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Do you have trouble keeping track of your car keys?
Even if you are especially careful, car keys can become lost or misplaced from time to time. If you are particularly unlucky, you may even drop your car key down the drain.
Trying to get a replacement car key when you are in a hurry can be stressful. Fortunately, there are several different places where you can get car keys made.
So, let’s take a look at the best solutions…
- Where To Get Car Keys Made?
- Types of Car Keys
- How Does Car Key Programming Work?
- Replacing a Lost Car Key
- Looking For Some Great Products For Your Car?
- Final Thoughts
Where To Get Car Keys Made?
There are five main ways of getting replacement car keys. Each method varies in terms of the time required and the cost involved. It is best to weigh up the pros and cons of each method before rushing off to get new car keys.
An Auto Locksmith
An auto locksmith usually has all the equipment needed to replace most types of car keys. This is likely to be the fastest option, as a local auto locksmith will be able to come straight to you. Some auto locksmiths carry key programming equipment that they use to replace keys for most car models and makes.
If your car key is broken or damaged, an auto locksmith should be able to fix it for you.
They can cut and copy vehicle keys to give you a spare car key. If your car keys are locked inside your car, they will also be able to open the car door for you. Another option is doing it yourself using the GS Car Door Opener Universal Vehicle Emergency Open Unlock Tool Kit, but you will need to get someone to bring it to your car. It’s also a great option if you lock the car keys in your car at home.
A Car Insurance Provider
It is a good idea to find out if your car keys are covered by your insurance policy. If so, you could get them replaced free of charge. However, be aware that claiming on your insurance may affect your no claims bonus, which will cost you in the long run.
Some insurance companies offer a car key cover policy as a premium add-on, so they will replace your keys. Other insurance companies offer a car key cover standalone policy, although this may not cover stolen keys.
Vehicle Breakdown Service
Depending on the type of car key that needs replacing, a roadside assistance service may be able to help. If you are lucky, the roadside assistance service may have the replacement key and the necessary equipment. However, these operators are not experts in locks and keys and may not have the necessary skills.
A Franchised Car Dealership
Unlike an auto locksmith, your vehicle dealership will be unable to visit you. Therefore, it is best to call them to make sure they have the necessary equipment. The dealership may have to order the key blank, which could involve a long waiting time.
Your Local Garage
If all else fails, heading to your nearest garage could be your only option. However, it should be noted that most garages will charge you an extra fee to use the diagnostic equipment. Finding a garage that can replace and program new car keys can be tricky as this is a specialist area.
Types of Car Keys
Understanding which type of car key you need to replace can save you a lot of time and trouble. You will need to explain the exact key you need over the phone to establish if it is available. Here is an overview of the most common types of car keys.
Mechanical or Standard Car Key
This is the traditional type of car key that is mainly made of metal. However, these days standard car keys often have plastic heads. If you have this type of car key, it will be relatively cheap and easy to replace.
If you have a mechanical/standard key, your local locksmith will be able to replace it for you. It is best to take along a spare key for the locksmith to copy. Most hardware stores and a range of other outlets also offer this fast and inexpensive service.
If your key is broken or worn out, it is not a good idea to try and duplicate it. In this case, a locksmith can cut a new car key by code. This provides you with a factory original car key that will serve you well for a long time to come.
Transponder Keys or Chip Keys
Also known as a chip key, a transponder key has a tiny inductor embedded in the head of the key. Because the inductor is hidden in the plastic, it is difficult to tell if it is really there.
Transponder keys have to be programmed to your specific car so that the car connects with the key. If the key has not been programmed, you will not be able to start your car, or it will immediately stop running. A security indicator should flash on your vehicle dashboard to show that the connection has not been made.
These keys are either mechanical keys or transponder keys. They are modified by a locksmith with special cuts running down the edge of the key. This provides extra security, as the key will only fit your car.
Most car dealers and locksmiths can make you a new laser cut key fairly easily. They will also be able to tell you if the key is a transponder key that needs programming.
Tibbe Automotive Keys
These keys are usually paired with certain Ford and Jaguar models and are mechanical or chipped keys. The keys are modified with a series of cuts at multiple angles. Special skills and equipment are needed to duplicate these keys, which makes them rather expensive and difficult to replace.
Car Remote and Key Combo Units
These special keys feature a key and a key remote combined into one unit. They feature combined electronic circuits in the head of a single key. These keys need to be programmed by a car dealer or locksmith, which requires special skills and tools.
Car Key FOBs/Proximity Keys
This is one of the most modern types of modern car keys. These special FOBs allow you to open your car door and start the vehicle at the touch of a button. Again, these keys need to be programmed, and finding someone to do this can take time.
How Does Car Key Programming Work?
As you can see, replacing most modern car keys is not as simple as going to a key cutting booth. Most modern car keys have to be programmed so that they connect with the inductor in your car. A programming device or computer is connected to the OBD unit in your car to communicate with the car.
When a current from an inductor near the ignition or in the steering column is close to another inductor, the current is transferred. The key inductor gives off a current, which is received and read by the car.
Programming a key to a car basically means telling the car that the inductor in the key is a match. After the key has been programmed, the car reads the signal that the key is sending out. This happens each time the ignition is turned to prevent other keys from connecting with your car.
Only an auto locksmith or a car dealer will have the necessary equipment needed to program the key. They will need to do this with the car present so that they can connect their equipment to the car’s OBD port. All other car remotes and keys also need to be present; otherwise, they will not work after the programming.
Replacing a Lost Car Key
If you do not have a spare car key to copy, you will have to resort to what locksmiths call key origination. This is done through the key code or the car’s VIN number.
Originating a key by VIN will provide you with the factory original key to the car. In some cases, the ignition or another car lock will contain the necessary code. Otherwise, you will have to retrieve the code by VIN.
If your car does not have a transponder key, you can use a locksmith or an online service to retrieve your code. Simply supply the VIN and proof of ownership, and a new car key can be cut. In this case, no programming is needed, and the car does not need to be present.
However, the ignition has to be the original, or the new key will not work. This service is best suited to cars created between 1990 and 2010. If the car is older than this, the locksmith will need to replace the ignition before making a new key.
Looking For Some Great Products For Your Car?
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Having at least one set of spare car keys close to hand can save you a lot of time and trouble. This allows you to use your spare key in an emergency and get a replacement at your leisure. Of course, it is important to make sure that you keep your spare keys in a safe place.
If you find that you regularly lose your keys, it is a good idea to attach them to a key finder. These special key fobs are controlled via an app on your phone or a remote control. If you misplace your car key, simply press a button, and the key finder will beep and flash.