Why Do People Key Cars? (11 Reasons Why)

Having your car intentionally scratched or keyed is annoying and a total inconvenience. Unfortunately, it’s usually as passive-aggressive revenge or sometimes just for fun.

Car keying is the practice of denting or scratching a vehicle with the short end of a key. It might seem like a simple act of vandalism, but people keying cars is a crime that’s been rising for years. Here’s what we will examine why people tend to scratch cars using keys!

Why Do People Key Cars?

1. Aggressiveness

Aggressiveness is a feeling that can be felt by many people, including those who don’t have it in them naturally.

In the back of their mind, it’s doing something reckless, and that motive is damaging someone else’s property.

Furthermore, it’s a way for them to express their annoyance or rage towards the owner of the car they keyed.

As a result, they may have argued with the owner of that particular car and feel compelled to avenge themselves by causing damage to their property.

2. Expression Of Anger

Anger is a common emotion that people experience from time to time. It can be caused by various things, including problems at work, relationship issues, or general unhappiness about life.

In addition, when someone is angry and frustrated with the world around them, they might resort to breaking things.

For that reason, some people will throw rocks at cars and smash windshields with baseball bats when they feel this urge.

Overall, they take this anger and project it onto any car they see by keying and vandalizing the vehicle.

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3. Can Get Away With It

According to state law, vandalism includes keying a car. Thus, it may be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on the amount of damage caused.

In the past, because there used to be no rules prohibiting keying cars, getting caught was not a huge problem.

Additionally, if you get caught, you might get a fine or maybe even jail time, but it will only be for a short period.

But today? The system is different now. There are regulations prohibiting keying cars, and if you are caught engaging in this behavior, there is no getting out of it. You will go to jail.

4. Feel Powerful

Criminals may act alone at a crime scene since it gives them a sense of authority and dominance.

As a matter of fact, these criminals’ motives are to get back at the car owner, who they believe may have harmed them in some way.

Above all, criminals are fond of keying cars to send a message, vent their irritation, exact retribution, and brag about their power and influence.

5. Drunkenness

Sometimes all it takes to get tipsy is a few tequila or whiskey shots.

This is especially true when the owners are drunk and don’t have a solid grasp on what they’re doing.

At this time, drinking too much alcohol and driving are both illegal, so it’s no surprise that people who get behind the wheel while intoxicated are likely to be tempted to key cars as well.

As a consequence, since alcohol can lower inhibitions, drunk persons are likely to participate in various risky behaviors, such as keying and scratching vehicles.

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6. Show Off Their Skills

Show Off Their Skills

People key other cars to display their expertise. Thus, the joy of accomplishing something that very few people can lead to them doing it more often.

In a group of peers, criminals can brag about it since their friends might be impressed by them or think highly of them.

Generally, this kind of activity is terrible. However, teenagers should know what is right and wrong, and car-keying is certainly wrong.

7. For Fun

Every teenager is unique. Thus, many youths want to spend their leisure time engaging in activities like partying, hanging out with friends, and gaming.

On the contrary, others may have another favorite hobby, like taking a car out for a joyride or messing with someone else’s vehicle.

Therefore, because of peer pressure and risk-taking behavior, some teenagers may vandalize vehicles just for fun and the thrill of it all.

8. Unintentionally

People may unintentionally key a car because they are in a hurry or trying to get their car unstuck from icy roads.

As well as that, it’s possible to make a mistake when keying a car. This most usually happens when people attempt to avoid moving autos in busy or congested places.

As you can see, if someone falls over or is hit by a vehicle while holding a key or a sharp object, they could accidentally scratch and damage nearby vehicles.

9. Resentment

According to research statistics, extreme jealousy has several underlying reasons, including low self-worth, excessive neuroticism, and a desire to possess others, especially love partners.

Because of that, jealous people make other people feel bad and worse.

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As a result, it may motivate people to vandalize cars as a form of resentment and jealousy against that person.

10. Plan To Steal

Many people key a car with the intention of stealing it. Criminals who steal cars refrain from doing it in public places where they could be discovered.

In addition, they usually do this when they see their victim parked in a high-risk location, such as in front of their house or workplace or near a shopping center or school.

Undoubtedly, these thieves will often wait for the owner to leave before they strike.

11. Crazy Neighbor

Bad neighbors can be anything from somewhat annoying to completely unpleasant and even intolerable.

However, some neighbors could consistently irritate you to the point where you consider relocating.

As a result, a heated neighbor argument may unintentionally damage one another’s property, or worse, wrecking and keying your car.

To know more, you can also read our posts on why city driving is more difficult, why get a dash cam, and why your car overheats when idling.


You can’t entirely control everything, including how your car is keyed.

Evidently, such reasons include aggressiveness, expression of anger, and jealousy could lead vehicles to be vandalized.

Ultimately, educating people about the effects and damage of keying cars will help stop this form of vandalism.

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