I just bought a 2012 VW Jetta TDI. The dealer asked me to do a 2,000 mile check-up to make sure everything is within tolerances. At the check-up the service representative said my key-chain was too heavy and if I planned to keep the car for long I should reduce weight on the key-chain to keep from damaging the ignition. I only have six other keys, a hook and two small plastic electronic computer devices on the single key ring. It doesn't seem excessive at all compared to the usual key rings you see.

The question is, do new car ignitions still wear out due to key-ring weight? To me this seemed like the kind of advice that might have once been true and is dispensed long after it is no longer the case.

  • You should also read up on the GM ignition switch fiasco. Heavy keys rings made things worse for them. Cars would shut off during normal driving, and when they crashed, there was no airbag deployment.
    – zipzit
    Commented Apr 21, 2016 at 21:31

5 Answers 5


I dont think you have much to worry about honestly.

I'd be more worried about the plastic link between the metal key and the plastic key fob breaking. (I have a TDi as well - a 2001.) My keys are heavy and have a lot of stuff, and i've never had an issue with it.

Is it possible? Sure.

Is it likely? No.

  • Agreed. The weight you would need to do any immediate damage would be causing other problems...
    – Nick
    Commented Jul 28, 2012 at 19:50
  • 1
    About 2 years later, and this answer seems somewhat ironic considering the current GM recall.
    – Ellesedil
    Commented Jul 11, 2014 at 19:19
  • Heh. GMs problem was not faulty ignitions....not weight.
    – Applehat
    Commented Jul 11, 2014 at 23:41

I worked on VWs and Audis for a while, we had some mkIV's like yours with worn out ignition switches from heavy key rings. My advice is to keep the weight of the key ring to something reasonable.

  • No hammers on your keychain!
    – Applehat
    Commented Mar 1, 2013 at 21:24

It is possible that the dealer has seen a lot of older Jettas coming in with worn ignitions and that or maybe one extreme case that justifies his warning. I would put this information in the "it is possible catagory".If you kept the car long enough it might become a problem,in a scenario where with a single key the ignition switch would last 250,000 miles put with several keys it will only last 200,000.Six keys doesn't seem excessive to me.In the grand scheme are you going to have the car long enough for it to be a problem for you.


In most cases a heavy key chain or keys is fine. I am a Certified Automotive Locksmith at https://mynewlocks.com and I notice we do more ignition repair and get more calls on Honda, Toyota and GM cars. Other manufacturers have issues but its usually a weak immobilizer or something but I do verify weaker ignitions in some models will be damaged by the weight of a key chain.


On Passat B4 (1995-1997) there were lots of ignition assemblies that failed due to heavy keychains. I believe this is a sound advice from the dealer.

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