Replacing Lost Car KeysPosted: March 9, 2011
Almost everyone has locked their keys in their car and either fished them out with a hanger… or called a locksmith.
But have you ever lost EVERY key? Including your spare car key?
Replacing a lost set of car keys can be easy and affordable in most situations. Usually a competent locksmith or dealer can originate a new key. Your mechanic can sometimes replace the ignition if you still have the door key. On the other hand, some of the high security car keys can be more difficult to replace.
Newer makes of cars use two technologies to increase security for your car. Firstly they use a transponder-headed key. Transponders are small chips that are programmed with information that matches other information in your car’s computer. When you start the car with the correct key the computer recognizes the information, authenticating your valid key and starts the vehicle. A non-programmed key or incorrect transponder will not allow the vehicle to start even if the cuts on the key match your original key.
Secondly, many new makes and luxury cars use high security keys. These high security car keys require special equipment to duplicate, and are very difficult for the locksmith to pick. They are different-looking than a regular car or house key. These keys are expensive to replace if you lose the original. See the “Sidewinder Key” pictured here.
Well, what do you do if you lose your high security car key or transponder key and have no spare?
Search online or in your yellow pages for an Automotive Locksmith. Locksmiths specialize in different areas of their industry and automotive is one area that is expensive for them and requires training classes to master. It also requires special machinery and expensive blank keys. It is important to note that an automotive locksmith specialist DOES NOT JUST OPEN LOCKED CARS. Skilled automotive locksmiths actually are specialists in originating keys and programming transponder equipment.
Your automotive locksmith will ask you many questions about your vehicle including the make, model, year and VIN number. This is perfectly normal as many makes and years use different keys and transponders. Sometimes a 2008 car will actually be a 2009 if you look at the VIN. The locksmith will then come to your location and originate a key. This may take a few hours, but is much faster than having your vehicle towed to the dealer and waiting 1-2 business days for them to do the same procedure.
When the locksmith is finished with the work, it makes sense to test your new key on the trunk, doors and ignition. If the key is working poorly, this is the time to have the locksmith address the issue before you pay and he leaves to go to the next job. Once you are happy with the keys (make a spare this time!) pay your locksmith. Sometimes your roadside assistance or car insurance will cover some or all of the fee. Call your agent to verify your coverage.
In closing, duplicating a car key for a spare can sometimes be an expense… but having to originate a car key from scratch can be very expensive and takes some time. Inconveniences like lost keys seem to happen when we are in a hurry, and replacing them takes time and does the locksmith know what he’s doing anyway? Find a locksmith before you need one and verify his competence with referrals and business references.
It really pays to have a spare car key!
Here are some quick tips on auto keys and locks:
- Never shoot graphite into your ignition! Mechanics and locksmiths lubricate the dissembled ignition with a special lubricant; graphite will help temporarily but will cause more problems in a short time.
- Frozen door locks can be fixed with a blow dryer, hot water, or heated key. If you heat your key, use pliers to hold the key!
- Look for a locksmith BEFORE you actually need one. Search diligently for a reliable locksmith with a business license and referrals. Then, put their number in your cell phone or pocket book. Don’t call random locksmiths when you really need one; you may be charged unfairly by bad business people preying on your desperation.
- Keep a spare car key at work, home or even in your purse or wallet. A spare car key does not have to be a transponder to work the door and trunk. A regular key will get you into the car to recover your actual transponder key for the ignition.
- Poorly duplicated car keys can ruin your ignition. Make sure your key copy works smoothly and without undue force.
Rocky Mountain Security Group