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My car has been keyed, what should I do?

My car has been keyed, what should I do?

‘Keying’ is the deliberate damage of your car’s paintwork, using a key or sharp object. If you’ve been unlucky enough to have this happen to you, here are some of the options for dealing with it.

Daniel Hutson
From the Motor team
minute read
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Posted 6 NOVEMBER 2019

Help, someone keyed my car!

Realising that your car’s been keyed – deliberately scratched – is horrible. Not only is there the damage to think about, it can be hard knowing that someone’s done it on purpose.

If you come back to your car to find it keyed, don’t despair. Although it’s upsetting, it’s not an emergency situation. 

Who to tell when your car is keyed

Keying is an act of vandalism, which you can report to your local police on the 101 non-emergency number. Even if they can’t take immediate action, it’s helpful to have the incident on record. They can give you a crime reference number, which you’ll need for an insurance claim.

You’ll need to check whether your car insurance policy covers damage from vandalism – some will include this as standard, but not all. Give your insurance provider a call if you’re unsure.

Assuming you have cover in place, whether you claim on your insurance probably depends on how bad the damage is, how important your car’s appearance is to you, and whether your excess is higher than the cost of the claim. 

Paintwork repair options

If the scratches aren’t too deep, you may be able to buff them out or reduce their appearance using a DIY scratch repair kit. Bear in mind that this won’t be a professional finish though, and you’re unlikely to be satisfied with the results if you really want good-as-new paintwork. You may even make things worse, so only attempt it if you know you have the expertise to do a good job.

It’s only worth going down the DIY route if the scratches haven’t gone too deep. If you can see metal underneath the paint, it’s probably going to need a professional touch. Deep scratches down to the metalwork will expose the panel to rust and corrosion, so it’s important to get this fixed even if you’re not bothered about the aesthetics.

Hiring a professional to sand down the scratches, re-prime the panels and apply a fresh coat of paint can be pricey. But you may find that some, or all, of that cost is covered by your insurance. 

Prevent your car from getting keyed

If you’re concerned about your car being vandalised again, there are a few steps you can take.

  • Use an enclosed garage, if you have access to one
  • Park somewhere well-lit, where people come and go frequently
  • Make sure you have an effective car alarm
  • Leave space between your car and other parked vehicles – this gives potential vandals less cover
  • Consider installing CCTV if the car is parked on your property

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