Why Do People Key Cars? [Explained]

Published: 09/14/22 •  7 min read

People key cars for many different reasons. Generally, it’s a way to vent frustration or anger towards the owner of the car that they keyed. They may have had an argument with someone who owns that specific type of car and they feel like getting back at them by damaging their property. The person may also be extremely frustrated with their own lives and decide to take out their anger on someone else’s vehicle.

The act of keying a car is illegal in most states, but this doesn’t stop people from doing it whenever they are angry about something.

The short answer on Why do people key cars?

Jealousy, The most common reason behind keying cars. There are more reasons such as anger, revenge, frustration, etc.

Why Do People Key Cars?

Why Do People Key Cars

The majority of times, car keying is an attack on another person, and those who are the aggressors typically assume that they won’t be found out. There are many possible reasons why someone might key a car


It is possible to key a car making a mistake. The most frequent instances occur when people move around vehicles in busy or overcrowded areas. Anyone with keys or sharp-edged objects could accidentally hit cars when they lose balance or are hit by cars. This is why it is crucial to park your vehicle in designated parking spaces that allow plenty of space between cars.


Some people enjoy the thrill of destroying the property of others. For them, it’s not personal; they don’t need to know you or have a dispute with the way you conduct yourself. If they find an opportunity to steal something or engage in deliberately destroying the property of others, they do!

Disputes and Conflict

Car keying is a common practice that can originate from disputes and conflicts with workmates, neighbors, other motorists on the road, or even family members.


We all know that drinking alcohol can take away one’s inhibitions, and someone who is secretly wishing to play with others could be prone to committing a variety of reckless acts when drunk. In addition, it can inspire people to settle disputes by keying cars.


Jealousy is one of the leading causes of car keying. Individuals who feel jealous about other people discourage them. Car keying is another way to achieve this. It could be a friend who is not happy with the way things go to your advantage or someone at work who believes that you are taking away the boss’ interest.

Tips to Avoid Cars from Getting Keyed

Here are a few tips to prevent your cars from getting keyed:

Park your car in secure areas that have cameras.

It has been noticed that car keying incidents are lesser in secure areas equipped with cameras. Since the perpetrators of car keys fear that they are likely to be found out in such locations, they restrain themselves from such actions.

Park your car in a visible space.

We highly recommend parking your car in a clear and visible location. It will discourage car keying, as keying criminals are afraid of being arrested.

Park your car perfectly within the lines of the parking lot.

Parking off-center or double parking sometimes frustrates motorists who prefer parking in nearby parking spaces. These motorists could retaliate by keying or locking the wrongly parked vehicle. So we recommend parking your car perfectly central and within the designated parking lines so that there is plenty of space between your car and other cars parked on both sides. It means you are likely to agree with other motorists about parking rules.

Install car alarm/dash cams

Although a car alarm may not be able to stop car keying since the perpetrators might not be aware that it’s there; however, it can aid in identifying the culprit by not

ifying all those in the vicinity of the incident. Dashcams will assist you in determining the perpetrator(s).

What If Your Car Gets Keyed?

If your car has been keyed, getting the repair done is the only solution. Either get it done professionally, but if you opt to avoid the expense of professional repairs, think about fixing the scratch yourself. But doing the DIY option won’t appear like professional work. The exposed metal could rust, causing additional problems later on. So it’s essential to get it fixed quickly. We recommend fixing your keyed car to an insurance claim.

You will need to decide if you want to repair the car at this stage. If you choose to do it, your auto repair service will pick up the car with keys and fix it. After the repair is completed, the insurance company could directly pay your mechanic. If they do, you will need to reimburse the technician for the deductible. If your insurance pays you, you are responsible for transferring the entire sum to your car mechanic.

Is Keying a Car Illegal?

Car keying is definitely a crime. Based on the amount of damage you do to the vehicle and the damage you cause, you might be charged with vandalism or even a serious crime.

A majority of states enforce general laws against vandalism that penalize car keying. However, certain states have specific penalties.

The punishment could be as severe as at least three years jail, or two years in a house of correction, and a fine of $1500 or three times the damaged property. If found guilty, you’ll get your driver’s license suspended for one year.

Can You Go to Jail for Keying Car?

Car keying could lead you to as long as 10 years in jail. But if the amount of property damaged is lower than $25, the damage will be penalized by up to 2.5 months in prison, and the fine is three times the amount of the damage.

Someone Keyed My Car. Can I Press Charges?

Car keying is precisely like other severe crimes. To prove the perpetrators guilty, the prosecutor must prove it was an act of vandalism. This includes providing evidence of intention to cause physical harm to your car.

Does Insurance Cover Keyed Car?

If you want to file a claim because your car got keyed, you need to have comprehensive coverage as part of your auto insurance policy.

This type of policy includes protection against theft, vandalism and weather-related damage. So, if you only have liability insurance, your car’s key damage would not be something that your auto insurer would cover.

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Closing Words

Keying your car is among the things that you cannot completely control. Some people may key your car simply because they do not like your style or are jealous of you. So be ready for the possibility of this happening. As mentioned above, there are many methods to deal with car keying, so pick one suitable for your budget.