My car’s been keyed, what should I do?

My car’s been keyed, what should I do?
It’s a discovery every car-owner hopes they never have to make. Having your car keyed or deliberately scratched is an inconvenience to say the least.

Should I tell the police? Does my insurance cover the damage? Can I repair it myself? Aside from questions about who or why, many drivers wonder what they should do next.

Read on to find out how to report, repair and prevent your vehicle being keyed.

Who should I tell if my car has been keyed?

Keying is considered an act of vandalism. If you believe your car has been deliberately scratched, you should report it to your local police using 101, the non-emergency number. 

Even if they can’t catch the culprit, you’ll still be given a crime reference number, which you’ll need to make an insurance claim.

Is a car being keyed covered by insurance?

Some insurance policies cover scratches, others don’t. Your level of cover will also affect this – if you only have third party insurance, you won’t be covered.

Even if you are covered, you may decide against claiming, especially if your excess is greater than the cost of the claim. To check RAC policies find out what’s covered with RAC car insurance here.

Whether or not you choose to make a claim will depend on the extent of the damage and how seriously you take the appearance of your car. 

Some of us don’t mind a little wear and tear, but most of us probably want to get it sorted, and fast!

Find your nearest RAC Approved Garage to book a repair

Will claiming for a keyed car affect my no claims discount?

Some insurance providers will protect your no claims discount when claiming for a keyed car, but it’s always best to check your policy with your provider. 

RAC Car Insurance Plus customers are covered by our ‘Vandalism Promise’. If your car is damaged through vandalism (which includes your car being keyed), any claim you make won't affect your no claims discount. 

You’ll still have to pay any excess, but your no claims discount will be protected.

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Can I repair keyed car damage myself?

Yes, but unless you really know what you’re doing, a DIY repair will lack the professional finish of a garage or body shop. 

Minor scratches to the clear coat and base coat can be repaired with a scratch-removing product.

Follow these steps:

  1. First, wash and dry the damaged area to ensure you don’t end up rubbing any debris or dirt into the scratch and making it worse. Use warm, soapy water and then rinse before drying with a clean, dry cloth.
  2. Before applying any scratch remover, read the manufacturer’s guidelines and check if a buffing tool or pad is sold with the scratch remover to use on your paintwork.
  3. Usually, you’ll need to evenly apply around a 2p’s worth of scratch remover to the buffing pad.
  4. Rub the product into the scratched area using a circular motion, making sure you don’t change direction, to ensure an even covering.
  5. Once you’ve finished, it’s important you don’t allow any excess scratch remover to dry on the car in case it affects the paintwork. Clean any excess away with a clean microfibre cloth.

How much will it cost to repair keyed car damage myself?


RAC shop offers a range of scratch removal products. Prices range from £12 to £30.

When should I use a garage to repair keyed car damage?

A sensible approach would be to repair smaller scratches to the clear coat and base coat yourself and allow an expert to deal with anything deeper. Scratches to your primer coat should always be repaired by a garage or body shop.

Make sure you use a reputable garage. You can find one from the RAC-approved garage network.

How long does it take to repair keyed car damage?

The time taken to repair a keyed car will vary depending on the size and depth of the scratch and the person trying to fix it. 

You can expect professionals to take anything between 30 minutes to a couple of hours. Smaller DIY repairs should take no more than 30 minutes.

If you are unsure, contact a local mobile mechanic.

How do I prevent my car being keyed?

To help protect your car:

  • park in an enclosed garage
  • avoid parking on pavements
  • park in a well-lit area
  • check that your car alarm works well
  • consider installing CCTV if the car is parked on your property
  • leave plenty of space between your car and others when parking

Is it illegal to key a car?

Keying a car is considered an act of vandalism and is illegal. If you’re unlucky enough to have your car keyed, you should call the police on 101, the non-emergency number.

What’s the punishment for keying a car in the UK?

Penalties for car keying can vary according to the value of the damage. Causing damage valued at less than £5,000 could result in a £2,500 fine and a three-month prison sentence.

Damage valued over £5,000 will incur a £5,000 fine and a possible prison sentence of up to six months.

The penalty for vandalism committed by someone aged 17 or younger is usually an on-the-spot fine and community service.

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