the lock cylinder does needs the attention of a professional, I'd agree that that's out of scope for the car repair body of knowledge, but that removing and reinstalling it yourself can save you labour costs.
    – Mathieu K.
    Commented May 18, 2016 at 6:23

With the door open you'll see a screw, usually with a splined bit head, which goes into the handle. Simply remove this screw then grasp the handle, slide it towards the front of the vehicle and gently pull the rear of the handle towards you. Once this piece is clear slide the handle back towards the rear of the vehicle and it will come away from the door complete with lock barrel and the operating paddle.

You can this strip the paddle mechanism from the back side of the lock barrel, release the retaining clip and the whole lock barrel will slide out of the handle.


For anybody else reading this, I once had a broken key in the ignition barrel. I applied a very small amount of superglue to the half of key I still had and pushed it firmly into the barrel against the broken piece. It pulled out. I appreciate that is risky but using a very small amount of glue reduces the risk of getting it into the barrel mechanism.

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