Have you ever been in a situation where you’ve searched high and low and still can’t find your car key? It can be super stressful, especially if you’re away from home and can’t gain access to your car. To get a replacement car key without the original, there are a few things you can do, including:
- Contact your local dealership
- Call an automotive locksmith
Imagine if you’ve lost or damaged your only car key and desperately need to get in your car. It can be incredibly frustrating and stressful to be locked out of your vehicle, but you needn’t worry because I’ll show you how to get a replacement car key quickly and easily in this article.
Contact Your Local Dealership
Did you know that over 20 million people lose their car or house keys every year in the US? (over 4 million Americans lock their keys in their car each year!) Many unfortunate scenarios can cause you to need a replacement key. For example:
- You’ve lost your only key, or it was stolen. It happens to many people!
- Your car key is damaged (e.g., broken in half). This can happen if they were used in the wrong lock.
- Your car key is warped. You can visibly see that the key is bent out of shape.
Thankfully, there are services to help you get back in your car. One option is to contact your local car dealership. The pros of this choice are that your dealership will be familiar with your car brand, its make, and what specific key it needs.
However, there are some downsides to choosing your local dealership. For one, they generally do not offer emergency roadside assistance. It’s likely that they only operate within standard working hours, which can be super stressful if you need a new key outside of these hours.
Additionally, it can be more expensive to choose to get a replacement key through a dealership. You may be paying up to 50% more if you go through a dealer rather than a locksmith.
Call an Automotive Locksmith
It can sometimes be cheaper and easier to get a replacement made by an automotive locksmith. Most will offer callout roadside assistance services where they will come to wherever you are stranded.
Furthermore, many locksmiths offer 24/7 emergency services in case of incidents in the middle of the night or during out-of-office hours. Keys can go missing at any time of the day or night, so it is convenient that these services are often available around the clock!
However, depending on which locksmith you choose, you may need to pay more for emergency services required outside the typical 9-5 workday.
If you choose this option, you will need to provide:
- Proof of car ownership: In the US, this can include the certificate of title for the vehicle. The registration in your name is the best form of evidence to prove ownership.
- Vehicle identification number (VIN): Also known as a chassis number or frame number, this is a unique code (including a serial number) used by the automotive industry to identify vehicles (including motor vehicles, motorbikes, etc.).
Vehicle Identification Number
The VIN is unique to your vehicle. It consists of 17 characters (with digits and capital letters) and is used to track registrations, warranties, theft, and other purposes. If your vehicle was made before 1981, the VIN should range from 11 to 17 characters in length.
The vehicle identification number is usually found somewhere on the body of the vehicle itself. It could be:
- Under the bonnet
- Along the driver’s side door
- At the bottom of the windshield
- In the user manual
- On the car’s metal frame
Many auto locksmiths offer services where they can travel to your car’s location and make a new key for you on the spot. A locksmith won’t need the car’s VIN in some instances, but they will still require proof of ownership (e.g., registration papers).
Older Cars vs. Newer Cars
If your car is quite old and simply uses a metal key, the process is generally quicker and can often be done in less than an hour. The locksmith will cut a new metal key that matches your lock and ignition.
However, if your car’s lock has seen a lot of wear and tear over the years, sometimes the job can be more complex and time-consuming when working on an older vehicle.
To see how a locksmith makes a new key for you based on your car’s lock, watch this informative video on YouTube:
Most modern cars have transponders too. Even if you get a metal key made, many modern vehicles still won’t run without the corresponding transponder. This is pretty unfortunate if you’ve got a new car and have lost the keys and fob!
Thankfully, in addition to crafting a new key for you, an auto locksmith can usually program a new remote for you so you can start your car’s engine again. However, you will probably need to pay more if you need a new transporter.
Keep in mind that locksmiths and mechanics can vary in their ability to program car transponders and on their service prices.
Although car keys and security systems have become more sophisticated and convenient over the years (offering keyless entry and push-start ignition), it can cost you more to get these new keys and remotes replaced and programmed should you ever need to.
The differences between transponder keys and remote keys are:
- A transponder key: unlocks the car without needing a traditional metal key, and you must use the transponder to start the vehicle.
- A remote key: also unlocks the car, but if it’s not working, you can use your metal key to start the car.
So, if your car needs a transponder to start the engine, your auto locksmith will need to program a new fob for you. However, this process can take longer (and be pricier) than crafting a simple metal car key.
According to Consumer Reports, modern cars make use of the following key systems:
- A basic, metal key with a security chip.
- An ignition key and a remote which locks and unlocks the car.
- A key fob that includes a remote for locking and unlocking the car and a push-start button to start the engine.
- A key fob with a push-start button and keyless entry.
How Much Does It Cost to Replace a Car Key Without the Original?
Prices can vary depending on if you go to your dealership or an automotive locksmith. It also varies depending on if you require just a standard metal key or need a new fob programmed too. So, how much does it cost?
To replace a car key without the original, expect to pay $50 to $500. It can cost under $50 for a metal key. However, new fobs cost from $100 to $500, and you may need to pay an extra $50 to $100 to program the fob.
Depending on which type of car security system you have, you will need to pay more or less to have a replacement key made (and programmed if necessary). If you have one of the more expensive cars with high-end security, you can expect to pay up to $500 for a new fob.
However, it’s cheaper to get a replacement car key made than to change all the locks on your vehicle! If you want to replace all the locks on your car, the procedure may cost you over $1,000.
If your car is over 10 years old, you can get a less advanced fob programmed by an automotive locksmith or a mechanic. You’ll need to contact your locksmith to figure out if they’re equipped to program fobs for you.
You can find low-cost car remotes online to save you money, such as this Car Key Fob Keyless Entry Remote by USARemote (available on Amazon). This cheap but effective fob works with many car brands, such as Ford, Lincoln, Mercury, Mazda, and Mercury cars.
Another great, budget-friendly option is the Keyless Replacement Key Fob Car Remote by Discount Keyless. Not only is it cheap, but you can also program it yourself by following the provided instructions.
However, if your car was made in 2011 or later, you are advised to get the remote programmed by your dealership or locksmith.
When purchasing a replacement car key fob on a budget, make sure that it is compatible with your vehicle’s make. Many cheap replacement fobs are available online, so ensure that you’re purchasing the right one for your car.
We’ve all lost our keys at one point or another, but there’s no need to stress. Even without the original car key, you can still get a replacement from either your local car dealership or an automotive locksmith.
Prices will vary depending on:
- How old or modern your car’s security system is.
- What kind of key do you need?
- If you need a transponder programmed.
- If you require emergency roadside assistance.
- Whether you go to a dealer or locksmith.
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